⚠️ Many businesses suffer with Facebook Ads Ecommerce Marketing during Black Friday sales. No one is immune no matter how good or experienced you are 😱
I’ve created this guide to help capture the things that can go wrong with what to do about them from a Facebook ads perspective.
What is Black Friday?
Black Friday is the name given to the day that follows Thanksgiving Thursday (an American holiday taken on the last Thursday of November) – it’s another commercial event like Valentine’s and Mother’s Day where it’s the norm to buy gifts – being right before the Christmas holiday period it makes it THE biggest sales event for most retailers.
Cyber Monday is the lesser known half-sibling of Black Friday but still just as important as part of your promotional planning.
What would you need a Black Friday Ecommerce band-aid?
This could be the most important post you read ahead of Black Friday in Q4 (Q4 = Quarter 4, the last quarter of the year from October to December).
I’ve compiled up a list of things which CAN GO WRONG below – initially this was a friendly piece of advice *in case* something went wrong for advertisers to use.
As I wrote this in 2018, *something* did actually go wrong with Facebook (surprise!) so this has become a bit of timeless advice for Facebook advertising.
BECAUSE AS A FACEBOOK ECOMMERCE MARKETER YOU SHOULD KNOW… things can sometimes go unexpectedly.
What to look out for ahead of Black Friday
By being aware, let’s ensure we’re planning ahead and reacting fast as much as we can.
🏆 Add your own tips in the comments below 👇🏻
1. SCALING SO HARD THAT FACEBOOK BLOCKS YOUR ACCOUNT ❌
❌ don’t launch a brand new account the week before expecting to scale up heavily on Black Friday.
✅ do use an account with good history/spend behind it
✅ Some recommend maxing spend fast if you want to scale fast, get it into review state, send them what they need then get caps removed. You might not have time for this ahead of FB but holiday sales will still continue beyond that – spend caps can be regional and in most cases is around $5K per month before you need to contact Facebook to get that raised.
✅ Do increase your account spend limit ahead of time (via your rep or Facebook’s online chat)
2. SCALING SO HARD YOUR PAYMENT GETS BLOCKED BY FACEBOOK 💸
✅ Do have a backup payment method in place
✅ Do ensure you have the funds
✅ Check and potentially increase your billing threshold – this is the point your card gets charged. If scaling hard and getting billed lets say at every $500 (and you plan to spend $10K+) your card provider might flag it as fraud because of an unexpected spend behaviour
✅ Contact your payment provider ahead of time, remove anti-fraud blocks if possible
✅ Have a back up account with spend in place just in case
✅ Export your campaigns so in the case you need to upload to a new account it will be at hand
3. WASTED FACEBOOK AD SPEND 💵
✅ I use Supermetrics into Google Sheets to track all my accounts HOWEVER I will be keeping Ads Manager screens open to track spend closer during the day, hitting the little refresh icon periodically! Check in often especially when scaling!
✅ Use RULES to avoid issues where possible. Facebook’s built-in tool checks every 30 minutes, I use Revealbot which checks every 15. But if you’re scaling high then even 15 minutes is a long time so don’t rely on this
✅ I use Reveal’s Slack alert to give me daily performance updates… if you use this, consider creating a dedicated Black Friday channel and push BF specific alerts here
✅ Ensure rules are working as you expect to catch bad performance whichever tool you’re using. If new to rules, set this up in advance and properly test. I had one rule I setup very early on that said if CPA was below my target $25 then continue scaling… forgetting that computers are dumb and $0 is also below $25 and the ad set went WILD 🤦♀️
❌ Don’t start using rules and automations and think you can learn as you go heading straight into Black Friday. Stay away from automations and rules doing things manually instead and focus on sales, optimisation, growth etc instead
4. FACEBOOK ADS CREATIVE DEATH 👀
✅ Test ads in advance and know which are working
✅ Have lots of back up creative. When scaling it’s often the ads that fail not the audience (assuming you’ve found a good audience. Play on different angles
✅ Dupe ads and run them together. No 2 ads will have the same performance, even if the campaign, ad set and everything else remains the same. It’s just how Facebook works so do dupe ads
✅ Do use PPE alongside your main objective to bulk up social proof early. If running Video I prefer PPE (better social proofing) but no harm in also pushing a VV campaign too
✅ Do use Dynamic Content Optimisation (DCO) to test faster if time is limited, allowing you to multi-test copy, creative and more together
5. FACEBOOK ADS POLICY ☠️
✅ I don’t think the negative of this needs explaining, but DO ensure you get ads APPROVED well in advance of Black Friday. But don’t think just because it’s approved that it won’t hit a manual review and become disapproved. One hack to (temporarily) overcome this is create multiple versions of the same ad once approved so that if disapproved you can push the same, approved ad back in the ad set.
✅ Audit your funnel, from ads to lander and ensure you’re policy compliant especially if launching ads or landers you’ve never used before. Test with a small closed audience, run some traffic see if Facebook flag anything.
✅ I advocate having more than one Account just in case, but ensure the pixel is shared from your main account and/or the pixel for the new account is installed on your site
✅ If the extreme happens and you lose your BM, again have a back up ready!
✅ Oh, and it goes without saying, don’t put all your eggs into the Facebook ads basket – too high a risk
6. FACEBOOK ADS SCALING ISSUES 📈
✅ Do ensure you’ve tested scaling strategies ahead of BF
❌ Don’t think that simply pushing more spend will get you better results
✅ Do have strategies at hand. My preferred scaling strategies including: dupe to higher budget, manual bid, segmentation however nothing replaces a strong Advertising Core-4 – ensuring your Product, Audience, Offer and Funnel are working in top condition to feed Facebook good, juicy data
✅ If using manual bid, do consider accelerated delivery IF performance is off the scale (in a good way) with an ad set. But know that accelerated delivery tells Facebook to simply spend your budget as fast as possible (as opposed to pacing it through the day) so be careful when and where you use this – it’s a super advanced technique
❌ Don’t use lifetime budgets on BF and expect to scale hard, because if Facebook doesn’t think it can spend and meet your spend target it won’t.
❌ Don’t rely on Target cost (average bid) as Facebook will only spend if it feels it can reach that target, which on BF it probably will lead to underspend
✅ Do bid much higher if you know your ads, ad set and funnel are well-primed for scale (fast loading, high converting).
7. STALLING REACH FROM FACEBOOK ADS ✋
✅ Do keep a close eye on delivery insights as to whether your audience is/becomes saturated and your audience overlap. General practice is to keep overlap below 30%. If over then reach may be stalled
✅ Keep an eye on relevance scores (quality rank metrics). Whilst I NEVER optimise for this it’s a useful gauge as to what’s causing your high CPMs (ie auction, competitors or your own ads). A super low relevance score could suggest your ads are being poorly received, sometimes because they are genuinely poor, sometimes because you’ve maxed our frequency. Figure it out and in most cases, a low relevance score, stalled reach, high frequency and drop in performance mean the ad set is long due a creative refresh
✅ Do consider manual bid. If you’ve tested audiences ahead of time and your ads are not getting enough reach with auto bid consider manual. I usually test up to 4X my target CPA in bands (1x, 2x,3x,4x) to find the best performance then hone it down from there. It usually falls around 3X CPA give or take and I might adjust for the best ROAS/CPA.
✅ Do consider duplicating ad sets and ads to counter stalled performance as it could be that the ad set score in the auction is too low to get good results. Resetting this can help
✅ Do keep a close eye on customer feedback. If you’re running an Ecom store and your customer feedback score is below 2 you will lose reach (and be heading towards an ad account ban too). Don’t expect to scale hard if your score is very low
8. PLANNING FOR THE UNEXPECTED ✍🏾
✅ Do keep a close eye on stock levels. If you have limited stock and run variants, keep an eye on the popular variants selling out fast. I’ve been caught out thinking my campaign had sunk in the past to only find out it wasn’t a traffic but a merchandising issues
✅ Do be prepared for a spike in site traffic. Have you stress tested your website? I recall a few years ago we drove a huge spike of traffic through a 3rd party email promotion which brought an ecom site to a halt as it was TOO SUCCESSFUL! Big lesson learned on not just preparing but ensuring your team are aware of spikes. Especially if you’re not a one-man band. Let your tech AND customer service teams know they could both expect spikes due to Black Friday sales
✅ Do ensure you’re resourced up for additional customer support enquiries – prioritise NEW enquiries pre-purchase if you have to but don’t leave tickets waiting.
✅ Do have traffic cover over the weekend too in case something needs scaling/pulling back
✅ It’s ok to panic if FACEBOOK IS DOWN. This is a normal reaction shared by millions of advertisers like you. There is help in forums and of course my own programs/team – reach out!
✅ If unsure of your Facebook Ads metrics (whether delayed or you feel they’re wrong) check GA and check your back-end data (eg Shopify), ideally for hourly day-on-day performance. In GA: Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview then hit the hourly and check day on day
✅ Consider capping your account spend limited to a small single digit number to pause all ads at the tap of one single button until the coast is clear if Facebook is down
✅ Do remember to undo the Account Spend Limit change above!
✅ Do grab your beverage of choice, rock back and forth in your chair and tell yourself everything will be ok (it will). We’re in this together (Despite all competing with each other at some level)
✅ If you’re building a large campaign, EXPORT the entire new setup into a CSV. If Facebook fails and clears all your recent campaign build, you can QUICKLY re-upload the entire campaign (i.e. before a draft to publish fails)
❌ Don’t work on extensive builds in one go. Setup each part section by section if possible and launch into an inactive state
✅ It’s ok to check on Twitter if other people are experiencing Facebook issues
✅ Check Facebook status here: https://downdetector.com/status/facebook and https://status.fb.com/ads/
Bookmark this page and keep it handy!
Over to you… add your tips and experiences below.
Together, we will get through this and profit! 💰