How to Maximise Key Audience Signals in the run up to Christmas

Return recently hosted a Retail Roundtable in collboration with Google to share insight on how to identify and maximise key audience signals in the run up to Christmas.

Return’s Operations Director, Andy Heaps, Head of Paid Social, Victoria Blount, and Paid Media Strategist, John Stimpson, discussed how paid media channels can be utilised to maxmise revenue opportunities in this critical Q4 period.  Here’s some of the key information they shared…

The changing face of Paid Search

Paid Search is increasingly becoming less about targeting keywords, and more about serving relevant ads based on audience behaviour.  To maximise the opportunity this presents, you need to understand how your audience behaves, in order to service paid media ads that are truly targeted. You need to understand what your audience (and potential audience) has been exposed to, at any given time.

Google is increasingly using lookalike audiences. Understanding behaviour traits can enable you to be hyper-targeted. This will become more common as Google starts to implement AI more and more – the data that it has on users is exponential.

Two common issues that we see are: audiences simply not being created; audiences being created but not being used.  You can create audiences from the data you have access to (for example, CRM data segmented by users who have abandoned shopping carts).

Understanding your Social audience

When it comes to creating targeted ads, you need to understand your prospects’ motivations and feelings. For example, a new prospect will have a different intent to a loyal customer. New prospects will need to be warmed up to your brand, and will react to different messaging than your current, high value customers. We often see brands optimising for conversion, but unless you are servicing your prospects’ intent, your conversion rates will be lower and you’ll be wasting money.

One of the key areas for success is in developing organic-sounding copy for your paid ads; people are far more likely to engage with your ads if they feel an affinity with the brand voice.

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You should be prepared to pay more to acquire customers who will be of a higher lifetime value. You can identify these prospects through using your audience insights and building out lookalikes  – your CRM data is the most important (and probably most-underused) asset.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are ideal times to start collecting user data to use in your Christmas campaigns.  Prior to Black Friday, it was questioned whether it would be as successful as previous years, given that it fell before a lot of pay days which could impact spending.

However, according to Return’s analysis, it seems that because it’s such an expected event, most shoppers reserved cash to spend, and had a list of things they’re seeking to purchase at bargain prices. Read Return’s Black Friday analysis

Video is a powerful asset

Video is a powerful tool to use on your paid social channels. The ideal length should be between 5 and 15 seconds, and you should bear in mind that viewers won’t always use sound. On Facebook, you should strategically target based on a viewer’s previous video behaviour (e.g. depending on the percentage length of the videos they watch).  As a general rule, TV ads do not work well on Facebook, as it does not take into account a user’s intent, behaviour and motivations.

YouTube is becoming an increasingly important marketing channel, with over a billion registered users and Brits spending on average 53 minutes per day watching online videos. If YouTube doesn’t already feature in your paid strategy for next year, it really should. Find out Why You Need to Invest in Video Ads (and How to Do It)

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Top Tips for Maximising Revenue at Christmas

Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now more profitable than Christmas sales, there is still opportunity to maximise revenue during the festive period.

  • There will be different demographics of people buying than usual, so you may wish to create campaigns specific to these different groups (e.g. husbands buying for wives etc).
  • Create social-only offers to draw in custom.
  • Build out lookalike audiences of purchasers from last year.
  • Design creative with messaging that will cut through the noise and create a sense of urgency (e.g. order today for delivery by Christmas).
  • Focus on USPs such as next day delivery, free returns etc.
  • Bidding on general gifting phrases on paid search (e.g. ‘gifts for dads’) will be highly competitive and can be a gamble; using Audience data is far more effective.
  • Ensure you set up exclusion lists – don’t hit the wrong people with the wrong message.
  • Identify the ‘panic buyers’ and create ads to directly speak to them.
  • Ensure you have the right budgets allocated to maximise the peaks and troughs of spend – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 20th December etc.
  • Use time of day to up-weight bids (e.g. target mobiles heavily during morning rush hour, as people browse for purchases on the commute to work).
  • You can target existing customers with ‘treat yourself’ messaging – even though it’s gifting season, people will still look to buy for themselves.
  • Back up your email campaigns with social ads, reinforcing your key offers and USPs.
  • Ensure that you stay front-of-mind by utilising all of your marketing channels.

Contact us if you need help planning your Christmas campaigns – we’d love to help.

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