Along with Black Friday, Cyber Monday marked the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, and this year’s turnout was impressive: more than $3 billion in online sales, a 16 percent increase from 2014.
As the holiday season accounts for 20 percent of retail revenue, December presents tremendous opportunities for performance marketers to reach more customers. To make sure you get the most out of your holiday season, here are five tips to improve your holiday campaigns.
1. Focus on Mobile Optimization
Christmas sales via mobile devices increased 55 percent between 2013 and 2014. In 2014, 37 percent of online sales were made using a mobile device compared to desktop, representing 9 percent of total retail purchases during the Christmas season. Even more, people who shopped across multiple channels and devices spent four times as much as those who didn’t.
It’s clear that the growing mobile audience is an important customer segment, so ensure your campaigns are optimized for mobile devices. With the right performance marketing platform, you can easily set up mobile app campaigns and integrate deferred deep linking to drive consumers to a specific page.
2. Adjust Your Paid Search Bids
Conversion rates will fluctuate throughout the month, meaning it’s easy to underbid PPC campaigns pre-holiday and overbid when the shopping rush is over. Instead, focus on consumer behavior during the season to predict shopping habits and then plan your PPC campaign accordingly.
For example, November is typically a pre-holiday rush period for online retailers with a critical event like Black Friday marking the start of increased conversion rates. The December holiday shopping period marks stronger sales, higher conversion rates, and higher bids.
The end of the holiday rush season, which will lead to lower conversion rates, typically signals the time you can no longer guarantee pre-holiday delivery. So make sure your campaign addresses those changes.
3. Create Highly Relevant Video Ads
According to YouTube, online views of Christmas ads increased by 3,000 percent year over year between 2013 and 2014. At the same time, the average amount of time people spend watching a YouTube video has increased by 60 percent.
Many advertisers are aware of the increasing popularity of online video advertising. Instead of merely repurposing television advertising, savvy marketers are creating advertising specifically for online video platforms like YouTube and Hulu, or using user-generated content or influencers to create viral videos on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. When choosing a video advertising network, look for options and features such as targeting capabilities, ad display sizes, and what video formats are supported.
4. Make Sure Advertisers Are Clear About Shipping Cutoffs
Holiday gifts are often emotional purchases for consumers, which form a crucial part of their holiday plans. If their purchase is not delivered in time for Christmas because a shipping window has closed, it can ruin their holiday.
To manage expectations and avoid any potential problems, be clear about your shipping cutoffs. You can run a site-wide ribbon with cutoff times that will inform visitors when they should make their purchases in order to ensure timely arrival. Or, if you have the capacity, consider offering an expedited shipping fee for last-minute shoppers.
Finalizing a cutoff shipping date can also expedite sales by creating a sense of urgency with customers, while also giving advertisers enough time to ship the product.
5. Create a Backup Plan for Unforeseen Glitches
While customers may misjudge shipping deadlines during the busiest shopping time of the year, advertisers and publishers can also be overwhelmed and can make mistakes (or even just experience bad luck).
What will you do if your site goes down due to traffic volume or bugs? At this time of year every minute counts for performance marketers, so it’s critical to assess risks and come up with a backup plan. While it may be difficult to quickly recover from a massive server meltdown, you can always post a simple splash page that directs your customers to another page where they can get help or place an order.
If 2015’s Cyber Monday turnout was anything to go by, going online to do holiday shopping has come of age. There are many opportunities for performance marketers thanks to the growing popularity of online shopping, as well as some unique and compelling chances to secure “first to market” status innovators.
Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.