Most people are preparing to welcome the summer but savvy marketers already have their eyes set on the most important quarter of the year. Q4 attracts 30% of the total annual sales in the retail sector. To ensure a successful holiday sales season, companies will need to strategize well in advance to beat the competition, implement the needed technology, and produce thought-out creative assets.
Digital channels have become the bread-and-butter of retail advertising. In 2019, digital ad spend is expected to surpass traditional offline channels with retail being the top spender in the US according to eMarketer. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the best ways to leverage digital come Q4. From strategic planning to channel-specific tips, we’ll take a look at the best ways to come out on top, drive foot traffic, and boost revenue.
Campaign Planning 1-0-1
Your first stop is visiting the ghosts of the campaigns past. Your last year’s campaigns are the best informants of what is likely to work this time around. Pull up sales and campaign data from the previous season.
Which Data and Elements to Analyze?
- Campaigns and top performers: what were the hero products and offers? How long did you run them for? Did they perform consistently or where there dips along the campaign timeline? How much did you spend and what was the ROI?
- Channel analysis: if your campaigns spanned multiple channels, say Facebook, Google, and email, for example, look at the best ones to drive revenue and prioritize them in this year’s campaign plan.
- Did your audience respond well to your campaigns? Look at conversions at various parts of the channel: from clicks all the way to conversions (purchases).
- Visuals and ad formats: which creative variations and ad formats drove the most engagement and revenue? What can you learn from them?
- Messaging: which email subject lines resulted in the highest open rates? What was the copy like in your top-performing ads?
- Website and landing page performance: total traffic – how much traffic your campaign drove to the site, traffic by channel – a breakdown of how the different campaign channels performed, bounce rate: percentage of visitors leaving without performing the wanted action, conversions – how many ultimately bought your product or service.
Also, don’t only focus on learning from successes but also take a moment to evaluate shortcomings. There are multiple challenges that can hinder campaign success online: perhaps you had great creative but weren’t as savvy about targeting or managing the campaign. Maybe your paid search keywords were right on-target but you had a mishap with budgets or bidding. Identify what you need help with and consider hiring a contractor to succeed with your seasonal campaigns.
Now that you have an overview of what has worked in the past, put the insights to work and map out your plan for this year. Prioritize channels that worked the best, plan your offers and creative according to top-performers, and consider dropping anything that dragged behind.
Optimizing Your Website for the Seasonal Rush
For online retailers, a website is a natural part of their marketing toolkit and a main channel for revenue. Yet, here’s why brick and mortar businesses should not overlook the importance of a professional and up-to-date website. Consumers are researching and comparing products, offers, and services online (and mostly on mobile). If they can’t find your store online, they most likely won’t walk in the door offline.
Your website should be built to support your seasonal campaigns fully. If you don’t have one, fret not, this is the perfect time to obtain a website as you still have time to get it up and running. Building a website doesn’t need to be lengthy and costly: there are many easy options out there that take the pain out of launching one.
Seasonal Website Checklist
- Mobile-optimized and responsive design: your audience is shopping and searching on-the-go
- Fast load times: 53% of mobile shoppers abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load
- Up-to-date information: even if you don’t sell online, your website is prime real estate to market your in-store offers and holiday events
- A/B testing: create multiple versions of seasonal pages so you can see which one converts the best and ultimately, you can drive all traffic towards the winning one
Paid Social Best Practices
Social media marketing cannot be overlooked when it comes to driving retail revenue. Facebook’s family of apps (including Instagram and Messenger) offers an extensive toolkit that helps brands engage the right audience, show the right products, and ultimately, convert them to customers.
E-commerce brands should install the Facebook Pixel on their online store so it can collect data of visitors that are also on Facebook. It allows for retargeting people with products they’ve previously viewed or added to the cart. The Pixel also helps Facebook understand the profile of your typical customer, which in turn allows you to use features like Lookalike Audiences where you can target people who “look like” your typical customer.
Paid social is going Stories-first and now you can run this vertical ad format both on Instagram and Facebook. Stories ads are a mobile-first and full-screen ad format and ideal for highlighting your products in an environment where users are already comfortable with discovering products. As creating vertical content for campaigns is quite new for most advertisers, it pays off to brush up on the Stories best practices before creating them.
One last tip to consider: on paid social, you need to lay the groundwork well before you run your seasonal campaigns. Run a branding-focused campaign to get your target audience acquainted with your company and click to your site. This way, when the time comes, you can retarget these people with holiday deals later on. If they already know your brand, they’re more likely to purchase.