The 2022 holiday season is already well underway, and small businesses (SMBs) across the country are searching for an edge to help them stand out during this critical shopping period. The season peaks during the so-called Turkey Five, the busiest shopping days of the year, which includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. It’s during these five days that SMBs face the most competition from other retailers, and to succeed, they’ll need more than an amazing deal. If you’re getting your SMB ready for the holiday rush, you’ll need to develop an effective marketing strategy that puts your offer in front of the right potential customers.
One essential element of any eCommerce marketing strategy is a paid social media plan, which builds brand awareness and drives new website traffic. If you pay attention to social media at all, you know that change is the name of the game, and nowhere is this more apparent than in social advertising. It’s easy to feel outmatched, particularly if social advertising isn’t your full-time job. Add in limited advertising budgets, and it’s no surprise that many people feel lost and overwhelmed when planning SMB paid social media strategies.
Despite these challenges, there are several effective advertising techniques you can use to maximize your paid social budgets during the Turkey Five and beyond to win this holiday season.
Before digging into these techniques, it’s important for small businesses to understand why the holiday season can be so challenging on social media. As the Turkey Five draws closer, more and more businesses will begin increasing their advertising budgets to reach larger audiences. More competition pushes the cost per thousand (CPM) impressions higher, which raises overall holiday advertising costs for everyone on the platform.
This dynamic may impact your marketing strategy in two significant ways. First, SMBs typically have smaller advertising budgets. During the holidays, higher CPMs mean that limited budgets generate less traffic than they could during the off-season. Secondly, businesses with larger budgets, such as big box retailers and other corporations, can easily outspend smaller advertisers when views go up for auction.
Knowing that SMBs will face increased competition and higher costs in the paid social media space, optimizing your strategy for efficiency will be beneficial. With that in mind, here are four strategies for getting the most out of a limited holiday advertising budget.
CPMs tend to spike in the week leading up to the Turkey Five. Some advertisers plan for this by reserving the majority of their advertising budget to compete during these five days. However, I recommend that advertisers with smaller budgets take a different approach.
Spend most of your advertising budget on prospecting to new audiences in the weeks before Thanksgiving to generate website traffic and brand awareness. Then, shift your advertising budget to remarketing campaigns targeting past purchasers and website visitors beginning about a week before Black Friday through the week after Cyber Monday. Using this strategy, you’ll target potential buyers in advance of the holiday season when it’s less expensive and then transition to target likely buyers when advertising is most costly.
CPMs are traditionally at their highest during Thanksgiving weekend, so creating a promotion that starts a little earlier or extends beyond Cyber Monday can enable you to stretch your budget. While advertising will still be highly competitive during this period, giving yourself a larger promotion window will enable you to capitalize on slightly reduced holiday CPMs, lowering your advertising costs.
Facebook’s advertising algorithm uses a seven-day data collection period where campaigns figure out when, where, and how to deliver ads. One consequence of this design is that campaign performance can be unstable during the learning period. If you’re a smaller advertiser, you want your campaigns to exit the learning period as fast as possible. That way, the algorithm spends your advertising budget most effectively, particularly when CPMs are at their highest.
One way to quickly leave the learning phase is for your campaign to generate a certain number of conversions within the first seven days. You can accomplish this through trial and error, which will be expensive during the holidays, or by increasing your campaign audience size.
Typically, advertisers split their budgets between different campaign goals, like remarketing, mid-funnel, or prospecting. This year, try combining your remarketing and brand awareness audiences into a single campaign instead of splitting your budget. Targeting a larger audience will enable you to generate more conversions and leave the campaign learning phase with optimized ads as quickly as possible.
First-party data, like email lists or conversion information, can be a robust holiday marketing tool. If your customer relationship management (CRM) software can produce a list of past purchasers, you can run retargeting advertisements to this group of likely repeat customers.
You can also prospect for new customers using first-party data. Start by creating a lookalike audience based on your email lists or the purchase data collected by the Facebook pixel on your website. When you target this lookalike audience, optimize your campaign for purchases. Both techniques will help you boost spending efficiency during a high-cost advertising period.
Unfortunately, small businesses will always be at a disadvantage to enterprise retailers during the holiday advertising period. Even the savviest strategy can only partially overcome the budget gap most small advertisers face. But as an SMB, your goal should be to maximize your advertising efficiency however possible rather than trying to outcompete the larger players.
As you build a holiday social media marketing strategy, optimize for efficiency by making strategic decisions about when and where you spend your precious advertising resources. Whether you target overall cost, conversion likelihood or both, prioritizing efficiency is a fantastic starting point for maximizing your holiday social advertising budget. With the right plan in place, you’ll see the difference shine through in your results and enjoy a successful holiday sales season.
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