Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 5 , 2020

It’ll be a holiday season like no other — and your advertising strategies should follow suit.

Here you’ll find:

  • Tips for creating optimized holiday ads
  • Expert insights into making your ads stand out
  • What makes up an effective holiday email campaign
  • How to tap into the mobile-shopping demographic

This holiday season will be like no other in recent memory, as the pandemic is likely to push more consumers than ever into doing their shopping online. For marketers, that means holiday ads are poised to potentially have more visibility — and competition — than ever before. 

In fact, experts say e-commerce sales are already up year over year and are expected to remain that way throughout the holidays across retail industries.

Making the online shopping experience as joyful, seamless and stress-free as possible will be top priority for many brands this year. Conveying that message will largely be up to marketers. So, how can you leverage the latest tips and tools to ensure your holiday ads stand out? We’re glad you asked.

holiday ads

Add a customized touch by personalizing recommendations to drive more sales. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Take advantage of the latest resources

Facebook recently released their annual holiday advertising guide that offers concrete steps on how to create effective holiday ads this year. The helpful resource includes success stories, post-holiday tips, and a checklist sectioned out by month. For October, they suggest focusing on:

  • Lead ads
  • Brand awareness campaigns
  • Dynamic ads
  • Message ads

Similarly, Google just launched “a hub of holiday marketing resources to help marketers reach customers across Search, Shopping, and Maps,” Search Engine Journal reports. The mini-site, as it’s been dubbed, features personalized recommendations to help businesses reach more online shoppers across the Google suite. 

The Google resource includes useful features like Local Opportunity Finder and Grow My Store. The latter is a tool that can analyze your website’s customer experience and let you know how your performance stacks up against others in your same industry or retail category. 

2. Personalize your campaigns

Mailchimp suggests adding a customized touch by personalizing recommendations to drive more sales. This way, you can leverage sales data to offer relevant product recs, showcase bestselling products, and highlight new arrivals. (This can also help address the dreaded issue of cart abandoners.)

Nurturing relationships is, of course, always a key marketing component. And personalizing your holiday ads is one of the most effective ways to do just that. Even just adding the recipient’s name to an email campaign can bring you significant engagement (more on email below). 

3. Embrace authentic messaging

It’s easy to play into emotions with holiday ads. It’s a sentimental season that, for many, symbolizes things like family, reflection, and the year’s end. Injecting emotion into your digital marketing is an acceptable, and even encouraged, tactic — if you do it right.

HubSpot has examples of how emotion works effectively in holiday marketing ads. Frequently, these have a focused message on charitable giving along with tapping into personal feelings.

You don’t want your campaigns to come off saccharine or like you’re using emotion to manipulate your audience. You can avoid that by keeping authenticity at the forefront when building your campaigns.

“People have always been inspired by moments that define culture,” explains Adweek, “but the way people experience and interact with these moments has changed with curated, on-demand access to video content from creators, publishers, artists and brands across the world.” They add that video content can help foster connection, particularly when you leverage creators. 

Need more help with your marketing strategy? Let’s talk.

holiday m-commerce

Social media apps have made m-commerce more convenient than ever. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Leverage email marketing

We’ve talked before about how email campaigns remain one of the most effective tools marketers have at their disposal. And the holidays are a great time to get creative with your marketing emails. In fact, Shopify reports that 24% of all holiday marketing conversions come from emails.

No matter the season, emails that get the best open rates often include elements like:

  • An eye-catching subject line
  • A hierarchy of content (with the most important info at the top)
  • A mobile-friendly design
  • A strong call-to-action (CTA)

For example, a “countdown” email noting something like a limited-time-only sale often creates successful conversions. You can also leverage visuals like GIFs (attention-grabbing moving images) — data shows more than half of marketers have used GIFs in email campaigns. 

5. Get social

Mobile commerce (or m-commerce) is on the rise. Business Insider reports that this type of shopping is slated to reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market, by the end of 2020. 

Social media apps have made m-commerce more convenient than ever. Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a strong social media strategy particularly focused on the holiday season. 

People are looking for fun, values, kindness, and compassion in their paid social ads, according to Search Engine Journal, so keep that in mind when crafting your campaigns. And since social media ads peak during the holidays, don’t be afraid to get creative and think outside the box (while staying true to your brand’s ethos). 

Pro tip: Facebook reports that Gen X and Boomers are dominating global mobile and e-commerce growth, so don’t forget to market to this demographic if they’re part of your audience.

The takeaway

Unprecedented times call for swift pivoting and flexibility. Luckily, these are skills many marketers know well.

As brands put their holiday plans in play, tactics like taking advantage of all the available resources, getting creative with ad platforms and messaging, personalizing where possible, and staying on top of social media trends are sure to serve them well through the end of 2020 and beyond.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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