What do we know about the holiday season, really? If nothing else, we know that the holidays have the unique ability to bring people together and to bring out people’s checkbooks. Facebook knows this too, seeing as they provide businesses with a remarkable marketing opportunity during the holiday season.
However, much to the disappointment of some businesses, an uptick in sales is not necessarily dependent on if the company uses Facebook as a platform for advertising during the holiday season, but rather how the company implements these holiday Facebook ads.
This article will lay out what businesses need to know so that they can roll out successful holiday ad campaigns on social media that will allow the company to leverage promotional opportunities and to capitalize on surging holiday sales.
Online Holiday Sales
Gaining a better understanding of the online market during the holiday season will incentivize companies to hone their ad strategies. During the holidays, there is a massive upswing in online sales, and recent market trends suggest that this upswing is on the rise.
2017-2018 online holiday market trends:
- In 2018, e-commerce sales between November and December jumped 5.8% compared to that sales period the previous year
- In the US alone, holiday retail e-commerce spending reached over $123 billion in 2018, an uptick of 16.6% from 2017
- Almost half of all the digital holiday revenue (40%) in 2018 happened during Cyber Week – from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday
Facebook Holiday Ads Do’s and Don’ts
To effectively utilize holiday Facebook ads to bolster sales, there are several things a company should do and a number of things a company should avoid doing.
- Use Facebook’s Holiday Season Insights and 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide
- Contains detailed info and market statistics of previous years—for example, the percentage of people shopping on mobile devices
- Provides an ad campaign planner equipped with critical dates
- Provide discounts and/or incentives in line with more significant holiday promotions
- Prepare! Create a test campaign 1-2 weeks before your holiday ads are scheduled to begin in order to test the effectiveness of your ads
- Tip: Consider an A/B test—divide the ad up into components in order to isolate variables and determine which sections of the ad (part A or part B) are more successful
- Make sure your website is cleaned up and running smoothly so that consumers have a seamless transition from ad engagement to check-out.
- Monitor the efficacy of different ad placements and make changes accordingly in order to maximize advertisement budget
- Make ads content-driven and consider an influencer marketing strategy
- Video, Video, Video!
- Tip: Consider devoting the bulk of your advertising arsenal to mobile-friendly video advertisements
- Rely too heavily on Promotional Advertising—promo ads can turn off consumers and even raise alarm bells (maybe promotion exists because business is struggling)
- Use too much text in ads
- Ad space is at a premium during the holiday season so make sure to eliminate everything nonessential
- Ensure images are 20% text compliant
- Wait to schedule Facebook ads until the day they are set to go up
- Facebook’s review of your ad may take longer during the holiday season
- Always submit ad two days ahead of schedule to account for an extended review process
- Consumers will be frustrated and driven away by ads if the same ones keep popping up for them. Redundancy is exacerbated during the holiday season.
Successful Holiday Facebook Ad Campaign Strategies
As we’ve seen, there are many things to keep in mind when developing a Facebook ad campaign. Let’s now spend a bit more time developing a few of the most critical points mentioned above.
Warm-Up Cold Facebook Traffic
It’s essential to connect with consumers before the actual holiday season arrives so that when it is time to make substantial Q4 sales, you are not interacting with a cold audience. Product ads are far more effective on warm audiences (i.e., people who have already come in contact with your business in the past) than they are on cold audiences. You do not want to spend the ad budget on an audience that may not be interested in the product.
Here are a couple of useful tactics to warm up and reach your audience:
- Use links to direct users to an article about your product/service rather than a product page—the idea here is to get the audience thinking about the product
- Videos are an effective method to increase engagement and a great way to showcase your product—include holiday keywords in videos to increase internet traffic
- Viewers retain much more—up to 95% retention—when interacting with video content as opposed to traditional text-based advertisement
Offer Discount Price
Seasonal promotions and exclusive sales are ubiquitous during the holidays. To compete against all the other holiday sales, you should offer at least a 20% discount on your product or service. E-commerce is so saturated with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales that your advertisement will likely be ignored if it does not offer a significant discount.
You should also make sure that the Facebook Ad clearly indicates this sale or offers a discount code. If your company wants to explore a promotional strategy other than the traditional X percent off regular price, here are a couple of options your company might want to consider:
- Offer consumers a free item in addition to the one they purchase
- Free shipping on all sales or sales over X dollars
Content First Approach
Hopefully, your company has a good sense of what its target audience is. If not, don’t worry; there are steps you can take to determine your Target Market. Knowing your target audience is essential for a successful ad campaign because it allows you to keep ads personalized rather than broadly promotional.
With a clear sense of your Target Market, you can then effectively develop an influencer marketing campaign.
But Why Use Influencers in your Ad Campaign?
There are a number of reasons influencers could very well be the key to the success of your company’s holiday ad campaign. According to a recent survey by Forbes, as little as 1% of millennials trust traditional advertisements. This general mistrust of advertisers is why using an influencer, a person who already has their trust can pay major dividends.
Here are two proven types of influencer campaigns:
- Affiliate Marketing based on sharing revenue – For example, a company could give a unique discount code to an influencer, and when a consumer uses that code to purchase your product, the influencer receives a percentage of the sale
- Giveaways – the company sends the product to specified influencers for free in exchange for exposure in the form of a product review or in this case, a social media post displaying the product.
Optimize for Mobile
People are spending more and more time on their mobile devices. That’s why it’s extremely important that your company’s product ads are optimized for mobile platforms.
The rise of the Mobile-first Shopper—someone who will do a bulk of her or his holiday shopping directly on a mobile device—can not be overlooked. The number of people both in the US and globally who do their holiday shopping on mobile devices has been growing consistently over the last several years.
A Facebook-sponsored study done in January of this year revealed that the percentage of people making mobile purchases in the US has been increasing steadily:
- 30% in 2015
- 40% in 2016
- 45% in 2017
- 49% in 2018
The number of people using their mobile devices for holiday shopping outside the US is also increasing. As Facebook studies have monitored the number of mobile shoppers, there has been a 22% increase in holiday shopping on mobile devices each year.
Strategies for Mobile Optimization
Video is becoming the standard for online advertising. A perfectly executed video ad-campaign may look flawless on a desktop, but it may run into all sorts of formatting issues when viewed on a phone screen. A poorly formatted video will deter the consumer within seconds.
To eliminate all formatting issues and optimize the viewability of your ad, Facebook offers the Video Creation Kit that can be found in the Publishing Tools on your company’s Facebook page. This toolkit gives your brand access to four different video templates designed for different feeds or timelines, such as a 1:1 for News Feed and a 9:16 for Stories.
Facebook also offers a system that allows you to convert fixed-image ads into dynamic video ads. They call this the Create to Convert method. After 49 studies, over two-thirds of brands using this method saw a positive effect on their brand.
Review of Key Marketing Points:
If your company chooses to use Facebook as an advertising platform, you will want to do the following to make these ads as successful as possible:
- Use Facebook’s Holiday Season Insights to read the market trends effectively and then prepare a more target-audience-specific ad campaign
- Partner with Influencers who have the ear of that target audience
- Buy into holiday promotional trends (Black Friday/Cyber Monday) to stay competitive
- Make sure your brand’s creative is engaging and optimized for mobile devices
The consumer market is becoming more and more centered on online transactions, and this trend towards online shopping is most acute during the holiday season. As the global marketplace changes, so too must advertising strategies. Facebook Ads are the perfect channel for your company to employ marketing strategies and capitalize on this trend.