This year has been unforgettable for many reasons. Although life feels unusual at the moment, we’ve somehow found ourselves in September with “the end” no where clearly in sight. However, a constant that should be familiar for most readers is the challenge associated with effectively marketing for the holiday season that’s rapidly approaching.
"51% of consumers globally said to have made purchases from social media ads"
Brands seem to have two concerns this holiday season: driving revenue and pivoting to serve consumers in the “new normal”. According to our survey, 51% of consumers globally said to have made purchases from social media ads in the past two months. As a majority of those consumers being first-time social media shoppers, the pandemic has moved much of the world online.
That is part of the backdrop for this year’s holiday season planning process, which has already started for many brands. Marketers are reevaluating the customer journey and plotting out where and how to deliver media to please their customers, win their trust, and secure their loyalty. These are unprecedented times, but fortunately, there are reliable ways to ensure your overall marketing strategies support your holiday revenue goals.
Here’s what you need to know for your social advertising campaigns this holiday season:
Start Planning Early – Very Early. Like Now.
Start by aligning your holiday campaigns with what your company is planning as early as possible to arm your social advertising efforts. For instance, if your company has planned TV buys or new products, or a new section of your app, now is the time to request assets you need for creating mobile-first social ads.
No new assets? What creatives from last year do you already have that you can repurpose? As consumers are looking forward to the holidays and end of year, it’s essential to meet them there and on the journey on the way. In fact, Pinterest noticed that consumers started searching and saving for the holidays in April – five months earlier than previous years.
Once your marketing goals are clear, you can then begin to plan your social advertising campaigns and plan out your KPIs to support those goals, wrangle the creative assets you have/will have, and to develop creative testing hypotheses that will tie your strategy together through testing before the big holiday moments.
More and more, brands are optimizing their budgets and bids based on data they consider the “source of truth” – whether that’s mobile measurement data or analytics data. In a growing number of cases, brands are using their customer lifetime value data to determine where to spend media dollars. If you aren’t already using these data sources to measure and optimize, start testing now.
Additionally, brands should expect the usual CPM hike that we see every holiday season. Costs per impression will rise in Q4; and as advertisers begin their sales earlier, the competition on Facebook or Pinterest, for instance, also rises earlier. Working with a data scientist allows your team to look at historical CPM data, gauge and estimate future performance, and make media plans accordingly. At Smartly.io, our data science team works closely together with the global Customer Success team and can help enrich your 2020 testing plans.
Have a Plan A, B and C
Have a plan A, B and C and you'll be ready for whatever happens today, tomorrow, or the next.
It’s important to note that content will vary based on locale, as reopening strategies and the state of retail differs from region to region. And the reality is, with a potential second wave coming, areas reopening now might be forced to close back down in a few weeks or months. Given the uncertainty, try and plan for 1-2 alternative messages and visuals for your marketing campaigns to avoid a situation where you have one version that may no longer cut it.
Advertisers should have a plan A, B and C to be ready for whatever happens today, tomorrow or the next. By focusing on testing and having a contingency plan, especially for brands with local or audience specific creatives, you can better ensure you’ll have the right creative and messaging for every situation.
Repurpose High Performing Creatives
Creative is the single most powerful lever that brands have – especially when it comes to driving efficiency on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat.
With the stay-at-home nature of COVID-19 and restrictions to produce new content, the best case scenario for many brands will be to re-use or make iterations to the best performing creative assets from past campaigns. This starts by gathering all the learnings from previous years, and documenting what worked well and what didn’t work as planned. If you’re unable to re-use the content entirely, edits and iterations to messaging (such as text overlays) can help distinguish them from previous campaigns.
Additionally, many brands are turning to influencers and celebrities to source new content. If this is the case for your brand, start arranging contracts in Q2 or early Q3 to have enough time to prepare everything. Obtaining the raw assets from celebrities, influencers or customer testimonials in advance, allows you to use them in more impactful ways. It may be also worth checking the contract terms to be certain whether you can or can’t re-use assets for testimonials, unboxing videos, and the like.
Always Plan to Test
By testing different creative components and messaging, brands can set themselves up to have the best options available once the holidays are upon us. If you’re keen on trying some of the latest Facebook tools such as Segment Asset Customization or Dynamic Ads for Local Products, or if you want to automatically turn your product feed into Pinterest and Snap video ads -- whatever it is you’re planning to experiment with, plan to test it at a small scale as early as possible.
Start by testing three to five creative concepts and iterating the winning ones to learn what kind of creative is most engaging to your audience. Savvy marketers are hypothesis-driven and begin their testing plans with what they want to learn. That said, produce creatives based on hypotheses that are relevant to your brand and solve business challenges. What does your brand want to learn? What assets are available to convert users? Which variations do you think are most worth testing given your budget? Map out the type of insights you’re looking to gain and how those could change your strategy; then, translate them into multiple creative concepts.
Once you nail down which creative approach brings the best results, work on iterating specific creative elements to improve your performance continuously. Sometimes small changes, such as the layout or the background color, can have an impact on performance – and, remember to only test one change at a time to see what’s working.
To learn more, check out our Holiday eBook here.