A Retail Marketer's Guide to Social Advertising This Holiday Season
Consumers have adopted new shopping habits during the pandemic, meaning this holiday season is bound to look different than years past. Brands that thrive will be the ones focused on reaching consumers with impactful and personalized cross-platform ads. As consumers spend more and more time immersed in their feeds, brands should prioritize channels where shoppers are scrolling the most: social media. In fact, a recent survey by Smartly.io found that 57 percent of holiday shoppers in the U.S. feel social media ads help them source new gift ideas.
From photo carousel ads on Facebook to Story ads on Snapchat, marketers can connect with their target audiences across social media channels to drive business outcomes by taking the following steps:
Plan for your target audience.
During the festive season, CPMs (cost per mille) can increase as much as 50 percent — everyone is looking for a slice of the holiday spend. To be successful, brands need to ensure they're targeting consumers with the right specifications for each platform.
- Facebook and Instagram: Before creating your campaign structure and optimization strategy for Facebook and Instagram, advertisers must first address a long list of microdecisions regarding their target audience. When choosing audiences, always consider the tradeoff between splitting into various ad sets vs. giving Facebook more data to deliver to the right people. Broad audiences are great for prospecting new customers. For more granular targeting, Facebook offers demographic and location-based options, as well as interests and custom audiences.
- Snapchat: Snapchat enables advertisers to capitalize on the effectiveness of Stories and align with the content their audience is already viewing. We recommend that advertisers tailor their story based on the target demographic by applying age, Snapchat Lifestyle Categories (SLCs), and re-engagement audiences from prior tactics.
- Pinterest: On Pinterest, we see better performance when using Expanded Targeting with Pinterest ad groups. That said, we don't recommend using "Expanded Targeting" for keyword-targeted ad groups since impressions for search queries can be vastly unrelated to search terms specified in ad groups.
Optimize and automate everything you can.
When it comes to optimization for any campaign, you should ask yourself the following:
- What is your true goal? For example, is it driving more sales to your store, more installs to your app, or brand awareness?
- What are the metrics you will use to evaluate performance?
Always optimize towards your end goal. If you're struggling to reach enough weekly conversions, this might mean your audience is too specific and you should consider expanding it, or that you may even need to optimize your creative mix. We've seen the best success with four to eight ads per ad set live at a time. Combine video with static ads for a positive impact on performance.
Test and learn.
To capture consumer attention, brands need to rapidly test and iterate to drill down and find the winning creatives that resonate with their audiences and drive the best performance. A great way to start is by gathering all the learnings from last year. What worked and what didn’t? This way, you can reuse assets that performed well and also see if it's possible to challenge the best performing creative from last year. Once you nail down which creative approach brings the best results, iterate specific creative elements to improve your performance continuously. Sometimes small changes, such as the layout or the background color, can make or break a successful holiday campaign.
Buying journeys are unique to each individual customer, during the holidays perhaps more than ever. And in a time of heightened market competition, brands must create strategic campaigns that are tailored, optimized and tested for today’s consumer.
Corinne Demadis is vice president, U.S., East at Smartly.io, a company that automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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