Last year, 30% of holiday shoppers in the US spent more than what they intended - they spent almost $8 billion on e-commerce on Cyber Monday alone. This year, the estimates for Cyber Monday are as high as $10 billion. As the holiday season is approaching, advertisers around the world start preparing their campaigns for Q4. We sat down with our Sr. Customer Success Manager Dylan Douglas, who shares his best practices for a happy and successful holiday season.
What Digital Marketing Trends Do You See This Holiday Season?
More than ever, brands seem to have two main concerns: driving revenue and ‘making a splash’ with their media activations.
What’s Good to Keep in Mind for Driving Results?
I would focus on a few key elements when planning campaigns that drive business results:
Clear Strategies for the Holiday Season
Your strategies overall need to support your holiday season revenue goals on paid social. When your goals are clear, it’s crucial to buy media where you can use KPIs that support those goals. At Smartly.io, we help brands optimize their budgets and/or bids based on whatever data they consider the “source of truth” - be that mobile measurement partner data from providers like Adjust or Appsflyer, or analytics data from the likes of Google Analytics. In a growing number of cases, we help brands use their lifetime value data from their own systems or from providers like VisualiQ or RockerBox to determine where to spend their media dollars.
Start Planning Now
On a tactical level, brands are starting the planning process earlier than before (as early as Q2) by mapping their customer journey and plotting out where and how to deliver their holiday media. The nimble brands are already reviewing past campaign data for sale periods and 2018 holidays to find what worked and what didn’t. Does the same campaign structure make sense, or can it be simplified? Were you able to scale delivery (in terms of spend/impressions) and if not, then how are you approaching your audience with a balanced approach? Were you satisfied with the creative-level performance from last year? Creative is probably the single most powerful lever that brands have - especially when it comes to driving efficiency on Facebook and Instagram. In the best-case scenario, brands can repurpose creative assets, test more variations of creative that has worked in the past, and set themselves up to have options when the holidays are upon us.
Conversion Lift Studies
For companies that doubt the data from platforms and analytics/measurement companies, we also see a growing trend where brands are conducting ongoing conversion lift studies. They then use the results to determine a proxy metric that they use for budget optimization. The risk of this approach is that all clean Lift tests sacrifice media efficiency in exchange for learnings - that is exacerbated during the crucial holiday periods so wherever possible, conduct these studies in Q1-Q2-Q3 and use the learnings to measure Q4!
Expect the Usual CPM Hike
Costs per impression will certainly rise during Q4 and as advertisers begin their sales earlier, the competition in Facebook also rises earlier. At Smartly.io, our customer data scientists work with brands to look at their historical data, gauge, and estimate future performance and make media plans accordingly.
And What About Brands Looking to ‘Make a Splash’ - How Can They Catch Their Audience’s Attention?
First, align your holiday campaigns with your company plan as early as possible to arm your paid social efforts with as much fuel as possible. For instance, if your company is signing a celebrity for a TV spot, think if that could be expanded to include sponsored content for paid social. Or, alternatively, are you able to tap dozens of micro-influencers for content that could be used on paid social? Work out those contracts now!
Any campaign, including an influencer or celebrity, needs to be arranged in Q2/early Q3 to realistically prepare with enough time. Not only that, if you don’t obtain the raw assets from these celebrities/influencers/customer testimonials in one month advance or more, it becomes difficult to use it in impactful ways. For example, take your long-form video that will be running on Hulu and TV and cut it down to 3, 5, 10, 13-second versions for your paid social campaigns. On top of that, determine what variations of creative you think might move the needle and scope out those variations -- brands like Hopper, StubHub, Uber, TUI and others have seen tremendous lift by 11x-ing their creative variations and rapidly testing them. Learn how TUI, together with Smartly.io’s Creative Studio, was able to reach a 36% lower cost per purchase by applying our modular approach to creative.
Another great way to make a splash is experimenting with new ad formats and types. For example, gaming companies were the first to explore Facebook’s Playable Ads. However, recently, there's been more and more talk about interactive ads more broadly and we’ve helped many non-gaming brands use the format that allows them to engage and interact with their customers, for example: Dolap (a second hand fashion marketplace) was able to increase user interaction and reach a 67% decrease in Cost-Per-New-Product-Submission while Daraz, South Asia’s largest online marketplace, saw a 70% higher conversion rate with the ad format.
And, of course, any media/news coverage will help your paid social efforts as well.
What Can Advertisers Do with Data from Previous Years’ Campaigns?
You should start with gathering all the learnings from last year - document what worked well and what didn’t work as planned. Re-use assets that performed well: is it possible to challenge the best performing creative from last year? If you can’t re-use entirely, can small edits and iterations distinguish them from previous campaigns?
Facts About Dylan:
Dylan is a Sr. Customer Success Manager in our New York office. Ask him anything about bicycles, plants indigenous to New Jersey, and paid social advertising - he commutes from Brooklyn to our Flatiron office daily by bike (even when it rains or snows) and loves to go rock climbing during the weekends.