Practical tips for a profitable Cyber 5 and holiday shopping season, including how to do data tracking, ensuring sufficient inventory, and optimizing your ads.
Cyber 5 deals can be a game-changer for your brand. This webinar offers practical tips for a profitable holiday shopping season, including data tracking, ensuring sufficient inventory, and optimizing your ads.
- Cyber 5 is make-or-break: Brands that don’t offer at least one deal during Cyber 5 will see virtually no uplift from holiday traffic.
- Leverage retargeting to convert: Boost sales by retargeting mid-funnel shoppers researching your product—and don’t forget to retarget people who viewed similar items.
- Plan for supply chain chaos: Secure fulfillment backup early in case of FBA out-of-stock issues or shipping delays—and expect more challenges than usual this year.
- Automate for flexibility: Implement automation tools now to get the most out of unanticipated opportunities and solve problems fast.
Alright, people are still trickling in, but I think we can get this webinar started now. Hello, everybody, welcome to our Pacvue webinar: Get Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With only seventeen days to go until Black Friday, time is starting to run out for brands and sellers to ensure that they are fully optimized and ready to go. But a few notes before we get started. We are recording this webinar, and it will be emailed to everybody who registered, along with the deck and our contact information. It will also be available to watch on Pacvue.com/webinars, as well as on our YouTube channel. We’ll also be doing a Q&A at the end, so if you have any questions, please add them to the question box below, and we’ll get to them at the end of today’s webinar.
I’m super excited to have Jeanine, Fabiano, and Kathy here from Hinge Global today for this webinar. My name is Amanda Dahlberg, I’m the Demand Gen Manager here at Pacvue. We’re an enterprise software for brands, sellers, and agencies to manage their eCommerce advertising across a variety of marketplaces, including Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, as well as always some new ones coming. But I’m now going to pass it on to the Hinge Global team and let them introduce themselves.
Thank you, Amanda. Hi everybody. My name is Jeanie Fye, I’m the Director of Seller Operations at Hinge Global. I oversee our accounts from the operations and AMS standpoint. My background is in eCommerce. I have over ten years working directly with marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, and we’re excited to be here today.
Hello, everyone, my name is Fabiano Moura. I’m the Senior Ad Manager at Hinge Global, and my responsibilities include high-level strategy and analysis for supporting clients and account managers. My background is primarily in search engine optimization, then digital marketing in general, but for the past decade or so, really fell in love with eCommerce and specifically with Amazon. Thank you for having me.
Great. My name is Kathy Cummins. I’m the Director of Data Analytics at Hinge Global, and may background actually is a little bit different. I actually come from a CPG brand background, so I spent a decade at Proctor & Gamble, and then I migrated over to Nielson to head up big data analytics there. We’re thrilled to be speaking to everyone today, so I’m going to go ahead and switch us to the next slide. Go ahead Jeanie.
So today we’re going to discuss the Turkey Five and best practices with promotions on Amazon, and then we’re going to go into the efficiency with AMS strategy. We’re going to walk through data tracking and best practices and also how you can leverage data from other events like Prime Day. And we’re also going to touch heavily on inventory and making sure that you are set and ready to go, up for the impending Turkey Five. And then we’ll finish with questions and answers.
First, we’re going to start talking about Black Friday Cyber Monday promotion best practices. So you always want to run at least one promotion during the Turkey Five, whether that’s a coupon, a lightning deal, deal of the day, or even just a discount, you want to give a lift on your products to be able to compete with all of the other products, whether in your category or, on a higher level, on Amazon. This allows you to really make an impact across the high traffic that comes to Amazon at this time. The next thing is that you want to make your promotion desirable. You should at least give a discount of twenty percent off. From a Hinge standpoint, we’ve run some tests, and we find that if you give anywhere from twenty to forty percent off, we’ve seen upwards of one hundred twenty-six percent growth year-over-year compared to not running and running a discount. And then the biggest thing I really want to impress is that you don’t edit your promotion once it is set, especially when it’s for a high traffic deal like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, especially on those days because if you do edit it, the way that the Amazon backend works, is in most cases, they will get canceled if you edit them. That’s because Amazon has to take into account any kind of changes that are made, and it’s considering the amount of promotions that all different sellers are running, if you edit it at the last second or even a couple days beforehand, the system can’t realign with new ASINs or new price quick enough. So it will just immediately cancel. The objective here is to try and make the promotion work. The only time I would say you should let a promotion get canceled is if you’re not going to have inventory.
Okay, now to AMS promotion best practices. Three different things we’re going to talk about here. The main thing, starting with planning the budget. I think the main thing people ask is how much should I increase my budget. The answer to many of these questions is it depends. As a best practice, anywhere from a twenty percent to thirty percent increase seems to be reasonable, but you also want to start and focus on, consider maybe not the entire catalog, but specifically what products may be more suited to have a budget increase. It’s not a shotgun approach. You want to take a look at what makes sense. The main thing, though, is to start now, so we’re seventeen days away. I don’t recommend necessarily coming in at the last minute and increasing all budgets by however much you’re going to increase, but more of a tiered approach. Though as we’re stepping into next week, the sixteenth, it would be a really good time to start incrementally increasing the budget. As you head into the next week, the twenty-third, sort of scaling up to Black Friday Cyber Monday, instead of a one hit approach, where overnight your budget is drastically different. That just allows for the algorithm to acclimate and sort of, your competitors might be doing the same thing, and it gives you time to analyze the data that is coming in from those increases so that you can focus on increasing bid conversions on, bid amounts on things that are converting well and where you’re getting impressions.
One of the things to consider during this time, as we head into the retargeting section is that we’re really looking at the middle of the funnel. The days of shopping are going to be Black Friday Cyber Monday when discounts are present and all kinds of things are happening, people are actually going in there with purchase intent. Prior to that, it’s really important to be looking at, considering that people are window shopping, and they are filling up their wish list and they are comparing prices and competitors. Really to have them be visible during that time, and to be present for those type of purchase behaviors leading up to the actual purchase. And also the importance of diversifying the ad types. A lot of people will focus on Sponsored Products because you may get a better return or a better ACOS, but really important to be kind of scattered as much as you can to have that brand visibility, so between display ads and anything else, whether it’s coupons, promotions, but the different types of ads, of video ads, anything else that you can basically have your brand and your products as many places as possible in addition to just sponsored ads. And diversifying targets, this is pretty important in terms of setting your target maybe for some specific products that make more sense and you want to add more budget towards them, having a higher ACOS, and basically being flexible. Not all products are the same. Even the difference between sponsored products and sponsored display campaigns, those are going to have slightly different ACOS targets, just keeping in mind there’s a difference there and it’s not a one shot approach to manage everything.
The last point I want to touch on on this slide is the Demand Side Platform versus the Amazon Media Group. This is where I think it’s really important for, it’s where the value of having an agency or company like Hinge Global and Pacvue to not only manage large amounts of data and bid adjustments and spend alerts leading up to this, but also as some of you may be aware, there’s a really high entry point to that, thirty-five, forty thousand dollars in spend to basically be able to play. When you have a demand side platform partner it allows you to not only have access to that, but the managing of it also becomes available to you with help from some people who have experience and historical data across multiple verticals, so that becomes pretty important. The importance of leveraging the higher visibility and the access reach that, it’s important during this time, a lot of people are going to be flooding to Amazon. There’s going to be increased traffic, but all of the other supporting sites where ads may be displayed and may follow people around. One last thing on retargeting is that the point about this is that if you were really heavy into Prime, this is a chance to retarget those people. If you’re going to have some action doing Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the weeks leading up to those last shopping weeks of the year, that’s where you’re retargeting those people. It’s not only the day of that you’re focusing on; it’s the pre, during, and after.
Leveraging Prime Day data is pretty important. This is the same way that you’re going to be leveraging Black Friday Cyber Monday data afterwards. You can see here that the average Amazon return on ad spend as compared to the average Prime Day, which is higher, and when you team up with a company like Hinge Global, you can expect even higher. The reason this happens is because we’re not only leveraging year upon year, month upon month, but big days like Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday are going to produce mass amounts of data for us to learn from and adjust things moving forward. To learn and adapt is very important. This is not only an opportunity to have higher sales and brand visibility but also to collect a lot of data that can inform the campaign adjustments moving forward. And the importance of keeping the momentum going. We’re heading into, after this, we’re going to have a couple more weeks where things start to die down and people kind of cool off for the holidays, but really important to use that data, not only before this time period, but January is historically one of the highest converting months of the year. This is the prime opportunity to gather information and data to direct those campaigns.
That’s a great segue to talk about data. This is actually a snapshot, a quick high-level view of some of the reporting we do for our own clients at Hinge. To what Fabiano was saying, what we do is, behind the scenes, we’re actually benchmarking different ad campaigns, and we’re looking at it in the most fine or most granular way possible. We do this by having standardized nomenclature, standardized ways of building out those campaigns so that we know this is a Sponsored Brand, this is a Sponsored Product, and we break it out by a sub-category. So if you have, for example, a line of products, maybe some of those products are one type, maybe it’s a long-sleeve shirt versus a short-sleeve shirt versus shorts versus pants versus pajamas, we’d want to actually look at what our ad campaigns are broken out by type of advertising and type of product, all the way down, so that we can then go back and do the kind of benchmarking that Fabiano was describing. We can actually learn from the experience on Prime Day, as well as Turkey Five, and bring that learning forward to carry out the rest of the year and into 2021. With all this data, it’s really important to be very structured in how we set up our campaigns but also how we automate the data extracts, so when we pull down that data, it’s almost real-time. We’re able to leverage all of the API connectivity to drive this highly detailed reporting.
What we do then is we’re looking at, not just the AMS spend, but also organic sales. That’s equally important. We’re looking at the totality of a business to say what is happening for total sales, broken out by ad sales versus organic, and then looking at the drivers of that part of the business. We believe in looking at these things at, obviously, the category level, so if you have a business that spans many different types of products, I used the apparel example before, long-sleeve shirts, short-sleeve, men’s, women’s, youth, baby, breaking it all down, and then looking at the brand level. If your business actually has multiple brands, we’ll want to look at those dynamics. We want to look at it at the campaign level, and then even down to the ASIN level. Being able to slice and dice the data this way is super important to be able to take very actionable insight and carry that insight forward into the next event.
We at Hinge also believe very strongly in looking at the competition. This is hard because obviously we don’t have full access to what your competitors are doing, but I think everybody on this call recognizes that eCommerce and Amazon are growing rapidly. It’s just not good enough to say that your business is growing. If you know your business is growing by five percent, that’s one thing. If the total category is actually growing by ten percent, then you’re actually losing share. It is important that we actually keep an eye on what’s happening in the broader category, and you have a very good understanding then of who’s winning and who’s losing and how they’re growing, and who they’re stealing share from. At the end of the day, all of those things really matter. This whole competitive landscape has become particularly important post-COVID because there’s such a huge acceleration of eCommerce business and there are so many no entrants. We all recognize, and we see it in our own behavior, that eCommerce is growing rapidly, but if you knew that a given category is growing by double digits or literally triple digits, being able to keep an eye on what’s going on there is just going to be critical to your business.
This little example is actually showing coffee, so we actually have data going back more than a year at the ASIN level. There are 11,000 ASINs in here tracking week-over-week, and we’re just looking at ground coffee for a second. You can actually see that ground coffee has doubled in size, literally doubled in size in the past twelve months. I just pulled three brands to show you what’s going on: Folger’s is this dark brown line, Lavazza is this pink link, and Death Wish Coffee is this orange line right here. Then, when we look at businesses, we look at not just their total dollar sales, but also their sales per ASIN or per SKU. I think this view, being able to look at it on a per SKU basis really is very important. You can see when you look at it that way that Death Wish Coffee is actually a huge business. They have very few ASINs, they only have one hundred twenty-five ASINs, compared to Folger’s, of course that includes some third-party sellers and whatnot, but the average sales per ASIN is enormous. Anyway, this is just an example of competitive tracking.
One of the biggest things and most important things that we do at Hinge is we always lead with inventory. Inventory first is our motto at Hinge. You can make the most beautiful product display page and it has that content, and we could have campaigns that are set up perfectly, but if you don’t have inventory, none of that matters. With the addition of the COVID prices and now the traffic from Q4, getting inventory to Amazon is a little more complicated. One thing we would express first is always have a contingency plan. If you’re an FBA seller on Amazon, you should highly consider creating a conditional listing for FBM. That way, if for some reason your shipments are delayed in receiving, or they’re having issues with getting them checked in due to the backup at Amazon, you can still go live with an FBM listing and still have a presence on Amazon during this high traffic time.
The next thing is to ensure safety stock. If you do decide to do FBM, you should always make sure that you have enough inventory to not only cover the orders that you would get, but then also, if you are running any kind of promotions, even if you’re FBA, you should always make sure that you have enough inventory for both fulfillment methods that you are going to not have overselling, not sell out within the first five minutes of a lightning deal or a promotion, because you want to have that extra inventory afterward to catch the halo effect that both promotions and campaigns cause on your account. That helps carry you through and keep growing after these high events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday happen.
The next thing is probably the most complicated, is tracking your inbound inventory into Amazon fulfillment centers. If you’re a large FBA seller, you could have hundreds of shipments going into Amazon at any time. Making sure you’re monitoring those shipments. What we’ve found in the past six, eight months is that those shipments are either being picked up delayed pickup, they’re in route or in transit for long periods of time, seller central is unfortunately not updating the status of shipments even though it could have been received on Amazon but it’s still showing in transit. When that happens, you should escalate those issues with seller support to get that shipment received in. They create a ticket to put you in the queue to get received in. If you’re not effectively managing it, other sellers are going to bypass you in that queue line, and then your inventory is inevitably going to sit until an action is taken upon it.
Finally, make sure you file for your reimbursements. There are multiple different reimbursements that you can get, but specifically for inventory, making sure that if you have a shipping problem come up where Amazon is saying that there’s lost or missing units from a shipment that you know you sent in, you need to file reimbursement cases so that you get credit back for those missing units because Amazon has signed for the goods. They’re responsible for them, and if you’re not actively managing your shipping queue, you could be sitting on tons of lost revenue and lost money. For example, at Hinge, we work with our clients on a daily basis, and every year, we get hundreds of thousands of dollars back for our clients in reimbursements. Because Amazon’s not going to monitor it for you, so you should definitely have a system in place or work with someone like Hinge to make sure that you’re not leaving money on the table.
Some callouts to what we went over here today. Always have promotions running during high traffic events. As stated above, they can help create additional conversion, as well as create that halo effect afterward to keep your brand growing during the holiday season. Advertising budget planning: you want to make sure that you have a plan for your advertising budget and that you start with it at least a week, if not two weeks, before the event. Also continue that budget planning after the event happening, so you’re capturing and retargeting. Preplanning your inventory: you should always be thinking three, six months ahead on inventory, if not even a year ahead on inventory. That way, you can have your inventory there when you need it. Always remember that there are things that will come up. If there is a shortage of truck drivers, carrier pickup, or if Amazon is backed up and the receiving times are longer, these are all things that you should be taking into effect to determine what your weeks of coverage is and when you need to get inventory for FBA. Harnessing past data: all of the data that is helpful, not just Prime Day data but all of the data you get in seller central should be used to make great business decisions so that you can move forward and grow. Even when you’re looking at Prime Day data, it can tell you a lot about how the next event is going to either work in your favor. You can use the understanding of how many more clicks did I get during Prime Day than I would normally get, or how much impressions did I see on Prime Day versus my average. That can help you gauge what your budget should be in the long-term for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Harnessing technology for heavy lifting: using a tool like Pacvue to help with the day-to-day stuff so that you can focus on your business and growing it, allowing you to take some weight off your shoulders. That way, you can think about planning for the next event.
Amanda, are there questions?
Yes. That was fantastic, thank you guys. We have a few questions coming in now. We’ll start with one here. Looking at CPCs for Black Friday Cyber Monday versus everyday, when you look back at Prime Day numbers have gone up, does it make more sense to spend more outside of Black Friday Cyber Monday, allocate your budget before or after, or should people still put in their advertising dollars now?
It’s interesting because overall, we expect an increase in CPC around the area and before because, like I said, you’re going to have these window shoppers. One of the things that’s helpful I think is to look into a lot of metrics but specifically conversion rate and CPC in terms of four different time frames. You have from now until Thanksgiving, you have Black Friday until Christmas, and then you have this Christmas cool off period, and then you’re going to have the January warm up. It’s almost like a really heavy push, then pull back a little bit, then push again using data to direct that path. One of the things that’s important to remember is that it’s not, even those these time periods span across weeks and weekends, it’s not all the same. You can use your data to look at how conversion is happening historically. If we look at conversion rates and cost-per-click in the past, they differ from weekends to weekends. Conversion rates might be even higher during the weekdays, which is kind of an anomaly, but if we look at it a year ago, this is what happened in November. It’s something to be aware of, basically increasing those bids according to conversion rates and pulling back, so it’s not a one size fits all. If we break it into chunks like that, we can approach it with different targets for each time frame, along with budget, it really helps.
Fantastic answer. We have another one here. Is ACOS, ROAS trending up or down since COVID versus last year, and should we expect advertising efficiency to get worse or better after Black Friday?
Also a good question. If I didn’t have a choice, and had to give a general answer, it’s trending up. Things are costing more, there’s more competitors. I remember a couple years ago being in the health and keto space, there were a couple of competitors on the scene. By the end of the year, there were twenty-five, thirty brands doing the same thing that started off with just four or six. In general, competitors are going to be increasing their budgets, they’re going to be spending more. On top of that, there are more brands and more people joining into Amazon and having larger portfolios. It’s not like it’s all to the wind: things are more expensive. It’s still very good to operate in there with the right dataset, but I think we can expect that, during this time frame, and in general, as we saw from Kathy’s analysis on the coffee, it’s just trending upwards. With market share in general growing and the market size, more competitors, more advertisers, more costs. That’s kind of a general answer.
When looking at promotions, what are the most effective kind of promotions that you guys have seen this year and that people should be thinking about, lightning deals, or any other types?
I feel like the answer to everything is it depends. The promotions, one of the things that we’ve seen: I did a sample group of family members a couple of weeks ago. I said for Black Friday Cyber Monday, you go out shopping or you go online, what do you expect? What is the threshold that pushed you over? The general consensus, as Jeanie was saying, was that thirty percent mark, I think is a sweet spot. I think if you offer ten or fifteen percent, during these times, people are slightly offended. They’re like, wait that’s not what we expect, it’s Black Friday Cyber Monday, it needs to be a good discount. I think that between twenty and forty percent is a nice sweet spot for discounts. Also considering it doesn’t have to be a one size fits all. One of the really cool things that we’ve seen not only work real well for promotions and conversion rates but also has a good effect on organic listings is when you offer tiered discounts: ten percent off of one, twenty percent off of two, thirty percent off of three product sold. Not only does that increase the shopping cart conversion size, but the transaction number looks really good in terms of conversion rates for the actual product. Sweet spot being thirty percent-ish and whether you have availability for lightning deals or any other deals like that, you want to check Amazon to see what’s available to you. Then, really important is the inventory as Jeanie was saying. What can you do with the inventory you have that is going to make sense for the product or category that you’re operating in.
We did receive another question on inventory as well. My inventory performance on Amazon is under the five hundred minimum threshold. What do I need to do to get that number back up?
Yeah, that’s a great question. In case others aren’t aware, Amazon has put in place an inventory performance index, and they require you to be at five hundred or above. This allows you to have the ability to send in higher levels of inventory. If your IPI score is below five hundred what happens is that you’re limited in what you’re allowed to send into the FC. The best way to increase your IPI score is to increase the demand on your products. By making sure to look at your PDP page. Is it optimized? Do you have good images? And then from there, going to your campaigns. Are you getting people who are converting on your campaigns? Are you reaching the demographic that you need to? Are there other campaigns that you should look at, like Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Display ads, beyond Sponsored Product ads? That way, you can increase your demand. And once you increase the demand, your IPI score will improve.
Excellent answer. We have another one here. Do people need to drive sales on the Black Friday Cyber Monday promoted items before, in order for them to have the best efficiency and results afterwards?
Yeah, you should always be trying to drive your sales on all of your products, but you really want to make sure that if you’re going to put something on a promotion, that you have the traffic and you have the best seller ranking you can on those ASINs going into that promotion. Because then it’s going to effectively be a better experience for the customer, and you’re going to have a higher level of conversions. Therefore, your promotions will run better, and you’ll see a better return on your investment.
We have another question here. We are hesitant to give money, a percentage off, because pricing trackers detect, and then all eCommerce retailers drop price. We do our best to keep prices to MAP. What do you guys think about that? How should people be thinking around price tracking?
I think the biggest thing with Amazon is, if you are selling a product that has MAP, if you’re not the brand and you’re a distributor selling the product, you should have an agreement with the brand that you purchase from to be able to run certain promotions during high level events. Mostly because it’s not only the benefit of sellers, it’s also going to benefit the brand that they’re selling. You want to get eyes on the product. Like Fabiano said, if you aren’t running a promotion that’s not at least twenty to forty percent off, people are going to have feelings about it and not positively. Your whole objective here is to try and create brand awareness and get conversion on that brand, so I would say that you should work with the brand. If you are the brand and you have MAP and you’re worried more about a brand health alert, you should have a good strategy across multiple different marketplaces. Amazon does have what’s called a brand health alert. If you lower the price on, say, Walmart or another eCommerce platform, they will suppress your listing because they want you to have the lowest price. You should make sure that you have a strategy to make sure that doesn’t happen across your different marketplaces.
If I can piggyback off of that answer too, just one other thing. I think businesses often struggle with managing their margins. Obviously it’s a sensitive subject in eCommerce, so I can understand why the person was hesitant to drop prices below MAP. The thing, though, that you should recognize is that, Jeanie alluded to this before, you will get halo benefits. Although you might take one part of your brand, one item, and choose to promote that, you will actually see halo benefit to some of the rest of your line. Particularly if you choose that hero item in a really strategic way. Recognize that you’ll take a little bit of a margin hit on one part of the business, but you’ll gain back on other parts of the business. Ultimately, this is about driving both awareness and new buyer acquisition, so it’s just something you should think about. And this is true for all channels, not just Amazon, but Walmart.com and the other eCommerce sites as well.
And we have one final question here on COVID. In the apparel category, have sales dropped, or have they started to increase again on Amazon? I know we saw a huge hit earlier this year, so what are brands thinking going into the holiday season?
It’s a very specific question to apparel. It’s kind of interesting. A little bit like what both Jeanie and Fabiano said, the devil’s in the details. You look at apparel in total, certainly high end apparel has taken a bit of a hit. People are not dressing up to go to work and all of that. But we are actually seeing big growth in some surprising areas. Men’s work clothes has been growing a lot, men’s work shirts, even to an extent youth or boy’s clothing. But interestingly some segments of women’s clothes have not grown as much, and it may be because people are not going out as much and things like that. The area that historically or traditionally you think of as high growth for fashion is not actually the area that’s growing, at least not the segments we’ve been looking at.
I hope people can start buying clothes again and out of the leggings. I think those were all of our questions. If nobody has any other ones, I don’t think, it looks like we answered them. If anyone has any additional questions, or want to reach out, you can contact us at Pacvue directly or at Hinge Global. And just a reminder this webinar will be sent out to everyone after this, so you will receive that as well as the deck. You can always watch it on Pacvue.com/webinars. Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us today, and we hope to see you guys again soon. Thank you to the Hinge Global team for joining us.