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Brand MarketingNovember 2, 2021

The Do's & Don'ts of 2021 Holiday Advertising

November 2, 2021
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Cory Schröder
Senior Content Marketing Manager

Most consumers have a bit of a love-hate relationship when it comes to holiday advertising.

While it can be irritating to be constantly bombarded with holiday campaigns and ads as early as October — when you’re on the hunt for the perfect holiday gifts, the right ads can also be incredibly helpful.

Just like 2020, this year’s holiday season is shaping up to be heavily focused on digital eCommerce. Covid-19 has changed the way we approach many activities, with shopping being high on the list.

While in-person holiday shopping was once an exciting — if challenging — tradition, the 2021 holiday shopping season will mainly take place online. Therefore, it’s imperative that your brand is ready to digitally educate, convince, and convert as many interested consumers as possible.

This article will provide three “do’s” and three “don’ts” to help brand managers all over the world level up their 2021 holiday advertising game. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

3 Holiday Advertising “Do’s”

Source: Pexels

First, let’s start with the “do’s”. While there are plenty of activities and methods you can employ to create successful holiday marketing campaigns, these are the top three we’ve identified for 2021.

1. Do: Take Advantage of Retargeting Campaigns

When you’re shopping for holiday gifts, do you go straight to a brand’s website and purchase exactly what you want? Or do you take a look around the internet for other options and better deals?

Let’s be honest, most of us fall in the second category. With the ability to quickly and easily compare various brand offers, products, and USPs — modern consumers are hopping all over the web looking for the best deals for family and friends.

And because most consumers are conducting so much research, your brand is at risk of getting lost in the mix! Maybe you were the twelfth website of the 20 they visited yesterday — and today, your brand has slipped their mind. Unfortunately, it’s easier than you think to be forgotten.

Therefore, if they aren’t already part of your holiday advertising strategy, you should consider setting up retargeting campaigns. With these kinds of campaigns, you can create personalized holiday ads that show up on the devices of users who have interacted with your brand recently. Whether it’s a one-time visitor from the past 30 days or a user who frequents your website, you can set up retargeting campaigns to invite them back and nudge them along the funnel.

When setting retargeting campaigns up, it’s best to separate out your audiences — this way, you can create more personalized ads.

Some brand managers choose to create audiences based on how long ago they visited their website, while others do so based on where they dropped out of their funnel. After all, someone who only visited your website once will require different content than someone who had three items in their basket but didn’t complete their purchase.

With these customized audiences, you can then create ad content that speaks to their individual needs and shopping experiences. For example, your retargeting ads can send users who dropped out early to your product page or a relevant blog article. Often, these consumers need more general information about your brand before they’re convinced.

On the other hand, it might make sense to send users who dropped out much later to a landing page with stellar customer reviews or one with special holiday promotions and discounts. Either way, it’s important that you customize your retargeting ads to make the most out of them.

2. Do: Work With Micro-Influencers Who Share Your Brand’s Values

When it comes to working with influencers — somewhat surprisingly — the big names aren’t always the best option. Studies have shown that while mega influencers may have the numbers, it’s micro-influencers who have consumer trust.

In a recent survey published by Cision, they found that communications professionals rated micro-influencers as 54% effective — beating out both bloggers and celebrities. Another study found that influencers with 1000-5000 followers have the highest rates of engagement at 4.6%, while those with over one million followers report a much lower 1.39%.

Clearly, micro-influencers are worth a try for brands that are looking to diversify their holiday advertising campaigns in 2021. However, for the best results, it’s a good idea to partner with micro-influencers that are cause-driven and share your brand values.

For example, if one of your brand’s values is sustainability, it wouldn’t make sense to partner with an influencer that’s known for their fast-fashion hauls. Many would see this as hypocritical and you’d risk damaging consumer trust.

Thus, when searching for micro-influencers to add to your holiday advertising strategy, make sure you do your homework and find ones that match your brand values and, ideally, are also driven by similar causes.

Additionally, it’s incredibly important to prioritize diversity. Partnering with the same kinds of micro-influencers will not get you the reach you need. Instead, you should choose micro-influencers whose followers fit your target audiences, but who also provide diversity.

Look for variety in age, gender, race, culture, and more — by partnering with a more diverse set of influencers, you’ll be able to expose new consumers to your brand.

Pro Tip: Make sure you provide your chosen influencers with flexible content prompts. Modern consumers can tell when an influencer is readying from a script, and it screams inauthenticity.

If you want to encourage trust, work with your chosen micro-influencers to come up with an agreed-upon approach, as it gives a more natural feeling.

3. Do: Utilize Cross-Device Targeting

Throughout the course of an average day, which devices do you normally use? Your mobile phone, your laptop, or maybe even your tablet? Unsurprisingly, most people use multiple devices.

The same goes for shopping online. While some consumers prefer shopping via their desktop, others prefer via mobile. And many use them interchangeably.

In a 2020 study by CRR, they found that in select European countries, 39.2% of online Christmas shoppers used desktops, 35.8% used mobile phones, and 25% used tablets. While this data does prove a small advantage for desktop shopping, it’s clear that most consumers are using a mix.

Thus, when setting up your holiday advertising campaigns, it’s crucial that your holiday-themed ads are following consumers across all the devices they use.

Maybe they weren’t ready to make a purchase on their mobile phone yesterday, but an ad on their desktop may be what converts them today. By using cross-device targeting, you’re able to reach consumers more frequently and in ways that enhance their brand recall.

After all, the more they see your logo and are exposed to your brand, the higher their brand awareness levels are likely to be.

3 Holiday Advertising “Don'ts”

Next, we move on to the “don’ts”.

Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the pitfalls to avoid when building a holiday advertising campaign, but it’s a good place to start.

1. Don’t: Wait Until December To Start Advertising

This may seem like advice you’ve heard before, but it will be more important than ever for brands that want to rake in impressive holiday sales in 2021.

Consumers know that this will be another tough year for timely delivery and that there are likely to be thousands of supply chain shortages. Thus, many people will be purchasing gifts even earlier than usual — so don’t miss out on their business by being unprepared.

While, traditionally, Black Friday has signaled the hard start of most holiday advertising, it might be too late this year. Instead, we recommend starting holiday brand awareness and consideration campaigns in early to mid-November. This way, you’ll be able to get your brand on the radar of responsible shoppers who are getting ahead of the rush.

Plus, by encouraging consumers to purchase their holiday gifts from your brand sooner rather than later, you can ensure a better overall brand experience — more timely shipping, no stock shortages, and less overwhelmed customer service reps.

2. Don’t: Send the Same Message To All Customers

Personalization — it’s the next frontier of advertising. Cookie-cutter brand communication just won’t work anymore. As a brand manager, you have to go the extra mile and make sure different audiences are receiving different messages.

In a 2020 study published by Evergage, they found that 64% of US marketers reported an “improved customer experience” and 63% reported “increased conversion rates” when utilizing marketing personalization. Not to mention it also increases user engagement and lead generation, as well as improves brand perception and loyalty.

To be honest, modern consumers have come to expect personalized brand messaging — and not just in terms of traditional forms of brand communication, like email marketing campaigns. They also expect personalized content suggestions, deals, and offers — ones that are customized to their interests and purchase histories.

What is your average consumer more likely to click on: a general ad that lists your top 3 USPs or one that offers them 15% off an item they previously placed in their cart and abandoned?

Of course, you’re not limited to using deals and discounts to reel in customers — though they definitely help. You should also take advantage of your content to personalize brand messaging. Roll out ads that lead to your latest holiday gift guide or a specialized landing page info on all your holiday bundles.

At the end of the day, customers are looking for guidance and want information so they can feel like they’re making informed decisions. When you provide a personalized brand experience, they’re far more likely to get in the holiday spirit and view your brand favorably.

3. Don’t: Overlook The Importance of Social Media

While traditional search and display ads are effective ways to advertise and shouldn’t be put aside, plenty of consumers are influenced by social media advertising and are more likely to discover brands via social platforms.

In a 2021 study by GfK, 75% of Gen Z respondents and 68% of Boomers in the US said their purchase decisions were influenced by social media advertising. While many marketers might assume that younger generations are more influenced by social media, it seems they would be incorrect — social media’s influence is wide-reaching.

With these statistics in mind, it’s important that you don’t overlook social media when creating your holiday advertising strategy. Whether or not consumers are purchasing products directly on social platforms or not, social media advertising is a great way to ramp up brand awareness during this time of the year.

Additionally, many modern consumers see a brand’s social media presence as an integral part of the buying experience. Consumers can be skeptical of a brand that have no or very little social media presence.

Finally, social media is a way that people connect and interact with one another — meaning it’s a great venue to share gift ideas and make recommendations to friends. When brands include social media ads in their holiday arsenal, they’re making it much easier for consumers to discover and share their products.

Final Thoughts

While this is the second holiday season since Covid-19 arrived on the scene, there’s still more to learn about the ever-evolving world of marketing and holiday advertising.

However, as the focus on digital eCommerce continues to grow, it will become increasingly important to stay up-to-date with the latest tips and tricks. So if you’re looking to build a successful holiday marketing strategy, we suggest starting with our pointers listed above.

And if you’re interested in learning more about how consumers view your brand — their levels of awareness and consideration or their associations — we recommend investing in brand tracking. Remember — high-quality marketing strategies are built using reliable data and top-notch insights.

Brand Marketing
Brand Strategy

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