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Crafting Better Ad Messages for the Holidays

The weather outside may be turning frightful, but the opportunity for excellent holiday sales is delightful – at least that’s how marketers probably see it. Holiday mobile sales are expected to surge 32 percent, particularly as customers adopt more online-offline retail behavior with their smartphones.

But in seeking holiday retail sales, marketers face multiple ad formats that can overwhelm them with choices for crafting effective marketing messages. Marketers must hone ad messages that complement the customer journey. The key to that refinement lies in matching product attributes to real-time customer needs.  Here are tips for making that refinement work within a holiday digital ad campaign.

1. Start with the audience on your digital platforms

Pixels and script tags from social media platforms can help track if an audience is coming from a platform such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Those tags also provide a link to demographic data. Use that data as guidance alongside the demographic data in a digital analytic solution to determine demographic patterns appearing in the current site and app traffic. Those patterns can be a starting point for planning a marketing message and understanding the audience’s interests.

2. Use interests to show how an offer solves holiday-related tasks

Imagine ways in which various scenarios can show how products and services can benefit a customer segment, or even a segment adjacent to an intended audience.  For example Cyber Monday is a well known event for tech enthusiasts seeking deals. But event-related messages can be tailored to appeal to audiences adjacent to the intended audiences – spouses left at home who may need ordering convenience to get other tasks done.   

Be imaginative with audience appeals based on the happening of the day.  You can then group ad campaigns based on events, need, and the attributes of the product or service. 

3. Keep ad copy tightly focused on purchase incentive and attributes

Planning the text for digital ad copy means taking a message, which by nature is informal, and refining it to point out a benefit or idea, all within the character count of your ad text – all digital ads have a character limit. Use that fact as guidance for word-smithing specific ideas that link purchase incentive to product/service attributes.

4. Use image or video features to display product attributes  

The latest ads options are focused on visuals. Pinterest, for example, have introduced a new ad format in which the ads include up to five different images. The images can represent the same products or a series of different products.  These options give nuance to the attributes are mentioned in the ad copy.  So review each advertising platform to learn about the latest image display options available.

5. Plan product lists and images for dynamic re-targeting ads 

Another opportunity lies in dynamic re-targeting ads.  When customers research their purchases, they may visit a number of sites and social media platforms.  Dynamic re-targeting ads can provide enticing reminders for a site visitor to return to a web page. The ads appear on associate networks of site or platforms – for example, Google dynamic ads appear on sites within its display network, while Facebook offers ads on Instagram, Messenger, and its own network of sites, Audience Network.  These offer contextual data so that an offer can be adjusted by online behavior.  Planning product attributes can help tailor more personalize offers.

6. Leverage smart bid features to automatic text and images choices 

Many digital ad bid functions vary in degree of bidding optimizations. Google Ads, for example, offer smart bids to adjust according to location proximity. Review the smart bidding options, then review the ad copy to see if there are ways to link an image or attribute to a bidding opportunity based, for example, on location, or on typical retail activity periods.  

7. Use landing pages to provide more complementary description   

Landing pages are essential because the typical ad message may cover only one aspect of a product or service.  But the newest ad options allows more dynamic content on landing pages, providing further tailored information to help visitors better appreciate an offer. More about creative use of landing pages, especially for mobile, here.

8. Arrange dashboards for budget and performance analysis

Review your dashboards to understand the integration options. Google Analytics can display digital ads platforms according to the return on advertising spend (ROAS).   Another platform, Google Data Studio, has connectors that can pull data into customized graphs and calculated metrics.  Marketers can then compare metrics across platforms, saving time in identifying trends and drawing conclusions from campaign fluctuations. 

Ultimately,  good dashboards can allow for additional calculations. For example, Amazon Ads rely on Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS), the inverse of ROAS.  A calculated metric feature in Data Studio can adjust and display that metric for an apple–to–apple comparison. Another idea is monitor average order value (AOV); Increases in AOV can be a proxy for monitoring the value of ROAS from campaigns if sales are attributed to them.

Overall, marketers realize that ad campaigns do not automatically mean a sale will follow. Tire kickers lurk in online visits, and customers need time to reflect about a purchase.  But crafting messages that speak to reflective holiday moments, shared among the right audience, can lead to meaningful holiday sales.

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