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2021 Holiday Retail Blog Series: Capture Holiday Audiences at All Critical Moments

Published: September 21, 2021

Author: Diana Gordon


Insights from the Experts: eCommerce Series. Diana Gordon, VP, eCommerce & Marketplace Strategy

To break through all of the holiday retail noise, you need to create an exceptionally effective messaging framework for your distinct audience personas that really hones in on their individual desires and barriers. What does your brand offer that will make their life significantly better?

Identifying your audience personas - who are they, what do they want? Target them with specific messaging

We recommend a six-step framework to determine messaging and positioning and test what will be most effective for each persona. Here’s a hypothetical situation we came up with that uses the juice brand Suja as an example.

Step #1: Identify audience personas

Determine who your audience is so you can identify what’s most important to them.

3 audience examples: earth elizabeth, hipster holly, and healthy heather

Step #2: Understand their barriers

Emphasize how exactly your brand solves customer pain points.

Examples of how concerns can differ by audience type

Step #3: Create messaging based around motivators

Position your brand with impactful communications.

Example of how messaging can differ based on different audiences

Step #4: Generate assets for each audience persona

Create clear and concise messaging to address each persona’s barriers and motivators.

Example of different creative for different audiences

Step #5: Weed out bottom performers

Not every persona’s messaging framework is going to perform – and that’s okay.

Weed out low-performing creative

Step 6: Improve upon top-performing concepts

Take top performers and iterate upon them to make them even more effective.

Iterate on top-performing creative

Your Customers Are on Multiple Social Networks – Make Sure You Are Too

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is over-indexing on one platform. Channel diversification allows you to personalize ad experiences across the entire funnel, so you can speak to anyone wherever they may be in their unique customer journey. Additionally, each platform can provide a different advantage over another, so you need to take a broad approach to see what works best for your unique situation and audience. The following image from a recent Hootsuite study shows that most social media users are also on several other platforms.

Chart showing user overlaps of social media platforms

Use Paid Social to Nurture Customers at Every Point in the Marketing Funnel

Each social platform can be used differently across the entire marketing funnel – below are some of our suggestions on how to do that.

Top of funnel: Platforms like YouTube and Pinterest function best as discovery platforms where brands can educate potential customers on who they are and what problem they solve by promoting informational content.

Middle of funnel: As consumers move along in their journey, deploy consideration tactics on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to ensure the most relevant products and promotions are in front of them.

Bottom of funnel: Ensure your brand is front and center when consumers search via Google or Amazon to make their final purchase for the holidays. This is likely the last holiday season that advertisers will have cross-platform tracking – at least for non-Apple devices. Advertisers should take advantage of third-party trend and performance data as much as possible, because the privacy landscape in digital marketing will look very different in the years to come.

Audience Health

First-party data is a crucial component of any holiday retail strategy – we’ve put together a checklist to ensure yours will be useful and effective, along with a high-level overview of how you should be targeting consumers as they move through your funnel.

  • Review your first-party CRM data to ensure all fields and categories are correct.
  • Leverage and experiment with multiple types of audiences. This could include existing customers who have high lifetime value and ROAS rates, or potential customers who may be good targets for promotions and deals.
  • Consider other avenues to reach your audience via branded content, influencer marketing, or partnerships.
Funnel showing process from prospect to capturing demand to retargeting to resurrecting

Social Commerce is Critical to Capturing Attention

Social media has long been thought of as an upper-funnel awareness tactic, and platforms like Facebook and Instagram are doubling down on products that connect brands and consumers. However, social networks have evolved to help users not only discover products – but also make purchases directly on those platforms. Here are a couple social commerce features that advertisers should consider in their holiday strategies:

Feature 1: Catalog Campaigns

These campaigns allow Facebook to display the best product for each specific consumer based on their behavior and interests. Catalog campaign types should be running on Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences (DABA). Advertisers should also have Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) enabled in their campaigns.

To ensure your Catalog campaigns are optimized:

  • Include prospecting and retargeting audiences
  • Add a carousel frame
  • Include price
  • Add a leader card
  • Utilize Product Tag Ads, especially in lifestyle creative
  • Develop and optimize your Facebook Product Shop

Feature 2: Instagram check-out

You no longer need to send consumers to your website when they browse Instagram – they can make purchases directly on the app. If you have not set up an Instagram Shop, now is the perfect time to do so. You can familiarize yourself with the functionality, upload your product feed, and optimize ad creative in time for the holiday season!

Leverage Third-Party Data While it’s Still Here

The deprecation of third-party cookies has been a hot topic in the marketing industry over the past year. With Google planning to phase out cookies in 2023, there are only a couple holiday seasons remaining to leverage these to your advantage.

Here’s how you can get started:

  • Use affinity audiences to reach people based on their interests, passions, and habits and build awareness with potential new customers.
  • Leverage in-market audiences to target ads to people who have been searching for products and services like yours.
  • Upload first-party data to better engage with existing customers using customer match, and then use similar audiences to find new customers with similar interests as those in your existing audience list.

Utilize the Influx in Site Volume to Improve Your First-Party Audience Strategy

Take advantage of increased website traffic during the holiday season and grow your first-party audience to protect against third-party cookie deprecation.

  • Ensure that Global Site Tag (gtag) is correctly placed on all available web pages.
  • Utilize enhanced conversions to ensure that all of your tracking remains consistent.
  • Implement Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to provide durable measurement and analysis that will drive business impact.

We hope these tips help you get started in building your holiday retail strategy! Stay tuned for our additional upcoming blogs in this series, because we’ll be sharing even more insights! In the meantime, please reach out if you have any questions or if you’re ready to start working with 3Q’s eCommerce and retail experts.

You can also check out the other entries from our Holiday Retail blog series here.

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