Using Facebook Ads to Increase Sales This Holiday Season

Rejoice, the holiday season is here! Beyond all the turkey, pie and awkward dinner debates with extended family, this is a crucial time for anyone in ecommerce. The stakes are higher than ever as brands battle for consumers’ attention through a multitude of digital tactics–particularly through social media. Every ecommerce brand is teed up to capitalize on the holiday season which results in heightened ad costs and increased clutter on consumers’ social feeds.

As such, we’ve put together a list of seven go-to rules for driving holiday sales through Facebook ads–including real world examples from our client partner Tattoo Junkee. Download PDF Version

It’s That Time Of Year

The holidays are here, which always presents an interesting challenge for digital marketers. Gone are the days that Black Friday sales actually start on Friday. And Cyber Monday is practically its own national holiday.

Brands need to bring their A-game on the varying social media channels. But with the widespread adoption of social channels, driving ecommerce sales comes with increased ad costs and even more difficulty to ensure that your ads stand out amongst the clutter. This leaves many businesses that operate solely online struggling to get the most bang for their buck across digital advertising platforms.

Here at GYK Antler, we’ve been spending the past few months preparing for this important time period for our client partners, and since Facebook still accounts for 85% of all online orders resulting from social media platforms, we’ve put together our 7 go-to rules for creating Facebook ads to drive holiday sales.

Insights From Past Promotions Build Future Success

One of the most useful aspects of social media advertising is having access to the historical data of past advertising and promotions. Don’t be afraid to leverage the organizational capabilities of a platform like Facebook Ads manager to dive deeper into your most successful promotions to date. Remember, stakes are high during the holidays, so this is not the time to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your ad strategy. Instead, make note of patterns of success in past promotions and use those insights to build a holiday strategy with a twist.

As an example, for one of our ecommerce client partners, Tattoo Junkee Cosmetics, we took the data from every promotion in the past year to analyze which offer types consistently delivered the highest Return on Ad spend across diverse audiences. We then used that information to structure this year’s holiday promotional offers.

Maximize A Customer’s Spend Per Purchase

From as early as October, brands are increasing their paid social budgets as a holiday sales tactic. This creates increased competition for ad space and consumer attention resulting in ad costs increasing by 20%-50%. In certain respects, this increase in cost is outside of a brand’s control, so it’s something to plan for in your forecasting when setting ROI Ad Spend KPIs. That being said, advertisers should also attempt to manipulate factors inside their control to increase the amount spent per purchase.

One way to drive sales through Facebook is to optimize your advertisements for Purchase Conversion objectives. However, when Facebook uses pixel tracking, it treats every purchase equally with regard to cost and optimization, even when the purchase value varies. Simply put, the more you can do to drive customer spending per purchase, the more you can afford to pay for ads on a cost-per-purchase basis. That means it’s imperative to design your holiday promotions in such a way that drives increased spending per transaction.

With a brand like Tattoo Junkee, we used data from past promotions to see which promotional ad campaigns historically drove the highest spend per purchase, and then based a holiday promotion around those models. Thinking this way should help keep the return on ad spend as high as possible, even as ad costs rise.

The Holiday Season Opens Doors To New Consumer Groups

Holidays are the one time of year when your target consumer group will change and grow. People are no longer just shopping for themselves, but also for their loved ones.

For example, a brand like Tattoo Junkee, which normally appeals to a younger, trendy, daring, and more budget-conscious demographic, may see success with the demographic of moms shopping for their beauty-guru daughters. These moms will likely have more disposable income.

We use different consumer research platforms such as Cubeyou and Mintel to profile a brand’s most successful and engaged audience and build new, spin-off audiences from that core fan-base. You can also try leveraging Facebook’s extensive audience targeting capabilities to serve ads to these new groups, and test them early on in the season before ads reach their peak cost.

Maintain Balance In Your Promotion Strategy

When you build an audience using Facebook Ads manager, and then continue to serve that audience ads for extended periods of time, you may notice that an audience that was once low cost becomes more and more expensive. We call this audience fatigue. This phenomenon can happen due to a possible over-exposure to a certain group. It can also happen across your target market when using promotions. Maybe the “25% off” sales aren’t as effective as they were originally. Or, maybe the inverse occurs, you notice that you’re only making your numbers when you run a sale. Maintaining balance in your promotion strategy and in your conversion campaigns is key to avoiding these hiccups over the holidays.

The trick is to make sure you’re motivating customers to buy without getting them too accustomed to always having a good deal. As we’ve planned with our client-partner Tattoo Junkee, we recommend running your highest value sales during peak times like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to compete with the chaos that now accompanies those days. Try to mix up what each promotion offers so you can appeal to customers you didn’t during the last promotion or to encourage repeat purchases by customers who are deal-demanders. To help keep sales flowing during the off-sale periods in between those big pushes, run conversion based ads that mix in smaller incentives such as discounted shipping and free gifts.

Drive Volume While Avoiding Promotion Fatigue

One of the best ways to keep costs low in a competitive space is to leverage those who are already familiar with your brand. Holiday sales are much more effective at converting a customer already in the purchase consideration funnel than those who are just learning about your brand. With that in mind, you want to build a good base of users who have already viewed content on your website, interacted with an ad or post, followed your businesses’ profile or added an item to their cart. Facebook’s tracking pixel enables you to track and build these audiences and then serve ads to those people to bring your brand back to consideration and increase the likelihood of a low- cost sale. Make sure you install those capabilities on your website ahead of time so you’re not scrambling when an ad is about to be pushed live. Additionally, because these audiences are often a limited group of users, you may want to build the audiences to be as large as possible before the holidays to prevent issues like promotion fatigue.

For Tattoo Junkee, we prepped for the holidays by driving high volumes of new prospects to our website with Facebook and Instagram ads through interest-based targeting and brand awareness campaigns. This enables us to leverage Facebook’s retargeting abilities during the peak weeks of holiday shopping – Black Friday through ‘free shipping day.’ For most of October and November, we also paused ads being served to these retargets to ensure they wouldn’t be fatigued leading into the sale season.

Provide Value To The Consumer

Content can make or break any ad campaign, but this is especially true during highly competitive times like November and December when conversion rates can increase up to 60%. Consumers’ feeds will be full of ads, so ensure that your content not only helps sell your product, but also provides the consumer with as much value and information on the product as possible. Aim to grab a consumer’s attention quickly while also removing any hesitation they have surrounding buying something they’ve never held, used or seen in person.

For a makeup brand like Tattoo Junkee, this means including a lot of education in the ads being served. Consumers want to see the application, texture and opacity of a product like lipstick before buying it. We’ve found using video ads, dynamic product ads and carousel ads as a great way to accomplish this and keep costs low.

Additionally, the more engaging and interesting your content is, the more likely a consumer is to share the content or tag a friend—adding more organic reach to an ad than what you’re paying for.

Be Prepared To Meet Consumer Demand

Remember that the convenience of online shopping comes with the stress of order fulfillment. As a business, know your own limitations with regard to warehouse capacity, shipping times and server issues. There’s nothing a shopper hates more than getting served ads for a sale and then realizing their order won’t reach them by the holiday or being directed to a website that’s crashed because of the high volume of traffic.

Before running big promotions, triple check to make sure your website and warehouse are prepared for high purchase volumes.

Also, when scheduling holiday promotion sales, be strategic about when the sales will run and what the messaging will be. For example, we had Tattoo Junkee confirm with its warehouse the last possible day an order could ship and still be guaranteed arrival by the holiday and scheduled all ads with Christmas-shopping messages to end on or before that date.

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