Tuesday, September 27th, 2016 | 16 min read
In 2014, Apple touched hearts across the world with one of its most moving holiday ads. The tech company created a short video that told the story of a young woman who remastered her grandmother’s music into a duet for Christmas. While the ad was broadcast on TV and posted to YouTube, it made the biggest impact on Facebook. In just a week, the Facebook video gained over 20 million views, 200,000 likes, 9,000 comments and 28,000 shares.
There were a few key reasons for the impressive numbers: Facebook’s massive user-base of 1.7 billion people, Facebook’s autoplay setup, Apple’s high-quality content, and the fact that the video was sponsored.
By putting money behind their Facebook posts, marketers can more effectively reach target audiences, generate leads, and drive purchases. This can be particularly valuable during the holidays when customers are rushing to buy gifts for friends, family, and coworkers. In fact, a 2015 Facebook study found that during the holidays, there was a 71% increase in same-day purchase rates and a 190% increase in ad engagement.
Facebook also continues to change its algorithm to make posts from friends and family more visible than posts from brands and publishers. This means that organic reach might not cut it anymore. In order to see engagement, advertisers are opting to sponsor their posts and scale their messaging. Perhaps that’s part of why digital ad spending is expected to overtake TV ad spending by the end of 2016. As eMarketer reported, Facebook is a huge part of this trend and leads the largest category of ad spend: display or desktop advertising.
So, whether you’re promoting holiday sales, contests, giveaways, or gift ideas, Facebook ads can help you reach the right people at the right time.
Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your Facebook ads this holiday season.
There are a variety of Facebook ad types, which can be selected based on your content format and, most importantly, your campaign objectives.
Generate brand awareness among holiday shoppers by posting an eye-catching photo, complete with an engaging caption and headline. You can either create your own ad from scratch or simply boost a photo you’ve already published on your Page. For instance, you might sponsor a glossy image from a product gallery, a festive holiday graphic, or a promotion for your seasonal sale.
To make your posts most shareable, Facebook recommends using an image size of 1200 x 628 pixels and a caption of 90 characters.
Promote a video post to share longer and more engaging stories with your target audience. Maybe you want to demonstrate how a certain holiday gift works, share stories from happy customers, or offer an inside look at your holiday celebrations. Video ads provide a great way to generate brand awareness, boost an already published post, or get viewers interested in your in-depth holiday message.
In 2014, LOT Polish Airlines launched its #KISSaLOT campaign, encouraging people all over the world to kiss under the mistletoe—the mistletoe hanging on each of its planes, that is. People on the ground could track when flights were overhead by visiting the company’s Fan page, which announced each plane’s location using data from Google Maps and LOT’s own tracking system.
Individual Facebook video ads also targeted people living in cities on the planes’ routes. They were scheduled to launch at the moment the plane passed by, so viewers could get ready to pucker up.
In just a couple of days, buzz from the campaign generated more than €300,000 worth of free media, sending people from over 90 countries to LOT’s website.
Facebook carousel ads allow marketers to place “up to 10 images and/or videos, headlines and links, or calls to action in a single ad.” These ads are interactive in that viewers can swipe through the content based on their interests.
This unique format gives advertisers an opportunity to showcase a variety of holiday gifts, break down the features of a single product, tell a comic book-style story, or even create one long, panoramic image.
Add hyperlinks to your ad creative and direct users to take a specific action, like signing up for your newsletter or visiting your online store. Since customers will be bombarded with ads during the holiday season, you want to make it easy for them to learn more about your brand and make a purchase. Link to your holiday catalogue, for instance, or to a special checkout page where they can enter an exclusive offer code.
Facebook lead ads are Facebook’s most powerful tool for generating leads. They let you include a form with your ad so you can collect important information from your customers with ease. Since the forms pre-populate with a user’s name, email, and phone number, all they have to do is tap “Submit.”
Lead ads can also be customized to fit your needs. Marketers can choose from six call-to-action buttons as well as a variety of open-ended or multiple-choice questions. During the holidays, you might use lead ads to invite customers to register for an event or party, sign up for an exclusive offer, or receive a price estimate on a big gift.
Dynamic product ads are Facebook’s version of re-targeted ads. They can automatically target customers based on products they’ve already viewed and actions they’ve taken on your website or app. Dynamic ads also save you time from creating individual ads for your products and audiences, and they add a personal touch to your messaging. A customer might have a cart full of potential holiday gifts on your website, but they haven’t checked out yet. You can help finish the sale by sending a friendly reminder about the products they’re interested in.
If you’ve worked hard to build an app that enhances the user experience, then you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for people to download that app. Perhaps your app simplifies the buying process or makes a great companion for your products. With mobile app ads, you can promote your app to your target audience and drive engagements, downloads, and purchases.
If you simply want to generate awareness and encourage target users to Like your Facebook Page, this is the tool to help you do it. Page like ads can be especially helpful during the holidays if you’re running a special contest or giveaway for your Facebook community and followers.
Local awareness ads can help you reach people near your business. They are a good fit for brands that want to drive foot traffic to their stores. Through Facebook’s advanced targeting capabilities, you can reach just right people who live or shop near your retail locations.
By implementing call-to-action buttons like “Call Now” or “Get Directions,” it’s also easy to let customers know about new store locations, holiday sales, special events, and local promotions.
During the holidays, brands pull out all the stops—and that includes launching special offers and seasonal deals. With offer claims ads, you can share your coupons and promotions directly with people on Facebook, where they’re already scrolling and consuming content.
Maybe you’re inspiring new customers with buy-one-get-one offers or $10 off their first order. Shutterfly, for example, shared a promotion code for 20% off of select products before December 5.
If you don’t have the time or budget to create full-fledged videos, slideshow ads provide a solid alternative. These ads are 5-15 seconds long and feature 3-7 images in sequence. They’re video-like in format, but since they’re only composed of still images, they use less data and load faster than regular video ads.
To create slideshow ads, marketers can simply choose images from their Page, upload new images, or search Facebook’s stock photo library. They can also choose one of their videos and ask Facebook to pull stills from there. With the visuals in place, marketers can then add audio or text overlays.
Similar to carousel ads, slideshow ads are a great tool for highlighting multiple products, telling an engaging story, or even promoting a video. During the holidays, for instance, a brand might create a slideshow ad that features gift ideas for each member of the family.
Canvas ads invite marketers to create full-screen, interactive ads just for mobile. They can include a mix of video, images, text, and call-to-action buttons, resulting in an immersive multimedia experience.
Here’s an example of what a Canvas ad might look like:
Since this is a relatively new tool, the door is still wide open for businesses to make their mark and experiment with different strategies. This holiday season, we might see brands find new ways to promote their catalogues and interact with consumers through Canvas ads. Perhaps your brand will be one of them.
Facebook provides an array of tools to help marketers generate leads from their ads. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest ones.
Through Facebook Ads Manager and Power Editor, you can target users by location, age, gender, interests, behaviors, device, and connections (people who like your Page or app). You can also create Custom Audiences by uploading your own contact lists, and Lookalike Audiences of people who are similar to your most engaged customers.
Just for the holidays, you can even target holiday shoppers from Thanksgiving through to New Year’s Day. Facebook does this by identifying users who engage with holiday shopping content, such as posts about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If you’re not sure where to start with your targeting, Facebook recommends mining your customer databases to understand the audience segments and demographics of last year’s holiday buyers. Then, you can use targeting capabilities to reach those buyers again or connect with people similar to those buyers.
If you’ve already launched ads on Facebook, use the Audience Insights tool to better understand your customers and their purchase behavior. With this information, you can more effectively target these users and create ads that will appeal to their interests.
Conversion tracking pixels are small snippets of code that you can plant in the backend of your web pages. They help you track specific actions that users might take after viewing your ad. For instance, a Facebook user might see your ad, click on it, go to your website, make a purchase, and be presented with a confirmation page. You can plant your pixel on the confirmation page so you know when you’ve converted a customer. From there, you can target people similar to your buyers or retarget people who didn’t make a purchase.
Facebook offers a variety of metrics to help you gauge performance and optimize your ads. These include engagements, impressions, and cost per result. Based on which ad you run, you’ll be able to see other metrics such as video views, link clicks, and forms submitted. You can also narrow down your analytics by demographic, so you know which targeting strategies are working and which need to be scrapped or fine-tuned.
As of this summer, Facebook even allows marketers to track in-store visits and sales through through the new “store visits” metric and Offline Conversions API, which matches transaction data from their customer database to Facebook Ads reports. This is particularly helpful for optimizing local awareness ads, which are built to drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar retail locations, and can provide a serious boost to your holiday sales quota.
According to Facebook, mobile plays a part in 45% of shopping journeys today. More specifically, millennials, moms, and multicultural US shoppers drove 81% of all mobile purchases last holiday season. If marketers want to reach these growing groups of mobile consumers, it’s crucial that they optimize their ads formats, websites, and creative for mobile and audiences on the go.
This means ensuring that your images and videos translate to smaller screens, and improving the loading times of your pages. Remember that consumers have plenty of choices when making their holiday purchases. A lagging website could be enough to send them off to check out your competitors.
If you’re looking to run dynamic product ads and retarget consumers across devices, you’ll need to prepare your product catalog for Facebook’s ad platform. As Facebook notes, product catalogues contain “a list of products you want to advertise, their availability, product URL, image URL and other product attributes.” Don’t waste valuable time assembling this information in the thick of holiday shopping season. Get it ready now so your brand doesn’t miss a beat.
Before you even launch your holiday ads, you might want to test different content and ad formats with your target audiences. For instance, launch small video and photo ad campaigns to see which format your customers respond to most; test a few different calls-to-action to see which gets the most clicks; and check to see if your loyal customers respond best to one ad type, while new customers engage with another.
By testing your ads now, you can better understand what type of creative each demographic responds to, and then you can double down on those ads when it matters most.
With a wealth of content formats, targeting options, and lead generation tools, Facebook remains one of the most dynamic options out there for brands that want to launch social ads. It’s also hosted a variety of successful holiday campaigns from large and small businesses alike.
Whether you’re looking to promote a festive video, share offers for special discounts, or drive customers to your online store, Facebook has the resources to help you meet your goals this holiday season.