Flip The Switch Episode 57: Cyber Weekend

John Saunders
By John Saunders

PAT: Today on Flip the Switch. Apple stops reporting on their unit sales after Q3 earnings, and shares continue to tumble. Amazon secures its new headquarters right near another headquarters that we’re all familiar with. And Uber continues bleeding money. Our main topic revolves around black Friday and cyber Monday and what you should be doing to make sure that you’re set up for success.

Let’s get into it.

00:54 AUSTIN: Welcome to Flip the Switch presented by Power Digital Marketing. This is episode number 57.

01:01 PAT: 57. Do we know anybody that’s number 57?

01:05 AUSTIN: I don’t know who would be number 57. That’s a very strange number.

01:08 PAT: Johnny Vandermeer, if you’re into 1910s baseball.

01:13 AUSTIN: Classic.

01:14 JOHN: I am. Huge fan.

01:15 PAT: Good.

01:16 AUSTIN: Yeah, besides Ty Cobb, I don’t think I know anybody from that era.

01:17 PAT: Yeah. Well at any rate. Kind of forgettable.

01:19 AUSTIN: Absolutely. But what isn’t going to be forgettable is this year’s black Friday. Probably going to be the biggest one ever. From what we’ve seen in terms of metrics each year.

These sales do climb. And we’re going to get into that as our main topic. Discuss some best practices that we’re doing at our agency. What we’re telling our clients. We’re going to involve a couple different channels, that’s paid ads. Even organic search–talking about web dev and creative design.

But before we do that we wanted to do some… Get you caught up on some news. Recent events from the big companies we always talk about. So we’re doing apple, amazon and Uber today. Really excited about this. There’s a lot of analysis involved with the changing landscapes there.

So pat, why don’t we intro on apple and get caught up with what’s going on there?

02:04 PAT: Perfect so a couple weeks ago it came out in the news and I’m reading this off of TechCrunch, but apple is going to stop sharing numbers on how many devices it’s selling. This kind of comes as a result of the Q3 earnings meeting. Basically what happened is they went through the report, some of the unit sale numbers are kind of lackluster. And at the end of the report the CFO Luca Maestri–I believe is how it’s pronounced–he… And now so they’re not gonna be sharing unit sales of iPhones, iPads or Macs anymore. Which is kind of concerning if you’re somebody that’s just like in the private sector that wants to invest in apple. Because you have one less criterion to determine the like health or validity of the company as a whole.

And apple’s leadership team has like kind of an interesting take on this.

02:55 AUSTIN: I think the whole thing seems to be kind of a smoke and mirrors tactic at this point. Because what we’re seeing is revenue is increasing, yes. But total units were not. It was actually going down.

And so the way that they’ve mitigated that, is they simply have created more models that cost more money. So they pushed the average price per unit up. Because they increase the price of the phone. And that’s kind of how they’re mitigating the fact that people aren’t buying as many iPhones.

And that’s really the truth of the matter. Is the units told the story. It doesn’t matter if they’re different models. When you add them all up you’re gonna get how many are being purchased. And that total number’s going down. So they’re looking at this as a way to kind of paint a different picture, honestly. They want to paint a little bit of a different picture.

03:42 PAT: Yeah and I think… It does make some sense. Because to that point before about… Probably like last year… Everything hovered right around the same price point. And now they have dispersion across a lot of different types of price points. Like the apple watch starts at $399, the iPads $800, the iPhone XS max is $1099, the new MacBook air is like $1,200. So they have all these different price points but if they’re being determined solely on units sold, as far as like their health and overall progress as a company– especially one that’s publicly held–people are gonna be a little bit skeptical and probably be a little bit concerned if they see unit sales growth slowing. When in reality–and this is the argument that the apple leadership team would make–when in reality things may be healthier than they’ve been before.

Because they’re probably more net profitable. Like, I’d venture to say manufacturing the iPhone XS, if you’re looking just like from a cogs basis–like expenses for manufacturing–it’s not gonna cost that much more than the old iPhones that they would sell at $700.

04:40 AUSTIN: And that’s the take and the angle that apple is going after right? Is they want to show their shareholders that they’re actually more profitable now than they’ve ever been due to what you just described as efficiency in their supply chain. And also their margins, right?

They have increased the price of that phone substantially. I think we saw the increase in their average price per phone go from around… It was 618 a year ago, now it’s at 793. So over $150 per unit. And we know that their most recent phone which just came out is over a thousand dollars to purchase it. That alone is kind of what the story they want you as a shareholder to invest in. Is that “look, yeah, you can you can harp on that unit all you want. But at the end of the day we’re more profitable than we’ve ever been. And here is why X, Y and Z.”

And I kind of tend to agree with them to a degree. I see what they’re doing is that they’re saying well hey maybe we’re not selling as many units, but we’re leaner and meaner than we’ve ever been. We’re still that smart, brilliant, long-standing company that we’ll always be.

05:48 PAT: Right. And I do understand that. But I think there’s a couple things to consider. One other thing is that their CFO mentioned that competitors like google and Samsung don’t release their unit sales numbers. They only release their revenue numbers like they’re their sales in dollars.

Which I think is an interesting approach for apple, because they’ve always done things differently. Like “think differently” that’s their whole thing, right?

But now they’re kind of like adhering to the competition. I see this is almost like a backpedaling of sorts, because the apple stock has started to slide before that call. It’s not like right after the Q3 earnings call everything started to slide. They saw one of the worst days that they’ve ever seen since January 2014. Their stock slid like 6.6% and it pushed apples market value… The decline helped push market apples market value to nine hundred and eighty seven billion, after it a trillion dollars in just august.

And so I think that this is a little bit of that. They’re trying to encourage people to stay invested. Encourage people “hey, unit sales might be going down, but we’re making more money.”

It’s a stock play. It’s a PR play. They’re trying to get people to feel confident in the buy. And honestly, I think that they’re kind of engaging in a narrative that they hadn’t before. And it just seems like backpedaling to me a little bit.

06:59 AUSTIN: It didn’t work.

07:00 PAT: It didn’t work.

07:01 AUSTIN: In the short-term, it did not work. So just to put this into perspective, today being the middle of November–November 14th… 15th. Excuse me. Thank you PAT: We are looking at a bit of a slide since October 3rd and 4th. We were at 232 price per share which is an all-time high. And now we’re looking at sub 200–192 to a… 191, excuse me. If we’re going up to date right now.

So we’ve seen a pretty substantial drop like pat said. Biggest drop since I believe it was…

07:35 PAT: January, 2014

07:36 AUSTIN: Is that when Steve Jobs died?

07:38 PAT: I was like kind of trying to make a loose association. I didn’t really look up the date on that to be totally honest with you.

07:43 AUSTIN: Yeah well anyways… We’re going with that. It just sounds right.

But anyways yeah this is it I mean shareholders seem a bit scared. Tentative, right? On what’s going on with the company. And the fact that you’re pulling the unit’s which they’ve relied on the duration of their upbringing. And how they’ve become so big.

And you’re saying “oh never mind. Don’t look at that anymore. That’s not important. Look over here.”

Yeah that’s cause for concern and I think that it’s well warranted. Apple’s gonna have to prove to everyone that they are able to grow still, right? That they need to they need to show us or shareholders, I should say… That they can actually do the growth that they’ve been doing. Because it’s been a phenomenal run, but at the end of the day–if you’re gonna pay a premium for a stock price at well over $200–well what’s it worth right? An investor wants to feel and know that “hey, this is gonna keep going.”

08:32 PAT: Yep. Totally agree with you.

Speaking of investors knowing that longevity is gonna keep going–amazon. So it’s been speculated for a while where they were gonna open up… But amazon has been in talks about doing their second headquarters. There’s been a lot of speculation around like what’s city it’s gonna be in. Where it’s gonna be located.

It came out this week in the New York Times… Or late last week… I take that back… They’re planning to split headquarters between long island city, New York and Arlington, Virginia. Which I thought was kind of an interesting approach. It took about a year. They’re gonna have about 50,000 employees in those two locations. And at first it seems like kind of an unimposing place it’s like why would they be there type of thing right? Especially like Arlington I’m like what is that?

We saw another article come out today on CNN business that amazon’s new biggest customer for their amazon web services may be the US government.

09:34 AUSTIN: Interesting. And tell me this… How close is Virginia to I don’t know maybe the pentagon?

09:38 PAT: About 10 miles.

09:40 AUSTIN: Interesting.

09:41 PAT: Yeah, so… I mean it’s kind of scary to think about, honestly. Amazon’s web services is a very… It’s not like a neglected part of their business, but it’s one that people fail to mention when they talk about the success. People think of amazon as a marketplace. They think of them as taking margins off of products and taking basically like a commission on these sales so to speak. Like a broker fee on these sales.

The problem is that that is a… It’s not that much of their business. Like a lot of their technology and the impressive part about the amazon business, has been amazon web services. And it is a juggernaut.

It has been increasing in terms of revenue share and revenue volume every single quarter. And this is something that we actually talked about as we wrapped up the last quarter. And it’s interesting to see the applications that that cloud computing system can have. We’ve already seen it. It’s been rolled out across a lot of different things. One of which–my personal favorite–being NFL red zone. They use AWS cloud computing to calculate like probability, likelihoods of different catches that people made in the games and stuff.

That’s not what the government’s gonna be using it for as I understand. But again, interesting nonetheless.

10:55 AUSTIN: Yeah I totally think that this is the big win for amazon, right? And I think what we’ve seen with Bezos is a constant need and want to take over the world, I guess… I don’t know how to put this lightly.

11:10 PAT: Question mark at the end of that? It’s definitely what it is.

11:14 AUSTIN: And we talked about earlier in the year also his desire to expand internationally. And get on market places and build out market places that it’s very easy for someone in china in India to purchase something from amazon. And then get it at their doorstep. Like we do here, in two days.

That’s a little bit of a work in progress, but he wants amazon to solidify itself as the biggest company in the world.

Which it’s between google, apple and himself. It’s a three dog race right now. They’re neck-and-neck and it changes year to year. But there’s no stronger play than getting involved with a government entity right? They’re gonna get subsidized by the federal tax dollars right? By you and me as the tax payers.

And amazon solidifying itself with AWS is…

11:58 PAT: You’re welcome Jeff.

11:59 AUSTIN: Is the ultimate play, because that’s going to be a contractual obligation between the US government and this private entity to provide services. Which means they’ll have a budget allocated towards spending with amazon. And that is fantastic for amazon and shareholders. Because that’s guaranteed cash flow. Year to year, you put that on the books and that’s ultimate profitability. And solidifying a baseline for growth.

Every single year the biggest customer in the world–federal government. On the books for the next 25 to 30 years is a fantastic baseline for shareholders to feel confident that that share price is gonna go up each year.

Bezos understands this, that getting the ultimate customer and a government entity is the ultimate way to guarantee that you’re gonna get a decent increase in price per share every school year.

12:48 PAT: I just find it so interesting that there will be… They’ll have meetings on Capitol Hill, antitrust talks, things about how amazon is starting to become monopolistic. But then one of the first…

That they’re so willing to leverage the technologies that amazon’s producing as a result of those means. And it literally all comes down to dollars and cents. This transition started in 2010 under the Obama administration. There’s 19 trillion dollars spent on data storage for the government.

13:15 AUSTIN: Wow.

13:16 PAT: He’s trying to get every… He was trying to get everything transitioned over to a cloud storage system to avoid a lot of those a lot of those probable like taxpayer dollars subsidizing that. And it really seems opportunistic, because this AWS has been something that’s been built out over… Really comprehensively, over the last five years for the most part. Really has come to fruition during that time.

It’s so opportunistic. It’s like perfect. So again, great timing by Bezos and something that I see with him time and time again is that he is so opportune with his new ventures. He identifies a niche, he identifies an opportunity, and he immediately goes after it.

13:52 AUSTIN: Right and they’re passing certain laws to make this allowed is my understanding as well, because it’s a little bit of a gray area. But yeah, we got a hand to amazon. They seem to be doing the best of I think google, amazon and who else are we talking about? Uber and apple of making sure that they get growth long-term. And it’s just really impressive.

So Bezos, you’re at it again my friend.

14:17 PAT: So classic. Speaking of Uber let’s go into a bit about Uber. So basically… I’m looking at this on TechCrunch right now. Uber continues to lose money as it scales scooters, bikes and other newer businesses.

14:33 AUSTIN: Not a great headline.

14:34 PAT: Not a great headline. Okay, so Uber is expected to go public sometime in the next year. It released its Q3 2018 financial results. Net losses increased 32% quarter over quarter to nine hundred and thirty nine million dollars. They expected those losses as it continues to invest in other growth areas, but that is still a pretty concerning trend for a company that should be potentially going public at some point in the near future.

15:01 AUSTIN: And why we think that this is concerning is it’s not investing in a technology that isn’t already pretty competitive. So they weren’t the first mover in the scooter market. We all know that that was bird… Who’s now worth over a billion dollars. They are the fastest company to be worth a billion dollars in the history of startups. They’re also going against significantly large companies out of china that we see everywhere. And there’s multiple scooter brands that you and I know that we see on a day to day basis. And Uber’s late to the party. Even razor has become a little bit bigger instead of them.

And now Uber. I believe what their game plan is to be competitive in a sense of using their name brand to take over a market share of the scooter market. That’s kind of what they expect in a lot of ways.

But the truth is that it’s all gonna come down to sentiment of your audience and people don’t associate Uber with scooters. They associate Uber with getting in a car and driving somewhere in someone’s doing something for you. When you think of a scooter it’s incredibly easy, but you’re doing it yourself. It’s incredibly different than getting picked up by someone. And they don’t have that they don’t have that sentiment. That’s not the way I feel about Uber. So if I’m choosing between a bird and an Uber scooter on the street I’m going to go with the one that I feel most comfortable with. The one that I’ve already associated my feelings for.

16:22 PAT: That’s what it is. That’s like honestly what it is. You have the initial contact with like a bird or a lime scooter and you get used to those. And you get better at… It’s like a practice thing too… Like you get better at riding those. It’s like in a bad way. You get more comfortable riding those. Why would you put yourself…?

Here’s an example. Very small. I always go with bird. The other weekend the only one nearby was lime. It felt completely different. It was smaller… It was like too wide… Like the handlebars were like a different size…

16:56 AUSTIN: A little bit cheaper.

16:58 PAT: It’s a little cheaper. Just felt awkward. And so I think… And really the takeaway with that is that there’s already all these other competitors in the space. I don’t understand why Uber is investing in this sector to the degree that they’re losing on their net margin.

17:12 AUSTIN: Yeah and this seems… This is what not… Contrasting it to amazon is they would be considered “proactive” in the way the way that they try to increase and grow their revenue streams.

Uber–reactive. They are entering into a space–like we talked about–a lot of players. They weren’t the first ones there. That’s a reaction to what is going on in the kind of their industry right. Maybe a parallel or indirect industry.

Amazon–other side of the coin–they’re proactive. Saying “what else can we do to make sure that our price per share goes up three, five, ten years in a row?” Enter into government.

So anyways, our point here being is that we’re… It’s a trend with Uber right? And I think that their new CEO was expected to reverse this trend. But he’s kind of just reinventing the wheel. Which isn’t really going to work. And I think our generation–which is definitely their target audience–has a little bit of a sour taste with Uber to begin with. And we’re not going to associate good feelings with their attempts to get into scooters and bikes. And I think what Uber’s hoping is that our generation and people using those scooters don’t care yet about brand. And they’ll just go with what’s ever closest. But I think what you could tell–and pat and I are exactly their target audience–we’re seeing that that’s not the case. We already kind of had an idea of what type of scooter we like. The way it feels. And ones that our friends ride is a big deal also. Because you want to be cool.

And that’s important. These things are important to our generation. Just like Facebook has done with Instagram. And it’s going to come into play.

18:47 PAT: Yeah. And the only thing that I would add to that too is that’s it’s not just a trend with Uber, but we’ve seen this with a lot of different companies lately. Especially ones that are going into an IPO. It’s almost like the… It’s kind of like the amazon mentality in a sense, because you go after market share and don’t worry about profitability until you have enough of a share within that market to increase your price. And I do think that that’s something that they’re trying to do, I just think that they’re executing on it incorrectly right now.

19:35 AUSTIN: You stick around here I would say of course a lot of our e-commerce clients have been preparing for a while for this and we’ve been on the frontlines trying to help them as much as possible. What we want to do today is talk everyone through what we’re doing, and what clients want. And what we are consulting on. Pretty much how we’re trying to help businesses get ahead. And have a successful black Friday. And how long ago we started to is an important part of this, because if you’re a business owner talking to us right now, and you haven’t started, you are way too late. All your competitors started a while ago.

So we kind of want to talk through the timelines of when that starts. When you should be thinking about it. And then, of course, a plan of action on what goes on there. So I think the first place that we want to start is–and pat’s an expert in this space–is talking about google ads. This is definitely, definitely one of the most competitive spaces. But also one of the greatest ways to drive that percentage of business on this day is what you’re doing, who you’re targeting, and then what it says.

So pat, I’m interested in kind of well what your strategy for black Friday google ads are and what you want to get out of that. And that sort of thing.

20:35 PAT: Yeah. So, I mean, there’s a few different pieces that go into it. I think the most important thing with any advertising strategy whether it’s on a holiday, or whether it’s just part of your standard campaign strategy. It needs to essentially mimic a sales cycle of sorts. You need to have methods of prospecting new users. You need ways to nurture those users to a conversion, and you need ways to re-engage existing purchasers with compelling deals to get them to come back and buy again. Become those advocates for your company.

What we always see especially on google, because it’s probably the most competitive space when it comes to online ads right now–CPC’s always increase a ton during November and December. And again, that makes sense, because people are bidding on all the same keywords and whatnot. The reason that that’s important though is because you have the potential to spend a lot of money in a wasted way if you’re not paying pretty close attention. And if you’re targeting the wrong type of traffic.

So that’s one thing that you got to keep in mind right off the bat. You got to know that your costs are going to rise. You got to budget for it accordingly. And what I always say is that the difference between a good advertiser and a great advertiser is timing a budget deployment.

So let’s say you have a 10,000 or a $30,000 a month budget you’re not just gonna spend a thousand dollars a day all the way through November. You’re probably gonna spend a small percentage of that the first two weeks prospecting. Getting users into your remarketing pools before you actually have any specials that you can push them. And then the week of black Friday, the week of cyber Monday, depending on how long you’re running your sales. If you’re a business owner you might run a full black Friday sale. It may only be a few days. This should be within that time constraint.

But if you’re running that, that’s when you should throw as many dollars towards your campaigns as you can. Stop prospecting and only either nurture qualified prospects that are in your pipeline or re-engage past users.

22:25 AUSTIN: And how much maybe percentage-wise extra are you spending during this month, in November, than let’s say a regular amount or an average month?

22:35 PAT: Depends on the industry. In some of our CPG industries we’re seeing upwards of 20% increases on cost per click, with a higher volume of clicks taking place because of more intent. So you combine those two factors. And it makes your acquisition cost a little bit harder to hit. Which can hurt margin. And also it gives the potential to spend a ton of money just in general. So you got to pay really, really close attention.

But it depends, I mean it’s always dependent on the industry and the product, but like you can bank on anywhere from like a 15 to even sometimes up to a 50% increase on any given click. And also you’re gonna see a jump in the number of clicks as well. Which is another really important thing you got to keep in mind.

And we’re not talking about just search either when I’m talking through these tactics. You can prospect through a lot of different means. You can do search. You could do display outreach. You can do YouTube outreach.

And then you got a nurture users through those channels too. So the end-all, be-all as far as google ad advice for black Friday, cyber Monday–get your plans in place early. Make sure you have everything uploaded in time so that it activates and deactivates the correct days depending on the constraints of your timeline.

23:44 AUSTIN: And when do you start having these conversations with your clients about solidifying budgets and planning?

23:51 PAT: October. Early October. Early October, because a lot goes into it. You got to think about not just “okay we’re offering 15% off site-wide.” that’s not really what you’re selling though. Everybody’s doing 15% off site-wide that day. Like black Friday you can expect to see people sometimes up to 50% off across the site or buy one get one free.

So what are you gonna do to stand out? You have to really think about that some more. You gotta like meet up with your team. You got to really think it through in a critical way. You can’t just slap up a 15% discount and expect people to convert. You got to entice them with the potential offer. And that comes down to good prospecting. When the deal is not there, you need to make sure that you’re getting people into your pools–your remarketing pools–efficiently by selling them on the lifestyle. You’re selling them on the intangible that they can get from that special.

For instance if you’re giving a black Friday special to your past purchasers let’s say a week before. You can even start hinting to that audience “hey, you might get a little… You might get an early bird treat starting next Monday. Pay close attention.”

And really what are you selling them? You’re not selling them a discount you’re selling them peace of mind for having finished their holiday shopping early, right? So hitting on that with your messaging and your creative like Joe will talk about too.

But I mean you gotta have those conversations way ahead of time and then you got a prospect through the first part of November. And then you got to hit the middle and bottom parts of your funnel really hard through your specials. As long as you can. Milk it as long as you can.

25:23 AUSTIN: Yeah. And that’s… If you want to differentiate yourself from your competitors–like pat saying–it’s not gonna be through necessarily your copy. It’s gonna be through the intangible. The thing that your other competitors won’t see. And that’s the prospecting. Like you said–the lead up is who you who are you in front of? Have you found your target audience and you have those warm to hot leads when black Friday comes around.

25:46 PAT: Right. Exactly. Because again, if you’re a business owner thinking about it like a sales process, if you’re in the midst of a really frantic time of year you don’t want your best salesman spending time talking to cold leads. You want them focusing on warm and hot leads because that will communicate to your bottom line the best.

26:01 AUSTIN: Yup. Same thing with ads.

Yeah and then the other big piece of this–and there’s one after this, but… Is the creative aspect of it. Joe spends… I think he is going insane preparing for all this and getting creative ready for all the clients. It’s been of course very chaotic but we want to find out more about kind of the time on that. Just like we talked about like how ahead are you getting? What is kind of your strategy and messaging is a massive part of that, so I think we should start there. But how do you stand out or differentiate yourself as we’re saying? The percentages are typically the same right? It’s gonna be 15 to 20 percent.

But what can someone do to catch a customer’s eye?26:41 JOE: I think a big thing about black Friday when you’re doing the advertising–or cyber Monday I guess you could call it–just the holiday now, because of the internet.

26:48 AUSTIN: Yeah, we’re grouping this all into if you’re wondering black Friday/cyber Monday. It’s maybe a little bit different messaging, but its percentage drops off so we…

26:58 JOE: It’s basically becoming a cyber month at this point. But it would be just to be have everything done way in advance–as pat was kind of saying–where right now if you aren’t done, and ready to launch a lot of your campaigns you’re behind. You should have those sitting there, ready to go. Just hit start. So one–you can enjoy your holidays and two–you’re not frantically running around to get those done.

But when it comes to creative, I think the biggest thing is just to keep it branded. And keep it simple and bold. People don’t need to be wowed by an advertisement that’s really cool. You just need to catch their attention with the discounts and deals at the forefront. Because that’s all people are concerned about. Is those deals. I mean, I don’t care how pretty the ad looks. If I look and something says 50% off site-wide, 30% off site-wide–things like that, that’s what’s gonna compel me to want to go to that website and purchase from that brand.

So the whole thing is just if you want to keep testing different variations, make them bright, bold and make sure that the deal itself is the forefront of it. And that it’s branded and people are aware that it’s being served from x-client or this brand. Whatever it is. But your focus should definitely be on those percentages or those deals that they’re giving.

28:13 AUSTIN: I’m curious, are there any particular color schemes that you would associate? That you would use with this? Or do you typically stick to branding guidelines?

28:20 JOE: I would mean mainly stick to branding guidelines. But kind of straying away from them a little bit, to make them brighter and bolder.

A lot of times the .gif format is what works really well. Or video. So if you have like what people would see as say a neon sign–a flashing neon sign–kind of replicating that. Because that’s going to catch someone’s attention a lot more than a static ad. If you have something that’s a bright blue and a bright yellow and they’re constantly flashing, switching between those colors.

Obviously you want to slow down that change rate. So it’s not a little too overwhelming. But things like .gifs in motion and video are the ones that usually stand out the most. And always testing that against static.

28:57 AUSTIN: And like an ad set when we’re talking about… How many different ads would you say you have? Or maybe pieces of creative that are being served to maybe that warm section of the funnel?

29:08 JOE: Usually you definitely want to have at least two to test. Always at least two. That’s just regardless. Even if it’s not during the holidays. Testing two per campaign or two per audience segment that you’re going after. Whatever your angle is for those, but the more you can test, the better. And just having more in your arsenal to swap out easily if ones aren’t performing–you could easily just swap those in. Get them up and running. And then go enjoy your turkey and mashed potatoes.

29:37 PAT: Another thing that I would say with that too is you want to be… Especially with warm and hot… You need to switch out ads a lot too. Because if they’re in your warm and they’re gonna keep getting hit with ads for a full week, until the special let’s say… They shouldn’t see the same ad more than three times. Cause then they get fatigued they get pissed off. So that’s another thing too and that’s a big aspect of what keeps Joe so busy.

30:01 JOE: Yeah this time of the year, it definitely comes down to the preparation. And we’re coming up on tomorrow’s Friday, where technically the sales are a week out. If I’m not done with everything by tomorrow and in the hands of all the people like pat, then I’m behind. I’m way behind, because I’m gonna need the next week to kind of make sure everything’s fine tuned. Ready to go. If there’s any small things we need to add change things like that. If a brand decides to change their deals, whatever it may be, it’s all very important just to have it all done ahead of time.

And at the end of the day, I mean, you can only do so much. Just keep it simple. Make sure the deal’s showcased very well. And then handing it off to your strategist. And kind of depending on them to make sure that they’re targeting the right people with those ads.

30:49 AUSTIN: Keep it simple stupid. I don’t know who says that, but I just really wanted to say that the whole time.

30:54 PAT: Thinking of it the entire time.

30:54 JOE: It’s true.

30:57 PAT: Yeah, seriously though. And it’s not like a knock on the consumer, but you really do need to simplify it for them. It’s not because they’re stupid, but it’s because there’s so many things competing for their attention right now.

31:06 JOE: If you go online and go on Pinterest or whatever it may be and you search in “black Friday sale,” or “black Friday creative,” “black Friday design” they’re all gonna look essentially the same. It’s all gonna be just bold text. Maybe a product feature in there, but the focus is always on that big, bold, bright text.

31:24 PAT: Yeah. Totally agree.

Even moving on to… I know that it’s not a huge planning point necessarily for people like promotionally… But organic search. I mean, is there anything that you can do from an SEO perspective in months ahead of time maybe to get ready?

31:39 AUSTIN: Yes.

31:41 PAT: What would like one or two of those things be real quick?

31:43 AUSTIN: Where we really are telling our clients this year and we have in the past but I think more so now than ever, because it’s getting so competitive, is make landing pages for black Friday/cyber Monday way, way ahead of time that can stay on your site forever. So that never comes down.

And you’re thinking, “well, I mean, every year it changes.” you just change a little bit of the copy. So you have the landing page always up.

And why this is important is because google–the way that they’re algorithm works is they supply authority and equity based on time. So you have to leave the page up for it to be continuing to gain value. And that is the big differentiator between maybe an ad splash page or a landing page where you can constantly be testing and pulling it up and down. And it’s not being crawled by google.

And with organic search it’s not an ad. We have to remember that. It’s a play to try to get an algorithm to bestow authority on a page. So maybe this is a gift guide. Maybe this is your deals page, so to speak. Or your holiday deals page. And you could do a little bit of research on whatever your industry is.

Let’s say you’re selling exercise equipment, you’d be like “black Friday exercise equipment specials” or “black Friday exercise equipment.” just that term alone. So do research around the keywords you want. And then craft your page for users on that. And then just leave it up all year long. You don’t have to link to it on your website. You can make that and take it down, but it’ll still get crawled by google as long as it’s indexable. So that is massive. Do it… It’s obviously too late now, but just put one up in the next month or two and have it sit there for years to come. And you’ll be surprised at every year in two to three years from now you’ll be number one. Right below all the ads… Or in the top three and that is incredible. That’s free advertising. And that’s a complete return on investment of over a hundred percent, right?

33:32 PAT: Yep. I totally agree. And you even touched on something right there. Getting landing pages up earlier in the year.

I wanted to turn it to john now talking about web development and design. Kind of what do the holidays look like from that perspective? What things should be done already and what are priorities right now for you guys?

33:50 JOHN: Yeah I think Joe already pretty much talked to the creative aspect of things. And what you have to have on the website there.

But for us it’s a lot of the technical aspects. I mean, I have clients that are asking me if I’m gonna be available for emergencies. So I basically have to be on call for black Friday and everything just in case something goes wrong. So the biggest thing for web sites is just making sure that they’re gonna be able to handle more traffic.

34:19 PAT: Yeah. A crash would be horrible. On black Friday or cyber Monday

34:21 JOHN: Exactly.

34:23 AUSTIN: Have you seen that happen before?

34:25 JOHN: I’ve only seen a couple of different nightmares with black Friday, where people either had the wrong discount codes, and so discount codes weren’t working for black Friday.

Things like that. So that was gonna be my other point. Is have all of your discount codes available. Double-check… Triple-check them. Test orders. That sort of thing.

But from the technical perspective, also stress-testing your site for traffic. So…

34:50 AUSTIN: How do you do that?

34:51 JOHN: Basically, there’s tools out there that allow you to do that. And what you’re basically doing is sending a ton of mock traffic to the server. So it basically is using as many of your servers resources at once to show you what the breaking point is of the site. If it goes down at a certain number of traffic. Or it’s missing resources here.

So that’s something that not a lot of people do. But they should do going into black Friday just to make sure that as soon as they start blasting people over to their site for those sales, their site’s not just gonna crash.

So I would say that that’s probably the biggest thing. But then also the discount codes is a huge thing. I’ve seen that be mishandled more than anything else really on the website side.

35:36 PAT: That’s pretty crazy to think about. Cause that’s like the whole…

35:39 AUSTIN: Point?

35:41 PAT: The whole foundation of the day.

35:42 JOHN: Yeah, I mean I’ve seen people who they create all of the creative around it. And they’re putting all their discount codes on everything around it. But then they actually forget how to make the discount code in the back end of the site. So it’s plastered everywhere and that’s what everybody wants to shop with and then however many people go to the site, they try to check out, use that code and it doesn’t work. And that’s a huge issue so…

36:04 PAT: Yeah. That’s pretty insane. And yeah, it kind of goes back to something that you talked about on last year’s episode too. Because we did this episode last year kind of warning about the same types of things. Websites crashing think of that 20 years ago as Walmart just deciding to close its doors and you’re selling a product inside. Like that’s the equivalent of what it is and it gets the same level of traffic and the same intent of traffic as people used to when they would just rampage into like target or Walmart.

I mean, they’re still going to do that. But it’s effectively the same thing.

36:37 JOE: Yeah. With black Friday too, people are bouncing around to different sites that they’ve never been on before. So it’s all about… It’s almost like making a good first impression. If you make the experience as smooth as possible, chances are you’re gonna get that purchase. But if there’s any hiccups–if it’s slow, if it’s unclear where to buy something, if the discount code’s not working, if it crashes… I mean, you have to be tip-top shape from a technical perspective. Or people are just gonna bounce off and go to somebody else’s black Friday deal.

37:07 PAT: Well, it’s such a valuable time too. Because so many people are introduced to a brand for the first time on these days. Because of the fact that there’s a deal that they hear about. Or that they were prospected for, whatever it might be… So it is crucial. Because in some industries, you have lifetime value at stake.

Like, let’s say for instance, you sell pet food and you’re having a crazy deal. And somebody has a bad experience. If they go to a competitor of yours and have a good experience that might as well be a subscription, because their dog likes it already.

Because there’s always those other factors you got to think about. So it’s like, “what would I be sacrificing if I don’t make the best possible impression right this second?” you got to keep that at the forefront.

37:47 JOHN: Yeah. It’s not just a one and done deal. I mean you can go on Instagram on black Friday and I guarantee you you’re gonna get an ad every two posts or something like that. I mean you’re just gonna get blasted with ads. So if they’re buying from you, chances are they may buy again.

That’s another thing too–on the Instagram note–is the mobile experience. I tell people to just put their products on the homepage and just go with that. Nobody really does it, but the mobile experience has to be like very, very quick. Because people are with their families. They’re out doing something or whatever… But they’re still trying not to miss out on these deals. So it’s got to be as easy as possible for them.

38:29 AUSTIN: Yes. And typically we see a ton of mobile traffic. But conversion rates are lower on mobile than on desktop.

This is not that case here. So if you’re looking at your historical data from the whole year and being like “well, mobile’s not that important, because they’re just looking there. But they’re gonna actually purchase on desktop.” that’s not the case, today. They’re gonna buy on their phone and people gonna buy frantically. So like we talked about… It needs to be in their face. Have the products show up first on that page. Either if you’re just making some changes for that day, you want to give people what they want. And you want to give it to them now, right?

Just think about what pat was talking about like with Walmart, and all those people running through the doors cramming, jumping over each other to grab product. That is your website traffic. And there’s probably more of it. It’s gonna be more than Walmart. So you have to give people what they want right away. Make sure you have enough of it. Make sure they can find it right away.

Or they’re gonna leave. They’re gonna fight each other. Then they’re gonna go to target.

39:21 PAT: Yeah and we don’t need to tell our business owner listeners this, but you got to make sure fulfillment’s ready for a hell of a day. I mean, because if somebody orders something from you and they don’t get it? That’s worse than having a bad onsite experience.

39:32 AUSTIN: They’re definitely not coming back next year.

39:34 PAT: 100%. Your customer support team has to be ready. And your fulfillment team has to be ready.

39:41 JOHN: Just on that note… That is my least favorite thing in the world. Because I’ve had that happen to me three or four times

39:48 PAT: Aww.

39:49 JOHN: I did… It’s a bad taste in your mouth. Your company is not looking good in that user’s eyes.

39:56 PAT: Well, you thought you got a sweet deal and you’re excited about it. You go tell people about it. Then you look stupid, because it never came.

40:01 AUSTIN: We’re sorry.

40:04 PAT: Yeah, anyway. All right everybody that’s kind of our main topic discussion. That just about wraps up our episode 57 here today for Flip the Switch podcast presented by Power Digital Marketing.

Join our forum we have a forum on Facebook called Flip the Switch podcast forum. Austin will approve you we always post cool content, quizzes… Things in there to engage the community a little bit, so let us know what you want to hear. Let us know what we can be doing better. Have a great black Friday, a great cyber Monday and until next week this has been Pat Kriedler, Austin Mahaffy, John Saunders and Joe Hollerup signing off.

40:36 JOHN: Happy thanksgiving, too.

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John is the Director of Web Development at Power Digital and thrives on the balance between creative and strategy. Using his experience in CRO, John approaches website builds with the user in mind, combining psychological and technical aspects of design.