What Brands Should Do in October To Deal With the Rising Costs of Paid Advertising

Editor’s Note: This article is a contribution from Andriy Boychuk, founder and CEO of the ecommerce email marketing agency Flowium

The basic rule of economics is supply and demand. If the supply is higher than the demand, prices go down. And the other way around, if the demand is higher than the supply, prices go up.

If you have some experience in the digital marketing space, you know that the same rule applies to paid advertising. The price of ads is much higher on those paid channels where there are more companies competing for attention. 

That’s why during the holiday season, the ad spend of many ecommerce businesses soars through the roof. 

Although there are many important predictions for this year’s holiday season, there’s one that stands out for ecommerce businesses: retail giants like Walmart, Kohls, Target, and others will most likely be closed on the day of Black Friday. 

Why is this important for your ecommerce business? Because in the past you were competing with other stores just like yours. But during this year’s holiday season, you’ll be fighting for market share with corporations that seem to have unlimited pockets.

So how do you get more eyes on your product for a lower price per click?

Start advertising and acquiring new customers in October and early November. That will allow you to remarket to them via your own marketing channels and not to compete with others by bidding up the paid advertising.

It’s time to act now.

So what exactly can you do? 

Depending on your level of experience in marketing, there are different strategies you can apply. 

The four following strategies are designed mostly for those with an intermediate level in digital marketing. To implement them, you don’t need to be a pro, but some of them require fundamental knowledge of digital marketing.

However, I’ve mentioned some tips that beginner marketers can use to deal with the rising cost of paid advertising, as well. I’ve also added some tricks that those of you with a more advanced level of marketing experience can use within those four strategies. 

Strategy 1: The waiting list

This year, many brands will start Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing much earlier.

While this may seem like a good idea to just move your brand’s Black Friday sale to October, it’ll make zero sense to your customer. 

What you can do, instead, is start collecting leads. During the months leading up to the big sales, focus on building interest for your actual Black Friday – Cyber Monday offers.

To do that, you’ll need a simple landing page with an attractive offer. 

Offers

Let’s start with the offer.

Think about what you can offer your customers and prospects in October, so they want to opt-in for Black Friday Cyber Monday deals. 

Generic offers

You could use a simple offer with a message along the lines of, “Opt-in and be the first to know about our Black Friday – Cyber Monday sales.” 

But I recommend staying away from offers like that.

Why?

Well, because generic offers are just that—generic. They’re boring and everybody uses them.

If you want to stand out among the competition, you’ll need to present a unique offer.

Unique offers that are attractive to your audience

There are many ways to make your offer unique. 

One proven tactic is to offer your prospects and customers a free gift with each purchase during the Black Friday – Cyber Monday sales if they opt-in now.

Here’s a great example from an apparel brand RSVLTS that used this approach last year.

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RSVLTS offered free wrapping paper with each purchase during Cyber Monday. While this may not seem like a lot, that gift was relevant for their audience and that campaign saw great results.

If you have a loyalty or a friend referral program, you can play with them to come up with a creative and unique offer. For example, for your abandoned cart email series, instead of sending the usual 10 percent off, send points that are an equivalent of X amount of money and encourage your customers to use them for their next purchase. 

Time-sensitive offer

The old-fashioned Black Friday when you have to stand in line at 3:00 a.m. to be the first to buy something is still in style. Except now, you’ll need to be online.

To those who signed up for your waiting list, you can share that you’ll have an X number of coupon codes for 75 percent off available, X number of coupon codes for 50 percent off, and so on.

This strategy works well because it creates a sense of urgency. When your customers see a limited number of highest discount coupon codes, they’ll want to be the ones who get them. 

This kind of unconventional approach can help you turn those close calls into sales. 

Design and technology

For your landing page, don’t go excessive on the design.

A simple landing page with a hero image, a few lines of body text, and an opt-in form at the bottom are usually all you need.

If you don’t know how to build a landing page, you can use a simple drag-and-drop landing builder like Zipify or Shogun.

Here’s an example of an elegant and effective early bird opt-in (Boom! By Cindy Joseph).

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One common concern

We’ve been using this strategy for years for a reason—it works. 

But every now and then, we get a bit of skepticism coming from our clients. 

Why? 

They’re afraid that if we offer the early bird opt-in, their customers won’t buy anything before Black Friday. 

From our experience, that’s not the case. But if you read on, I’ll cover how to tackle this common concern in strategy #3. 

Personal information

This tip is more advanced. So if you’re just starting out, this may not be suitable for your business.  

In the past, we’d collected only the customer’s email address.

This year, we want to experiment with this. We’ll use A/B testing, trying to get both email addresses and phone numbers.

We predict that the conversion will be lower, but with a higher ROI at the end. 

Strategy 2: Early advertising

Leveraging owned marketing channels

Great, so now you have a landing page with an attractive offer your prospects and customers can’t resist.

The next step is to promote it. 

There’s one golden rule in this strategy—first of all, promote the landing page and the offer to your existing customers. I’ll explain why in more detail in the paid advertising section.

Here are a few ideas for the promotion that are suitable even for beginners:

  1. Send a few campaigns to your email subscribers to let them know about your early opt-in offer
  2. If you have a Facebook group, announce your offer there
  3. If you have a mobile app, use push notifications 
  4. Post about your offer on all social media channels you’re on

One highly effective tactic that many people overlook is creating a banner with the early bird offer and adding it to all emails in your automations. A lot of ecommerce shoppers click on banners and logos, so make sure you place relevant links there. 

If you feel like you’ve nailed your email and social strategy, I recommend looking into other channels such as SMS and direct mail as a way to promote your product. 

In short, try to leverage all of your owned marketing and social media channels to advertise the early opt-in landing page. 

Paid advertising

Once 1,000 subscribers have entered your funnel, you can create a lookalike audience.

You technically only need 100 people to start building lookalike audiences. But the more information you feed to Facebook, the higher quality lookalike audiences it builds for you. 

Another thing to keep in mind here is relevance. Facebook decreases your ad cost if your content is relevant to your target segment. 

That’s why it’s so important to advertise the landing page to your existing audience to build a similar one for paid ads.

Strategy 3: The follow-up offer

Whether you get new email subscribers or someone from your existing database opts in for the waiting list, it’s important to send them a confirmation email.

One simple thing you can do to make sure your follow-up email is effective is A/B test your subject lines during the whole month of October. That way, when the holiday season comes around, you’re equipped with the best subject lines possible. 

Option #1 (not recommended): Send a simple email where you confirm that they’ve been signed up for the waiting list.

Why is this not recommended? Again, it’s boring and no one will care.

Try something more attractive and potentially lucrative.

Option #2: Send them a confirmation email where you add an attractive offer. 

As I mentioned in strategy #1, many of our clients are worried their customers won’t buy anything before Black Friday if they use this strategy.

That’s why in this follow-up email you’ll want to offer something your customers can’t resist.

You can keep the message simple, saying something along the lines of, “While you’re waiting for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, we want to offer you X% off (or $X off) your next purchase. This offer is available only for the next 24 hours.”

An advanced trick that can help you make this step even more effective, is creating two different emails for two different segments.

  • Segment 1: Those who’ve never purchased your product before – a higher discount/a better offer
  • Segment 2: Return customers –  a lower discount

Strategy 4: Evergreen landing pages

The final strategy I recommend is making your landing page evergreen—that is, keeping it live for the whole year. 

Why do you need this? 

Simple—it’s important for SEO

This could seem a bit unconventional, but it’s in fact a tried-and-true tactic.

If you google “Black Friday Electronics UK,” you’ll find Currys PC World in the first four searches.

rising-costs-of-paid-advertising

How did they do it? 

They’ve used this strategy for a few years now and over this time, they’ve been able to build a high SEO rating for the keyword “Black Friday” in the UK.

To make this page even more effective, add a countdown timer for the upcoming Black Friday in your store and place links to your converting pages. 

That way, not only will you be helping your SEO, but you can also start building a relationship with prospects who stumbled upon this page, which will make them more likely to convert when the next holiday season comes around. 

Key takeaway

As I said at the beginning of this post, there’s not much time left for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Focus on acquiring new customers now, while the competition isn’t as hot as it will be close to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That way, you’ll be able to reach your customers without plowing money into ad spend when the holiday season comes around. 

Use these winning strategies for your business and conquer this year’s holiday season sales. Good luck!

Get your business ready for the holiday rush. Explore these videos from the Cyber Weekend Prep Rally, which cover marketing strategies and tips from ecommerce experts.

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