It is never too early to start thinking about and prepping for the holidays. According to a survey from McKinsey & Company, 70% of online shoppers planned to participate in Black Friday in 2018. Of this 70%, the bulk of shoppers did not plan ahead on who they would shop from. This means that users are willing to try new brands and products in favor of finding the better deal. And, of course, it is impossible to discuss Black Friday planning without also mentioning Cyber Monday. In 2018, Cyber Monday was the highest grossing day for digital sales, bringing in about 30% more revenue than Black Friday.

So knowing that these days are generally considered make-or-break for ecommerce advertisers, what is the best way to prep to ensure success? See five crucial tips below that Metric Theory recommends for every advertiser:

Plant seeds early

Planting seeds early and often to present your products as potential gifting options will pay dividends. In a Metric Theory study, we found that advertisers who ramped investment in awareness efforts prior to the holidays saw greater revenue gains on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Try tactics such as previewing your promotions in advance of key promotional days to ensure success.

Plan for key moments using historical data

Ensure you are analyzing your site data from 2018 to determine key performing hours for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, respectively. According to Adobe, key performing hours for Cyber Monday were in the late evening, while Metric Theory client statistics revealed that the bulk of revenue on Black Friday came in the early morning hours — sometimes even starting Thanksgiving night. Whether or not you are leveraging algorithmic bidding, ensure your budgets and bids on your advertising efforts are adjusted to capitalize on these key performing times.

Incorporate Thanksgiving Day into your strategy

Though some families still consider shopping for deals on Thanksgiving taboo, more shoppers than ever are researching and purchasing online as they sit down for their Thanksgiving meals. Begin your promotions early or host separate Thanksgiving deals to take advantage of this traffic.

Many Thanksgiving shoppers will also be browsing on their mobile devices; in fact, 38% of revenue on Thanksgiving 2018 came from smartphone devices, as opposed to just 30% respectively for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Adobe. Make sure you have full coverage here and that your mobile site is optimized for site speed and user experience. Advertisers who are winning on these days are beginning their promotions early or hosting separate Thanksgiving deals.

Prepare your analytics platforms to track in-store visits

If you have brick-and-mortar locations, you’re in luck — 48% of the shoppers McKinsey surveyed prefer to shop both in-store and online. However, you have to make sure you’re prepared to track omnichannel performance.

Many channels, including programmatic and search, now allow you to track in-store visits. You also may now be able to leverage a new beta from Google Analytics that allows you to see store visit impact across all channels. We strongly recommend all advertisers use the tools available to get more insight into how all channels, not just paid, impact in-store performance.

Don’t ignore Amazon

Whether or not Amazon is a channel you are currently selling on, it cannot be ignored going into the 2019 holiday season.  According to McKinsey, not only did Amazon see stronger returns on Cyber Monday than on its own Prime Day in 2018, but it also had five times the traffic as other leading retailers in 2018 on Cyber Monday.

If you are selling on Amazon, Amazon Advertising will be crucial for boosting your organic rankings and ensuring success. If you are already using Amazon Ads, evaluate 2018 performance and consider shifting more investment to support this effort.

If you are not selling on Amazon, know that you will be combating their compelling shipping offering in addition to the usual promotions. McKinsey found that advertisers who matched Amazon’s free two-day shipping offering saw year-over-year growth that doubled those who did not.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, don’t miss out on your chance to make this year’s holiday season your best yet. For more holiday advertising tips, check out our library of holiday blog posts, or contact our team.