Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 | 8 min read
Just because your consumers will run around doing last-minute holiday shopping doesn’t mean you should scramble to launch last-minute ads.
The holiday season comes around every year, so we should be used to it by now, right? It’s the last huge push for consumer product retailers to drive sales. And yet, as winter creeps up, many marketers find themselves lacking in innovative ways to reach their audiences.
Paid and sponsored social posts—armed with targeting, retargeting, and dynamic product ad features—are some of the most effective options for getting products in front of the right people at the right time. By advertising on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, marketers can holistically place ads that hit all of their key audiences across multiple touch points.
With these platforms at your fingertips, there are no excuses for coming up short on sales during the most wonderful time of the year. To help you make the most of your holiday advertising, try these six tips.
The first step to launching any advertising campaign is to understand your customers—not just their pain points, but also the journey they take before making a purchase.
It’s best to start by creating a buyer persona for your key consumer base. This buyer persona should outline who your customers are, what matters to them, and where they go to make purchase decisions. Additionally, you should be able to document where they spend their time online, which social channels they’re most active on, and what they’re reading or watching on those channels. For instance, do they read about products on Twitter, but then make purchases via Facebook? Are they mostly located in the U.S., or are you serving an international market?
The better you understand your customers’ behaviors, the more effective and engaging your social media advertising will be. This way, you can meet your audience where they’re already setting up camp on the web, and show them you understand their needs and interests.
After all, even the most interesting marketing message can get lost in the noise of the Internet if it’s not directed toward the right audience.
Sure, social media is great place to voice your brand message. But it’s also an important medium for listening to your audience.
Through social listening, marketers can identify key trends and product keywords in their industries. With this information, they can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money, and which products to promote on each platform. For instance, if your brand is promoting a line of handbags, you might want to know which platform hosts the most chatter about accessories.
On social media, advertisers can also sponsor their posts so they’re targeted toward specific groups of users. Again, to get the most bang out of your distribution bucks, it’s important to be receptive to what your consumers are talking about online, and incorporate relevant terms into your ads.
Many retail brands have suites of products to offer during the holiday season. This is where dynamic product ads come into play, offering the opportunity to showcase multiple products that consumers can scroll through based on their interests.
For example, Facebook offers a Dynamic Product Ads feature, and Instagram now invites advertisers to launch carousel ads on the platform. L’Oréal Paris used the latter to showcase its new Infallible makeup line.
With dynamic product ads, you don’t have to put all of your money behind one product that may not resonate with some customers. This way, every person is offered a wider variety of options to engage with.
Many smart shoppers take their time before buying a product. They check out what they like, browse for a bit, and then come back to the site. Sometimes, they’ll do this a few times before making a purchase.
To remain top of mind while consumers are considering a product, it’s important to incorporate retargeting into your marketing mix. For example, clothing retailer ModCloth used Google AdWords to retarget site visitors by showing them a dress they recently viewed along with price details and other related items.
Additionally, Facebook offers the ability to retarget ads to website visitors, email subscribers, Facebook fans, and audiences similar to your own. And over on Twitter, marketers can plant a conversion tag on their websites to target site visitors with Promoted Tweets once they get over to the social network.
Still, when it comes to retargeting, there’s a fine line between promoting a product and creeping out your audience. To avoid pushing customers away, make sure your messages natively fit into the content they’re already reading online. To help advertisers embrace this strategy, Yahoo Gemini recently launched a new retargeting capability for native ad campaigns.
By finally opening its API for all businesses, Instagram gives companies (big and small) the opportunity to access and engage with a previously unavailable audience of 400 million active monthly users. And with this new development, Instagram rolls out a slew of new features just in time for the holidays.
Along with the above mentioned carousel ads, advertisers can now promote their products with video ads, direct response buttons such as “Shop Now” and “Sign Up,” and looped videos (called “Boomerangs”).
Additionally, to get those ads in front of the right eyes, Instagram is incorporating Facebook’s targeting features, such as Custom Audiences, which lets marketers upload their own customer lists to the platform.
Just like you’d never pigeonhole your customers into just one buyer group, don’t limit yourself to just one type of content. Maybe you’ve been pushing image-based ads all year, and your consumers are ready for something different. Try changing things up by experimenting with video ads.
If you’re not sure what content works best for your message yet, you can always A/B test a few different options and optimize based on audience response. Most importantly, just make sure your marketing mix incorporates different types of messages and formats so you’re not throwing the same old ads at your audience.
Especially during the holiday time, competition can get fierce as every brand tries its hardest to drive those end-of-year sales. Only those with the most dynamic and innovative marketing methods will come out on top.
You don’t want to go into 2016 thinking, “That holiday season was okay. But we can do better.” You want to be able to say, “Hey, we took advantage of the #1 traffic driver online, and we knocked it out of the park.” With these social media advertising tactics, you can make that happen.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.