The biggest shopping event of the year occurs for five days in November, encompassing Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. More than 154 million Americans made purchases during Thanksgiving week in 2016, spending a total of $12.8 billion online. Those numbers are slated to rise again in 2017.
Traditionally associated with long lines and crazy in-store sales, Thanksgiving and Black Friday have become online shopping events in recent years. Shoppers spent $1.9 billion online last Thanksgiving, while dozens of top retailers opted to close their doors in favor of family time for customers and employees. But even as Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales grow online, Cyber Monday reigns supreme as the single biggest e-commerce event of the year in the United States, drawing in $3.45 billion.
To make the most of this marathon spending weekend, brands need to plan their advertising campaigns well in advance.
Here are 5 social advertising strategies to help you reach target audiences and stand out from the competitive holiday noise this season.
Start Testing in September
We already know that the holiday season will be saturated with ads. That’s why it’s important to get a head start and reach your target audience before “ad fatigue” sets in. Use the pre-holiday period in September and October to test which creative approaches and offers resonate best with your customers—setting you up for success later in the season.
Prioritize Direct Response Over Branding
The holiday season—especially mid-November through December—is not the time to run branding campaigns. Consumers want to make purchases, so give them product images with strong calls to action that inspire them to convert.
Use ad formats that showcase multiple products, like Carousel and Canvas on Facebook or Collection units on Instagram. Direct response ads on Instagram have been found to drive a median 1.8% lift in in-store sales.
Plan Pinterest Campaigns Early
Pinners start searching nearly twice as early as non-Pinners for holiday goods, meaning that brands need to think differently about their Pinterest strategies. Because Pinterest helps users decide where to shop and what to buy, it’s the only platform where we see advertisers spending more in November than December. In 2016, Adaptly advertisers spent 2.4% more on Pinterest in November than the following month.
The majority of Pinners (55%) use Pinterest to shop, and Promoted Pins are a great way to get your products in front of users as they are planning their digital shopping lists. Use colorful product imagery with fun and helpful text overlays to attract attention on Pinterest.
Concentrate Spend on Mobile
Mobile commerce accounts for one-fifth of total e-commerce sales, rising 16% in 2016, according to eMarketer. Prioritizing mobile ad units over desktop lets you reach shoppers on the go—especially on Facebook, where mobile conversions grew 53% in 2016.
If you’re targeting a Gen X or older consumer, don’t make the mistake of associating mobile with only teen and millennial customers. A quarter of U.S. mobile shoppers are over the age of 55, and last season 17% of parents planned to make at least half of their holiday purchases on mobile.
Snapchat, a mobile-only platform, has a number of fun ad formats that allow brands to reach a highly engaged audiences. More than 173 million Snapchatters use the app daily, checking it an average of 18 times.
Help Eliminate Holiday Stress
The majority of consumers who have completed less than half of their shopping by December are still in wait-mode—and they need your help. 45% are still deciding what to buy, and another 27% are waiting for requests from loved ones. Help your customers find products early in the season by creating gift guides, suggesting products, or giving them top options in a category they’ve visited before.
Consumers might have also visited your site and gotten distracted before making a purchase. Retarget users on social who have visited your site but failed to checkout. You’ll remind them about the products they were looking to purchase, giving customers another chance to look before it’s too late to buy for the holidays.
The holiday season is marketing’s biggest event of the year. Start planning now to get your brand ahead of the hype, then reach holiday shoppers by focusing on mobile and prioritizing direct response. By eliminating holiday stress, you’ll turn shoppers into brand advocates, and your social ad results will reflect that from November far into the New Year.
Adaptly is a social media marketing agency.