Prepping for Black FriYAY 2021

Madeline Logue Sep 03 2021 9 PM | 6 min read

If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that you can never prepare too early for a big-spending season, especially for the holiday deals and steals season. Our minds are shifting towards all things prep (yes, we see you iOS 14!) as the summer closes its doors to make way for a fall like no other for digital marketers. We’ve been busy pulling together all our must-have tips and are ready to loop you in so that we can collectively triumph in the coming months. Let’s dive in!

Consumers have set up camp online and aren’t going anywhere…

First things first, your social ad campaign planning needs to start NOW, if it hasn’t already. Planning in advance has never been more important – even more important than it was last year. Believe it or not, the uncertainty of what the shopping season is going to look like is at an all-time high, so we recommend having a plan A, B, C, and even D ready for a variety of scenarios.

What we do know is that 87% of consumers, according to our most recent survey, said they plan to continue shopping online – even with re-openings and loosening COVID restrictions in play. This shows marketers and brands that many of the omnichannel tactics, like e-commerce and in-app purchases on social platforms, are resonating with shoppers, and are signaling an opportunity for more buying volume.

With more consumers flocking online due to the rise of the Delta variant in recent months, it will also be easier for shoppers to potentially purchase more because of the convenience and accessibility (it’s time to pull out those ‘buy in one click’ assets!).

If priority #1 isn’t iOS 14 updates, your campaigns won’t have legs to stand on

Apple’s iOS 14 privacy updates wreaked havoc throughout the advertising industry. If you’re one of the digital marketers who hasn’t fully cracked what your new setup looks like, it’s time to buckle down. Planning even further in advance to make sure that you have adapted appropriately to the new privacy changes and are able to report consistently in an effective way for your entire team needs to be at the top of your list in building out a proper foundation for a successful Black Friday or Cyber Monday ad campaign.

Make sure your teams understand the basic framework of these privacy settings and how they will impact your initiatives before moving into traditional creative message testing and status quo creative preparations. If you don’t have all your iOS 14 ducks in a row, or haven’t tested what’s working and what’s not, then your campaign efforts elsewhere aren’t going to be super effective. The key to mastering any privacy challenge is to test, test and test again.

You’ll need to cater to multiple shopper-profiles

We’ve always seen a large variety of consumer profiles on the market, each one requiring a different set of social ad campaigns that differ in messaging and creative. These profiles are exaggerated during the Black Friday / Cyber Monday season and will be especially so this year due to the increase of shoppers online.

As you start planning your Black Friday campaigns, look at last year's data and retro your performance to see what worked and what didn't. Even with consumer profile shifts year-over-year, last year's performance can still guide your planning. Analyzing this data helps set more valid benchmarks and clear goals. We’ve determined a few of these consumer types for you so that you can differentiate your creatives for each:

  • Those who are never on time – Black Friday who? Some shoppers won’t think about Black Friday until the moment it arrives and will need quick, poignant messaging that wastes no time getting to the point and calling out convenience. ‘Fast shipping!’ Or ‘Buy with one click!’ messages are key.
  • The ones who are way ahead of time – These shoppers will be well versed and are typically planners. They know what sales are taking place and exactly what they want, so the creative and messaging should focus on “get ahead of the rush.”
  • Those who seek deals post-Black Friday – These sneaky buyers wait for the (potentially better) offers to trickle and will need messaging that is stretched out, targeted for the post-Black Friday boom.
  • The ones who can’t commit and have items still in their cart for far too long – Reminders! These customers will need stand-out, in-your-face creative, and targeted messaging so they can be reminded of all the goodies they forgot about! – and why they are still worth buying.

Testing to see what types of messages resonate with your audiences has also become even more important because, while there are still people being pushed to join the online shopping community, there are even more shoppers that have used the last year to develop their online skills and have no excuse now to not be utilizing social media to make online purchases!

Testing is also key in deciphering what is best generationally – by leveraging your social creative and your social ads, you can recreate that in-person feel online. What this all boils down to: you need diversity in terms of the types of ad formats your brand is running and need to have creative on hand that you can cycle into your campaigns, especially around Black Friday when your audience risks suffering from creative fatigue, or just tuning out your ads because they've seen them a million times.

Extend the Black Friday & Cyber Monday lifespan

Historically, the Black Friday / Cyber Monday buzz – and holiday messaging – scales down a little bit after the fact but stays relatively consistent until the holidays themselves arrive in the December, January timeframe. By expanding your Black Friday Cyber Monday social ad campaigns and pushing towards promotions before, and after these highly anticipated days, you’ll not only be able to cater to a larger audience (those different shopper profiles we mentioned!) but will be able to drive sales over a longer period. Depending on how the pandemic shakes out in the coming months, if consumers aren’t having as many in-person events around the holidays, the season itself has the ability to extend since there's not necessarily a date that buyers must rush to have a gift ready.

In preparation, be sure to identify key moments that are coming up and start doing some of the seasonal element testing with your creative. Additionally, remember to stay consistent and on-brand, but adjust your messaging specifically to Black Friday. You can also add seasonal elements to your creatives, diversify your ad formats, and experiment with both static and video ads. Keep testing your creatives to see which ones actually drive performance.

Advertisers also need to understand what they have available to them and the value props that are the most important now – which are most appealing to your customer base? – and then expand upon them. Understanding and testing to see what people want and what they like now is a step you can’t skip because, once we’ve reached holiday season and you’re working to expand upon these value props, you’ll already be deep in the Black Friday holiday rush – a.k.a. you’ll have zero time to go back and adjust! 

If you have any questions regarding your holiday campaigns, contact your Customer Success Manager or send us a message at and we'll be in touch!

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Madeline Logue
Madeline is a Client Partner at living in NYC. She works with some of Smartly's most advanced advertisers across ecom, entertainment, and gaming verticals. She is passionate about helping marketers leverage technology to automate the boring stuff so they can focus on the fun stuff to meet and exceed their business goals.

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