The Secret to Holiday Success With Paid Social

Mike Griffith, BVAccel

Mike Griffith, BVAccel

Author Bio

As VP of Performance Marketing at BVAccel, Mike Griffith is the company's marketing guru and the man behind the ROI. In addition to looking after all media buying partners, Mike heads the team in converting customers anywhere at any given time.

With more than 8 years of marketing experience, Mike has worked with large brands, such as Vix Swimwear, Pura Vida Bracelets, GreatCall, Tommy John, OnePiece, BarkThins and more. He ensures that every bit of ad spend is being used strategically and with every brand's vision in mind.

By this point in the year, most brands will have been testing audiences and creative options for the past 30-60 days in preparation for the big holiday surge. Your audiences will be segmented, automated sequential messaging campaigns will be live, and promotions will be scheduled to go live at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day (the new official start of Black Friday).

But if you haven’t done any of this yet, don’t fear! There’s still time to organize a few strategies for success this season with your social campaigns.

Is Your Facebook Pixel Set Up Correctly?

The Facebook pixel is key to campaign success and can help you optimize ad delivery for people that are more likely to purchase your product. However, it’s also very important for finding new audiences to target. By setting up the pixel and tracking various Events, you can segment site visitors into groups that can then be retargeted or extrapolated into Lookalike Audiences that contain millions of similar potential customers.

The Facebook pixel is fairly simple to install. Shopify users can take advantage of its native integration, which requires a quick copy and paste of your pixel ID. But the installation is also rather simple for other platforms, as Facebook offers solid tutorials in the Ad Account dashboard for installing your code. At a minimum, we recommend you track:

  • ViewContent (categories or items on your site that people may have viewed).
  • AddToCart (any time consumers add an item to their cart).
  • Purchase (any time consumers complete an order on your site).

Who Should You Target?

There are two key groups you should use for effective Facebook and Instagram campaigns: Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.

  • Basic Custom Audiences include past customers, site visitors, and email subscribers. However, depending on your brand and site structure, you may want to get more granular with your segmentation and focus on those who visited a specific product page or were tagged with the AddToCart event from the Facebook pixel. These audiences are great to activate on key promotional days during the holiday season. Past customers could be very likely to re-purchase, and consumers who previously visited your site or subscribed to your list may receive just enough incentive to follow through with their first purchase.
  • Lookalike Audiences use the Facebook algorithm to extrapolate the similarities in a custom audience to a larger audience that is 1%-10% of a particular country’s population. In the US, a 1% Lookalike Audience is generally about 2 million people.

If you’ve seen positive results with lookalike audiences but aren’t quite sure where you want to be in terms of ROI (Return On Investment) or CPA (Cost Per Acquisition), it may be worth layering an interest or behavior attribute on top of your lookalike audience. This will likely reduce your audience size but should result in a more relevant audience for your ads.

We generally prefer to run audience tests every two weeks, and either increase spend on a new audience or pause it based on the recent results. This keeps a fresh set of new audiences constantly cycling in and ready to scale. However, during late November and into December, we suggest focusing on what you know works. Look for key audiences you know will perform. If you see good results across the board, you can always redistribute your resources.

Are Messaging, Creative and Promotions Aligned?

Two key factors for success during the holidays are momentum and messaging. Ads with great messaging will perform well, and Facebook favors ads that receive positive interactions from your audiences.

When you change existing ads or create new ones, the relevance of that ad resets. In order to keep the momentum going, follow this basic setup for campaign deployment:

  • Maintain longer-term “evergreen” ads and messaging. These ads should call out your brand’s core differentiators rather than heavy discounts or overly promotional messaging. You want people visiting your website on the strength of your brand, not solely on the promise of a discount.
  • Set up multi-tiered retargeting campaigns that deliver sequential messages to customers based on site behavior. At the most basic level, hit all site visitors with a slightly stronger CTA than you used in your prospecting campaign. This is where you can offer your “new customer” promo or create a sense of urgency about limited inventory. Because the audience is already familiar with your brand and you’re offering a little extra incentive, it’s okay to make more frequent changes to your ad creative here since people will be more likely to engage with it, helping you maintain relevance.

For the more advanced:

  • Target core customer segments with your evergreen messaging. Let’s say you have 3-4 core customer segments that like your brand for different reasons. Separate them and direct them to custom landing pages that aren’t accessible on your site or through other channels.
  • Customize your multi-tiered retargeting campaign. Initially, tailor your messaging based on the landing page a customer visits. With the next message, focus on your brand’s generalized key differentiators. Next, up the urgency with limited inventory messaging or a limited time offer. And finally, create cross-sell or up-sell opportunities based on the products the customer purchased. You can sync this with your Facebook pixel so that customers are automatically added or removed from this audience. You should be able to get close with the Facebook pixel, but if needed, you can always manually export segments from your ESP and upload them as custom audiences in Facebook.

Keep It Simple

Particularly between Thanksgiving and the middle of December, it’s best to keep your promotions simple. While a “12 Days of Christmas” type of promo can be tempting, it ultimately requires unique images and ad copy that start and stop each day and doesn’t give the Facebook algorithm much time to optimize delivery.

In general, when creating Facebook and Instagram campaigns, it’s almost always better to err on the side of simplicity. Targeting the right audience with proven messaging at the right time will put you on the path to holiday success.

To learn more about BVAccel, visit our website.

For more inspiration and strategies for a successful holiday season, visit Bronto’s Holiday Marketing Academy.