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Bride & Groom

GUEST BLOG: The Social Wedding – How planning (and selling) the big day is going digital

Rob Kabrovski, VP of Accounts EMEA, Adaptly

The start of summer marks peak wedding season, with July to September the most popular months for couples to celebrate their big days.

Weddings are the culmination of months (even years) of planning and thousands of pounds of expenditure. Figures reveal that each couple spends on average £25,000 on their wedding (guests spend an additional £815) across verticals, meaning that the celebration is also very big business – worth an estimated £10 billion a year.

Long gone are the days of a quick ceremony in front of a few select family and friends followed by a week in rain-soaked Cornwall. They have been replaced by something more lavish. Like most of the important things in our lives (as well as the minutiae), social media plays an increasingly important role.

For instance, 62 per cent of newlyweds update their Facebook relationship status within 24 hours of getting hitched. But then we all know that managing our social profiles to ensure they are relevant has become second nature.

What is more interesting is the way that couples are turning to social media in order to plan their weddings well in advance – and it’s an activity carried out across age groups and not just among Millennials who you might assume are more versed in social media (there were two million wedding-related Internet searches in the UK by 45-54 year-olds in 2016).

Over 40 per cent of husbands and wives-to-be turn to social media to plan their weddings and they use these platforms in different ways – as well as seeking inspiration (which provides an opportunity for advertisers) ahead of their special day, one in four create a hashtag to aggregate posts on the day. It’s not only the wedding couple who turn to social media to plan and mark the celebration, but also the guests, the stag and hen crew, the bridesmaids and ushers, and so on. This means that the targeting spreads to include events and venues being organised beyond the obvious as well as gifts and outfits. Therefore brands need to think broader in terms of their product offering than just the couple.

For those advertisers that are seeking to tap this growing market there are key principles to follow, and it’s best to kick off your activity as early as possible as most engagements in the UK last for an average of 20 months – that’s a long planning period, which will also include other key marital events including engagement parties, hen dos and stag parties.

Pinners use Pinterest as a first stop to discover ideas that pique their interest, with over 40 million people using the platform globally to help guide them through the wedding planning process. As it’s such a powerful tool it should not be underestimated and creative treatments should reflect every part of the wedding planner’s journey. Given that weddings are highly visual affairs, bright and striking ‘thumb-stopping’ creative works the best.

While the summer months are the most popular for weddings, they are also the most expensive and ceremonies are now taking place throughout the year. To exploit this, advertisers should run their Pinterest wedding campaigns well past the key months using specific terms for search targeting, such as ‘wedding dress’, ‘honeymoon’ and so on.

Facebook and Instagram also play an important role in the wedding journey and have the additional benefit of allowing targeting based on relationship status, gender and location. A brand can reach a wide audience by targeting users who are engaged with an entire product range through carousel ads, while shoppable video ads with user-generated content can help bring stories of real couples’ weddings to life.

In addition, Twitter has a crucial role to play, allowing conversations and keyword targeting to tailor messaging to what users are tweeting about. Wedding buzz words such as #wedding and #shesaidyes are likely to be popular topics on Saturdays during the key wedding periods, while video featuring prominent people and branding in the first five seconds will engage viewers.

Snapchat is also increasingly popular, with custom geofilters enhancing the experience. Snap Ads with long-form content can engage users for longer as wedding guests and the happy couple are likely to re-watch the stories the following day and beyond.

Overall, social media has enhanced the wedding experience for brides, grooms, family and guests.

Happily for advertisers, it also allows them to play a new pivotal role in the special day.

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Guest Blog, Milana Saric: The retailer’s guide to last minute Christmas social advertising…

The Christmas holiday season is often far from the most wonderful time of year for retail marketers. Sales success can seem as elusive as finding the perfect gift for the pickiest person on your gift list.

Pressure around holiday marketing builds for good reasons. Many retailers make more than half of their sales and profits in the three months leading up to Christmas. In 2015, UK holiday sales rose by 2.3 per cent from £74.26 billion to £75.96 billion, buoyed by the growth of events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With consumers facing seasonal messages and advertisements from all directions, it takes careful planning to execute campaigns that will break through the noise. It’s important to provide a seamless cross-channel experience because, in the UK, 70 per cent of social media time is spent on smartphones. And you’ll have to spend. The days of relying on organic social media to deliver your message are long gone. To convert specific audiences into buyers you will need paid social media: the vastness of its reach, its finely tuned targeting and array of compelling ad units.

To boost your social advertising for the final weeks, here are some tips on making your social Christmas campaigns sing like the King’s College Choir:

Timing

Even though we’re close to Christmas, online is at its peak, and is still a key time for driving awareness and increasing product consideration. With the extra time off, consumers are in a much more relaxed state-of-mind; and will spend more time browsing and shopping online.

Pinterest is an important tool during this phase of the season, with audiences using the platform to plan their holiday activities, as well as to research and bookmark gifts for themselves, family, and friends. Facebook and Instagram are additional platforms to reach audiences at scale and drive them to your site to browse.

Pre-Test

In the final run-up to Christmas there’s a huge opportunity to test. See which products and messaging audiences respond to in order to focus on top-performers when sales start. Leverage the audiences you have already driven to your site and dynamically retarget users based on product pages they have viewed. Put the right items in front of shoppers at the right time.

Messaging

Throughout, focus on driving awareness and engagement by promoting valuable content that’s shareable. Then move people further down the funnel with consideration and conversion-led content with strong calls-to-action that will prompt them to act on their purchase intent. From Black Friday onwards, an important sales period – and a lot of retailers are still continuing the discounts, messaging should be much more conversion-focused.

On Pinterest, build content that is helpful and informative. Focus on how your brand’s products and services solve challenges for consumers. For instance, you could have Pins with themes such as ‘6 office party outfits’, ‘Tips for buying wearables for your loved one’, or ‘Party planning guide.’

For Twitter, create infographics that include valuable sale shopping tips. This kind of shareable content will increase engagement as well as organic reach. Capitalise on the season’s buzz by using tweets to tap into live conversations about the holidays.

Snapchat’s Snap Ads, completely viewable, full-screen video, provide an extremely powerful video experience. Capture attention with short, concise video (3-7 seconds) that showcases your key holiday brand story.

Don’t be afraid to run experiments. Splashes of colour can have thumb-stopping power so play around with various options without compromising your brand identity. A/B test ad types against one another depending on your goals.

Targeting

Target users based on their online and offline purchase behaviour with third-party audiences from data providers such as Datalogix and Acxiom. These audiences can be synched to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts and activated across your campaigns.

Start with broad targeting and narrow down the audiences once you’ve gathered sufficient learning. Use CRM data to re-engage lapsed customers and ensure they are aware of your latest offering and/or promotions.

Develop a retargeting strategy to leverage audiences that have recently visited or purchased from your website or engaged with your brand’s content on social media.

Tap into custom audience segments offered by social platforms and third-party data providers for targeting. Snapchat is one platform that has released audience categories – Snap Lifestyle Categories – to reach users based on how they engage on the platform. These include fashion and style gurus, film and TV fans, foodies, sports fans, and more.

Ad Formats

Video is the most powerful way to drive awareness for products/services and is no longer just a landscape experience. Snapchat led the way with vertical video, a format that allows a brand to take up 100 per cent screen share-of-voice. Facebook has also begun to offer a vertical video unit.

For online sales, use Facebook’s lead ad and Twitter’s lead generation unit to grow awareness for a sale and incentivise users to subscribe to receive information.

In terms of increasing product consideration, ad formats such as Carousel Ads on Facebook and Instagram and multi-product tweets on Twitter are very effective in showcasing multiple products and enabling storytelling. Promoted Pins are powerful because so many users actively save Pins to come back to the content later. They’re also a huge traffic-driver, so use keyword targeting to ensure users searching and planning on Pinterest find your products.

 

Milana Saric is the client strategy director, EMEA at Adaptly and has a wealth of experience helping advertisers to execute digital marketing strategies and drive brand awareness on social media. She is responsible for clients across the entertainment, fashion and retail sectors.