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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.