Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays! When the clocks strikes midnight on October 31, the shoppers come running for the doors. Or maybe we should say they grab their phones. comScore reports a 45% year-over-year growth in m-commerce sales in Q4 2016. Total online sales, including all devices, increased 18% year-over-year for the same time period.
Shoppers have an endless number of options when deciding where to purchase, whether it be online or in-store. If consumers don’t know your brand or products, you’re already at a disadvantage. Your online advertising strategy for the holidays doesn’t start in November. It starts now.
Do you have a strategy in place to make the holiday season a success?
How can you prepare for the fast-approaching holiday season?
Ramp up Your Branding Efforts
The months leading up to the holiday season are important for putting your brand in front of consumers. On mobile devices, 51% of ads served boosted brand recall. As consumers start researching gifts for family, friends, and coworkers, you want them to think of your brand first as they head to their phones, laptops, or the store.
Online advertising gives you many different avenues to increase brand awareness not only leading up to and during the holidays, but at any time. Here are some of your options:
- Google Display Network
- Social Media Advertising
- Bing Content Network
Trust me, there may be three items on this list, but the options are endless within these options. The interest and demographic targeting on channels like Facebook and Google are sophisticated enough to target the niche audiences who are interested in the products you sell. Who is your audience? What kinds of websites do they browse in their free time? How old are they? What types of products do they already buy? All of these questions and more give us enough data to target specific groups of people to increase brand awareness.
An important thing to understand is that your branding efforts probably won’t generate sales right off the bat. A Page Likes campaign on Facebook isn’t going to make your products fly off the (virtual and physical) shelves – yet.
A strong and consistent branding campaign helps generate sales down the road. Over half of shoppers are open to purchasing from a new retailer. Now’s your chance to win them over! If done right, when holiday shopping comes around, consumers are coming to your brand first to check items off their list.
Optimize Your Online Advertising Campaigns for Holiday Shoppers
The months leading up to the holidays should be focused on branding and growing your consumer audience. Now what do you do when the holidays hit? What are the best channels for your brand? How do you generate sales?
There’s no straight (or easy!) answer to any of those questions. Every brand and every industry is different, but there are some big picture strategies to consider.
This might be an obvious one, but so many brands don’t have a strategy nailed down for the biggest shopping days of the year! Put these in your calendar right now. You are going to want to remember them when it comes time to plan your attack.
- Black Friday – Friday, November 24
- Cyber Monday – Monday, November 27
- Green Monday – Monday, December 11
- Free Shipping Day – Saturday, December 16
Leading up to the holidays you’ve increased your branding efforts. Now it’s time to hone in on generate sales and targeting searchers at the bottom of the funnel as they’re searching for your brand and the products you carry. Strong search and shopping campaigns are going to help you do that by using key phrases and your products’ descriptions to show your ads to the most relevant consumers. Sounds easy enough, right? Not so much. I could spend days talking about the nuances in choosing search key phrases and how your product description and title can make a world of difference in how often your ad shows. That’s why you can’t start planning your holiday strategy in November.
Focus on Local Advertising Efforts
Retailers who have a store front or sell their products in brick and mortar stores need to consider their local advertising strategy when planning for the busy shopping season. Black Friday is a huge driver of in-store traffic, but the whole holiday season presents an opportunity to take advantage of shoppers in-store.
Local shoppers are looking for a lot of information, and they expect you to have it for them. If you don’t, they are going to your competitors who do. Your advertising should include information like location(s), hours, prices, inventory available, etc. A fully optimized shopping and search program provides all of this information in addition to the ad itself! Selling your products through a third-party retailer? You have options with affiliate location extensions, exclusive to manufacturers.
(Image source: Think with Google)
We’ve only scratched the surface on the possibilities a strong branding program and holiday season strategy can have on your sales in Q4. It really boils down to your goals and priorities. What does success look like for you? Online advertising can help you get there!