Time To Get (Your Digital Marketing Strategy) In The Holiday Mood (Part 1)

Posted on October 14, 2019 • Written by Ben Smith
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Every year, it comes earlier and earlier. There was a time when people didn’t think about the holiday season until the last bite of Halloween Candy had been eaten. Now, we’re seeing holiday decorations for sale in Costco by mid-August.  Even though it’s 80 degrees outside here in Denver and the cold is the furthest thing from anybody’s imagination, don’t be fooled. Winter is right around the corner – and, more importantly, so is the holiday shopping season. 

This is the time of the year that our digital strategy has the opportunity to shine brighter than the ol’ yule log. There are several tools in the digital marketer’s tool belt that need to be sharpened to ensure overall success during the holiday season. In this two-part series, we’ll give you the top 10 items you should focus on to make the most out of your marketing efforts during the holidays. 

 Plan Ahead!

‘Tis the season for procrastination! While you can still find that great gift for the family at 3 pm on Christmas Eve, you need to start thinking about your marketing strategy well before the leaves start to fall. While it may not seem like you need to plan so early, 26% of online marketers start planning for holiday campaigns late in Q3.  To learn why, consider buyer habits leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday:     

  • Traditionally, digital traffic begins to steadily climb starting October 1st, and will continue to do so through Black Friday and Cyber Monday.   
  • According to Amazon, over 40% of shoppers begin their research between early October and early November.   
  • According to Deloitte, people who make their holiday purchases before Cyber Monday have a higher spend per purchase than those who make their purchases afterwards  

To capitalize on the full holiday season, it’s critical that you start your marketing efforts early.  Begin to introduce your brand/products to your target audience early on in Q4 to capture their attention during their shopping research phase. Items like display, video, retargeting and other brand awareness tactics are ideal during this early phase of the holiday season. 

Focus On Your Mobile Experience

This is something that should go without saying in 2019, but it does bear repeating: over the last several years, mobile traffic has grown exponentially.  On Thanksgiving 2018, Salesforce reported that 68% of all retail traffic in the US was driven by mobile devices and 54% of orders were placed on these devices.  

These numbers are likely to grow significantly in 2019, so you’ll need to make sure that your site is as mobile-friendly as possible. Things to consider:

  • Ensure your site speed is as optimized as it can be. Every second of delay in page loading time page views by 11%.  Both Google and Pingdom have a great page load speed tests that provide actionable items on how to improve your performance. 
  • Ensure your page layout is clear and easy to navigate for your end user. To maximize conversions, focus on creating great imagery, clear product descriptions, and easy ways to make purchases or contact your business.

 Ensure that your account is organized. 

This is one of the items that will be in vogue throughout the year (unlike your reindeer sweater).  Updating your your campaigns, ad groups, and keyword groups is always important, but it becomes more critical during the holiday season. The more efficient your account structure is, the easier it will be to optimize your campaigns for the holidays.  You’ll likely add a ton of optimizations, so you need to be able to execute easily.   

For reference, this is what an ideal account organization should look like:


digital marketing during the holidays infographic

 Utilize Shopping Campaigns (Formally Product Listing Ads)

To run Shopping Ads, you’ll need to set up a Google Merchant Center. In terms of creating a great end user experience, Shopping Ads check all the boxes; without having to click anywhere, customers can see great photos of your products and clear pricing. While you will be running your ads directly next your competition, it does give you a great opportunity for quick wins.   

 Pay Attention To Your Ad Copy

Many advertisers are tempted to play off of the time-sensitive nature of the season.  But, shoppers have become very savvy when looking for a sale, and will not fall for false limited-time sales during the holiday season. According to Amazon, 92% of shoppers believe that the prices they see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday will either stay the same or continue to fall throughout the remainder of the season.   

This is not to say that including incentives within your ad copy is not effective – in fact, it’s far from it. Incentives, especially when combined with other benefits, can transform web searchers into clients. Do your best to include seasonal messaging within your ad copy, as it makes the end user feel your ad is more relevant and timely. 

It’s a good rule of thumb to have 3 ad variations for each ad group you’re running at a given time, and it becomes even more important to follow this best practice during the holidays. Make sure to set the set the ad rotation to optimize. Powered by Google’s machine learning technology, the “optimize” setting prioritizes ads that are expected to perform better than other ads within an ad group.This feature allows Google to optimize your ads for each individual auction using signals like keyword, search term, device, location, and more. All video campaigns are automatically optimized for views. 

We’ve covered a lot, but there’s still more you can do to make your marketing stand out from the crowd.  Check back soon to read Part 2 of our tips for holiday digital marketing! 

Don’t want to wait? Get expert advice on your holiday strategy now!

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Ben Smith

Written by Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.

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