5 mistakes for agencies to avoid around Black Friday

Nadia Karpman Trudsø / November 2019

After gaining a foothold in Europe at the start of this decade, consumer behaviour around Black Friday is changing. Increasingly, it is becoming more expected and less of a novelty which means that the searches start earlier. Shoppers, it seems, can’t get enough of Black Friday.

“The perfect seasonal campaign is Black Friday,” says Kristian Olsen, founder and CEO of Copenhagen-based digital agency PR Gruppen. “Because if you have something that people would be interested in buying for Christmas, you can absolutely take advantage of Black Friday.”

5 mistakes for agencies to avoid around Black Friday

Founded in 2003 in Copenhagen, PR Gruppen has more than 30 retail clients — many of whom have both an in-store and online presence, and regard Black Friday as their most important seasonal moment. Given his experience, what common mistakes does Olsen believe agencies can avoid around Black Friday?

1. Waiting too late to plan

“One of the biggest mistakes is starting too late,” says Olsen, pointing out that PR Gruppen’s planning for the day ideally begins, at the very least, two months in advance. This gives both the client and agency time to optimise their website, create bespoke ads, and budget for the increased spend that comes with Black Friday.

“In the days leading up to Black Friday, I’d recommend increasing the quality score by ensuring the client's website can be fully optimised. It also means spending more money with a poor Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS) because consumers are waiting for the Black Friday offers to arrive. But on the day itself, you can have a very high Click-Through Rate (CTR) so your clients have a massive head start on their competitors.”

2. Fuzzy client communication

Olsen thinks agencies are not being transparent enough about the unique nature of a Black Friday campaign or the cost involved, leaving clients confused and frustrated. “When we work with a client on a campaign, we not only notify them about what we’ve done, such as adding a timer counting down to Black Friday to their ads, but also why we’ve done it.”

To increase transparency, the agency created a unique space to share updates and timely suggestions on how to maximise performance . “We bought the domain, black-friday.dk, which was purely for our clients to use,” says Olsen. “It is password protected and we can use the space to not only tell them what we’re doing, but advise them on what they can do to help their campaign, such as which display ad sizes will perform best for them.”

3. No back-up plan (aka avoid losing €500,000 in one day)

PR-Gruppen learned a tough lesson last year because of a technical fault that badly affected some of its clients. “Someone cut a very important cable that was linked to one of the biggest data centres in Denmark where a lot of our clients host their web shops. A lot of retailers were down from midnight until 4pm, and we had one client who lost 4,000,000 kroner (approx. €525,000).”

And while you can’t plan for failures, you can try to future-proof against them. “This year we're advising clients that they create a backup of their web shop that should be ready to launch instantly should something go wrong,” says Olsen. “Not that I think it's going to happen again this year, but at least our clients are prepared if it does.”

4. No distinct campaign

Olsen also believes agencies fall into the trap of believing that they can run their standard campaigns and just change some ads to mention Black Friday.

“That’s not something you can do,” he says, “because what happens is that you normally have an average cost-per-click of 2 kroner (€0.27). On Black Friday it’s probably 6 kroner (€0.80) because everyone wants to be in the auction and, to win, you have to pay more. We run new campaigns specifically for Black Friday, to help increase our clients’ exposure, clicks, and conversions.”

5. Spreading themselves too thin on Black Friday

Olsen understands the temptation for smaller agencies to offer their clients all kinds of services around Black Friday. However, he thinks that most would be better served by focusing on excelling in one area.

“When I started PR Gruppen, I wanted to do everything from SEO to various social media channels ads. But I quickly realised that I could not be the best at everything. I had to make a change with the agency and say to everyone that now our focus is on Google Ads.”

Help your clients make the most of Black Friday

In summary, agencies can assist clients in maximising their Black Friday campaigns if they start talking and planning for it now, set up distinct campaigns rather than adding keywords to current campaigns, and are upfront about costs and returns.

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