The first thing that comes to mind when preparing for a promotion on the holidays is to make a sale or give bonuses to customers in December. This seems to be the simplest and therefore tempting. But there are other mechanics and promotion paths that can work great. There are many things to consider.
Recent market research suggests that users are looking for gifts in advance. For example, last year, more than half of the Internet audience in the US started looking for information about goods in October and even earlier. But the NRF 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook found that only 33% of users start shopping for the holidays during this time, according to the NRF 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook. American users think about buying early and search for the right product for a long time. At the same time, about 20% of all buyers come to stores after the holidays.one…
Below is an illustrative statistics of Google Trends for the query “gifts for the new year” in Russia:
If during the preparation of an advertising campaign there is no data on the behavior of consumer demand, then the campaigns will not be able to provide the desired efficiency and profitability. That being said, making a good holiday traffic forecast isn’t always difficult. Let’s break down a simple mechanic:
Start with historical data… The pre-holiday season of 2017 will provide important information for predicting traffic for the same period in 2018. Remember, a forecast that uses historical data will be as good as the historical data it uses. Therefore, it is important to carefully analyze the information, not to use inaccurate or abnormal statistics, which are more likely not to be repeated.
Determine the expected growth rate… 2018 will not be a copy of the past. Use the information accumulated over the current year. Already now, with three quarters behind, one can see how the growth rates have changed compared to the same period in 2017.
Find your grade… Apply your category dynamics to your collected historical data. This is the estimated clicks for 2018.
You now have an accurate forecast.
Aside from general traffic forecasting, it is important to remember that your audience is not homogeneous, and completely different messages and at different times will work well for different parts of the audience. Customers during the holiday season can be roughly divided into four types. Each of them has a unique type of behavior:
Rational buyers… Such customers make purchases throughout the pre-holiday period, as well as after the holidays.
Early birds… They prepare for the holidays in advance and do most of their shopping at the start of the season. To attract them, we recommend starting a pre-holiday activity based on an analysis of the start of the holiday season last year.
Lovers of lucrative offers… These customers make the bulk of their purchases during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. To attract such an audience, your USP must stand out from the competition. USP does not need to focus on gifts to loved ones, as 66% of this audience makes purchases for themselves (according to US research conducted by Google)2…
Last minute buyers… Customers of this type buy in the last days before the holidays. They are very limited in time of purchase and choose among several stores at the same time. Therefore, the best strategy for attracting such an audience is to offer the best service among the competition. Examples of such a service might be:
extended time for accepting orders;
extended opening hours for your offline stores.
Only 18% of shoppers make the majority of their purchases during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And only 19% of buyers make purchases right before the holidays3… At the same time, last season 61% of buyers were ready to purchase goods in a new store and 50% of them eventually made such purchases.four… Therefore, it is so important to work with the audience at all stages of the funnel, paying attention to both regular customers and an audience that has not yet been reached.
Build audience lists and engage users in the final stages of the buying journey.
Unite users by their actions at different stages of the journey.
Engage customers on the holidays in the first two stages of the funnel.
Preparing creatives: USP and holiday banners
Most likely, you or your client have already thought out a New Year’s campaign. If not, it’s time to think about the pre-holiday USP. Competitors will use discounts, extra gifts and bonus points. Consider whether you can provide users with an offer that will set you apart from the competition. Do you have expedited shipping or gift wrapping for your items? All additional services, as well as the updated work schedule on holidays, must be reflected in the announcements.
Prepare colorful banners for online advertising campaigns of all formats available on the sites. Download them in advance so that by the start of the promotion the moderation will be completed and all possible inconsistencies in the banners will be eliminated. When using new banners in old advertising campaigns, we recommend using them in rotation with banners that have historically worked well.
Prepare some message options for text ads and banners for the holiday season. Change them as you get closer to the holiday:
- get ready for the holidays !;
- think about gifts in advance !;
- the last days remain until the New Year! (until the New Year there is [countdown] days! – in Google Ads);
- The New Year has passed, and the promotion continues until January 8!
Reflect the holiday promotion in your extensions:
- add quick links for the promotion with a separate page and describe the benefits of the promotion in the description of the quick link;
- add clarifications containing information about a promotion or holidays;
- if the promotion implies a certain discount, then in Google Ads it can be reflected in the Promotion extension
- for promotions that imply a new service or convenience (for example, gift wrapping), we recommend using structured descriptions of the appropriate type in Google Ads with a description of the benefits.
Campaign preparation: schedule, budget and settings
Do not forget to check your pre-holiday and holidays ad campaign settings.
Pay attention to remarketing lists. Setting issues can hinder effective promotion during the holidays and reduce the effectiveness of all advertising campaigns: you will not be able to remind customers of yourself in time and return users to the site.
All advertising campaign budgets need to be increased based on the traffic growth plan that we discussed at the beginning of the article. It is also worth adjusting the rates to accommodate the growing competition. If you are already using automatic bidding strategies, then as the holiday period approaches, we recommend not only raising budgets, but also softening targets (tCPA, tROI) – this will allow automatic strategies to maintain efficiency while increasing competition and attract more conversions.
Set a schedule for your ads to run on holidays. If advertising campaigns based on your business topic only run during business hours, you can try to make them work 24/7 at reduced rates outside of business hours to increase coverage.
During the holiday season, it is imperative that your ad campaigns cover all products and related queries. Insufficiently developed semantics can prevent you from achieving maximum sales. This issue is especially acute in e-commerce. To reach the largest search audience and take into account all low-frequency user requests, we recommend using DSA. Even if you already have feed DSA, smart banners, and dynamic remarketing running, run your DSA campaigns by section of your site. So, you will cover the maximum of targeted user requests.
Don’t forget about mobile traffic. Two-thirds of users search for products on mobile before heading to storesfive… So they not only make a purchase decision, they discover new stores and brands: more than half of smartphone users, according to Google research, discovered a new company or product in a mobile search.6… Therefore, in the pre-holiday period, it is extremely important not to reduce mobile traffic. If for some reason your site is not yet optimized for mobile devices and you think that mobile traffic will not help you, use the Yandex turbo pages and Google AMP. This will reach mobile users and educate them about your offer. This will have a good effect not only on direct sales, but also on attracting new users to your store.
Do you need holiday advertising after the holidays?
The New Year is over, and there are eight more weekends ahead – a great opportunity to reach the audience who did not have time to buy gifts before the holiday:
- use creatives dedicated to post-holiday days and the upcoming Orthodox Christmas;
- adjust bids and budgets to reflect reduced competition and demand;
- notify clients of changes in the opening hours for the holidays.
Do not forget to turn off holiday announcements after the completion of the RC. In Google Ads, you can use automated rules for this. In Yandex.Direct, creatives must be disabled manually or using third-party tools. Another option is to create separate advertising campaigns with holiday ads and set the required stop date in advance, and for standard campaigns on the first day of holiday ads, postpone the start date. This will set up the ad switching schedule in advance, and all you have to do is check the ad switching after the holidays.
Proper planning and preparation of advertising campaigns will allow you to reach the largest number of buyers and get the most out of your advertising campaigns. In addition, the obtained data on customers and the collection of a new audience will help you to carry out advertising campaigns most effectively not only for this, but for all subsequent holiday seasons.
- NRF 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook
- Google / Ipsos, Omnichannel Holiday Study, US, Holiday Shoppers 18+ n = 1092 Deal Seekers, Nov.
- Google / Ipsos, US, Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday shoppers 18+ who shopped in previous 48 hours, n = 5944 shoppers overall, and n = 1,571 holiday shoppers week of BF / CM, Nov. 2017 — Jan. 2018. Google / Ipsos, US, Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday Shoppers 18+ n = 1489 Early Birds, n = 1092 Deal Seekers, n = 2242 Evergreen, n = 1121 Last Minute, Nov.
- Google and Ipsos, Post Holiday Shopping Intentions Study – Total Shoppers Report, January 2016 Based on a survey of 1,500 US gift shoppers.
- Google / Euromonitor International, “How Mobile Influences Shoppers in the Moment,” US, smartphone shoppers = 1,000, Jul. 2016.
- Google / Ipsos, “Consumers in the Micro-Moment, Wave 3,” US, n = 1,291 online smartphone users 18+, Aug. 2015.