Folks, there is a crispness in the air that begs to remind me that winter is right around the corner. With the fall comes a great deal of personal planning and responsibility. It’s time to start thinking about the holidays, taking time to catch up with friends I missed over the summer, and ensuring my goals set earlier in the year are met.
It’s also make-it-or-break-it season for retailers. You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, right? Exactly.
Great ads get your attention. Sure, sometimes they’re flanked with free shipping or a discounted price, but take a good look at what makes up the ad. We’re heading into the fall and holiday seasons. Are the colors in the ad richer? Does the text evoke a warm and fuzzy feeling? Does it reach a need you hadn’t yet realized you had? If you can’t say yes to these questions, you have some work to do to stay ahead of your competition.
Here are 5 ways to nail your marketing campaigns this season.
1. Trends Happen Three Months Ahead Of The Need
When did your company or client start planning out the November/December holiday marketing plan? Think about this. Did they start planning out holiday promotions after Labor Day? If so, they’re running behind.
Successful retailers already have their go-to-market strategy set before the final summer hurrahs. For example, take Walmart. Now, you might not have kids, but there’s probably one child you have to buy for this holiday season, so humor me a bit.
I have kids, but I’m not thinking about the holidays quite yet. Retailers, on the other hand, are. In fact, this article recently grabbed my attention: Walmart’s Kid-Approved 2014 Holiday Toy List Reveals New Trends. And like any parent as a glutton for punishment, I clicked to see what these new trends are.
Like any parent of young girls, I immediately noticed “Jakks Snow Glow Elsa Doll” and against my better judgment, clicked. Which, as you might have guessed, led me to Walmart’s website.
Now, you’re probably wondering how any of this relates to PPC. I’ll tell you: retailers are already planning for folks like me doing quick innocent searches for this doll on Google. And they’ve already optimized for the uptick in searches for this “you know it will be popular doll” as Black Friday approaches:
The same is true for apparel (among many other things). “Back to school” ads featuring fall clothes start in the heat of summer. Winter jackets are a hot commodity long before you’ll ever wear one. And the dreaded bathing suit is quite popular in the dead of winter.
People plan ahead, which means you need to plan your PPC buys ahead, too, which brings me to #2…
2. Learn From Past Successes And Mistakes
By now, you might be thinking, “Well, great. I’m up a creek without a paddle.” Not so fast. It’s not too late to take a look around and note what worked and what didn’t for your clients last year. If you kept track of key performance indicators, now is a good time to sift through that data and draw some conclusions.
Have you looked at last year’s traffic to your client’s website? Which keywords brought people in? For the holidays, a popular and successful keyword is “guaranteed by Christmas.” It speaks to procrastinators like myself, so it’s successful for retailers targeting last-minute shoppers.
Look at your offers and when they’re successful. A value proposition like “guaranteed by Christmas” sounds awesome and possible on December 22nd (with a hefty charge for shipping, of course). But is “guaranteed by Christmas” as successful on December 23rd? For something that needs to ship, I question if it’s really possible. But, if that ad said the gift was available in stores, it might be enough for me to peel off my fuzzy socks and haul my butt out the door to the store. Or not. But it might move someone less committed to her socks.
3. Ramp Up Automated Bids
Customers do online research for products when they have time. For many people, this means weekends. Sunday is a popular internet research day, so you should adjust your bids accordingly. Take advantage of increased daily searches with automated bid increases.
It’s important to remember key days online searches are performed. A lot of people search for Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving Day. Christmas Day is excellent for customers with new gifts cards and people looking to score deals on holiday décor. And the days leading up to Valentine’s Day are popular for restaurants catering to couples who forgot to book dinner reservations.
But not every business is the same. A retailer who specializes in high-end boats will have a very different set of seasonal upticks than a business selling consumer electronics.
4. Your Images Should Convey The Feeling You Want To Evoke
You want your customers to buy your products, right? Of course you do!
Spell it out for your customers and show them how they can wear or use your products. Here are two great ads from Sephora’s Facebook page – one depicting summer trends in June and the other showing Halloween nail art just days before Halloween.
Both show me how I can use their product to make my nails seasonally festive. And both play off popular colors for each season. Summer colors are playful, colorful, and pop more than fall colors, which tend to be rich, deep, and dark.
But there’s something more important in my eyes. I went to Google and typed “Sephora Nail Polish.” Look at what color was shown – an earthy neutral tone that’s perfect for Fall. I can see myself wearing it now, but had it displayed a summery pink shade, I might have thought twice.
Barney’s of New York also captures the essence of material and weight in their advertising:
Both ads connect with their customers for the seasons in which these ads were placed. Summer in NYC can be hot and sticky so a lightweight, loose top is perfect for the weather. And with the Fall, chunky cable-knit sweaters with layering have me prepared for the crisp mornings and warmer afternoons. Both evoke the customers’ response. The same should be done with your marketing.
5. Match Your Ad To Your Landing Page
There’s nothing more irritating than being confused when you move from an item you like to a landing page that doesn’t have strong message match.
Going back to Barney’s New York, this is an excellent example of strong message match on their landing page. Their ad mentioned “free shipping and free returns” and those messages are mirrored at the top of their landing page. This is strong message match.
However, when looking at this boot by Steve Madden, I wasn’t greeted with the same seamless experience:
The Google ad mentioned “Show our top styles like INTYCE!” Okay, this part is correct – I did land on that page. But, the copy mentions “15% off $ 75+ but there’s nothing indicating this sale on their landing page. Additionally, their shipping details don’t match. On the ad, to redeem free shipping, I’m told to use the code “SHOPSEPT,” but on the landing page I see, it’s only valid for orders over $ 50. It’s a bit deceiving in my opinion, and contains the code “SMFREE50,” which doesn’t match the ad, either.
As a customer, I might not have noticed the code switch when going to the landing page, but you can bet the 15% off $ 75 didn’t go unnoticed. Now, I’m interested in purchasing this boot but the price of $ 129.95 doesn’t reflect the discount. And at the prospect of paying $ 110.50, I want to make sure I get my discount, but how?
Spell it out. Visually show the discount applied to the item, like retailer Zulily (above). I can clearly tell this boot has been marked down from $ 85.00 to $ 39.99 and there’s zero confusion that a discount is applied.
And there you have it. Don’t get too cozy with your advertising campaigns, because this is one instance where change is good. Pay close attention to seasonal and business trends, visual cues, shopping patterns, and message match. These small adjustments can make a world of difference in your success this holiday season.