Maximizing Your Holiday Marketing Budget
By now, we’ve all had the experience of being haunted by an online search in the form of targeted ads.
During the holiday season in particular, marketing initiatives can follow consumers around well past the new year.
However, 2018 has seen advances in AI and marketing tech that could help brands make their campaigns feel more thoughtful and less like unwelcome visitors.
Regardless of platform, holiday marketing is high-priority for brands. Digital, which includes search and social media, is the one area where the majority of advertisers continue to increase their spending, according to a study from Advertiser Perceptions last year.
The holiday season sometimes sees an increase in budgets for digital ads because in some cases, advertisers are reaching the fourth quarter of their fiscal year and have incremental dollars on their hands, according to Jennifer Eeninburg, managing director at R2C Group. And since the holiday season is also when consumers spend the most, the investment is sound. Eeninburg suggests that not only should brands allocate more funds to digital marketing during this time, they should also put more effort into making their digital ads stand out amidst all the other holiday campaigns bombarding consumers. This can start with creatively customizing user experiences.
"I think advertisers are getting better about this, but you really have to keep that messaging strategy in mind to make sure we're designing creative for the platform the user's actually on," she said. "That 30-second spot might work on TV, but it might not work on Facebook in the same way. You might need to deliver the same message in an online ad so they can get it in 1.5 seconds."
To keep your messaging more dynamic and relevant, you will have to move beyond digital ads that target recent web searches. Rigel Cable, associate director of data analytics at Fluid, believes that personalization can take new forms thanks to the increase in the availability of data connections.
"Beyond just following someone around with a banner ad, you need to think about what are other ways to personalize experiences — not just ad targeting data but CRM data, loyalty data and onsite behavior — to get more nuanced with the messaging,” he said.
So, let’s say you’ve put together a killer, customized holiday campaign. What happens if a customer actually clicks through it? According to Cable, the landing environment upon reaching the e-commerce website is both crucial and often overlooked. If the checkout page is not ready to convert your customers, the ad money you’ve spent is useless. Design and usability need to be developed early in the life of an e-commerce platform to limit shopping cart abandonment.
Marketers can also collect extra data through creative online tools that encourage customers to share. Style quizzes, for example, are a great way for clothing brands to acquire useful data from volunteered information, and that information can help make future campaigns more relevant.
With the GDPR in force, brands need to be careful about using third-party data and make sure they have the proper opt-ins in place for first-party data.
However, advancements in artificial intelligence may offer new opportunities to fine-tune digital ads during the holidays.
For example, Zurich-based firm 1plusX promises to identify previously unknown customers by combining first-party data with information from publishers, search string data and other inputs. Chris Spiers, 1plusX's vice president of operations, said this allows the firm to offer brands "pre-targeting" in the lead-up to the holidays.
"You can train and model the algorithm to identify who else is out there who is similar to the people you want to retarget," he said. "You're no longer just dependent on profiles with opt-in data where people have given their names. You can look at which people visited which web page from a variety of sources."
Marketers still need to be smart about choosing keywords for their holiday campaigns. Generic keywords like “Christmas” or “presents” are unlikely to be useful-- rather, marketers should focus on more specific words that highlight the product or experience they are selling. Similarly, advertising teams should be looking for specific data that offers insight into their customers’ other interests. With such information in hand, your team can tailor your campaign with a variety of calls to action, ad copy, and visuals to maximize your efforts.
"It's about creating a cohesive story, from the email to the online ad to the website," he said. "The consumer expectation is less about a particular kind of ad and more about an experience where they get one message."