How Can Social Marketers Win the Holiday Season in Uncertain Times?


With COVID-19 cases back on the rise, businesses that did not make changes after the first wave can expect an even greater impact this time around.


As most marketers have experienced first-hand, the pandemic has had an impact on revenue due to a shift in consumer behavior. Product and service offerings that were once considered the norm, such as gym memberships and holiday packages, have been trampled by at-home exercise bikes and local staycations.


The upcoming holiday season is no exception, and we recently attended Facebook’s “Christmas, Unwrapped” webinar series to help our clients better understand the challenges ahead and help them adapt their strategy. Pairing these insights with our own industry knowledge, we’ve compiled some key insights to help you win the holiday season in 2020.


Expand your audience and improve the mobile user experience


Although it may not seem evident for all types of products or services, marketers may want to expand their targeting beyond the tech-savvy millennials. According to the latest 2020 Facebook Christmas Package handbook, over 80% of Gen X and Boomers have been shopping online during the COVID-19 pandemic, which broadens the online shopping audience significantly.


Catering to these older generations may also require some adjustments to your mobile user journey, so keep your web developer close by. In a Facebook survey of seasonal shoppers who experienced problems while doing Christmas shopping on a mobile device, the most crucial issues among Gen X and Boomers included the text font being too small, the app/site taking too long to load, and images not being clear enough. Ensuring your online shopping experience is mobile-ready could go a long way.


If your website is not in an ideal state, the much anticipated global release of Facebook Shops might be the right solution for you. This new product offers an in-app shopping experience that users of all generations can appreciate, with no coding required on your part. Isn’t that a treat?


Focus on service and automation


The pandemic has placed a growing emphasis on customer service, with many people growing more concerned about strict cancellation policies and safe handling and delivery of their packages. In order to meet these customer needs and gain their trust, businesses will have to automate customer care wherever possible.


This may be the perfect time to dust off your Facebook Messenger bot project; in fact, Facebook reported that 46% of global consumers are spending more time using messaging services, with Gen X and Boomer demographics reporting 47% and 40% increases respectively. The Messenger bot would pair up nicely with a Messages campaign aimed at increasing brand engagement and driving sales straight from the Facebook app.


If Messenger is not on your roadmap, consider tailoring your ad messaging around flexibility, safe handling and care. Why not throw in free shipping if your business can afford it? That’s another surefire way to win potential customers over.


Test, test, test


Testing is always encouraged at any time of year, but we know that the holiday shopping season is the most crucial time for most advertisers. In order to ensure you have the right strategy in place, you should start testing as soon as possible. This is even more important in 2020 given the changing consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic. Who knows, what worked for your business last year might not be relevant this year.


Facebook recommends starting with a simple business question. What are you trying to achieve?


Once you’ve identified the question, make sure you have a SMART goal in place and devise your testing strategy accordingly. Consider running split tests with different creative, messaging, targeting, objectives and ad formats (quick tip: you can easily set this up using our MarinOne Ad Studies feature).


These tests will come a long way in identifying what works best for your brand this year, so you can implement it in your holiday planning with greater certainty.


Give back to people in need


As is the case with most recessions, some people lost more than others; be-it monetary losses due to job cuts or the loss of loved ones as a result of the spreading virus. Let’s face it, we’ve had more cheerful Christmases…


This holiday season, why not give back to the community? Whether it’s through monetary donations or pro bono work, there are many contributions your business can make depending on your industry and your expertise. Facebook research reports that 82% of global shoppers surveyed agreed brands should give back, i.e. by providing free services.


Don’t forget those who are spending the holidays alone!


We’ll leave you with this thought: Don’t forget potential customers who are spending the holidays alone. Notwithstanding the global pandemic, Facebook research states that 74% of global Christmas shoppers research gifts for themselves.


This is even more relevant in times of COVID-19. Many people will be stranded in their host city or country this holiday season, unable to return home due to travel restrictions or self-isolation periods, which means they may not be buying gifts for others at all.


Make sure you speak to them too, and encourage them to treat themselves after a difficult year!

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