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Episode 120 - Let's Review some Black Friday Campaigns

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Hey, Scott Austin here.

In this episode, I have an accompanying video, so if you're listening to the audio only version and you like what you hear, feel free to check out the show notes and follow the link to the video so you can see what I'm showing you on the screen, but I'll walk you through it in audio fashion so you can keep up with us and understand what we're talking about.

as I'm recording this episode, it's the 18th of November 2023, which is the Saturday before Black Friday, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. And what I wanted to do in this episode is just look at

one query on Google search for a keyword phrase that is Black Friday specific. So I picked Black Friday deals Backpack 2023 and I just wanted to see what the results were.

And then I looked at specific Shopify stores that showed up in the results, and we'll look at each one of those and see what

their program and marketing for Black Friday looks like. So interestingly, when I first did this query, I had Google AdWords show up at the top of the results page,

then I clicked on the tabs for shopping results.

And then when I came back to the all results, it had gotten rid of the Google AdWords and now is showing just the shopping ads at the top of the page. But then when I had the AdWords up there, there were four results that showed, and one of them was a Shopify store. So we'll show you that one.

And that one is probably targeting the keyword phrase black Friday. And then I looked at the first row of shopping results, which are product specific results. And in looking at all of those, I couldn't see that any of them had Black Friday

in their product descriptions. So I think they were just the top results for backpacks, not for Black Friday deals, but a few of those were also Shopify stores, and I'll show you those.

Now, interestingly, in the organic surgeries, it's it's really hard for a Shopify store to rise to the top. You can see the first result is Amazon. And then there's a bunch of news articles which are like aggregate ing best of lists. So there's one from Business Wire, one from Newswire, one from travel and Leisure, and they say things like, you know, best Black Friday Early Luggage reviews.

This popular carry on backpack is only $22 today. And then as I started seeing the shopping results show up lower down on the list, there were a few of them that were Shopify stores. Now, the three that I'm going to look at were probably in the top ten results, but most of the top results are dominated by the big players like Walmart, Target, Amazon or Buy news sites that are aggregating a list together on that topic.

So let's go into the first store. That was a AdWords result. So that was probably for the Black Friday keyword phrase along with backpack. Now you'll notice here that I have a pop up that says Give away, win a free carry on in backpack and you know, enter your email address, probably a clear video form and I got to say on Black Friday, where the keyword phrase is, you know, Black Friday, you know, deals, I would not get in the way of the customer and interrupt them with a pop up for an email signup.

I would get them into the shopping experience as quickly as possible. Right. So in the URL string, we know that this is coming from AdWords, so they could set up some some logic that doesn't show their pop up. You know, when it's AdWords traffic or when it's on this page for Black Friday, there's a bunch of ways they could do it and not get in front of the customer with something.

It's not related to Black Friday deals. Now when I get rid of that pop up, what's really nice here is, you know, I'm obviously on a black Friday page, early Black Friday save up to that's weird. So it's early Black Friday sale, save up to 30% off. But the text, the first row is early black save up to in the second row is Friday sale 30% off and you're supposed to be smart enough to figure out which I wasn't the first time I looked at it that they've got two columns, even though they look like two rows.

It's two columns of text separated by color. So I think they're being a little too cute there. And it was very confusing to me when I first read them, like, what's what's going on there? And what I also don't see on this is it doesn't feel Black Friday to me. It doesn't feel holiday. There's no theming on this.

It's just shows a person with a bunch of luggage so it's thematically accurate to luggage, even though I did search for backpacks. But nothing here says Holiday to me. Your gift giving or anything like that, you know, that is what it is. So I also see they have a shop now use code early B.F. So they're letting customers know, Hey, we have a Black Friday sale.

You can get up to 30% off. Now as I scroll down, they show some reviews, they show their bestselling products. They've got a gift guide. So there's some good merchandizing going on on this page, right? They've got a little bit of a land experience there. The one, however, I would throw at this in addition to the holiday thematics, is I don't see when this ends.

Now they do have a top bar. This is save up to 30% off on everything. Use code early, be a free 4 to 6 day shipping. So they're setting expectation and how long it'll take to get it. That's really nice. I would just also have something that says, you know, sale ends, you know create a sense of urgency for them.

You know, does the early sale, is it going to be better than the regular sale on Black Friday? Do I have to you know, participate now before Black Friday to get the 30% or is it go all the way through to Cyber Monday that this 30% off deal exists so they could do a better job at creating urgency by showing the deadline for this sale of their doing?

And it doesn't say here and it might not be true. But you know what I've seen a lot of stores do and I always recommend is if your Black Friday is your best sale of the year, say that, you know, early, early Black Friday sale, save up to 30% off our best deal of the year. Something like that would be really nice for people to know that, hey, this is super special.

You know, this store's making a big deal out of Black Friday and it's not just another ho hum holiday sale that they're doing. This is their biggest one. So if it's true, you should highlight that. Now, if I click on to the early Black Friday sale NAB link, I want to see if it goes to the same page I was on.

Nope. So they built a landing page for the ad, which is really nice. If I click on the nav link for early Black Friday sale, it takes me to a collection page and there it says early Black Friday sale save up to 30% Sitewide Use code early be left to apply full discount, but once again, they're not creating the sense of urgency.

And now I've got a collection page with a bunch of products on it and no tools to help me figure out which product is best for me. So there's carry on luggage of different sizes, there's handbags, there's cross-body bags, there's backpacks, there's slings, there's water bottles, there's clothing, all sorts of different information or all sorts of different types of products.

There's even stickers. So they could have some filters or bucket size. These things like this is the luggage section, this is the clothing section, but there's a lot of products with no tools to help me realize which product is best for me. Now each one does a sale on it. You could even get a little bit fancier and have it say B.F. Sale for Black Friday sale.

Not all of them say sale on it, which is interesting. So some of them show a sale price and then the full price and others just show the full price in those sales price. So let's just click on the metro backpack, which doesn't social does not show a sale price. And here on that product page, I'm not seeing anything about a sale either.

So this was listed in their Black Friday sale. Now it does say that I have to enter the code early before. So let's add this to the cart and we're going to go into our checkout experience. So now so they automatically added the code early. P.F. Which is really nice. So somewhere, whether it was in the ad link that I clicked on or the NAV link for no, it's not the nav link for for early Black Friday, but they've already added the code early beef to my browser session.

So now I can see that I'm going to get 15% off because it's it's $30 off on a $200 product. So this is part of the sale, but it didn't say sale on the product page and on the collection page. It didn't see sale, so it wasn't. So that coupon code was applied, which they're showing in the car, which is some work they did on their part to customize the cart, to show the code being there.

That's really nice work on their part and then to show the savings. So when I go into the checkout, I'll should see the same thing where early Black Friday sale, limited quantity. I can see the coupon code, the savings that I'm getting and all that stuff. But adding a cart really slick on on their part and I don't think I mentioned it earlier, but the store that I'm looking at is called Monos.

It looks like they sell lots of different types of luggage and other things. So high quality, you know, site with Polish specially that cart thing. I think they could do a little bit better job and being more consistent about, you know, the fact that, hey, this is going to be a sale item and let's actually go back to one of the other products that showed sale.

Right? So there's one here that says 255 full price to 25 is the sale price. Now, I want to see is so 255 is the full price on the variant I selected on 240 is the sale price. I want to see what happens when I add it to the cart so that 240 gets taken down to 204 so the product is listed with a sale price and then the coupon code takes place on top of that.

Like I said, that can cause some confusion for customers when they're looking at it at the collection page level. But overall, pretty good. Not great, but pretty, pretty good experience here. So now the stores and I'm going to move on to Shopify stores that showed up for the shopping ads. And like I said, I don't think any of the shopping ads were driven by a keyword of Black Friday Sale or Deal or anything like that.

My guess is these were just the top backpacks and they were sponsored ads. So these are the stores that are paying to be promoted in the sponsored ads link to this shopping sponsored ads at the top of the results page. And this one here, I don't see anything on the product page about a sale. Like I said, I'm not surprised by that because I don't think these Google shopping ads register that I do.

I do see a sale link at the top of the page, and that is for their ridge holiday sale. So it says sale in red on the NAB, which is good. But then I click on it, it's the holiday sale. So I would actually show, you know, holiday sale or Black Friday sale, be a little more specific than just generic sale and let them know what it's about in Ridge is selling wallets mostly or lots and lots of products on that page but mostly wallets.

So the backpack that I started off with in this experience is not showing up on the holiday sale. Now, their holiday sales, a little thematic. It's got some pine twigs and cones. So, you know, it looks a little wintery kind of thing. And it also says in their top bar holiday sale, up to 30% off. So now this is our second store whose max discount for Black Friday is 30%.

So that is a ridge. So now we're going to move on to Heritage Backpack or wow, I cannot tell you what that it looks like. Herschel, their logo is so small on the product page. It is ridiculous. And there's there's like three rows of or four rows of text in their logo. It's just ridiculous. Herschel Yeah, it's Herschel dot com super super small logo but I'm on this product page I see that it's 31% off for some reason does not say how a holiday I've got a cookie pop up that I have to click continue to to to see the rest of the page.

Not seeing anything specific about holiday on that they've got a sale link in their NAV and it's a mega menu. This is Black Friday sale up to 50% off seriously nice little merchandizing there happens when I click on that. I get a pretty poor looking banner at the top of the Black Friday sale. It's one of those blow up things.

You see it like used auto dealers kind of thing, you know, which I think those things are kind of cheesy. So now I'm feeling like, well, your sales kind of cheesy, right? I would have had a little more polish or quality to it than what they've done there. But, you know, it's no worse than what they did with their logo.

So now I look at this collection page, it's showing 40% off, 30% off. So you see for each of these items how much you get off on them and there's no coupon code, right? It just it's just percent off kind of thing, which is nice. Just like in Monaco. It was nice. They automatically applied the coupon code so customers don't have to enter them in and, you know, worry about mis typing it and all that kind of stuff.

But here on the collection page and on the product page, I can see what my sale price is because it's clearly showing that with the percentage off. So I get that, you know, positive reinforcement that I'm getting the deal that I came here to see. So through on to the next result, that was a Google shopping. And this is Monos.

Again, you showed up in the Google shopping ads. Also on this page here, there's nothing about a sale in the product page. There is simply to throw out everything, use code early beef in the top bar, which you had mentioned before. So let's move on to our next store. And this is our last Google shopping ad now. And this one here, I've got a this company is called Antler and they've got a pop up sign up to receive exclusive 15% off or sign up to receive and exclusive 15% off.

Sign up to receive 50% off your first order and be the first to hear about sales, promotions and new launches. So once again, during Black Friday time frame, I don't know what their sale is yet. We're going to see that in a moment. But I doubt 15% off is a bigger deal than their Black Friday, unless that coupon code could be added to my discount that I'm getting on Black Friday.

We don't know how they've got that set up, but I've also got a cookie bar that I have to accept. So they've got two pop ups in front of my shopping experience before I can see the product. Now this product, I see a little piece of text on the image that says 50% off in Orange Age, but I don't know why it's 50% off by looking at just the product page.

And a lot of their products have a product carousel on the product page. So I'm not a fan of. But they also show discounts for some of their products. So they do have a Black Friday link in the NAV and it's called out with a different color, the orange color that we saw, which is consistent with what the sale price was.

And if I click on that Black Friday link and I can see they've got a mega menu there and it shows up to 50% off Sitewide Black Friday, I'm going to click on the Black Friday link and it takes me to a collection page which tells me nothing about the program. Right? There's more information in the mega menu image.

This is Black Friday, up to 50% off Sitewide. That's more information than they tell me on the Black Friday page, which is a collection page which just as Black Friday shows the products, there's a filter which I didn't notice at first because it's hidden over in the corner so I can filter the products, but it doesn't tell me about what the Max deal is.

It doesn't tell me when it starts. It doesn't come in ends. There's no sense of creating urgency. There is no tone being sent with it being holiday or gift giving. So not the best of experiences there, at least doing something. They put something together, but not a really good experience.

So now we're going to move into the three that showed up in organic search a little below the other things like Amazon in the news articles.

But these were the first three Shopify stores to show up an organic search for the keyword phrase. Remember, it was a Black Friday deals backpack 2023. So these are the people that are optimizing the most for that keyword phrase. So we'll see if they have a better experience. So the first one is cabin zero and we land on a page that's a collection page backpack.

Black Friday sale, Right. And they've got a big banner Fitbit's collection page, Black Friday sale, up to 60% off. Unpack a universe of savings. They've got a lifestyle image of a guy with a skateboard, with a backpack, no holiday tone or look or feel, too, that there is a cookie bar that I've got a click to get rid of.

And then I scroll down the collection page and they don't have any filters besides availability, and they show a lot of products on that page. So nothing to help me find what the right product for me is. No filters or any other merchandizing type of thing. And if I look at a product, I can see that the first one is normal.

The price is $69, now it's $45. I save 24% by click on that product. So they're doing the math on how many dollars. I see. But they're not telling me what percentage of savings that is. So sometimes it's really good to help your your customers. And now I got another pop up. Join us. Get 15% off your first order when you sign up to our newsletter, get rid of that one.

Sometimes it's nice if you do help your your customers with math and tell them what the percentage savings is, because most people think, 20% off, 50% off they think that way versus $24 off on a $68 purchase. So help them do that math and let them know what that percentage is. So back to our landing page.

So in the landing page, I got that email pop up again. That is ridiculous. What I'm trying to see here is because you remember I put in the search query 2023 and nothing on this page says 2023. there it is. Black Friday 2023 Sale deals. So they did have the text for 2023 in there to help raise it up in the ranks for that keyword freeze.

So that's cabin zero. Let's move on to before we do that. Yeah. So in cabin Zero, I don't have any sale. there is Black Friday sale, it's in the NAV. But it's really weird because there's so the NAB goes product, product, product, product, product, blog sale or new color, which is product. So and by product, you know, the first one is backpacks and shoulder black bags and bomb bags.

The British company accessories cabin bags, blogs. So it wasn't easy for me to find Black Friday sale on that list because it wasn't the first item and it wasn't the last and it didn't have any special colored treatment. Like a few of the other stories that we had talked about. And adding a color treatment to a NAB item is actually really simple to do.

All you have to do in your navigation. If you go into your Shopify admin, go to online store navigation menu. All you have to do is wrap the text for that NAV menu. Black Friday sale, Wrap it with an email tag of span, you know, an open span tag and a closed span tag. And then on your customer access section for your header, you can apply custom cases for anything within a span.

So you can then say, Hey, if anything is in a span, just change the color to be red or bold or whatever you want it to be. Now that isn't enough information for you to go do that on your own, but you can easily look that up and be able to add color to your nav menus on your own.

Add color to one item in your nav menu on your own. So that's the first one that should have an organic search. So let's look at the second one. The company is Tropic feel their logo is just a text thing. Just text. There's no graphic behind it. They've got some really nice animations, lines on their products, really nice, you know, because they're this this luggage set, you know, packs together and they actually show it packing and unpacking before your eyes.

It's really cool. Now, their landing page is a page versus a collection. And that page is Black Friday backpacks. And it says Black Friday sale backpacks and luggage, up to 40% off. So they're telling me how big of a sale on is. Once again, none of them have told me when the sale ends, none of them are creating a sense of urgency, like get the, you know, the early bird special or get it before it's going.

Actually, one store did mention get it before it's sold out limited quantities and this one does set top bar Black Friday sale 50% off live now for a limited time only but they don't tell me when that limited time ends. I click on that top bar link. It takes you to their generic Black Friday page and I mean generic by a product thing.

So I had landed on their backpack Black Friday sale, so they've actually got more than one page targeting Black Friday by the different categories. So that's that's nice work done on their part They're spreading out you know their focus and what they're targeting by different product categories. And on here I can see that you know word normalizes sale over the image.

This one actually does say Black Friday instead of sales. So that's really nice. And it shows the percentage discounts. Some of them are small, like 7%, others are 30%. So some of them are really small percentages and others are larger. So if I was them, I might want to think about maybe showing it by, you know, discount like these are because it says selling fast is one category of bestsellers.

So they're trying to a little bit of merchandizing, but there's no filters. There's way too many products to really make this page useful. It's too much content to go through. But they're trying. Right? So one of things, you know, maybe another way to sort this would be by savings. And so everything gets 30% off first to see if you can create, you know, interest based on the the deeper discount kind of thing.

And then, you know, if they have such varied discounts, they might be doing things like their higher discount items or last year's inventory that they're trying to to close out any one of them, even this is 40% off I want to see in the promotion, the promo says up to 50% off. Yeah. So it'd be nice if they showed you hate.

Here's the 50% off product. Let's see if I can find one here. Scrolling through this page, which has a whole bunch of list of collections on it. And I'm not seeing a 50% yet. I've seen a couple for those. Right. That's that's pretty crappy. Don't tell me it's up to 50% off and I can't find there's one 50% off.

Finally, I had to scroll three quarters of the way down the page. They got this nook pouch. It looks like the only product that is 50% off. So kind of a cheap way to say up to 50% off of only one product in two different colors is 50% off. But notice what it is now on their product page.

They talk about delivery, which is good. They're showing the Black Friday sales thing, the percentage off. That's all good. Yeah. So, you know, Tropic feel should, you know, just think about another way to create that sense of urgency and it could be even things like limited inventory and actually show the inventory number like we have a hundred of these and when they're gone, they're gone kind of thing just trying to, you know, help help create that sense of urgency whenever you can, especially when you're running sales and Black Friday promotions, you know, because people are shopping across so many different products, you need to stand out your product, your sale.

But also, are there other ways that you can create urgency and stand out? So let's go on to our last store, which is Target's, and this was once again an organic search results, and they have a pop up for email collection, $15 off, $50, $30 off, $100 and $45 off orders of 150 plus now through Cyber Monday. So at least that's telling me that this is now this pop up is for their cyber or their Black Friday Cyber Monday special, but it's a pop up.

Now, if this is true and I have to give them their email address to get that deal, I would actually embed that form on their Black Friday page, which we're going to get rid of this pop up in a second. See what that looks like. But if you have to give your email address to get the deal and you give that email address before you check out, then I would embed that.

So let's see, I close this form out and then I realize, I want the deal. Can I get that form back up to get the deal? So we'll see in a second. This one also has a preferences, you know, cookies thing, personal information, garbage you have to close out. So now I have a landing collection that is Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales, the handle of it.

It says the Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale. The more you spend, the more you save at Target dot now through Cyber Monday. So it takes $15 off a 50 $30 off, $145 off orders of 150 plus. So that's the same deal that was in the pop up. But the pop up, you know, implied that I had to give them my email address to get that deal.

So I'm not a fan of lying. Right. Or just being inaccurate is, I guess, a polite way to say that. So we're going to see here in a second if I get this deal with without putting my email address in. And then that would beg the question of why are you doing email address collection on this page when I don't need the email address to be collected to get the deal?

And if I'm going to buy it, you're going to get my email address anyways. All right, so use the promo to get them to buy. And then the side benefit happens to be you have their email address. So let's look at, you know, this collection. It's got a banner image which does, you know, have their product and it's the that's nicely done.

It does say Black Friday Cyber Monday so I'm going to assume Yeah. Is now through Cyber Monday. So they're telling you when it ends and they give you the dollar value prop of the more you spend the more you save. So this is a little bit better merchandizing than some of the other stores have done. They've also got a mini banner on the top which shows the same thing.

It's got a shop now button, which if I click on it, takes you to the page that I'm already on. So that's just kind of silly. And now I got this other little pop up in the corner. It says, Get up to $45 off. I click on that, it gives you that same promo I saw before. So now I'm confused again, like, do I have to give them my email address to get this $45 off on our 50 bucks, which we'll see in a second.

Now, this collection does have filters, so that's nice. So I can, you know, sort through it and figure things out. So now I'm going to take this a backpack. The first one on the list I'm just seeing now take 40% off this limited exclusive bag. Use the code 40th bag at checkout. Now, does that conflict with my Black Friday special?

Right. So you got a Black Friday special running right now. So now there's like multiple codes or discounts. We're going to see how that works. So the Black Friday deals, if it's over $150, I'm going to get $45 off. So I'm going to add to these 99, 99 products to my cart and see what happens. Now I get an extended, you know, a warranty pop up.

I'm just not a fan of pop ups everywhere and getting in people's ways. And now so they've got a cart that's a mini cart. I'm going to go view that cart and it's 199 98 for the two of them, but it's 150 for 98. So I think that's my $45 off. Doesn't exactly say that. That's my guess. Right.

So now I'm going to go into the checkout and yeah, so now it tells me that I'm getting the promotion. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 2023 Orders $140 plus get $45 off. So that whole email pop up form, which I looked at twice, was false. I didn't need that. I didn't need to give them in my email address, which I'm going to do anyways when I check out.

But I didn't have to do that before I bought it to get the deal. Now I want to see what happens if I paste in that coupon code. We saw a minute ago on the product page. So now I don't know if that was incremental. So 119 99, I'm going to get rid of that coupon code. So yeah, I got $45 off, it looks like for the Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

If I use the discount code, I save more money. And I don't know if that's incremental or not because it says 40th bag -$79. So let's go back to that product page. And that coupon code was take 40% off, right? So I got $45 off for buying two of them. So $45 out of $200 is like 25%. Little less than that.

But I get 40% off by using the coupon code. So there's there's this conflict going on where, you know, you're making your customers think like which deal is better. And, you know, you have to know Shopify well enough to know to add a coupon code or unused use it, you know, and add this other one and see what happens kind of thing.

So I think that could be a little bit cleaner experience. That just happened to be the the first product on the list. Let's see if another product has one of these coupon code things. Also. So we'll pick the we'll just pick something farther down a Bluetooth transmitter. So this one doesn't have a coupon code and its product description.

So maybe that was just a unique thing with that one product for whatever reason. Now Target also has in their NAV a sale link and that sale link is in red where everything else is in black. So it stands out, but it doesn't say Black Friday, it doesn't say holiday. So I click on that and it takes me.

So this one says Sale save up to 70% on tech accessories and more. But it doesn't that doesn't have a holiday branding but it's got the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale mini banner that's in there. So it's got a banner and a mini banner over the collection page. I click on the mini banners. Right now I'm on collection sale.

I click on the mini banner, takes me to Collections, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. So they've got two sales, right? They got products on sale, which just may be their normal products. We're getting out of our inventory. Who knows? Right? And those can be up to 70% off on tech accessories and more. Not so. Yeah, it is like keyboards and stuff.

It's not laptops or not backpacks kind of thing. Well, there's a backpack, so that's just confusing, right? So I've got a sale and then I got a Black Friday sale. And on the sale page, they're promoting a Black Friday sale, which takes me to a different page. So kind of a confusing experience there. But, you know, at least at least they've got the holiday promotions going.

It's got fanatics going on. It's just it's just kind of confusing because they're coupon codes and two different sales going on at the same time. It's hard to figure out which is the best one for your you as a customer given your situation.

that was all the stores in that search results page that were Shopify stores in those three different buckets of Google AdWords, Google shopping ads and organic search results.

And I'm actually surprised at how poorly in general most of them were done. Right now, the shopping ads, it's not fair to say they were poorly done because they really weren't picked up because of a Black Friday deal. But the paid ad and which is one of them, and then the three of them for organic search, I think could have done, you know, quite a bit better job in many different areas.

And one of interesting things is a lot of them had 30% as their max discount and a couple of them were a little bit higher than that, up to the 50% that one with the 50% had one product at the 50% just they could say up to 50% off because you feel for at least with that, you know, random sample of 30 to 50% being your Black Friday discount.

And you know, a lot of them talked about, you know, early sale and all that kind of thing, which is kind of become a best practice now. It used to be Black Friday started on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Now Black Friday really starts the Friday before Thanksgiving, I think where you put out your Earlybird specials to your your current list of people and you start promoting it and you get them coming in and shopping, you know, early as early birds make them feel special that they get access to that sale.

But that sale definitely is starting a week early for most stores these days. And most stores also definitely go through to at least Cyber Monday on their Black Friday sales. So Black Friday is now like a week and a half over two weekends event where it used to be Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, a Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

So hopefully this just gives you a feel for how, you know, this segment of Shopify stores is doing things. And maybe you can learn something from these that they did well or some of the recommendations that I made on things that can improve upon for your own Black Friday and other sale campaigns, for that matter, in the future.

Thanks for listening.


JadePuma is a certified Shopify Expert. If you need any help with your Shopify store, we can help.