Winter Is Coming… Time to Start Crafting Your Holiday Game Plan

September 29, 2017 | Article written by Carly Morris

As we make our way through the last full days of September, the weeks ahead have lots of exciting changes in store. For some, the end of summer 2017 marks cooler weather and the start of fall; for others, it means costumes and candies; and for the author of this post, it means the return of pumpkin-spice-flavored-everything.

However for most advertisers, this week ushers in something different entirely: the start of winter holiday campaigns.

Though the festive season is still some ways away, it’s important to get an early start on your campaign planning in order to secure the biggest impact when it comes time to launch.

On top of their potential to get more than a little hectic, the winter holidays offer immense opportunity that is not to be missed by any business, retail or otherwise. To help make the most of it, we’ll be here to guide you through every step of the way, with stats, trends, best practices, and plenty of insider insights.

But for now, first things first: step number one is always strategy.

So, let’s break down the 5 key elements of great holiday campaign preparation.


1. Campaign Basics

The first piece of the puzzle is effective due diligence.

Here, you’ll need to do your research on general and industry-specific holiday trends, as well as historical developments within your own organization. It’s also important to get a clear idea of your target audience and how to best engage them. This way, you can intelligently sharpen your targeting strategy and make informed decisions surrounding mobile channels and campaign objectives.

This is also where you should begin to plan your campaign messaging and compile a diverse collection of holiday-themed creative to last you through the season.


2. Objectives

So, one key part of this basic setup is choosing a campaign objective. But, did you know that the best holiday strategies often rely on more than just one?

Your campaigns should continuously develop and adapt as the season moves forward, allowing you to better operate from a full-funnel mentality.

Here’s the simplified version of the funnel as most advertisers already understand it:

Step 1: Introduce yourself
Step 2: Pique your audience interest
Step 3: Keep them satisfied

And here’s how that translates to your holiday campaign objectives:

Step 1: Awareness and Prospecting
This is where you begin to build a pool of relevant users for analysis, retargeting, and high-performing lookalikes later on down the line.

Step 2: User Acquisition
Now, you need to inspire these users to convert at the time when it matters most. This happens when you’re able to meet them at the right time, with the right offer, and the right messaging to seal the deal.

Step 3: Reengagement
Finally, you want to keep these users coming back again and again throughout the season. This is also your golden opportunity for cross-selling and upselling relevant products that your audience will love.

So, how do you determine when to set each step in motion? That has a lot to do with your budget and timing.


3. Budget

The best way to allocate budgets for your holiday campaigns is to create a detailed plan for the entire season. Focus on critical financial factors like historical sales averages and anticipated earnings, so that you can intelligently plan your output in a way that ensures downstream profitability.

Pro Tip: Unsurprisingly, most companies focus their advertising strategy on maximizing sales during Black Friday and Christmas. This has two major implications for your initiatives.

First, it means that the majority of marketers (88%) will begin launching their campaigns within the first week of November, so you can expect some serious competition. Second, it means that advertising cost metrics will experience a significant increase around this time.

In fact, the research team at Facebook found that in 2016, total spend across advertisers increased nearly 15% with each new week during the month of November.

The fix? Consider starting your campaigns earlier in October to keep your costs, and competition, as low as possible.


4. Timing

In understanding the cost fluctuations that occur during the festive season, it’s a no-brainer that you should get started as early as possible. But, that certainly doesn’t mean you should rush into a premature launch. It simply means that now’s the time to get your ducks in a row, so that you can be ready to go live without a hitch when the time is right for you.

Still not sure what that right time is? Your timing depends on which parts of the season require most of your attention.

Remember that the winter holiday season is a long haul, and there’s still immense opportunity outside of the Big Three – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.


5. Key Dates & Calendar Highlights:


November 1st- 30th:
Conversions on the Rise

Throughout the month of November, you can expect installs and conversions to continue on an upward trend week over week. Last year, Facebook found that the total number of completed purchases increased 2.7x between the 1st and 20th of the month. By the time Black Friday rolled around, total purchases were up a staggering 5x.


November 11th:
Singles’ Day

Are you familiar with this Chinese holiday? Singles’ Day began in the 1990s as a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day to celebrate singledom. It was adopted by Alibaba in 2009, and has since become a day when everyone, regardless of relationship status, buys gifts for themselves.

In 2016, Singles’ Day was one of the world’s biggest online shopping days of the year, with Chinese shoppers spending almost $18 billion in just 24 hours. Now, it’s gaining ground around Western Europe and the APAC region as well.


November 23rd:

Though Thanksgiving is a less popular day for shopping, it’s a great opportunity to get yourself on consumers’ radars while they formulate their game plan for Black Friday. Make sure your ads are clear about big offers and sales so that you make the cut.


November 24th:
Black Friday

Black Friday is a traditionally brick-and-mortar sales day, but there’s no reason you can’t complement your IRL sales with some additional online action. And believe it or not, many shoppers are beginning to grow tired of the Black Friday rush. Last year, just 23% of Americans had plans to shop in stores on Black Friday, so it’s definitely smart to offer online alternatives to the in-store madness.


November 27th:
Cyber Monday

Last year, Cyber Monday smashed online sales records, at a total of $3.45 billion spent. That’s an opportunity that no online retailer wants to miss. Of course, you should aim to have your promotional strategy in place ahead of the 27th to keep your brand front-of-mind, but you can also continue to serve ads on the day of, to help stand out above all the noise.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget about push notifications for your converted users! Keep your loyal shoppers in the loop with special sales and members-only offers that they can’t pass up.


December 1st-4th:
First Weekend of December

This is the third biggest sales period globally, and for good reason. With the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, and the month’s most biggest gift-giving holidays looming closer than ever, people are ready to check off their shopping lists as soon as possible.


December 12th:
Hanukkah Begins

This major gift-giving holiday continues all the way through December 20th. Be sure to incorporate shipping deadlines into your messaging in order to create a sense of urgency around buying gifts in time to be delivered this week.


December 15th:
Free Shipping Day

Did you know that 61% of online shoppers abandon their carts because extra costs, like shipping, are too high? Free Shipping Day is a great way to encourage your customers to take that final step to purchase.


December 25th:

Christmas is also a big day for non-retail companies. While spending time with family and friends, lots of people turn to their smartphones for things like gaming, entertainment, social media, and messaging apps. Make sure you’re ready with custom holiday greetings and offers to take advantage of this uptick in traffic.


December 26th:
Boxing Day

The retail holidays aren’t over yet! Boxing Day is a major sales holiday celebrated in parts of the world like the UK and Canada. Localized campaigns honing in on these major markets are a great way to supplement your holiday income during a time that’s traditionally less competitive within the ad space.


December 31st:
New Year’s Eve

This is an incredibly profitable holiday for non-retail sectors, including: travel brands, event and restaurant booking services, delivery and on-demand providers, and transportation and ride sharing apps.


January 1st:
New Year’s Day

On the first of the year, it’s all about the health & fitness industry as people make new resolutions to get healthy.

Being a marketing professional around the holidays can add a whole new layer of busyness to the already jam-packed season. We know that feeling and we’re dedicated to helping you make the transition as seamless as possible.

Keep an eye out for the latest in our holiday series, and feel free to drop us a line at info@taptica.com for additional insights and support.


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