So far, 2020 has been an odd year. To top it off, it’s hard to predict how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect consumer shopping this holiday season. So it’s more important than ever to make your holiday ad budget do as much for you as possible. If your goal is to build a marketing strategy that all but guarantees a successful 2020 holiday season, this concise guide is for you.
In this post, we cover:
Making your ad spend go further by leveraging social media
Capturing valuable emails
Timing your ads for the most impact
Split testing, so you have the best possible ad
Recapturing, so you can reclaim lost sales
Ready? Let’s get started!
#1 Leverage Social Media Marketing to Your Advantage
The first step in building a successful holiday marketing strategy is to assess your social media status. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
How many followers do you have?
How active are they?
Which social media profile has the most active users?
What social media platform advertising options are available to you, and what targeting options are available?
But don’t worry. Leveraging social media doesn’t have to be all about paying for ads—though that is a viable option. But with a robust social media presence, bolstered by active followers and brand ambassadors, you can instead engage in a less expensive form of advertising: social media marketing. Social media marketing allows you to:
Promote and build your brand
Directly increase sales
Drive website traffic
Best of all, social media marketing generally has a lower upfront cost than direct digital marketing. To get started, you just need to build your social media presence. Then engage with your fans regularly to foster robust two-way communication. In this way, you can use social media marketing as a supplement to your digital advertising efforts. In other words, the more effectively you leverage social media, the lower your advertising costs will be.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about ads here. We’re talking about your regular social media posts. Social media marketing is all about using these posts intentionally to drive organic traffic to your offer.
Here are a few things you need to know:
• Post regularly throughout November. It’s okay to post more than usual during November, especially if you’re running digital ads to drive traffic to your site. But make sure you have social media buttons on your site. These nifty buttons allow customers to easily follow you on social media. This way, you can keep them engaged, and you stand a bigger chance of netting an additional sale.
• Post with intention. It’s never a good idea to post only about your sales, promotions or products. This is not social sharing; this is advertising. Social media marketing is not about advertising—at least not in the traditional sense. Consumers don’t follow profiles that constantly promote their products in their tweets or Instagram posts. Even if they do, they tend to ignore said company’s messages after a while. To stay on your customer’s radar, maintain a set ratio of content posts to self-promotional posts. A ratio that works well is 4:1. So, for every four content posts, tweet or post one self-promotional link.
What is a content post?
A content post is any post that either:
Shares someone else's content, whether written or video
Shares or promotes your own content
Is a link to a quiz, game, etc.
#2 Focus on Email Marketing
As mentioned, to launch a successful marketing campaign, you need to make sure that your advertising budget stretches as far as it can. Another way to draw out your marketing budget this holiday season is to focus on your email list. Set things up so that when you make a sale, you’re capturing the customer’s email. Here are a few ideas:
• Offer a bonus at checkout. Once your customer buys your product, offer them a bonus in the form of an eBook or whitepaper. But to get their hands on this bonus, they’ll have to give you their email address via your embedded email capture form. Fair trade, right?
• Create informative video content. Then gate some of that content so that only your email subscribers have access to it. Generally, you want to gate the best, most useful tutorials. To access this part of your site, customers will have to give you their email address and then log in using that email address.
• Maintain a newsletter. Publish a newsletter and promote it on your website. Make sure that the customer will be exposed to your newsletter sign up form at least once. This form needn’t be obvious or in-your-face, though. It’s enough that it’s visible somewhere. Over time, this is a stellar way to passively grow your email list. For added punch, offer exclusive discount codes in your newsletter and let customers know.
Open rates for marketing emails are low. There’s not much you can do about this. This is why you need a large email list. So, if you want to maximize your chances of saving big on your advertising in 2020, start building that list.
Always aim to comply with the CAN SPAM act, though. Only send promotional emails to individuals who have agreed to join your mailing list, and offer an easy way to usubscribe within the email itself. A mailing list manager like Mail Chimp can help you set things up.
#3 Time Your Ads Well
This one is straightforward, so we’ll get right to the good stuff: know the major holidays and time your biggest promotions and ads to coincide with them. Be aware, however, that cost per click will likely increase on these days. This is a simple function of supply and demand. There’s not much you can do about that. But that’s precisely why it’s so important to follow the other tips in this post.
The holidays are:
Small Business Saturday
Free Shipping Friday
New Years Eve
#4 Start Early
One of the biggest complaints of companies advertising on Facebook goes like this, “Our ads just don’t work.” Well, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they do. What’s the deciding factor? Often, it comes down to preparation. On Facebook in particular, how long your ad has been running and its overall performance are factors that determine how often it gets seen. It’s not all about the price you’re paying per click. Indeed, if your ad is performing badly, you may need to pay more per click, and that can eat through your budget quickly.
So start your campaign early.
In other words, don’t wait till the first of December to start advertising. If, instead, you start a more general campaign in November, your campaign will have some cred with Facebook’s algorithm. Before December you should keep your ads rather generic. For instance, in November, your ads may promote a ‘holiday special.’ But in December, you might switch to, ‘Christmas special.’
#5 Split Test Your Ads
Split testing is one of the most crucial Christmas budgeting tactics. Split testing is also known as:
With split testing, you can conduct randomized experiments to find out which version of an ad is the most effective. It involves testing two or more ads within the same campaign. While split testing may require higher upfront investment, the benefits are staggering. Over a campaign, split testing can earn you several times more than you would have made otherwise. Why? Because it allows you to identify ad copy that is particularly effective.
In other words, it allows you to find out right away which ad copy performs best.
When you split test, you must know which website metric you’re trying to improve. This might be:
Virtually all digital ad platforms have built-in tools for split testing. The key is to test ad variations until you’ve identified a statically significant variation between them. In other words, one of the ad variations will often outperform the others, by a lot. Once you have identified the winning copy, you can phase out the others. Then you get to watch your profits soar.
You can also use split testing to optimize:
Sign up forms
Calls to action
In addition, you can use split testing tools and services to optimize your website. This work pays dividends, and it can make your digital marketing efforts much more effective. You can use A/B testing on your site to improve:
Video, pictures, colors and other visual elements
Headlines, descriptions, calls to action and other text elements
The size and design of buttons, forms, menus and other layout elements
How your visitors navigates through your site and what they click on
#6 Use Retargeting
But by far, one of the most powerful holiday marketing techniques is retargeting. Over 90 percent of customers will leave a site without making a purchase. It follows, then, that if you’re relying on ads to bring in holiday sales, you’ll need to recapture these lost leads.
Retargeting utilizes cookies. Cookies are small files that a user agrees to download to their computer when they use your website. Cookies are useful for a number of reasons, but retargeting seeks to leverage them in a very specific way.
You see, when users land on your site from your ad, you can use the cookie that’s downloaded to their computer to target them again later. This is powerful because they’ve already clicked on your ad once, and they’ve also been exposed to your brand. So, say they didn’t buy last time because they got distracted by social media. If this is the case, then you may only need to get their attention once more to get the sale.
And this is why retargeting is so powerful.
Retargeting works best when it’s paired with a holistic website optimization approach. Before you seek to recapture your leads via retargeting, you should use a heatmap analytics service like Crazy Egg or Google Analytics to see why people are leaving your site. If you have a design flaw that causes users to hit the “Back” button before they see your offer, then you should fix that before you invest in retargeting. Failure to do so could cost you a lot of money.