What I learned advertising for small e-commerce businesses during BFCM 2020

I advertise on social media for small e-commerce businesses. As I am finishing up this crazy-long week and a non-stop working streak of 9 days, I managed to sit down to write down some of my learnings.

BFCM is all about offers. Whether it is a discount or a buy-one-get-one-free offer, customers are hunting for offers for the entirety of the BFCM event. Focus on promoting your offer upfront and foremost in your creatives. Anything else than the offer; your brand, product benefits or social proof should come second.

Free with your purchase offers are always interesting!

If you do not have a compelling discount offer, it is not worth advertising during BFCM. In that case, I suggest reducing the budgets to a minimum and wait until Tuesday or even Wednesday after BFCM. The ROAS’s on your regular campaigns will be all over the place if you keep them running and much likely will be losing you money.

Don’t forget to include the code in your creative!

Think simple. People are looking for the best discount offers. Give it to them. Image ads are usually the simplest way of communicating the offer as video ads may be confusing. A simple image of the best-selling product with the discount offer displayed prominently works great! Video ads can work great as well but it is important to make a show of the offer in the very first scene.

A simple product reel with a discount offer and code can work better than complex ad videos.

Run a Black Friday/Cyber Monday Week Campaign

Do not focus all your energy and budget to Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Many brands and Amazon have been running Black Friday Week and Cyber Monday Week campaigns for years now. Customers are already expecting to see offers beginning of the BF week. Start your campaigns on the Monday of BF week and keep running your Cyber Monday campaign until the end of that week. This strategy gives you enough time to make last-minute small changes. More importantly, it allows enough time for your campaigns to come out of the learning phase for the best possible performance on the high-volume days.

Plan Ahead

Schedule your ads at least 3 days before the anticipated start date. Ad reviews during the BF week take over 24 hours. In case an ad gets rejected, you can have another chance at it with the 3-day buffer.

Have your backup plan ready in creatives. There is no time for creative testing during the BF week. Prepare your image ads, video ads and ad copies covering any ideas that you might want to explore in case you did not get the performance from your first set of creatives.

It is possible that Facebook or other social ad platforms do not spend the budget on your campaigns. It is a good idea to prepare duplicates of your campaign to make sure you “force” the platforms to spend the budget.

It is Expensive to Advertise During BFCM

CPM’s will go through the roof! Expect the average CPM across your accounts to increase by as much as 300%. This year, I have seen a 300% increase in my Facebook accounts and a 500% increase on Snapchat. Your conversion rates will increase as well but do not be surprised to see the crazy CPM’s.

A 270% increase in Facebook CPM’s in the BF weekend vs the 1st weekend in November

It is important to build retargeting audiences and email lists several months ahead of BFCM. Especially, email marketing campaigns work wonders during the BFCM event. Invest in your BFCM campaign when the CPM’s aren’t super high.

Finally, do not forget about the physical limitations of your e-commerce business. Think about the inventory, the shipping capacity and set reasonable targets with best-case and worst-case scenarios.