Don’t Be An Advertising Grinch: Grow Your Profits 3 Sizes This Holiday Season
November 24th, 2014 by
Can you believe we’re already on the verge of December? Are you prepared for the holidays? I’m not asking if you have your Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush) picked out or if your travel plans are confirmed…we’re talking about advertising, and specifically online advertising. Hopefully, you’ve already adopted online advertising into your business’s ad strategy (if not, I just happen to know of an exceptional company that can help you get started), but this year, having an online presence for your products or services is more crucial than ever.
Therefore, it’s only appropriate that we at Search Influence help prepare you and your business for the upcoming season! Here are 8 Questions, Tips, and Best Practices to get you in the right mindset and bring some holiday cheer to your ad strategy.
1. What channels are you using?
It’s common knowledge that there are a plethora of ways you can reach potential customers online, whether it’s via email marketing, PPC, social media, etc., but which is the best for your message?
- Email Marketing
- Social Media in General
It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you think about utilizing all of these channels, especially if you consider how much it could cost you. So if you don’t have an unlimited budget, try and think about it this way: which channels are you already utilizing that you can focus on during the holidays? Which one (or two) channels might you add, even if it’s just for the holiday season, in order to build awareness and not get lost amongst all the other businesses advertising during the holidays? As with anything else during the holidays, the most important thing is to try not to spread yourself too thin. It’s better to put more budget and effort into a couple of channels than to lose your message by trying to use them all.
2. Let the Christmas creativity flow!
Your audience is already primed for the holidays – feed into it!
Creative is extremely important this time of year. Keep your ad copy fresh by changing up your creative from the rest of the year and integrating topical messages into your ads. And don’t worry about sounding cheesy — this is one of the few times you can get away with it! When people are bombarded with holiday messages, think outside of the box. How do your products or services apply to this time of year? For example, are you a culinary business with an audience inclined to embrace your new recipes and cooking supplies at this time of year? Or are you a travel agency whose key demographic might be looking to escape from the cold weather with one of your vacation packages? There are many lenses you can look through when selling your product, so don’t lose sight of the way your consumer will be feeling during the holidays. Just ask yourself: how can your business/brand help enhance the message of the holidays?
3. What are you prepared to offer?
Use “giftable” language.
This is crucial, especially if you have an online business or utilize e-commerce. It’s the holiday season after all, so people are looking everywhere for – and expecting to see – holiday deals. Remember to use gift-centric language in your ad copy. Could you market your service as a gift for your customers? Make it less about you trying to sell them something and more about what they’ll be getting from you if they turn to you during the most competitive time of year.
Think about advertising sales/offers/discounts that are time sensitive. Putting out an offer that must be utilized before the new year is a good option because it encourages people to buy now, and it could be more trackable and traceable to a holiday campaign.
On the other hand, if you’re a “resolution-related” company, your holiday advertising might expand past Christmas into the new year. No one wants to hear about gym memberships when they’re wolfing down the cranberry sauce.
Finally, if you’re going to advertise offers during the holidays, be sure to utilize offers that are truly compelling. Don’t announce something as including free shipping unless it is paired with something else; your message certainly won’t stand out if you’re offering only free shipping along with everyone else.
4. Christmas isn’t the only holiday in December,
nor should it be the only thing on which you focus your advertising efforts.
Is your product or business Christian-centric? If not, would you risk alienating a subset of your audience if you mention “Christmas” in your ad copy and/or message? This may seem like a minor opportunity, but it could be a great chance to demonstrate self-awareness and show your customers how well you know them.
Additionally, be sure to think about the time surrounding the holidays, not just the holidays themselves. For example, if you’re utilizing a mobile campaign, use the pre-holiday weeks to increase your customer base and drive mobile app installs ahead of the holiday season, and focus your post-holiday time for new device owners activating apps and devices for the first time. Lastly, remember that a lot happens in the buying cycle after December 25th. Consider using after-holiday clearance or Boxing Day specials, and keep in mind New Years and everything that comes with that – hello, resolutions!
5. Think device.
If you’re an online advertiser, multi-device targeting for this time of year is crucial. Consumers are omni-channel. People shop online and in-store; therefore, you should really boost your visibility and advertise on as many devices as possible. This may sound easy, as on Google Adwords all you need for this is to make sure your device targeting is set to “All.” However, just because your ads can show up on mobile or tablet does not mean they are automatically optimized to do so. Here are some thoughts to keep you focused on multi-device targeting:
- Mobile is where it’s at! This year, there are more people using more devices than ever before.
- According to this year’s Facebook Holiday Webinar, over 60% of people in the US use at least 2 devices every day.
- Facebook also found that over 40% of all online adults start an activity on one device and finish it on another (think conversions); therefore, cross-platform and cross-device marketing are extremely important. Simply put, more consumers are starting their holiday shopping in-store and finishing it online (or vice versa).
- Do not think of mobile as a technology, but as a consumer behavior. Why is your consumer searching on mobile? What do you want to tell them when you show up on their mobile device?
- Mobile optimized ads should have creative that accommodates a small screen. For example, utilize a click-to-call function and display a very short, user-friendly menu so your site is easily navigable on a smartphone display. To learn more about using mobile ads or optimizing your site to fit mobile parameters, check out what Google has to say on the matter: Google Mobile Ads.
6. Account for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
The holiday season seems to be getting earlier and earlier each year. This year, the retail space seems to have forgotten about Thanksgiving by skipping straight from Halloween to Christmas.
Technically, you as an advertiser should be thinking similarly (thoughts about holiday shopping and marketing do start in October), but it’s certainly ok if you’re late to the party! Everyone knows the real “gifting” takes off around Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
That being said, there are certain days that have evolved online regarding holiday shopping. If you’re into e-commerce, you’re already familiar with Cyber Monday, but it might help to organize your holiday advertising efforts even more granularly, as every year there seem to be more “dates to remember.”
1. Black Friday – November 28th
2. Cyber Monday – December 1st – keep in mind: Facebook announced that this year, 25% of online shoppers will place their orders from a mobile phone on Black Friday and Cyber Monday! (https://www.facebook.com/business/success).
3. Green Monday – December 8th – usually the shipping cut off for most postal outlets to get standard-shipped packages to customer before Christmas.
4. Free Shipping Day – December 18th – a one-day event held in mid-December. Merchants are encouraged to offer free shipping with guaranteed delivery before Christmas. Like I said earlier, don’t think free shipping alone will give you an edge above everyone else – but it certainly helps! Sign up to be listed as a participant of Free Shipping Day here.
5. Super Saturday – December 20th – the last Saturday before Christmas, Super Saturday is a big revenue day, as it technically marks the end of the shopping season that is considered to begin on Black Friday. Super Saturday targets last-minute shoppers. Typically, this day is a good day to offer one-day sales in an effort to accrue a great deal of last-minute Christmas revenue.
6. Boxing Day – December 26th – As mentioned in #5, people are opening the new devices they received over the holidays, downloading apps, and/or looking to trade gifts in for something else. Online and in-store advertisers oftentimes offer deeper discounts on remaining merchandise, which can be a great way to get rid of leftover inventory.
7. Social Media Presence is Crucial.
The holidays are a very popular time for social media presence; your audience is online more often, whether it’s for shopping or to connect with friends and family. Therefore, make sure you increase your presence as well! Up your post load, produce more articles, and sponsor more updates to make sure you’re seen by your target audience and to show them you’re not “out of office” for the holidays.
However, you may have to do some shopping yourself in order to make this happen. Advertising inventory prices will be rising for the holidays across Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, so you must decide if you want to expand your budget in order to adequately boost your social media involvement.
Before you grinch out on this, consider that your potential profit might be worth a slightly (and temporarily) elevated budget. After all, Facebook reports that 46% of shoppers who used Facebook before shopping used it to look for deals, promotions and holiday gift ideas, and they often discovered these things through their news feed. (Facebook Holiday Webinar).
8. Stay organized!
This last “tip” isn’t so much about online advertising as it is about advertising in general! Like anything concerning your business, staying organized is key, but it can be even trickier around the holidays when we seem to be juggling our personal and professional lives more than usual.
Regarding your online presence, we recommend creating a promotional calendar before the month even begins. Know what days you’d like to run what ads, and become as comfortable as possible with the seasonality of the month. You can also take advantage of the ad-scheduling features on certain ad platforms – this way, you can create your ads, post promotions, sponsored updates, etc. ahead of time and then schedule them to run on certain dates/times without you having to be around the computer.
Simply put, plan ahead as much as possible! This will leave less work for you to do later when you’re trying to baste a turkey, or when your luggage inexplicably gets lost by the airline…
Now some might think this goes without saying, but remember to breathe. You do not need to implement all of these suggestions into your ad strategy! Whatever you do decide to do this holiday season, the most important thing is to document and remember the results for next year and to ultimately strengthen your marketing strategy. Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean you need to stress about your advertising. But unlike the holidays, just try not to get your family too involved.