How to Kick Start Your Holiday Campaign this Season

November 30, 2017 — by Laura Carrier    

This article originally appeared in MarTech Advisor. 

MediaMath’s VP of strategy and measurement Laura Carrier explores how marketers can ensure their advertising campaigns are timed in accordance with the height of consumer holiday spending.

Holiday season is the largest retail season of the year and as the gift giving traditions get underway, now is the time for advertisers to start detailed planning of how they’ll effectively target and reach holiday shoppers. According to eMarketer, Holiday sales will total $923.15 billion, representing 18.4 percent of US retail sales for the year.

To help advertisers make the most of holiday shopping budgets, we looked for trends in the way our best brands and retailers made the most of this season, including the way they think about timing and key dates, budget, media, targeting and more. Consider the following best practices:

Market to Your Audience Based on Deep Understanding

Marketers know it’s important to understand how audiences demonstrate different shopping behaviors – that’s nothing new. But it’s what marketers do with these insights which matters. Ask yourself, does your ad spend correlate to consumer’s shopping behavior? According to our own analysis, 2016 ad spend lagged behind the time frames consumers expected to do most of their online shopping. Over half of consumers plan to start holiday shopping no later than Black Friday, yet marketers had only spent 25% of their campaign budget by that time last year. This year, make sure to pace your holiday budget before customers do their shopping (while they are researching & planning)!

Get Creative Right 

Knowing who you’re targeting on an individual level, as opposed to different segments of customers or audience groups, will help fine tune your creative and targeting strategies this season. Executing true customer-centric marketing with a single view of the customer will allow marketers to optimize against all marketing touch points. Using this approach, dynamic creative optimization, which updates creative elements on the fly without advertisers having to manually build or modify new assets, will allow for more relevancy in the conversations you have with consumers.

When it comes to optimizing campaigns, marketers should take into account differences consumers shopping habits on key holiday dates when deciding on content. For instance, if you’re marketing to someone who is shopping the weekend before Christmas, getting an item to them as quickly as possible is much more important than the price, e.g. offering free shipping or in-store pick up. On the other hand, if you’re marketing to somebody who is shopping on one of the major one-day sales, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any retailer’s one-time sales, content around price would take priority, e.g. Buy one, get one free. Knowing the different types of consumption patterns will help advertisers optimize their Holiday campaigns.

M-commerce Market Grows

On the busiest shopping days of the season, customers are reaching for their phones first. Site traffic is just as likely to come from cellular devices as it is desktop site visitors with 47% of mobile share occurring on Black Friday and 49% of mobile share on Cyber Monday out of all total site traffic by device.

Increasingly, customers are continuing to buy sale items on their phones and check out one-day sales. According to eMarketer, US m-commerce sales will rise by 38% this year, and sales via smart phones will increase by 57.8%. With that in mind, marketers should be adopting an ominchannel approach when making marketing channel decisions.  Consumers are influenced by all of the various different media & channels available to them, so understanding behaviors across devices is becoming even more paramount today than it has historically been.

Online vs. Offline Shopping

The share of eCommerce is growing as 55.6% of US consumers plan on doing most of their holiday shopping online . Marketers will make smarter decisions if they understand the influence of online marketing on offline purchases, without ignoring the fact that offline marketing also influences online purchases.

Online shopping is growing at a faster pace than anything else, now 16.6% in 2017, compared to 3.1% for in-store retail. With Holiday shopping beginning earlier, coupled with the growth of online shopping, it’s important to remember that consumer research and holiday purchase planning is happening a lot earlier, too.To fully market across the customer journey, marketers must speak to consumers online in efforts to influence offline store sales, and measure the impact of those marketing touch points on offline behaviors. This will allow for true customer-level understanding, and ultimately the closing of the loop-optimizing marketing to those consumer behaviors.  As a result, brands and retailers alike will benefit from building out a digital strategy that includes both online and offline presences as one strategy-not as two separate tactics.