'Tis The Season! Holiday marketing season – with a great challenge comes a great opportunity.

Domenic Smith
Domenic Smith
DTC brands independent consultant
Insense is a marketplace to collaborate with creators for UGC, posting, and whitelisted ads. 
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Yes, the season that we all simultaneously eagerly anticipate and dread is upon us and that means that it’s time to start gearing up for the holiday season marketing campaigns. We all know the drill. Thunderous promotions and massive sales, Christmas shopping, and gift-hunting for your nearest and dearest… But this year, it will be a holiday season like no other.

The social component is an essential part of the holidays, it’s a traditional time for people to come together, families and friends reuniting and gathering to celebrate, and yet we can’t help but wonder what shape will it take in the time of COVID-related uncertainty, travel restrictions, and social distancing? One thing is for sure, people’s desire to stay connected is not going anywhere and that means social media and e-commerce will have a more important role to play than ever before.

Here at Insense we understand this desire and help brands to connect with the wide range of social media creators, producing original and authentic content for a variety of platforms. Using our expertise and a strong belief in the power of cooperation, we’ve come up with a few insights that we’d like to share to help you turn the challenge of managing a holiday campaign during this time into an opportunity for you and your brand.

1. Plan and Prepare.

This may sound like a truism, but the foundation of any successful holiday season marketing campaign lies in its planning. And when it comes to planning, there’s no such thing as starting too early.

While the holiday season traditionally kicks off with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the so-called Cyber Monday and then leads up to the parade of December holidays, big and small, recent studies have shown that many people start their holiday shopping in mid-November or even earlier than that if you take the Singles’ Day on 11th November into account, one of the biggest shopping days in the world. The earlier you get in the game and create a sense of urgency around the Holiday shopping, the faster you’ll be able to reap the benefits. But to do that you need to plan and prepare accordingly:

  • Formulate your campaign strategy early and test it on your target audiences a couple of months in advance – this will allow you to identify the best practices and approaches for the upcoming holidays. And by launching pre-holiday awareness campaigns you can build your audience even before the season hits.
  • Run each creative in a broad environment – this will help you to gain a better understanding which offer is more effective in reaching a new audience, so you’ll know what works in advance rather than start experimenting in the middle of the holiday season.
  • Make sure that your tech support is prepared to handle the inevitable increase in traffic. You don’t want your website or online store crashing down on you all of a sudden and neither does your customer. Shopping during the holiday season is not just an act of purchasing a good or a service, it’s a whole experience interwoven with an ancient tradition of gift-giving. Any additional effort, step or inconvenience in the purchase journey is friction, so it’s in your best interest to create a process that results in a clean and seamless shopping experience.
  • Remember Murphy’s law: one thing you can always be sure of is that something will go wrong, However, see it as a test of your organization’s ability to adapt and react quickly. Prepare the contingency plans for some of the most anticipated scenarios, but have a team on standby to rectify any unexpected issues that may occur with your site, ads, and day-to-day operations.
lego santa claus

2. The Golden Rule of the Purchase Funnel

As people increasingly use social media to stay connected, their tastes in social media advertising and promotions become more and more sophisticated. Nowadays you’re dealing with a savvy and experienced consumer, so your targeting must always be on point. You need to have an understanding of not only the kind of audience you’re working with but of the purpose of each particular piece of content that you or your partners produce on social media:

  • The Golden Rule is thus: you can’t go into your holiday social media marketing campaign with a one-size-fits-all approach. Various stages of the purchase funnel require different types of content. A product video can effectively demonstrate the benefits of your product and is great at raising awareness, just don’t forget to include your logo in the first 5 seconds and wrap it up with a call to action. But the same video won’t do you much good if you need to retarget your audience or drive conversions, you’d rather use a testimonial or an unboxing video for that. The creatives you use should serve the needs of each particular stage of the funnel.
  • Facebook data shows that 70% of all the content is consumed on the run, straight from the smartphone screen. That means that you have a very short window of barely 5-8 seconds to make it stick. The other 30% of the content is consumed in a more relaxed environment, usually at home and after work, so it can be longer. Fortunately, Facebook also gives you the tool for automating and optimizing your campaigns by the content length as it “reads” the consumer behavior and adjusts the ad accordingly. This can be an extraordinarily valuable feature that allows you to continually reach people with the right products at the right time.
hand holding phone showing an Instagram post

3. Embrace the Holiday Spirit

And no, we don’t mean festive candy-cane-and-Christmas-tree decorations for your landing page. The true holiday spirit is inseparable from generosity and compassion, so the holiday season marketing campaign can’t avoid touching on purpose and social collaboration. In the time of uncertainty, your customers see the value in affordability, authenticity, and action. Use your social media feeds and stories to prove to the community that you’ve built around your brand that your business takes its social responsibilities seriously and is ready to give back and help out.

  • As tensions flare up during the holidays due to unemployment and economic downturn, you have an opportunity to highlight how are you doing your part to address the impact of the pandemic. It can be as simple as donating a portion of your sales, partnering with NGOs, or providing communities temporary work solutions.
  • Local businesses are among the most hard-hit by the pandemic as quite often they just don’t have the means to deal with its effects. But for a bigger brand this also represents an opportunity to help out and create a mutually beneficial partnership on a local level. For example, partnering with service-oriented businesses can give you a source of added-value content for the customers when they buy your merchandise (think athletic apparel and sportswear brands partnering with online workout classes).
  • Don’t be solely focused on sales. Remember, we’re all in this together. Use your creatives to tell the story of how you support and reinvest in your community today and when the time comes, they will support you and advocate for your brand with more passion than any spokesperson you could hire.
Dogs on a couch with christmas decoration

4. It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Probably one of the biggest myths about holiday season marketing is that you should use all your investments till Christmas Day and then stop all the campaigns as the purchasing frenzy of late November-early December whittles down. In fact, Facebook statistics show quite the opposite, demonstrating that both CPM and purchase conversion bounce back almost immediately in the aftermath of the holiday season. Don’t rush to wrap up your holiday marketing campaign just yet and consider these few insights:

  • It’s the time when the greatest number of new devices come online while simultaneously the dwell time is significantly longer during the holiday period. Basically, people spend more time with their brand-new devices that they got just a few weeks back – and that means they give you even more opportunities to reach them with your marketing campaign.  
  • Purchase intent is still high and there’s a want to spend all the gift cards and cash gifts received earlier in the season.
  • You’ve got less competition in the auction as big brands are leaving and shipping deadlines have passed.
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Domenic Smith

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