In preparing for the holiday season it can be hard to know when to spend and when to save your advertising budget; when is it most competitive to spend, and when is the best opportunity for sales? To help you out, we’ve created the Holiday Advertising Series to walk you through each week of the holiday season and how to adjust your advertising strategy accordingly. From budgets to messaging, learn what to keep in mind this holiday season. To start off, we’ll hear from our Director of Advertising, Tony Morales:
To make sure we’re on the same page, I think it’s best to break down the holiday advertising season into four sections:
The first phase begins at the start of the fourth quarter, right at the beginning of October, and lasts until about mid-November, think the 14th. This six-week period I refer to as the pre-holiday shopping phase. In this part of the holiday season, we typically see more browsers than buyers.
What happens during the pre-holiday shopping phase, from an advertising perspective, is high clicks and potentially increased traffic on your products, but not a lot of conversion. This can be discouraging since high visibility and low sales isn’t great for PPC budgets, but unfortunately we do see a huge increase in browsing this time of the year. A big reason for browsing without conversion is the anticipation of holiday deals; your audience is prepping for Black Friday/Cyber Monday and searching for what products they want to buy on holiday discounts. Think of the pre-holiday shopping phase as research for the shopping phase.
However, we may see some disruption in our browsing phase this year. With the rampant global supply chain issues that we keep hearing about in the news, I would expect more shoppers to begin their shopping earlier than usual for 2021. In a typical shopping season we could expect a standard period of browsing, but after the pandemic, and with the newly-found convenience of online shopping, we may see buying start sooner than expected. With this in mind, I have a few recommendations.
Normally, I would say keep your PPC ads running business-as-usual. Don’t go crazy with bidding up or spending tons of money during this time, because your conversions will most likely not match your spend thanks to the browsing phase. I would recommend focusing the majority of your budget for this six-week pre-holiday shopping period on top-of-funnel search efforts. Focus on bringing awareness to your offering. Any type of programmatic display ad or video ad or continuous retargeting that you can do at this time is ideal. The goal for this is to plant seeds in shoppers’ minds that your product is a great option for the holiday.
If you have an influencer strategy, this is a good time to press hard on that. Unfortunately, with the recent IOS update giving users the option to opt out of retargeting, we have seen Facebook ad performance drop like a led balloon across all categories. Luckily, you can repurpose your social media spend towards influencers and Amazon DSP or some other equivalent programmatic advertising. An influencer strategy can also help build authority and consumer trust in your product as they figure out what to purchase for gifting.
In addition to focusing on top-of-funnel searches and building your awareness, you can look at opportunities to steal attention from your competitors. If you have a dominant competitor in the market, look at the metrics around keywords including their company name, product titles, or other branded searches to see if it makes sense to conquest those keywords. You don’t want to overspend during the pre-holiday shopping phase, but conquesting is an area that may make sense for your brand during the browsing period. Remember, this timeframe is about planting seeds for your target audience.
This pre-shopping phase is also a good time to ensure your listings, image stack, bullet points, and pricing are ready for the holidays. As consumers begin their research they need to get helpful information as quickly as possible from your listing, if not they will continue researching until they find something they understand better. While you may not see conversion metrics going up, you should still focus on convincing shoppers your product is the one they want when they are ready to buy.
To recap, for this six-week pre-holiday shopping/browsing phase, do much more aggressive spending on top-of-funnel awareness strategies (DSP, Programmatic, Display ads, Influencer, email) to plant seeds, and continue with business as usual for your ad spend on the rest of your search advertising. If you think your business will be affected by supply chain issues, then you can ratchet up all of your efforts, however under normal circumstances that would be a mistake. I would also advise to work on getting ahead of holiday inventory needs for next year.
The second phase for the holiday advertising season is the shopping phase. This will happen from mid-November through most of December (leading up to Christmas). During this phase it makes sense to increase budget toward bottom-of-funnel, conversion efforts and increase bids on PPC Campaigns. This will help shoppers who are looking for your product, or your category, find your offering during this competitive time. When intent to buy is high—like during the holiday shopping season—you want to do everything you can to show up at the top of the search.
The shopping phase is an important time to get serious. Starting with the week of November 15, each week going forward will be progressively bigger in terms of revenue generation, and this will last five consecutive weeks. The last week before Christmas will taper a little bit, but will still be a very strong week. It should land somewhere in the top six weeks for revenue for the year.
Within the shopping phase of the fourth-quarter holiday season, there is a micro phase that spans about seven days: Cyber Weekend. Amazon has quoted that 41% of holiday shopping purchases will happen in the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, but I like to tack on an extra day to the beginning and the end of the 5-day shopping event.
I focus on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving through the Tuesday after cyber-Monday to ensure I take full advantage of the flood of shoppers.
With such a huge percentage of revenue coming in this holiday week it’s really important to be aggressive and get your promotion and advertising strategy right. We will outline more strategies for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday holiday week in the next post of our Holiday Advertising series, coming next week.
Historically Amazon does a little more than half of their total ad revenue in the fourth quarter, with the vast majority of that coming in the six-week period between mid-November and Christmas. We have seen total revenue for our business follow the same trajectory.
The last week of the year typically dips considerably as shoppers have wrapped up holiday festivities. However, for brands selling in categories such as beauty, supplements, health and fitness, fashion, and anything that would revolve around the “new year new you” concept, the last week of the year is a great time to begin advertising to shoppers, particularly those shoppers who received gift cards for the holidays or have disposable shopping funds thanks to returned holiday gifts.
Interested in more expert strategy for advertising on marketplaces during the holidays? When you partner with Pattern you work with experienced advertisers who can tailor your advertising approach to your industry, category, and budget. Get in touch today.
Check out the rest our our Holiday Advertising Series:
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Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.
In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.
From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.
According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.
From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.
It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.
A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.
Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.
The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)
Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.
Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.
Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.
Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.
Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.