It is the most wonderful time of the year of many of us, but Christmas is a particularly magical opportunity for retailers, brands and businesses.
Ensuring shoppers find inspiration during the busy festive period isn't magic; however, as many businesses turn to social media channels to get the get products to the right customers across the holiday period.
Not only is Christmas an ideal time to introduce brands to new customers, but it the perfect reason to reconnect with existing shoppers. Getting campaigns right at the beginning of the season is crucial.
Christmas comes earlier and earlier
According to Facebook's Global Holiday Study, carried by Ipsos in January, in 2018, 43% of us began our Christmas shopping in November or earlier. What's more, it also found that by late-November, nearly one in ten holiday shoppers had finished.
While the shopping season now runs form the fourth quarter and, even into the first quarter, Facebook data noted sales conversions related to Christmas as early as October in 2018.
It is a global trend, says Kate Water, executive planning director and head of strategy at digital agency Swirl McGarryBowen. "Global shoppers buy earlier throughout Black Week [the Monday before Black Friday to Cyber Monday] with 50% of holiday shopping completed by Monday, December 3, 2018, "she says.
Customer experience still rules
As we engage with brands and retailers across multiple channels before deciding to purchase, inconvenience is not tolerated. If we can't get what we want, how we want it, when we want it from one brand, we will move on. According to the Facebook Holiday data, 70% of consumers say tech has made it easier to take their business elsewhere if they aren’t happy.
Mobile shopping is improving, but according to internal Facebook data, 85% of global holiday shoppers have experienced at least one problem while trying to do Christmas shopping on their mobile device.
Stories open the window to inspiration
"Social is the new shop window, the place that consumers browse to find ideas and inspiration," according to Deloitte Retail Trends 2019. Shoppers overwhelmingly agree.
Stories are a particular source of inspiration for many, with 69% of people finding Stories on Facebook and Instagram a great way to discover new products and services, says Facebook IQ data from October 2018. Meanwhile, 62% of people become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
Last Christmas, 63% of shoppers either watched or posted videos in Stories across Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, according to the Facebook Global Holiday Study, while more than a third of millennials and parents said videos from social media influencers helped them choose what to buy.
In-store inspires the festive feels
While we are turning to online shopping more and more during the festive season, and last year sales hit the $3trn mark, according to retail website DigitalCommerce360.com, many of us still enjoy heading out to stores to soak up the Christmas vibes.
While, according to eMarketer's US 2018 Holiday Season Review, the top reason for hitting the high street is to see products physically, bricks-and-mortar stores still inspire emotions that online can't replicate.
For 42% of US shoppers hitting the stores is about soaking up the holiday ambience, says the eMarketer report, while 27% of US consumers say they go out shopping to spend time with family.
"Bricks-and-mortar retails sales strengthened throughout 2018 and continued to thrive during the holidays, especially for those that have invested in better customer experience," says Swirl McGarryBowen's Walters.
Shopping events go global
Black Friday may have started as a US affair, but its influence has long spread across the world, and the same is now true of Cyber Monday and, increasingly, Singles Day in China, now known as 11:11.
Globally, shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday grew by 9% and 14% respectively between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, according to the Facebook Global Holiday Study. Meanwhile, 11:11, so-called because it falls on November 11, grew by 25%.
Dismiss the idea that Europe or the US will embrace a fourth manufactured shopping event at your peril, however. The Facebook Holiday data shows 11:11 is catching on. Turkey, for example, saw a 6% growth year on year in 2018. Brands miss risking out by only focusing on one or two holiday peaks.
"Singles Day (11:11) with its spirit of treating yourself fits nicely with other behaviours we see from millennial audiences," points out Walters.
Shoppers reach out
Messaging between customers and businesses is increasingly fuelling loyalty with more than 20 billion messages now being exchanged on Messenger every month, according to an internal Facebook research.
Christmas shoppers are turning to messaging services to find out more about products, to buy and get store information. Facebook's Global Holiday data shows that 65% of Christmas shoppers indicated they would be more likely to buy from businesses that can contact through messaging service.
As we head into peak season, there is still more your business can do to maximise festive sales.
Focus on these five key areas to optimise performance:
- Considering reducing constraints on your campaign delivery system by:
- Enable automatic placements, which will allow your campaigns to run across the entire family of Facebooks apps and services. You will reach more people while maximising results.
- Use campaign budget optimisation to allow the system to distribute budget to top-performing ad sets in real-time.
- Use lowest cost bidding to minimise your cost per result while maintaining your budget.
- Use broad audience targeting, to reach people who have expressed an interest in your product but haven't even visited your site or app.
- Find consumers for your produces by using Dynamic ads with broad audiences.
- Use value-based lookalikes from your web, app, catalogue or offline events.
- Switch to lowest cost bid strategy without a bid cap; this allows for more flexibility to spend the full budget.
- If using a bid cap, increase it to increase delivery and allow us to bid more.
- If using minimum ROAS, adjust it. It provides a degree of control to ensure we nee or exceed specific business objectives.
- Change the conversion event. Start with the conversion event closest to the true KPI and move up the funnel as needed.
- Consider landing page optimisation. This optimisation is ideal if website visits are a key objective, and requires a base pixel code and "page view" event to decrease the drop off rate from clicks.
- Add new creative to ad sets. When a new ad is uploaded, our system will explore it and assign a predicted conversion rate, possibly one that is higher than the existing one. Doing this allows the ad set to spend more budget.
- Try a new creative approach. Try mixing video or different images or play around with the copy.
- Give people immediate access to your catalogue through Instant Experiences on Facebook and Instagram.
- Create Christmas-themed ads and highlight limited-time offers to create the urgency to buy
- Use holiday templates to give creative a festive twist.