The Social Advertiser's Holiday Guide 2016

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Successful marketers are looking forward to the holidays, but sometimes not for the same reasons as everyone else. The holiday season accounts for as much as 20% of annual sales for retailers, which means early planning is necessary in order to reap the most benefits of one of the biggest times of the year.

With mobile usage increasing at an unprecedented pace, the customer journey to holiday shopping is more complex than ever. 62% of consumers report using their smartphones more than previous years to research holiday shopping. Consumers are very active on social media during this time of the year, with usage typically accelerating in early October and peaking around New Year’s Eve.

In this Holiday Guide, we share tactical plans to best prepare you for the holiday season and make the most of your ad campaigns across social media.

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3 Steps to Successful Holidays

Planning for the holiday season is key to success. Dividing your strategy into clear steps is a powerful way to focus your efforts and use your resources effectively. First, review your Preparation Checklist. As soon as your tools are ready to go, follow these three steps with a recommended timeline to ensure a successful campaign:

1. Before the Holidays (August–September)

Take advantage of the less-promotional summer months to build momentum, get your brand presence on point, grow your customer base, and capture intent data from your website or mobile app using (Facebook) Website Custom Audiences or (Twitter) Tailored Audiences.

2. During the Holidays (October–December)

Your pre-holiday campaigns will pave the way for the holidays to come. With a large customer base having expressed a clear intent, break through the noise and focus on customers that matter

3. Post-Holidays (January)

Post-holidays is a perfect time to nurture the relationship with customers acquired during the holidays, to convert them into repeat buyers using demand generation and cross-sell programs.

Preparation Checklist

The foundation of a successful holiday season is using the powerful tools that are integrated throughout the entire conversion funnel. Make sure your website and mobile apps are designed for a seamless customer experience, and that you’re able to measure success across the board.

Implement the publisher pixels on your website:

  • Add the Facebook Pixel and the Twitter Tag to all your website pages.
  • Configure both pixels to track conversions (add to cart, purchase, etc.).
  • Make sure both pixels are capturing the right events (Facebook Pixel Helper).
  • Create audiences matching each conversion event.

Marin Pro Tip

Leverage the Marin Smart Tag to easily deploy pixels from multiple publishers in one go and leverage cross-channel strategies. Tag keywords from your search campaigns in Marin Enterprise and build Search Intent audiences in Facebook for retargeting and lookalike expansion

Use a publisher SDK or Mobile Measurement Partner for your Mobile App:

  • Add the Facebook SDK to your app.
  • Make sure all conversion events can be tracked within your Mobile App: pageviews, purchases, etc.
  • Make sure your app is enabled with deep links for an effective mobile re-engagement strategy.

Marin Pro Tip

Leverage MMPs and benefit from their seamless 1-click integration with Marin Social: Kochava, Appsflyer, AD-X, AdJust, Apsalar, Localytics.

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Prepare for an effective cross-device retargeting strategy:

Facebook Dynamic Ads enable advertisers to run powerful retargeting, cross-sell, upsell, and prospecting campaigns. Make sure your Product Catalog is ready to go and your Facebook Pixel is firing the right events to report which products are being viewed, added to cart, or purchased.

Marin Pro Tip

Get in touch with your Social Customer Success team and learn more about our Feed Management Solution. Additionally, get expert help and guidance to setup your Facebook Pixel the right way.

Plan for an effective auction and delivery strategy:

  • Design a budget plan that includes always-on campaigns, to make sure you maintain a presence throughout the holidays. Plan for strategic highvolume days (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday) by booking ad inventory in advance and boosting your manual bids when relevant. Don’t be shy.
  • Be mindful of audience overlaps. Always exclude audiences from one another across campaigns or consider consolidating them

Marin Pro Tip

Use advanced automation tactics enabled by Marin Social:

  • Build an always-on program by automatically amplifying your organic content with paid based on organic performance across Facebook and Twitter with Marin Social’s Autoboost Rules for Message Booster.
  • Run your program in sync with TV commercials, sport events, or even the weather by leveraging Marin Social’s TV Sync triggers (in partnership with TVTY).

Leverage paid social experts and explore our Fully Managed Service offering:

  • Let experts advise your team, design campaigns, and run your program in Fully Managed mode. Take a seat, we’re running the show for you!
  • Divide and conquer by focusing your team on one campaign objective or strategic planning while we run branding or direct response campaigns for you.

1. Before the Holidays (August – September

The less-promotional summer months are a good time to get your brand presence on point, boost your visibility, grow your customer base, and capture the right intent data to leverage later.

Visibilityand Awareness

Target a broader audience with affinity to your brand to increase awareness – showcase products and services with a compelling creative strategy to become top of mind for their holiday wish list.

Audience: Leverage insights tools (such as Facebook’s Audience Insights) to understand your audience better: interests, demographics, etc. A good first step is to run an analysis on specific, high-intent audiences, such as fans of your page, Website Custom Audience of all visitors of your website, CRM list of recent purchasers, etc.

Targeting: Segment your audiences based on demographic, geographic, and behavioral targeting such as digital buyers, mobile early adopters, etc.

Ad formats: Video is the most engaging form of brand communication, making it an obvious choice for this objective (especially on mobile). Publishers offer a wide variety of options, including Facebook Carousel Video Ads. Other highly visual formats such as Facebook Canvas Ads offer an immersive experience around your brand.

Creative: Needless to say, using visually compelling creatives is in order. Regarding video, think about typical usage – many users will view your content on-the-go on their mobile with the sound off. As a result, make sure any video has great storytelling, grabs the attention within the first 10 seconds, and makes use of captions (either uploaded via Facebook or as text overlays).

Optimization: Use specific campaign types to focus on the objective that matters. Facebook offers reach and frequency buying to secure ad inventory at a predetermined CPM cost for Facebook and Instagram ad formats, including video.

Demand Generation and Website Traffic

Build demand among affinity groups to drive traffic to your website and increase your total buyer base for the coming months. Use lookalike modeling to expand on existing purchasers.

Audience: Identify specific segments you’d like to focus on, such as highpotential, high lifetime value customers (leverage CRM list uploads as Custom Audiences) or category purchasers.

Targeting: Leverage Lookalike Audiences to expand your reach to prospects you’ve identified as valuable.

Marin Pro Tip

Try playing with different similarity levels when building your lookalikes to find the right balance between similarity and reach. Note that 1% is a small but highly similar audience (always about 2 million people in the US), while 20% offers the broadest reach at the cost of a lesser similarity to the source audience.

Ad formats: Combine the impact of video with a click-through link and CTA button using Video Link Ads. Another compelling and efficient format is Carousel Ads, to showcase multiple products in a visually compelling way. Finally, consider Lead Ads to build a high-quality email subscriber list to leverage later during the season.

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Optimization: Optimizing for conversions is the best strategy, provided that your conversion event is recording at least 15 one-day post-click conversions per week. (Want to know why? Email your Marin Social experts.) If your volume is lower than that, try optimizing for higher-funnel conversion objectives instead, such as an Add to Cart of Website Clicks

2. During the Holidays (October – December)

Time to focus on the most important business period of the year for most retailers. Your objective is to leverage insights and audiences from your preparation and pre-holiday phases in order to maximize sales. Retargeting users who’ve demonstrated interest is a key tactic for optimal efficiency.

Drive Sales

The most cost-effective way to advertise during the holidays is focusing on people who are already familiar with your brand to drive them to purchase in store, online, or via your mobile app.

Audience: Build your campaigns around high-intent customer segments such as recent purchasers, loyalty members, and past holiday purchasers—and try to plan for a specific conversion path for each of them.

Targeting: Use Custom and Website Custom Audiences of people who’ve visited your website recently or purchased from you before.

Ad formats: Focus on ad formats that’ll allow you to showcase your products and services, such as Video Link Ads, Carousel Ads, and Canvas Ads.

Creative: Showcase your best-selling products to your audience segments and highlight USPs. Create urgency with limited time offers, shipping deadlines, or discounts, and timely promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday %-off.

Optimization: Optimize for conversions to maximize the delivery of your ads to people likely to purchase. Once again, make sure your conversion volume is enough for Facebook’s algorithm to be effective (especially if selling highvalue products with costs above $200).

Build an Effective Retargeting Program with Dynamic Ads

Dynamic Ads enable you to automatically promote your entire catalog across devices. With Dynamic Ads, you have full control over the products you advertise, ensuring you’re reaching audiences who’ve expressed high intent to purchase with the most relevant products. Advanced tactics are also available – cross-sell, upsell, and even prospecting.

Audience: Segment audiences based on past browsing behavior. For example, you can create audiences of people who viewed or added products to their cart but didn’t purchase, then retarget them with the same products to increase their purchase intent

Targeting: Upload your product catalog to Facebook and make sure it’s regularly updated. Build product sets by category, best sellers, or high-margin products

Ad formats: It’s best practice to use Carousel Ads rather than static image link ads.

Creative: Test different variations with macros such as price, brand, and description in your ad text and Carousel titles.

Optimization: Always bid your maximum value for one-day post-click conversions, and make sure bid values match with audience behavior. For instance, “add to cart” is a higher intent than a simple “product view” and may justify a higher bid. Make sure your audience pools are broad enough to get sufficient delivery

3. After the Holidays (January

Shopping doesn’t end after the holidays – 65% of shoppers plan to keep shopping after Christmas. 4 Use this time of year to convert them to loyal customers with new demand generation and cross-sell opportunities.

Demand Generationand Cross-Sell

Don’t let your holiday campaigns go to waste – keep aiming for more purchases. Post-holidays is a great time to re-engage to drive demand.

Audience: Identify recent purchasers to showcase new collections to them. You can achieve this by using Website Custom Audiences (or Tailored Audiences on Twitter) with an appropriate retention window.

Ad formats: Use Dynamic Ads to automatically cross-sell complementary products or upsell higher value products from your catalog.

Creative: Focus on creative that defines your brand beyond the holidays to avoid ad fatigue and expand into the New Year. Your brand message should seamlessly transition from the holidays to the post-holiday period to maintain interest and create new opportunities, such as additional gear and add-ons for holiday presents (video games, DSLR bag, etc.), post-holiday flash promotions, etc.

Optimization: Optimize for product sales or conversions to maximize the delivery of your ad campaigns to people likely to convert, once again making sure that your pixel is capturing enough conversions per week.

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