It’s not too early to put up your (digital) decorations

Every year, brands seem to embrace the Christmas spirit earlier and earlier, filling supermarket aisles with imagery of Santa Claus, delivering hues of red and green into our letterboxes and blaring Christmas carols through the radio and television.

However, despite this concerted marketing effort to roll out Christmas campaigns as early as possible, AdRoll marketing director for JAPAC Cat Prestipino says digital activities are not prioritised and are regularly seen as an afterthought to more traditional elements.

“A lot of marketers think that digital is something that they can do last minute. It’s usually a very flexible marketing source that we can turn up or down as we please,” Prestipino says.

In some ways the responsiveness of the digital channel works to its detriment in this regard, because marketers sometimes see it as something that can be dealt with at a later stage.

Another issue Prestipino identifies is that owners of bricks and mortar stores tend to overlook the digital elements, due to the incorrect perception that customers can’t easily be reached in this channel.

“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” Prestipino says.

“Looking at BNZ’s recent e-commerce research results, it’s clear that New Zealand e-commerce is actually on the rise.”

Over the last six years, BNZ’s Marketview research has shown online spending among consumers steadily increasing and looking likely to surpass last year’s record of $350 million.

This presents a major opportunity for local retailers, with the data showing a 13 percent lift year on year from the amount spent in 2015.

Prestipino argues that this upward trend is going to slow down, and that marketers should be affording much greater attention to the digital channels in order to tap into the opportunity that’s on offer. 

“The ads that people remember are the ones that have an emotional connection to, the ones that make them laugh, miss their families or the ones that really make them think, and that can’t be a last-minute thing, whether you’re doing a TVC or something on digital,” she says. 

“I would argue that it’s even more important on digital, because you only have a very small space, often just a rectangular box, in which to get that message across.” “It’s an area where you need to be even more creative, and you need to think early about how you tie all of that in to your over-arching campaign.”

She isn’t alone in this belief. Dr Martens’ vice president of digital Kyle Duford is even more emphatic in addressing this issue.

“If you’re just thinking about holidays now, you may be too late,” Duford says. “Start your strategic thinking in June, brainstorm and whiteboard in July, create your assets in August, and place your media buys by September. Or you’ll miss the boat.”

Missing the boat could also mean missing out on the best ad slots available on certain sites. Because while cyberspace is often seen as an infinite landscape of opportunity, premium ad slots are limited and marketers need to act fast to snap them up. As Prestipino explains:

“A lot of sites do a code freeze around November/December time, because when they expect heavy traffic, they decide to lock down their sites. So you need to make sure you have your deals in place before that code freeze happens.”  

The early bird is better at data

Starting early also allows the marketer to plan more effectively—which is particularly important when you’re looking at large sets of data.

“You want to know what consumers did last year and then be able to serve really relevant ads based on that,” says Prestipino. “If you know someone bought a loved one a bracelet last year, you want to make sure that you’re advertising earrings this year and not the exact same product.”

This touches on a broader issue affecting the programmatic space. While retargeting has allowed a means by which to move consumers closer toward hitting the buy button, it can be very annoying when a product you’ve already purchased keeps following you around the internet.

“There is a part of me that wants to go into my sales pitch when I hear stories like that, because that’s really what makes it so much better to work with a partner like Adroll, which allows you to link in Twitter, Facebook and Google,” Prestipino says.

She explains that when marketers manage all these platforms independently, it becomes very difficult to determine whether or not a consumer has completed a purchase on another channel.

Keeping track of converted customers is not only important in terms of sparing consumers annoyance, but also in terms of upselling those who have previously bought from a store.

For instance, if a consumer recently purchased a pair of shoes, then the advertiser could send out a follow-on ad for a matching suit or pair of socks.

“Some of the things we’re seeing as really effective is targeting customers who shopped last Christmas and giving them an incentive to return this year,” says Prestipino.

Shiekh Shoes has been putting this theory into practice over the last few years, and Prestipino says the results speak for themselves. By being smarter in the way it uses data, the brand has enjoyed a 20 percent lift in ROI, a 32 percent drop in bounce rates with new users and a 41 percent drop in prospecting cost per engaged visitors. What this translates into are consumers who are less annoyed and more interested in spending with the brands being fed onto their newsfeeds.

However, Prestipino warns that this kind of success doesn’t happen overnight. It requires strategy, planning and flawless execution.

“If you leave it until November, you’re going to be too late,” she says. 

  • Want more info on getting your digital stratgey right this festive season? Then tune into AdRoll webinar on ‘the 17 things marketers need to do before Christmas’ on 21 September at 1pm.
  • This story was produced as part of a content series between StopPress and AdRoll. To see more stories in this series, please click here

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