Paid Search’s Role in Driving Black Friday In-Store Sales

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Paid Search’s Role in Driving Black Friday In-Store Sales


Posted by Cristina Lucero, Research Associate

November is here, and shoppers are gearing up for Black Friday.  According to Hitwise, 62% of shoppers say they expect to be shopping on Black Friday.  Most of this shopping will be in-store, but shoppers will turn to search—in droves—to plan their Black Friday shopping strategies, including finding out which products are in stock and where to get the best deals.

In 2010, Black Friday occurred on Nov. 26th, and Performics saw a huge spike in Google paid search clicks for our client base leading up to and during Black Friday:

Black friday 1

But, historically, the biggest online sales day isn’t Black Friday; it’s Cyber Monday:

Black friday 2

This indicates that shoppers tend to search heavily on Black Friday to research the best in-store deals.  Advertisers must execute integrated promotional planning given the massive increase in search research that will occur in relation to Black Friday.  This research is already starting—searches that include “Black Friday” keywords are spiking (and rose significantly starting on Oct. 22nd):

Google Insights for Search (30 days ending 10/28/22)

Black friday3

Searchers looking for Black Friday deals are also tying their “Black Friday” queries to specific products or retailers like “Sears Black Friday” and “Black Friday iPad”:

Black friday 4

And not only are shoppers using search to get in your store on Black Friday, they’re using search while in your store.  The Performics Social Shopping Study (Oct. 2011) found that 41% of mobile users have used their device to search for product information via a search engine while in a retailer’s store.  Searchers access a variety of valuable product information on their phones while in store:

Black friday 5

Based on these trends, search marketing best practices to prepare for the Black Friday search rush include:

  • Integrating search with your other advertising channels
  • Bidding on Black Friday keywords, including “Black Friday + [product]” and “Black Friday + [retailer].”  47% of 2010 Black Friday searches included a retailer’s name (Hitwise).
  • Using paid search extensions like location extensions and phone numbers to aid searchers looking for where to buy
  • Letting searchers know that a product is in stock
  • Ensuring that you’re visible in mobile search for mission-critical keywords likely to be used by in-store shoppers and people looking for your stores on mobile devices
  • Targeting large DMA markets and the Midwestern states, where Black Friday audiences are concentrated (Hitwise)
  • Promoting heavy Black Friday discounts in copy.  64% of shoppers say they need discounts between 30% and 50% to justify purchases this year (NRF).
  • Creating a Black Friday section of your site (or a microsite) to promote time-sensitive or location-specific deals.  These pages serve as great paid search landing pages and will also build SEO equity over time.

Knowing that search spurs in-store Black Friday demand should also inform future research and budgeting processes.  Marketers should invest in analytics to understand the relationship between search marketing and offline holiday sales.

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