BFCM: How to Set Up Ads For Lucrative Q4 [2023 Guide]

bfcm black friday cyber monday 2020

Disclaimer: This article has been updated with new data from April 2023.

If you’re stepping into Q4 and you haven’t started your Black Friday, or Cyber Monday preparations yet, you might be missing out already.

These are two of the most important days in the eCommerce world. 

They represent a ferocious introduction to the holiday season, known to make or break millions of brands.

BFCM 2023 Dates

If you’re wondering when does Black Friday Cyber Monday start this year:

BFCM 2023 falls on the weekend from the 24th to 27th of November.

Black Friday – 24th November

Cyber Monday – 27th November

It’s during this time everyone wonders how to increase sales and get their brand out there in the spotlight.

And this year it’ll be a more daunting task than ever before. 

BFCM 2023: Ecommerce Takes the Throne

Everyone got used to Black Friday and Cyber Monday being the days where you can see dozens of videos of people fighting over a discounted TV.

But previous years brought some changes. Almost the entire holiday shopping went online for the first time ever.

The pandemic was a catalyst for something that was already in motion. The convenience of online shopping has been threatening retail stores for years.

And as many predicted, the era of eCommerce finally took over.

bfcm online trends 2019

If you’re unsure of the above, just glance over Shopify’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data from last year.

Four years ago (2019), their merchants recorded $2.9 billion in online sales. Two years ago it was $5.1 billion! In 2023? $7.5 billion.

You can see the trend is rising.

And despite the growing economic uncertainties, customers aren’t showing any signs of “shopfobia.” Quite the contrary, they are embracing it.

Need help in planning your BFCM strategy?

BFCM Marketing Tips: Preparing For the Fever

Every year eCommerce sellers have a tougher job on their plate.

The number of online stores is growing which brings additional flux of competition.

🛒 Currently, there are over 4.2m websites built on Shopify only. Quite the contest!

As a result, the battle for ad real estate gets fiercer, which drives the ad price up.

And on top of everything, you have iOS updates that affected literally the entire advertising landscape.

Venturing into BFCM unprepared is like trying to drive in fifth gear with a blindfold. You’re bound to get hurt.

On the flip side, if set up your campaign properly, create captivating ads and optimize everything before the hot season – you’ll record the highest win of the year. 

We’ve marked some great places to start your preparation.

1. Tackle the iOS Updates

Have you heard about the ADpocalypse? Yep, that’s how Facebook marketers are calling the post-iOS 14.5 updates era.

If you’ve been living under Uluru (the biggest rock in the world) this year, you should learn more about the infamous privacy update here.

This update can seriously hamper your tracking and marketing efforts so make sure you deal with it properly.

Can you resolve it? Not really at the moment. But you can limit the damage.

For starters, you should educate yourself about the changes to the Facebook attribution window. Then, look to implement CAPI in your eCommerce store.

2. Set Up BFCM Goals

Setting up your BFCM goals goes much broader than just setting up Facebook Ads: What’s your goal? Do you want to drive traffic to the website? Increase conversion rates? All these things will impact the campaigns you want to create.

 Here are some of the many different types of goals for brands to focus on during the BFCM seasons:

bfcm goals checklist

Determine your most important KPIs and stay on track when the season becomes hectic.

3. Prepare Discounts

Why do people love BFCM and Q4? Because of the discounts.

This magical word will trigger a shopping frenzy like no other.

However, an everyday discount offer is by no means enough for fired-up consumers — Don’t stick a 10%, 15%, 20% tag off a particular product and think you’ve done enough.

You’ll need to up your discount game.

In 2019, Numerator released intriguing research on average BFCM discounts.

The average Black Friday discount was 43.3%, while Cyber Monday had 40.5%. The highest discounts included housewares, apparel, footwear, and jewelry – 50 to 60% on average. 

bfcm discounts

And yes, you might think that huge discounts aren’t profitable (and of course you’d be right).

But during Black Friday Cyber Monday you don’t focus only on revenue, ROI, and similar metrics.

Instead, you need to focus on customer acquisition.

Remember, this is the time when most people are extremely shopping friendly.

You need to capitalize on this and acquire as many customers as possible. These are users that you’ll retarget and/or upsell with email and remarketing campaigns throughout the year.

And BFCM marketing campaigns are a perfect place to acquire such users.

4. Boost Social Validation

Boosting social validation is one of the most important pieces of the groundwork for a successful BFCM campaign.

If you still haven’t done anything about it, now’s the right time.

Why is social validation important?

If someone recommends you a product, you’re more likely to consider it than if you just see it online.

People trust other people’s judgment. Brands… not so much.

You can sell the best footwear, the best dog accessories, or skincare product. But if you don’t have social validation on your ads it’ll raise eyebrows among your potential customers.

Engagements, user-generated content, reviews, testimonials… It all adds to the customer’s trust.

Remember: It’s not only the quality that sells – it’s the hype around the brand as well. Make sure you use testimonials and reviews in your ads and you’ll most certainly profit.

5.    Make Eye-Catching Ad Creatives

Your Facebook ads aren’t worth much if you don’t decorate them with eye-catching visuals. And during BFCM this is more crucial than ever.

Your prospects are inundated with attractive offers, beautiful visuals, and copy from your competitors during Q4 more than any other time of the year. 

You’ve got to get your creative juices flowing and make your ad creatives stand out from the bunch.

Once you know your goals, your discounts, and you’ve worked on your social validation, you should have enough materials to create engaging ads (or hire someone to do it for you ).

6.  Set Up Your Ads

Now that you’ve laid the foundation, it’s time to focus on the technical part. If you don’t set up your ad properly, you won’t be able to promote your BFCM sale.

Everything from setting up your Facebook Ads Manager, setting pixels, applying segmentation, and preparing audiences to fall into this category.

We won’t spend as much time on this given that you’ve probably got it all set up. But if you haven’t done this before, what are you waiting for?

Head over to Facebook and follow the step-by-step instructions.

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Tips and Strategies To Make BFCM 2023 a Success

You think regular Facebook ads are difficult to run? We got some bad news.

The execution of your Black Friday Cyber Monday strategy is an entirely different beast.

We’ve spoken with fellow eCommerce agency experts and they all seem to agree on a few things:

  • This years’ holiday shopping will be bigger than ever
  • Shopping behavior won’t be as dramatic as in previous years
  • BFCM 2023 will cause brands to restrategize

Moreover, the post pandemic economic downturn will cause a tidal shift in the way shoppers prioritize products.

Living essentials, holiday gifts, eco-aware products may thrive.

Also, supporting small and local businesses has become a big deal in recent years.

These are stuff you should implement to go a long way during this Black Friday Cyber Monday.

1.     Start Early

How do you plan for Black Friday or Q4? Don’t fool yourself into thinking there’s still time until Q4 gets in full swing. 

There’s not. 

There are two reasons for this:

1. You got to capture your buyers’ attention early. There’s no use in finding prospects if your expensive ad is just a drop in the ocean; and…. 

2. CPMs spike massively as you move closer to BFCM, making buying traffic expensive.

The takeaway here is that if you’re late to the advertising party, you’re probably up for a major disappointment.

A lot of marketers tone down their spending prior to BFCM and prepare to go all-in for Q4. What do you think happens? You’ll spend a huge chunk of money on your ads only for them to get lost in the dark.

Instead, start with your top-of-the-funnel campaign as soon as the Q4 starts. Build anticipation for what’s going to happen next and pre-cook your customers so you can later switch to the real deal – remarketing.

Here are some tips:

  • Sneak peek at BFCM deals: Announce your Black Friday Cyber Monday campaign with ads that build hype for the real thing.
  • Sale start notification: Make a landing page with a countdown until the sale starts. Add a sign-up form that will notify your customers when the sale starts. Easy lead generation and guaranteed sales!
  • Regular prospecting campaigns to gather data: You can still run prospecting campaigns even if sales are down (as they are before the holiday season). Facebook can gather insight on website visitors, past purchasers, etc which you can use for remarketing during the sale.

Need help in planning your BFCM strategy?

2. Leverage New Platforms and Features

It’s an exciting summer ahead for social advertisers.

Instagram Reels (platform’s answer to TikTok) rolled out Reels Ads. Meaning you can utilize this super new and popular platform for your Black Friday campaigns.

Some brands may think it’s bold to put their campaign’s fortunes into such a recent platform. The data is lacking and the results are still mixed.

But as they say – those who dare, win. And usually, those that capitalize on new trends before everybody else jumps in win the most.

The other platform that should bring great results is, of course, TikTok. A relative newcomer to the ad space took over the entire industry by storm.

Think of creative ways to get your Black Friday offers out to the TikTok public and you may see a surge in sales!

Tip: Partnering with influencers may do wonders for your TikTok ads.

3. Set Up a Facebook Store

Facebook Store provides shoppers with a streamlined customer journey and a fast checkout. Two things that are becoming absolutely crucial in the eCommerce landscape.

If you’re running Facebook ads, a Facebook store allows users to complete their purchases without ever leaving the platform.

This helps fend off distractions eliminate cart abandonment, and make the entire shopping experience as close to real life as possible.

Not to mention the importance of a fast checkout in the evolving eCommerce space. Facebook even integrated Facebook Pay just to deal with this issue.

If you still haven’t set up a Facebook store yet, here’s a little guide to get you started.

4. Make Sure Your Ads Provide Clarity

This part is closely related to your ad creative and one thing’s for certain: BFCM and Q4 are not the best time to experiment.

If you have tried and true campaigns that convert, don’t try to go too much outside the box. Make your ad creatives clear, eye-catching, and immersive.

According to Global Web Index, 86% of people worldwide would like to hear from brands that are running a particular promotion. So arm yourself with offers, bundles, and/or discounts, and make sure you display them clearly to your audience.

Remember: our attention lasts for three seconds. If it takes you more than that to transmit your brand’s message, your prospect will swim away.

5.  Rethink Your Brand Voice

Last year caused most brands to restrategize the way they address their audience.

A recent study from Merkle claimed that spending will be focused on needs, not wants as shoppers adapt to the consequences of pandemic (both economical and psychological).

Shoppers don’t want brands to act as if nothing is happening and advertise products or services in a vacuum.

Yes, we’re struggling. Everybody is and that’s okay.

If you can, don’t be afraid to emphasize that in your ads.

Another thing, it’s vital to match the values of the modern consumer.

Ethical manufacturing practices, positive societal or environmental impact, and nurturing long-term relationships will go a long way.

6. Focus On Remarketing

BFCM is when remarketing can see the most success.

You’ve spent so much time capturing leads, nurturing your brand identity, and growing relationships with your customers. Now it’s time to turn all that hard work into results.

With a good remarketing campaign, you’ll appeal to all those users that already had an interest in your product.

So let’s say you start your prospecting early.

You’ll gather a database of engagers, website visitors, leads, past purchasers, etc.

Then when the BFCM is in full swing, you can get your remarketing ads to pick those shoppers up again.

Also, you’ll manage to stick in the back of their mind for whatever product you’re offering.

Tip: The majority of customers are going online but you can still try to replicate their offline behaviors as well.

Use ads such as carousel to showcase as much of your store as you can.

7. Optimize Ads For Mobile

U.S. consumers are now using smartphones more than any other device. Thus, they’re more likely to encounter your awesome ad while scrolling on their mobile.

In fact, Shopify records an increase in conversions via mobile year after year.

For that reason, it’s best to optimize your ads for mobile. The same goes for your landing pages as well – the responsive design may look great, but it’s not always convenient for mobile phone users.

bfcm smartphone users

8. Salvage Your Abandoned Carts

The majority of marketers think that driving traffic to the website and capturing leads is half the job done.

However, when you understand the full scope of the consumer journey, you’ll know it’s far less than that.

Statista released new research in March 2020 saying that 88% of carts on average were abandoned worldwide.

This means that you need to set up a few remarketing campaigns that will appeal to all those users that left their carts.

Luckily, most social platforms allow you to target cart abandoners with special ads to try and convert them one last time.

Usually, these ads go with special offers, discount codes, free shipping, etc, which can push the prospect for that one final click.

TIP: Create an abandon cart strategy just for BFCM. Set up an email trigger 15 minutes after website visitor abandons their cart. In a hectic holiday season, shoppers are easily distracted and they may forget they ever visited your website!

9. Leverage SMS

SMS marketing is the next big thing and there’s no better time than BFCM to test that.

According to research, an average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes each day looking at their phone.

And check these two awesome stats from Yotpo:

  • SMS open rate is over 90%
  • 90% are opened and read within the first 3 minutes

So here’s what you need to do.

First, create engaging content that’s both witty and short. Use it to inform them of your BFCM offer and place a CTA with a link that would take them to your landing page.

But beware. Pushy, aggressive SMS marketing can put customers off as well. So tread lightly when you start setting up your SMS campaign.

10. Get Loyalty Programs Going

As mentioned, cultivating positive relationships is the priority of Gen-Z consumers.

Rewarding loyal customers during BFCM brings a lot of upsides.

Increase customer retention, raise brand awareness, and you might even get some user-generated content.

It’s also natural to communicate your appreciation to your most loyal shoppers.

Here’s some stuff you can implement to prize your most loyal customers:

  • Offer special discounts to repeat customers
  • Send trial pieces of new products to most loyal buyers in exchange for a feedback
  • Offer gifts with purchase

Short Case Study: TGM Ads That Crushed BFCM

The proof’s in the pudding. Don’t think we’d let you go without a few examples!

BFCM Ad Example 1

Bare Performance Nutrition (BPN) had huge goals during last year’s BFCM. The performance supplements were on the way up and a great Q4 would skyrocket their growth.

Why is BPN an interesting example?

There was plenty of testing involved prior to the peak season. We wanted to set up the stage on time by testing creatives, interests, and lookalikes while the CPMs are lower.

The funny part here is that some of that targeting didn’t work initially. But after some time conversions started kicking in.

We concluded that some people needed some time to reconsider before buying – hence why we emphasize remarketing.

We decided to run the ads regardless.

The results?

BPN absolutely destroyed the BFCM season – thousands of purchases and 7-figure total revenue with over 10 ROAS.

Best performing ads?

This is one of the ads that we tested during prospecting. The video showcases Nick Bare, the face behind the brand hitting those body goals, saying – this could be you. The copy touches all the most important questions: safety, quality, money-back guarantee, and validation.

The remarketing did remarkably well during BFCM. This is just one of many ads that boosted the conversion rate. It’s one of the explainer ads that we like to talk about. This one in particular focuses on the ingredients and the variety of different tastes.

BFCM Ad Example 2

Last year, Samii Ryan was looking to make a major breakthrough in the apparel niche with her By Samii Ryan brand. We’ve set up prospecting and remarketing campaigns on time, wanting to boost their social validation for future campaigns.

Why is By Samii Ryan an interesting example?

The results Samii Ryan made were great. Our core prospecting campaigns brought a lot of interest while remarketing crushed the conversion.

But what’s important to notice here is how important a good BFCM is for the future of the brand.

The BFCM prospecting we did in October and November did wonders for the December campaign as well. And the growth passed onto the next year.

Now, the results we considered successful in 2019 are ten times less than what Samii Ryan makes on average during Facebook ads!

The Results

The huge success of the campaign reflects in static and dynamic remarketing having a combined ROAS of 7.5!  

Best Performing Ads

We talked about these types of ads in the article. When on mobile, users can open the collection of ads in a new window where they can browse a variety of products. Considering that retail experience will be much lower this year, these ads are practically a good alternative.

A nice little discount with a promo code always works well with remarketing, especially when you target cart abandonments.

Need help in planning your BFCM strategy?

BFCM 2023 Checklist

If you’re looking for any extra advice for this year’s BFCM bonanza, you’re at the right place.

When consulting our partners, we provide an in-depth checklist of things that have to be absolutely on point ✅ when preparing campaigns.

Let’s lay it out.

BFCM 2023 Checklist ✅Part 1: Strategy

The first thing you should know is that all changes should be implemented by October 1st.

Don’t hesitate, don’t wait. You’re losing ground to your competitors who have already laid the foundations.

Also, target a very wide audience with your initial BFCM offer: holiday shoppers come out of the woodwork during BFCM, and could have major conversion potential despite not engaging with emails in recent months.

Here’s what you should do when it comes to strategy:

  • Define your products and discounts, calculate margins, and take time to think it through
  • Create a BFCM activity calendar where you’ll promote and track your campaigns
  • Define if you should do lead generation or just sales
  • Understand your budget and how much you can realistically spend without hampering your business if the results are not satisfactory.
  • Be realistic about your stock. If you go out of stock early, you’ll waste money on ad campaigns.

BFCM 2023 Checklist ✅Part 2: Website

Your website’s UX can make or break a purchase decision.

Make sure your website hero image is adjusted to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer. Create landing pages and confirm that the dates and times on them are accurate.

Add upsell and cross-sell apps to improve conversion rate and double check inventory and if your website is connected to your Product catalog so it alarms if the stock is low.

Finally, implement product discounts, add BFCM-style images and badges, and also implement a BFCM-style banner in checkout.

BFCM 2023 Checklist ✅Part 3: Creative

As mentioned, eye-catching ad creatives are what will turn “scrollers” into your customers.

🎨 Here’s what you should do with your ad creatives during BFCM 2023:

✅ Plan creative tests for October. Make it as early as possible to gather data.

✅ Consider data from previous Black Friday & Cyber Monday years as well as recent successful promos.

✅ Confirm batches of creative assets to be produced by your team (or outsourced) based on your BFCM 2023 campaign calendar.

✅ Establish a hard deadline for asset confirmation – it’s recommended to publish 7-10 ads before the launch.

BFCM 2023 Checklist ✅Part 4: Ads

We’ve already discussed a lot when it comes to Meta ads, but let’s jog your memory once again.

Here’s how our BFCM Meta Ads checklist mostly looks for this year:

  • Populate your audience: using first-party data, server-side tracking, lookalikes, etc.
  • Organize your BFCM material: Produce creative assets (influencers, your team, UGCs) and BFCM copy.
  • Confirm data tracking: Once again, for Meta and other platforms make sure CAPI and pixel are set up and that your reporting tools are tracking correctly.
  • Make sure your ad platform credit limit is not capped and it can scale.
  • Confirm budgets and goals across all channels and partners – super important.
  • For Google, add countdown in the titles.

BFCM 2023 Checklist ✅Part 5: Email

Setting up email workflows for a particular time of the year is nuanced, so this checklist might be a bit longer.

📱Don’t forget the SMS. Using an SMS list as a VIP audience can be effective. Flash sales perform extremely well on SMS: consider a 12-hour flash sale ahead of BFCM for this channel.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Start with readjusting current workflows to BFCM workflows and create a newsletter calendar.
  • Create, organize, and produce BFCM ad material.
  • Clean up your list, and maintain list hygiene before you blast out the BFCM campaign.
  • Define a VIP audience – loyalists, high-ticket shoppers, etc. Create a separate list for where you give them early sales access, an extra 5% discount, a free gift with purchase, etc.
  • Add BFCM urgency/sale call out to big flows like Cart Abandonment
  • Create exclusion segments to stop marketing to people who already bought.
  • Make sure all URLs include dynamic coupon code parameters and check the post-click UX: Does the code apply to their cart directly? Is it easy to understand the discount?
  • Plan resends in advance so you avoid last-minute campaign creation when you want to hit a revenue target.
  • Optional: Consider updating your website pop-up with BFCM-related messaging (“get on our VIP list for extra special offers etc.) and send them a relevant Welcome email.

🧠 Keep in mind: People are more likely to check their Promotions tab when they’re actively shopping and you might have “holiday buyers” that will appear once or twice a year to do their holiday shopping.

As said, include a wide audience. Don’t leave these shoppers out of your messaging due to low engagement throughout the year.

Buckle Up – BFCM’s Gonna Get Wild

Keep in mind that these are just some of the possible tested strategies that should help you increase sales and crush Q4. Of course, we can’t share all our precious tips for success (nothing personal!)

Nevertheless, this should provide a necessary foundation and, hopefully, trigger a creative spark that will help you achieve your Q4 targets.

What else do you do during your BFCM preparation and execution? Do you have some BFCM ad strategies that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Also, if you want more similar articles, tips, and case studies, feel free to contact us or subscribe below so you never miss a post.

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