Six ways for SME ecommerce advertisers to win on Black Friday


Black Friday is one of the pivotal dates in the retail calendar, and it’s just around the corner, with the big retail event taking place 24 November.

According to, over half of UK adults (51%) plan to spend during the Black Friday weekend – up 12% on last year. But, squeezed by the cost-of-living crisis, the average spend per person is predicted to be down 40% to £113.

Expect big deals, big discounts, more personalised shopping experiences and greater use of mobile.

So how should SMEs, looking to get a slice of the action, compete with the retail giants?

Dani Emmons, Online Media Account Director at media planning and buying agency, The Grove Media, has six advertising tips for ecommerce success during this critical shopping season…

Dani Emmons, The Grove Media

Budget wisely and find ‘unexpected’ channels

Most SMEs work with modest budgets, so there is tendency not to take risks. But for key retail periods, when consumer traffic is high, it’s worth setting aside budget to test new things.

The channel bedrock is pretty much paid search, paid social and digital display. Google dominates with a 92.47 search engine market share globally, so you have to be there – it’s still where most searches start.

And Facebook and Instagram rank highly for ecommerce, if you have cut-through ads.

But this Black Friday, why not test newsletter sponsorships? They land directly in people’s in-inboxes, and opting for an established publisher in a relevant sector can give you significant reach with a good target audience.

Or try an app like Nextdoor – it’s local rather than over-crowded social and guarantees real people.

Demand great visuals in your ads

To cut through, your ads have to look great – forget the likes of Instagram if you don’t have top visuals.

If you have pro photos for web and social, make sure you use them in your ads – particularly if you’re investing in shopping ads or social shopping.

But if you’re photo library is not what it should be, here are a few pointers:

  • Say goodbye to stock images – quality photos of your products are a must.
  • Use larger pictures that let users zoom into the details and make sure you have in-context or in-use shots.
  • If you have the budget, invest in 360 degree photos, or better still have product videos – 55% of consumers watch videos for making purchase decisions.
  • And user generated content really delivers as it features recommendations from real people.
Great visuals: Levis’ Eco Jeans ad is a stunning example of a great sales image, with its nod to a famous Johnny Depp film.

Be where your audience is

A smaller budget can be put to good use by delivering ads in key retail catchment areas.

Out-of-home ads can be cheaper than you think. Target commuter belts, regional shopping centres, and roads that people frequent – these can all be very cost effective.

And think mobile –  properly targeted it can be effective at driving ecommerce sales. Mobile is highly personalised, dynamic, measurable and based on people’s shopping behaviour in the real world, and online via apps and website they visit .

You can target individuals via mobile programmatic platforms at specific locations at just the right time to drive consideration and purchase. But remember, ads must be useful, contextual and relevant.

Understand consumer needs, tailor the right path to purchase

Consumers are further down the purchase funnel during Black Friday. They are likely to be past the research stage and looking to purchase quickly.

Focus on direct-to-product-detail channels that land the user on the product page. Most product detail pages have an ‘add to basket’, pushing sales through even faster.

Make sure you have consistent imagery from platform – Google Shopping, Facebook etc – to website, and ensure that ad copy correlates with content on your site. Product messaging inconsistencies lead to higher bounce rates.

And ensure you have easy-to-find actions on your site – search bar, add to basket button, find a store link – to keep users on your site.

Think social shopping as part of your ecommerce strategy

Selling products directly within a social media platform is helping to drives sales for many SMEs, and the likes of Instagram and TikTok are doing all they can to make the platforms more attractive to smaller brands with smaller budgets.

On TikTok, SMEs can set up a TikTok Shop to sell directly within the app. You can create shoppable videos and enable viewers to shop directly from TikTok LIVE broadcasts.

On the go: Social commerce should be a part of your sales strategy.

On Instagram, you use Product Tags to make content shoppable. The tags allow you to highlight items from your product catalogue directly in videos and posts.

Getting the infrastructure in place for shopping on these platforms can take a little time, but an agency can help navigate this and help you through the testing stages.

You might not want to sell on Amazon, but do consider Amazon ads

With 300 million daily active users, Amazon has grown into the largest marketplace in the world. And it’s now become a major advertising platform.

According to BloomReach, Amazon is starting to outperform Google in search intent, with 55% of internet users going directly to Amazon to find products. So it makes perfect sense to advertise on Amazon.

Amazon has several different ad options, but Sponsored Display is a display advertising solution designed for all businesses, whether they sell in the Amazon store or not.

Sponsored Display ads reach customers across the Amazon store plus thousands of apps and websites. They are targeted programmatically to people based on their previous shopping and browsing behaviour on the Amazon platform.

For SMEs, Black Friday is a great time to experiment with different ecommerce advertising options.

And with great ads, the right channels and a slick path-to-purchase strategy, you can compete with the biggest brands.