AdParlor Holiday Exclusive: Top 15 Paid Media Tips for Winning Holiday 2023
During this festive season, the key for a successful social media campaign is to prepare proactively and execute strategically. But the question is, how can you achieve this? Here’s the advice from our experts on what brands should prioritize when getting their holiday paid social strategy ready.
#1: The Early Bird Gets the Worm
According to a Shopify + Gallup survey, 41% plan to start shopping in October or earlier. Big retailers like Amazon and Target have augmented the standard retail calendar by promoting deep discounts in early October. Consumers are trained to expect deals ahead of Cyber Week so it’s important for brands to get in front of their customers early and often.
AdParlor’s retail clients find success promoting products during the holiday season by starting early in October. By not waiting to launch media until after customers have started knocking items off their shopping lists, brands are able to highlight new holiday products/categories in pockets leading up to the holiday, ensuring each category gets an adequate spotlight.
#2: Buffer Budgets
Auction competition increases during Q4, particularly around peak moments like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which can impact your ability to spend ad budgets in full. AdParlor combats this by adding a buffer to daily budgets, inflating by 20-30%, during the holidays while leveraging strategic campaign budget caps as a safeguard. It’s always easier to lower budgets than scale them intraday if you are over-pacing to your target threshold.
#3: Highlight Shipping Details
Many online shoppers expect free shipping but we know this is not a reality for all retailers. If free shipping is a perk offered to your customers, include it in your ad messaging and be forthcoming with minimum spend or qualifying order requirements to reduce cart abandonment. Customers are more likely to convert on “free shipping” over “fast shipping” incentives during the holidays, so if you offer both – shout it from the rooftops!
Retail brands should also plan for and communicate shipping cut-off dates to customers. By letting your customers know before they buy that items won’t be on their doorstep until after Christmas (even if that’s an estimation) then they will know what to expect. This is your biggest defense against a negative customer shipping experience during the holidays.
#4: Attract In-Store Shoppers
AdParlor’s clients that are looking to drive in-store shoppers see success with running local inventory dynamic ads. This tactic can be especially beneficial to deploy after your shipping cut-off date to attract last-minute holiday shoppers to your store.
Other clients see success using Nextdoor ads to reach local customers that live within close proximity to physical store locations.
For shoppers on the go, don’t forget to include curbside pickup messaging in your campaigns. While not as tangible as a discount/promotion, time savings and convenience are still value-adds for busy consumers.
#5: Full-Funnel Is Your Friend
Reach campaigns can be a great way to achieve brand awareness & acquire new customers that can be nurtured through mid & lower funnel conversion campaigns. By investing more heavily in upper/mid-funnel executions in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, our clients are reaping the rewards of having larger retargeting pools for those critical buying days.
For example, one client that traditionally only invested in lower-funnel conversion campaigns in Q4 realized 25% more efficient CPMs by activating upper-funnel campaigns optimized towards reach. This resulted in 26% larger retargeting audiences for the holiday push.
#6: Audit your Product Feed
Ensure that product feeds and catalogs are up-to-date with accurate information to maximize performance for dynamic shopping campaigns and ensure a pleasant shopping experience.
- This almost goes without saying, but you should correct typos or other mistakes in your product titles and descriptions. Little things like good grammar and consistent spelling make your store look more professional and trustworthy.
- Ensure all product listings on your website reflect accurate product titles, descriptions, images, and pricing.
#7: Frame It!
Custom DPA frames can help your catalog ads stand out in a crowded newsfeed and elevate performance all year long, but especially during the holidays. Custom frames drive 20% higher CTR for some of AdParlor’s clients. We recommend pairing seasonal frames with dynamic price overlays (price or percent off) to elevate your creative during the holidays.
#8: Collection Ads
Collection ad units are immersive mobile ad units that can be very effective at captivating and engaging customers across social platforms. Use a video or image hero image to captivate attention and allow customers to browse your catalog products all within a single ad unit. Collection ads tend to be very effective at driving mid-funnel actions (web traffic) and generating strong ROAS during the holidays.
#9: More Frequent Optimizations May be Necessary
Investing in more frequent optimization cycles can yield substantial benefits, especially when accommodating the unique dynamics of Cyber 5 campaigns. While best practice often recommends occasional optimizations to accrue learnings, the distinctive context of Cyber 5, characterized by significantly larger budgets and heightened consumer conversion rates, necessitates a more frequent optimization approach. Always aim to reach 50 conversions per ad set per week as a critical component when making optimizations, especially for major short-lived sale events.
#10: 1PD For the Win
Understanding who, when, and why someone buys from you is essential for success. Segmenting and targeting your existing customer base (first-party data) can be an effective, low-hanging fruit tactic during the holiday season:
- Speak Differently to Cart Abandoners: Nearly 90% of shoppers abandon their cart so tailored ad copy messaging can help bring them back into the funnel to complete their purchase.
- Cross-sell and Up-sell Existing Customers: Target this audience with relevant products to improve your order repeat rate and keep shoppers coming back to your store/site over time. If a customer ordered a
- Reward High-Value Customers with Special Offers: Target your loyalty CRM to offer exclusive promotions and rewards, such as a 15% discount or free shipping, to reassure loyal buyers of their value.
- Segment Your Customers to Highlight Relevant Products: Segmenting your customers and highlighting relevant products is critical to any marketing strategy. Utilize customer data from quizzes to complement your email and SMS campaigns, showcasing products that fit their needs. Expand your reach with ads for those who opt in for back-in-stock and wishlist notifications.
#11: Monitor Audience Overlap
Be mindful of audience overlap within your paid social ad sets/groups. AdParlor recommends keeping audience overlap at or below 15% for optimal efficiency. If overlap is too high, consolidating or refining can be good solutions.
- Consolidate your overlapping ad sets. If some ad sets are targeting very similar audiences, you could see better results by consolidating them into one with a larger budget.
- Refine your targeting. Take advantage of location, age, gender, interest and/or behavior-based targeting to ensure each ad set has a specific and distinct audience. You can also try creating separate Custom Audiences (from a pixel or your customer data) or Lookalike Audiences (of people similar to your best customers) for each ad set.
Consolidation and refinement are opposite ways of solving the problem (one makes an audience larger, the other makes an audience smaller). The best choice is different for each situation. However, a useful idea to keep in mind when deciding is: If two audiences are distinct enough that you set different bids for ad sets targeting one compared to the other, try keeping them separate and refining them further. If not, try consolidating them and combining their budgets.
#12: Put it to the Test
Conducting tests on your paid social campaigns ahead of the holiday rush can help identify which drivers are unlocking new audiences and sales before demand is at its peak.
Below are a few of AdParlor’s recommended testing ideas:
- Influencers: A/B test BAU vs. BAU + Influencer creative to understand the impact of Influencers and optimize holiday investment accordingly.
- Promotional Messaging: A/B test different visuals and ad copy featuring promo messaging to identify the most effective strategy for your audience.
- Audiences: Test expanding your audience to improve your chance of ad sets exiting the learning phase faster and thus improving performance. Broader targeting also ensures that you are not omitting audiences that may potentially convert.
- Value Optimization Tests: Meta’s new VO optimization shows your ads to people who are likely to maximize the amount of value they’ll generate.
- Meta ASC: Test ASC campaigns alongside business-as-usual (BAU) shopping campaigns and experiment with ASC capping controls on existing customers to find the ideal cap for driving incrementality.
#13: Get Influenced
An influencer marketing campaign during the holidays could work in your brand’s favor since influencers have established credibility and trust with their followers, which can help increase the campaign’s effectiveness. Influencers can offer a fresh perspective that showcases your product or service in different way, and their followers are more likely to trust and act on their recommendations. AdParlor recommends allocating at least 25% of your total paid social investment toward promoting Influencer content.
#14: Build Anticipation
AdParlor’s clients build anticipation for upcoming product launches, promos and/or live shopping events with Meta’s Reminder Ads and interactive Countdown Stickers on TikTok. Both formats help create a sense of urgency and can increase conversion rates.
- Reminder Ads: People can opt into convenient reminders and receive three notifications from one day before, 15 minutes before, and at the time of the event.
- Countdown Stickers: The Countdown Sticker Interactive Add-on allows you to add a timer to your video ad to catch your audience’s attention and create a feeling of urgency.
#15: Don’t forget about Q5:
Cyber Week is an ideal opportunity to bring in new shoppers, but the hard work actually comes after the holidays end. Utilizing retargeting strategies and best practices can ensure those who buy from your business will want to keep coming back time and time again. “Q5”, the weeks between the end of the holidays and before we’re fully into the full swing of Q1, is an excellent opportunity for retailers to reach shoppers with gift cards and holiday cash to spend. This can also be a great opportunity for retailers to move remaining holiday inventory at a lower CPM given the less-competitive auction.
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AdParlor, an agency established in 2008 and now a division of Fluent (NASDAQ: FLNT), is a leading provider of data-driven digital media strategy and execution that unlocks explosive growth for world-class and disruptive brands. Through our GrowthFuel framework we offer proprietary performance marketing solutions that have scaled our clients’ programs profitably, with our clients’ success being our sole agenda. Our custom technology solves problems related to creative insights, creative production, real time cross-platform reporting and more. Brands choose AdParlor because our unmatched expertise in ecommerce digital media delivers impactful full-funnel performance campaigns for profitable growth.