By Danielle Whetstone
If you’re an e-comm retailer, you don’t need us to remind you of the gravity the holiday season holds for your bottom line. For many businesses, Q4 is the most lucrative time of the year. While there are plenty of advertising opportunities throughout the year, none compare with the buying power of the holiday season that kicks off with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But if every business is vying for customers simultaneously, how can you be sure you make a dent with all the competition?
At C Squared Social, our custom strategies focus on four key elements: content, email, website, and paid ads. Here, we’ll give you tips for how to leverage these basic components to drive results during the busy holiday season and keep your sales flowing into the new year.
Content – or organic social media posts – continues to be a frontliner for a healthy, comprehensive marketing strategy. With more shopping being done online, users are leaning on the tools literally at their fingertips to research products and brands before they buy. And they’re not just looking to ensure that the product you’re selling is quality; they want to know your brand story. Who are they funding with their buying power, and what, in essence, are they supporting with their dollars.
Content provides the perfect opportunity to share who you are as a brand and what makes you and your products unique. The best part, if you’re curating your content yourself, it doesn’t cost you a dime! During the holidays, as people search for that perfect gift for their loved ones, show how what you’re selling is just what they’ve been looking for. Demonstrate how your product works, show people using it in real life, provide quality images of products from all angles and in different settings to give a sense of scale. For example, if you’re selling a bag, don’t forget to include pictures of the interior (some of us are all about pockets and functionality) and someone wearing the bag, so shoppers have a reference for size. If you have product reviews, lean heavily on those as social proof. Think of your social platforms as an extension of your website.
As digital marketers, paid advertising is our bread and butter, and we’re firm believers that every brand should be leveraging this valuable strategy. That being said, our sources at Facebook tell us they’re anticipating unprecedented competition in the ad auction starting Black Friday through Dec 16, and we’d venture to say that can be expected across all digital advertising platforms. While 2020 showed a substantial shift to online shopping, 2021 appears to have a stable mix of brick and mortar and online shopping experiences, meaning: every retailer under the sun is attempting to get their message and promos out to current and prospective customers. What are the implications for your brand?
First, plan ahead. Expect longer than normal wait times for campaign reviews and for ads to exit the learning phase for new ads on Facebook. If you want your ads live for big shopping days, launch them at least a week in advance, so you don’t risk them sitting in review while your customers click and shop your competition.
Second, inflation paired with a flood of marketers bidding over ad space means you can count on higher cost per result across the board. However, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you don’t have a hefty budget to beat out deep pockets; it just means you might have to get scrappy and leverage your other marketing tools more heavily. Don’t worry – we’ve provided some great ideas below.
This year more than ever, email marketing has a valuable place in your overall holiday marketing strategy. Now is the perfect time to start building your customer lists and take advantage of the lower cost of advertising before the holidays start.
You’ll have a hard time generating sales if no one has heard of you or your product. Do the leg work now to boost your brand recognition so when customers start shopping and looking for that Cyber Monday discount they’re counting on, they know exactly where they’re buying from.
Consider beefing up your efforts to garner subscriptions to your newsletter, email, or blog. According to one stat, nearly 90% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases were by customers after opening a marketing email. During the holidays, email not only allows you to keep your customers in the know about hot new products and promotions, but when it comes time to start your paid holiday ads, you won’t be fighting over just any audience – you’ll be able to advertise directly to your customer list on Facebook and Instagram and leverage that data to grow a lookalike audience.
Continue building your customer base during the holiday season and around the second week in January when the advertising waters calm; you’ll be in a great place to start your remarketing email campaigns.
Enough can’t be said for having a beautifully designed, highly optimized, well-performing website. The average digital user may not know exactly what it is that makes for a good website, but we all know when one misses the mark. Use this pre-holiday time to scrutinize your website. Does it look dated? Has it been a while since you updated content and graphics? Have you checked how it performs on mobile devices? Can it handle heavy traffic? Digital savvy customers are impatient, to say the least. The last thing you want is for customers to abandon their purchase simply because of a poor browsing or checkout experience.
While you might have a vast digital presence with profiles on every social platform, if you’re strictly an online retailer and your website is the only option for customers to make purchases, ensure that it’s optimized to load pages quickly, the layout is user-friendly so shoppers can find just what they’re looking for, and their checkout experience is seamless.
Of course, every business is looking for ways to optimize their sales during the holiday season, but keep in mind that generating revenue is just part of the equation. The holidays provide the perfect opportunity to gain new customers who will fall in love with your products and continue to make purchases throughout the year. Don’t think of Q4 as a sprint to year-end but as a jumping-off point for establishing lifetime customers.
Needing some help with where to start or where to focus your brand energy this holiday season? At C Squared Social, we offer customized marketing plans to help you meet your business goals for the holidays and beyond. Get in touch with us today to learn more about what we do.