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Digital holiday promotion tips

November 20, 2018
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Whether you admit it or not, the holidays are upon us. We’re well into Q4 and looking to close out 2018 on a positive note.

For many, the holidays can be a lucrative time of year and we shouldn’t limit our thinking that only business-to-business consumer products and services thrive during this time. There is equal opportunity throughout the holidays for business-to-business organizations to promote as well.

Maybe you have given it some thought but are unsure of where to start, or you’ve run holiday campaigns in the past but feel like you’re running out of time. Now is not the time to sit idle. Follow these tips and make sure your business is making best of the holiday season.

Know your seasonal numbers

Generating sales and developing leads during the holidays sounds great, but you need to know where everything stands currently and how your organization performed last year. Taking a look at historical website analytics data will be key to understanding what moves you anticipate making this season.

Spend some time here and really go through last year’s data. If you were running any type of paid-search, display or paid-social campaigns, this information is easily available with just a few clicks of your mouse. Don’t focus so much on the number of impressions and clicks you generated with your ads. While this is a good indicator of brand awareness and ad engagement, it doesn’t translate into bottom-line sales. Export this information and match it up with conversions and sales revenue generated during this time to make sure proper attribution is given.

If you are running Google Ads (adwords), run a report to show you the top-performing campaigns, ad groups and keywords in the mix. Ask if those remain relevant to this year’s promotions and the audience you’re targeting.

Also, it’s good practice to look beyond just Christmas as your benchmark. Many retailers will report an influx of purchases after the new year and the same can be said for service-based companies.

Know your seasonal audience

Depending on your line of business, you could have a line of products or services that performs better during the holiday season. Having a good understanding of your brand and its offerings should make this job easier. For consumer-oriented products and services, consider where your top conversions are coming from. Are they local, or is some degree of logistics involved to ensure timely delivery?

Understand digital marketing channels

Keeping in mind there could be a significant monetary investment at stake, it’s best to promote through the channel you know your audience is in to make best use of your ad spend. If you’re unsure, consider the following channels in your digital mix:

Paid search ads

Search ads are highly intent driven, with the ads showing up in Google search on top or bottom of the results. High intent means many of these individuals are in direct need or want of something they are seeking. They want to buy, find near them, or research a product/service for purchase in the future. While these do come at some of the higher costs-per-click, if managed properly you could dial into a great audience that needs what you have right now. Don’t discount Bing as a major player in the search game either. Typically, ads on Bing are a lower cost-per-click and trend toward an older demographic.

Comparison shopping ads within Google can be a great option if you’re doing direct commerce online. Most major e-commerce platforms, from Shopify on up to Big Commerce and Magento, all have product feeds that can be uploaded to Google Merchant Center and a shopping campaign can be developed from there to get your items in the mix.

Paid social ads

These channels are all about demographic and psychographic details. If you know the ages, locations and interests of your key audience members, odds are you can find them here and get an ad in front of them. Facebook and Instagram also offer great opportunities for re-marketing and bringing users back to your site to convert.

If your business is one that’s more lifestyle oriented or better displayed through images, Instagram could be your ticket. The platform offers up similar targeting methods as Facebook, but dials into a more visually engaged group. From outdoor-themed products and events, on up to travel, Instagram is a great platform for awareness.

Display advertising: Google display, video and native advertising

If you still connect banner ads with display networks, it’s time to think differently. Display ads are used to target users based on things they are interested in — sites and content they engage with the most — including keywords found in the content. Display ads can be had at a much lower cost-per-click and if combined with your other efforts can really increase the awareness of the brand, creating more lift during key times.

More 18-to 49-year-olds can be targeted through YouTube than any cable channels combined. Quick 15- to 30-second pre-roll videos can be placed similar to that of other display ads, targeting users based on their interests and the types of content they’re consuming on YouTube. If you’re a service-based business, consider using these to target DIY’ers who maybe have gotten in a bit over their heads replacing that kitchen faucet while company is on their way for the weekend.

Connect and measure results

Developing a strategy and running ads at any point in the year is no good if you cannot measure the results properly. At the very least, make sure you’re running Google Analytics on your site. If you’re running Google Ads, be sure to connect the two platforms so they talk and exchange information seamlessly to let you see how your campaigns are doing.

If you’re running paid-social campaigns, it is recommended you use UTM campaign tracking URLs for your destination pages. Combine this with the Facebook/Instagram pixel and you’re able to see the full spectrum of impressions to conversion. Keep track of which audiences are most engaged with your ads and better yet, those that are converting the most.

For those who have a local brick-and-mortar presence, make sure your Google My Business map listing is connected with your Google Ads. Connecting these two entities and enabling location extensions in Google Ads will show the searcher your address and how far it is from them currently. This could be a deciding factor for highly competitive businesses or those with multiple locations to show there is one near you and drive traffic into your physical location.

Plan for after the holidays

One of the biggest pitfalls of highly seasonal businesses or holiday promotions is many will shut them off after major shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While it’s OK to taper back your ad spends, you could be leaving money on the table by not focusing attention on a campaign run into the new year.

As you head into the new year, consider the audiences you cultivated for remarketing. Those could be repeat visitors or individuals new to your brand. Now is the time to reach out to them again and connect on ancillary services or products you’re offering. Hopefully, they’re also included in your email marketing list and it’s time to get those regular communications going in the new year.

While you’re focused on those new sales, don’t forget about your current customers. Be sure to show them some love, too. After all, they have purchased from you. Reach out and see if they need more of what you’re offering and take care of them.

It’s never too late to get your digital efforts set to take advantage of increased holiday buyers. As a reminder, take a look at your historical data and let it be your guide. Combine that with some of the tips provided above and develop a strategy that makes smart use of your ad dollars and close out the year on a positive note.