How Not to Feel the Pinch From the Digital Grinch This Holiday Season
Just like that, the holiday season is upon us. For brands everywhere, it's time to promote your gifting offering. This season will pose new challenges with rising media costs, shifting consumer sentiment, and declining digital measurement capabilities post Apple ATT. However, this year also presents new opportunities with consumers looking to celebrate a true post-pandemic holiday and spend when the product and price are right.
Facebook and Instagram ads have become embedded into direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) brands’ marketing DNA. But post-Apple ATT these brands are faced with more limited measurement, less specific targeting capabilities, and higher costs on Meta — all of which are contributing to a decline in return on investment. This doesn't mean marketers should abandon the platform entirely, but instead supplement it in other ways and other digital channels.
These are seven key digital marketing tactics you must put in place to ensure a successful season and develop a robust cross-channel digital strategy:
- Deliver post-purchase messages and promotions during early holiday: Consumers shop for themselves while checking off their gifting list. Give a little extra incentive to your early holiday shoppers with a post-purchase offer (e.g., 15 percent off your next purchase in the next 30 days) through text message or email. This way, they’re more than likely to come back quickly.
- Be part of the gifting conversation ... now: According to Google Trends, searches for "Christmas Gifts" start in late September. Make sure you've created a landing page and site links for holiday shoppers now so that if someone is searching for gifts, you can be part of the conversation.
- Test merchant feed optimizations on Meta: If you have a product feed partner and can test image type within feeds, take a segment of your product feed and test a dynamic product ads campaign on Meta with a new image type. Start early and review the results to gain valuable insights before the core holiday season.
- Look at top performing headlines, assets, and descriptions in PMX and test on Meta: With Meta CPMs rising, optimizing clickthrough rate and conversion are critical. Google’s Performance Max (PMX) Asset Details provide individual headline and image performance and “top text and image/video combinations.” Review this to see which creative combinations are gaining the most traction — and apply those learnings to both PMX and Meta.
- Test retention vs. acquisition ad sets in PMX: While there's limited control within PMX, test an asset group solely dedicated to acquisition or retention to understand the potential for scalability and performance by audience segment. This can be done at the asset group level — it doesn't need to be a separate campaign.
- Meta performance is driven by TESTING: Different ads work for different audiences. Ahead of the holiday season, try these four different tests to better understand what drives success: text overlays (review, promos, value prop) vs. no text overlay; gift card-specific ads; lookalike (LAL) source audiences (e.g., holiday purchasers, high AOV customers, 2X buyers, male buyers); and on-model versus product lay-down photography (for apparel).
- Test email first vs. email and SMS on email pop-up: If email subscription rates fell after launching SMS, test capturing email first, with a second screen to capture SMS. And then use both email and SMS as part of the welcome series. SMS is a complement for email, not a substitution!
Building a cross-channel digital strategy this holiday season will not only lead to better returns across channels, but also help diversify the marketing mix away from Meta. It will also allow you to retain and reactivate these holiday customers.
Calla Murphy is vice president, digital strategy and integrated marketing at Belardi Wong, the leading direct marketing firm in the industry, working with more than 100 retailers and best-in-class brands.
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A seasoned marketing executive and consultant, Calla Murphy joined Belardi Wong most recently from home furnishings retailer Blu Dot, where she managed and executed marketing across email, digital marketing, social media, PR, and content creation.