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Although this holiday season seems to be about who can respond most quickly to evolving consumer needs, it's entirely possible to promote your business and drive sales through a strategic online marketing campaign.

How To Throw Together A *Successful* Last-Minute Holiday Campaign

Kate Dudzik

If you woke up this morning only to notice that it's already December, you may be realizing that 2020 has once again impacted our communal sense of time. The good news is, it’s not too late to launch a holiday campaign for your business, no matter how big or small. 

To add to the stress many people face around the holidays this year, many have been emotionally and financially impacted by the global pandemic. Life has changed drastically for us all. This year, our role to honour the trust of our customers and to ensure their shopping experience is easy, hassle-free, and enjoyable becomes even more important. There’s a lot we don’t know about what this year’s holiday shopping season will bring, but we do know Canadian shoppers are worried about stores running out of stock, decreased store hours, quarantine regulations preventing in-store shopping, and unpredictable delivery times. Thus, a majority of shoppers are shifting their focus online.

COVID-19 has forced Canadian retailers, big and small, to swiftly adopt or adapt e-commerce strategies to stay open-for-business. Although this holiday season seems to be about who can respond most quickly to evolving consumer needs, it's entirely possible to promote your business and drive sales through a strategic online marketing campaign. Now is the time to make sure your business is prepared, and to ensure you’re providing the most enjoyable experience to your customers. 

With a vast focus on online marketing campaigns, all retailers were forced to throw out the old playbook and learn the ways of the digital landscape where many businesses are vying for consumer attention. Less established retailers now have the opportunity to reach new customers through strategic buys, thus levelling the playing field. When a customer completes an action that that’s been defined as valuable, this action is counted as a conversion. 

Regardless of the size of your budget, allocating spend towards web-based promotion is always a sharp move. However, before you dive headfirst into launching a campaign, there are a few things to be mindful of in order to effectively work your customers through the conversion funnel. 

The fundamental stages of the conversion funnel are:

  • Discovery (top of the funnel): This stage comprises the total pool of people who have just discovered your business.
  • Consideration (middle of the funnel): In this stage, your leads turn into prospective shoppers and most likely want to learn more about the brand before deciding to convert.
  • Conversion (bottom of the funnel): At this stage, your prospective shoppers will decide to convert into customers.
Messaging

The secret to effectively reaching potential customers lays within the messaging. Strive to write ads that directly relate to what your customers aspire to buy and try to include at least one of your keywords in your ad's headline. Your ad copy should be specific, relevant, engaging, and empowering. As a best practice, take the time to match your ad to its landing page to guarantee all information is clearly presented to warrant upper-funnel prospects through the conversion funnel, allowing them to easily convert.

This year, people will seek safer, digitized ways of shopping so be sure to announce curbside pickup, click-and-collect, or contactless buying. To maximize the performance of your ads, consider including your protected purchasing procedures as well as prices, promotions, and exclusives upfront. In search ads, you can convey this information by leveraging Google's promotion, price, location, or call extensions. If you don't intend to run a search campaign, ensure all information on your landing page is clear and easy to navigate. Incorporating this information upfront will not only benefit customers on mobile devices but can significantly increase click-through rates (CTR) and boost customer engagement.

Targeting

The first step to any successful online marketing campaign lays within its targeting. Be mindful that your customers aren't necessarily in the same place that your business is physically located, and incorrect targeting tactics can direct loads of irrelevant traffic to your website or prevent your audience from ever seeing your ads at all. Study the necessity of targeting by country, areas within a country, or if applying a radius around specific locations will suffice. If you sell globally, consider localizing the shopping experience for your international customers to help personalize the customer experience. Utilizing curated data sets such as 3rd-party audiences or any interest and intent audiences can help cast a wide net to start.

If an upper-funnel customer visits your website after seeing an ad, you've successfully cultivated brand awareness. This presents the opportunity to guide them into the next stage - consideration - which is one step closer to conversion. 

To ensure consumers receive a personalized and cohesive brand message, it is vital to be proactive when setting up retargeting or lookalike audiences. While encouraged to deploy these tactics across platforms, if the audience was not captured upfront, it will be too late to reap the rewards it offers. By establishing these audiences upfront, you will facilitate consistent creative messaging that will help increase brand recall and affinity. Data used to generate audiences may also be used to improve the bidding and targeting for future campaigns.

Tracking

There are many ways to track a campaign to monitor both its success and the effects it has on your business, but the first step in tracking conversions is choosing what you want to observe. Regardless of your desired medium, consider setting up conversion tracking to track website purchases, newsletter signups, button clicks, or other website actions. By leveraging digital insights to identify what your customers are looking for and where they’re coming from, you will be able to identify emerging marketing opportunities. Other examples of actions that customers take that could be valuable to your business can include: form submits, price quotes, arranging test drives, callback requests or looking up a store location; just about anything can be tracked! Leveraging accurate conversion tracking will provide useful insights into how you can optimize your campaign's performance.

As some conversion actions are worth more to your business than others, you have the option to assign a different value to each conversion. If you are tracking several conversion actions, consider assigning the same value to all conversions of a certain action.

If you own an online store with a shopping cart, consider using the transaction-specific conversion values to track and optimize your campaigns' return on investment (ROI). To do this, you will need someone who can integrate transaction-specific values with the <google_conversion_value> variable within the conversion tracking tag. Please note that appropriate tags should only gather data on pages on which the associated tag is stationed. It is essential to guarantee that you're providing users with clear and comprehensive information about the data you collect on your site. Thankfully, your friends over at Hotspex Media got you covered.</google_conversion_value>

Get Organized. Every Day

A huge part of ensuring you reach your sales targets while keeping customers and staff safe is by managing a variety of ways to get your product into the hands of the buyer, or gift recipient. This includes managing your delivery options, delivery times, and providing different shipping options to customers. Look into shipping speeds and delivery expectations from your carrier to ensure that you keep your website up to date with all information your customers may find relevant.

 As we near the holidays, providing customers with a “gift” option as well as the ability to ship directly to the gift recipient is a great way to provide personalized care, relieve some of the shipping-delay worries, as well as set yourself apart from your competition.

Much like the “usual” holidays, your hours may be varied. In-store or curbside pick up hours may fall into unconventional ranges this year, and it is up to you to understand your clients and organize accordingly. Many are still working conventional hours, as well as overtime, so try planning your schedule to allow for pick-up and delivery options outside of the conventional 9 – 5 window. Be ready and get organized to ensure that your staff and customers are safe during this process by providing scheduled options, such as multiple pick-up windows, to reduce traffic flow and increase your security. 

If you’d like to learn more about navigating the digital landscape through COVID-19 or would like assistance with your last-minute holiday campaign, contact Hotspex Media's full-service programmatic advertising services to get the most out of your programmatic advertising.

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