Thursday, September 29th, 2016 | 7 min read
Just because your customers might 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 innovative ways to reach their audiences.
Paid and sponsored social posts—powered by 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 social channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, marketers can 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 for launching any successful campaign is to define your goals. Start by asking your marketing and your sales teams: What do we want to accomplish with our social advertising strategy this holiday season?
Your goals could include anything from lead generation and driving sales, to boosting brand awareness among your target audience. If you want to generate leads, you might launch ads that invite customers to submit their emails in exchange for more content or company information. Or if you’re looking to increase sales on your website, your social ads could include links to holiday catalogues and special offers.
With your goals in place, you’ll also be prepared to measure the success and performance of your campaign. Say you’re aiming to generate brand awareness; your key metrics might include social shares, comments, and follows to your brand account. Consider setting benchmarks, too, so you know when you’ve passed a major threshold. Maybe you have 100,000 Twitter followers, for example, and you want to reach 120,000 by the new year.
Once you’ve identified your key objectives, it will be much easier to start planning your new social advertising campaign.
Next up, it’s crucial to understand your customers—not just their pain points, but also the journey they take before making a purchase.
Start by creating a buyer persona for your key consumer base. This 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 use most, and what they’re reading or watching on those channels.
Do they read about products on Twitter, but then make purchases via Facebook? Are they mostly located in the US, or are you serving an international market?
The better you understand your customers’ behaviors, the more effective and engaging your social advertising will be. With the right knowledge, 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—especially during the hype of the holiday season.
Sure, social media provides a great platform to spread your brand message, but it’s also an important medium for listening to your audience.
Through social listening, marketers can identify major trends and product keywords in their industries. For instance, if your brand is promoting a line of handbags, you might want to know which platform hosts the most chatter about accessories and where people are talking about their potential holiday gift purchases.
With this information, marketers can make smarter decisions about where to spend their money and which products to promote on each platform.
On social media, advertisers can also sponsor their posts so they’re targeted toward specific groups of users. Once you have a clear idea of your brand’s campaign goals, buyer personas, and social conversations, this part should be a piece of cake.
For instance, you might be based in the US but focused on reaching international travelers coming to America for the holidays. Many social platforms provide geo-targeting options so you can get your message in front of people at the right time.
They also provide opportunities to target by age, gender, and interests. Maybe you’re a clothing retailer looking to target female Facebook users ages 18-35 who are interested in fashion. You can set up an ad campaign to reach only people who fit those criteria.
Targeting provides a way to not just reach specific audiences but also to make the most of your ad dollars—since you know you’re only paying to reach those who are most likely interested in your message.
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, Best Buy launches ads that ask customers if they’re ready to check out the items in their shopping cart. Even after people have made purchases, Best Buy shows ads with complementary products they might be interested in, like cases for phones.
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.
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.
Especially during the holiday time, competition can get fierce as every brand tries its hardest to drive 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 2017 thinking, “That holiday season was okay. But we can do better.” You want to be able to say, “Hey, we took advantage of our number-one traffic driver online, and we knocked it out of the park.” With these social advertising tactics, you can make that happen.