Your 7-Point Black Friday Checklist For Paid Search

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With Black Friday fast approaching, Joshua Reece outlines his top tips for campaign performance.

That’s right! Black Friday has made its way around again already and this year, sales are expected to grow 5.1% driven by, in part, increases in both online (+14%) and in-store sales (+3.5%) growth. In November last year, the Bing Network saw the highest YOY retail growth during the November 5 pre-Cyber Week as retailers rolled out early deals...

So, how have you been preparing for this year's Black Friday bonanza? Read on to discover top tips on shaping your Black Friday campaigns for success:

1. Define Your Rules of Engagement

If your budget has all been spent early… what do you do? Increase the budget? But by how much? What can your business afford? How much stock is left? What if ROAS is beyond predicted? Do you have a backup promotion?

Having your rules of engagement set for the day can be incredibly powerful. You may only worry about it if it happens, but what if on the same day your site has slow loading times because of high traffic, and the person in charge is not there to make the key decisions?

Rules of engagement have the potential to save you an unnecessary stress and give you a better opportunity to get the most out of the sale weekend.

2. Be Realistic With Budgets & Bidding

If you run any type of automated bidding, you’ll have to run bids manually for at least 1-2 weeks after Black Friday due to the vast amount of data coming through.

Increase your budget significantly

It goes without saying that you must increase your budget on Black Friday. Don’t think Google will have your back if you just run a ‘standard delivery’. Running this does not work on Black Friday.

The Standard Delivery setting in Google Ads works based on historical data. It can’t do anything about a surge in traffic on a single day.

3. Conduct Text Ad Maintenance

Set up Google Ads Promotion Extension

The promotion extension was recently released to everyone and should be an essential part of your ad writing strategy moving forward. Your ads for Black Friday are no exception.

The promotion extension looks like this:

The extra line of ad text can really help set your ads apart from those of your competitors. The fact that it highlights a Black Friday sale is just the icing on the cake.

On top of this, you should also set your promotion to only run in a specific time-frame. For Black Friday, this might be from Friday to Sunday:

This will give your ad additional space and add a sense of urgency to your offer.

Just remember, you will only show ad extensions if your position and your Quality Score is high enough. It’s not enough to solely rely on the promotion extension to highlight your promotions.

Add Black Friday references in your ads

It has always been best practice to make sure your ads are relevant anyway, and one of the best ways to do this is to reference current events like Black Friday.

You can keep it simple, for example:

Add a countdown

Countdown timers are particularly effective at Christmas and on Black Friday.

On Black Friday itself, consider running a specific promotion that’s only valid for that day.

Consider breaking up your promotion in two. That way you can have a countdown timer ending at 4pm, with a 33% discount. And then another that ends at midnight with a 40% discount.

The greater the sense of urgency you can add to your Black Friday ads, the better.

It’s been proven that the closer to the deadline you get, the higher your conversion rate gets. If you can create two deadlines on Black Friday, you might see an additional surge in conversions in the middle of the day.

Change your sitelinks to specific, high-demand products

Sitelinks are usually not the biggest focus area when writing ads. Most advertisers just take a minute or so to put in a couple of random sitelinks:

On Black Friday, it might be worthwhile to add a bit of extra finesse to your sitelinks. One idea is to include the specific products you run promotions for in your sitelinks.

So, let’s say you are running a campaign for televisions. Normally, you might have sitelinks like these:

  • Most popular TVs
  • Newest Televisions
  • TVs on sale
  • All Television Sets

On Black Friday, consider adding sitelinks that are more specific to the offers you’re running:

  • All LG TVs: 33% Off Now
  • 20% Off All Sony TVs
  • 25% Television Stands
  • All Black Friday Sales

The reason why we advise going a bit broader than normal is because during Black Friday you are more likely to convince consumers to buy something they weren’t originally planning to purchase.

Add inventory references

Using ad customisers to reference your inventory status can be highly effective on Black Friday.

Let’s say you create a brilliant promotion for a sound bar speaker. It’s right in the middle of being a sought-after product, at the right price with an exceptional promotion.

You can then take advantage of this in your ads by using ad customisers to indicate how many products are left. You can create even more scarcity this way:

Just make sure you have backup promotions for when you run out of a specific product.

Write your ads at least a week in advance

You know those annoying emails you get from Google Ads about your paused ads being disapproved? There’s a reason behind the madness, and it’s for days like Black Friday.

When you prepare your ads in advance (and upload to your Google Ads account) you’ll make sure that they get approved, or disapproved, well in advance of you needing them to run.

It’s a common mistake to write, or upload, your ads the same day that you need them. You’ll lose valuable time.

4. Streamline Your Shopping Campaigns

Shopping campaigns are tricky when it comes to Black Friday. You have a lot less control than your regular Search campaigns, but Shopping campaigns still account for more than 50% of the revenue in most e-commerce Google Ads accounts, so you need to get this part right.

There are a couple of angles you can take with Google Shopping campaigns on Black Friday, but our go-to approach is the following:

  • Create a new Shopping campaign for your most important products
  • Use a “SPAG” structure (single product ad groups)
  • Start it at least one week in advance, preferably two weeks

Depending on how many products you have, it can be super easy for individual products to slip through the cracks in your Shopping campaign. But by creating a new campaign, you’ll be able to keep an eye on the specific products you’re expecting to perform well on Black Friday.

So you have store-wide promotions? It still doesn’t mean that all your products are equally important. If you look in your orders from the last 60 days, you must have a list of 10, 20 or 50 products that vastly outsell the rest of your products. Add these to the new Shopping campaign.

Just remember that if you’re using a tactic like segmenting your Shopping campaigns based on search query, then you should continue this with the campaign. You can quickly get in trouble with your ROI if you change that strategy for your key products.

Lowered prices need to be reflected in your feed

It’s crucial that your feed contains the same price as on your website for each individual product. For two reasons:

  • If your price isn’t lower in your feed, then your ads will show your original price, which will severely cripple your success on a day like Black Friday.
  • There is a strong likelihood that Google will catch the price discrepancy and disapprove your product.

Again, from the time you catch this to the time the product gets approved by Google, it might take 4-6 hours. This is time that you can’t afford to lose. And that’s if you catch it at all!

We recommend regenerating/updating your feed and sending it to the Merchant Centre right after you update the prices on your website. This might be midnight, or it might be the day before. The second the prices on your website are updated, you should update your feed.

This is especially important as products go out of stock throughout the day.

5. Execute An Ironclad Social Strategy

Prepare your social media profiles

While planning your social media strategy, it’s always good to start with your profiles. Coordinate your social media accounts to ensure all profile pictures, banners, bios, descriptions and links are updated to advertise your Cyber Monday and Black Friday promotions.

Here are few optimisation ideas:

  • Cover photos are the first thing people notice on your social media profiles. Create a custom one for each of your profiles to promote your sale.
  • Update your bio or call-to-action button to include a direct link to your dedicated Black Friday or Cyber Monday landing page.
  • Pin a tweet or Facebook post announcing the best deal at the top of your timeline.

Build a sense of urgency

Most shoppers have a natural sense of urgency during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t inject some FOMO (fear of missing out) into your social media campaigns.

A simple yet effective way to create a sense of urgency in marketing is to sprinkle time- or scarcity-related words throughout your social media content. Words like “today” or “now” trigger people to think something is in limited supply and urge consumers to take immediate action.

Other examples of time-related trigger words to weave into your content and CTA buttons include:

  • Hurry
  • Shop now
  • Limited-time offer
  • Instant savings
  • Save today
  • Limited number available
  • Don’t miss this
  • Today only

Use dedicated hashtags

Do some hashtag research before you plan your social media campaign. This will help you understand the mood and interest of your target audience, and you can plan your social media posts accordingly.

While major Black Friday and Cyber Monday have some obvious hashtags (#cybermonday, #cybermondaysales, #blackfridaydeals, etc.), it’s worth finding out what other trending hashtags you can use in your posts. For instance, searches for #giftsforher, #giftsforhim and #christmasgifts rise significantly during the holiday sales season.

Choose hashtags that are relevant to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and use them in every social media post promoting your sales.

Leverage the power of emotions

Humans are inherently emotional beings. They like to feel, and when they do, they also like to share those feelings with their family and friends on social media.

A study of 1.6 million organic posts on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ conducted by social media optimisation platform SocialFlow found that 99% of posts received little to no engagement. The content that does go viral makes people feel something.

Here are 10 emotions that work best on social media:

  • Amusement
  • Pleasure
  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Surprise
  • Hope
  • Happiness
  • Affection
  • Delight
  • Inspiration

Embed these emotions in the content of your social media posts to get attention. Get it right and your post may just go viral.

Plan and schedule your posts

In the fast-paced world of social media, timing is everything. A well-timed post can be the difference between creating social media magic and a marketing ploy that falls on deaf ears.

When you are preparing a Black Friday or Cyber Monday campaign, it’s always good to start early, plan your campaign, and create and schedule your social media posts well in advance.

There are many tools for social media scheduling out there. If you are selling on e-commerce platforms like eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce or Etsy, you can use a tool like which helps you create posts directly from your product listings.

Three reasons why you should schedule your social media posts:

  • When all your content is created at once, your design and messaging will be consistent.
  • You can schedule your posts at times that best reach your target audience.

You can focus your time and effort on selling during your busiest months.

6. Get Creative With Display Remarketing

Create a new audience list solely for Black Friday. This means you’ll create a brand-new audience the day before Black Friday that doesn’t include previous visitors.

This way you can set a more aggressive bid for the people who’ve visited your site on Black Friday and another bid for the people who visited your site before Black Friday.


Lower your remarketing efforts in the days after Black Friday. Most users will have bought what they needed, or they simply weren’t interested in the first place.

Consider static image ads for remarketing

We highly recommend some sort of static images in your remarketing mix on Black Friday, but not your existing ads. For Black Friday you’ll want something that pushes through the noise and delivers a message that adequately reflects the scarcity of the day.

Having some banners designed in the most popular sizes can be an easy win.

7. Tighten Up Your Keyword Strategy

We highly recommend adding or reactivating keywords that have previously been paused for products you’re running promotions for. On Black Friday, most of your keyword portfolio will convert better than it will the rest of the year, which means you can afford to re-enable those keywords you paused due to low performance.

The exact opposite is also true. With keywords increasing three to four times in search volume, you want to consider pausing parts of your Google Ads account that you are not running promotions for.

Should I advertise for “black friday + my keyword”?


You’ll already show up when someone searches for your keyword, so you might as well control the search by adding black Friday to some of your keywords.

However, it will not make or break your success. In big markets, though, you want to be able to control it better. Let’s say that you’re selling LG TVs, and you show up fine for searches on the keyword LG TVs, but you’re in position six for LG TVs black Friday deal.

This search term might convert much higher than your regular keywords, so if your market is big enough it’s an excellent tactic to add Black Friday to your keywords.

Should I advertise for the keyword “black friday”?

Generally, no. It’s too broad for you to target effectively.

The exception is to create a campaign only targeting your remarketing lists that target the word Black Friday (also know as RLSA only campaigns).

Find your largest list. Say, anyone who’ve visited your site in the last 6 months. Anyone who’s bought from you, well, ever. Use customer match to upload everything.

So there you have it; your 7-point Black Friday checklist for getting the most out of this year's paid search campaigns. With the big event fast approaching, make sure you're prepared and up to speed with current performance! 

If you'd like to chat with one of our Digital Paid Media experts about your Black Friday campaigns, don't hesitate to get in touch.

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