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Fluid Creativity Holiday Marketing Guide: SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing
Nothing says ‘public holiday’ like a nice bit of marketing.
Whether it’s Christmas, Easter or an extra-special one-off like the Diamond Jubilee, you can be guaranteed that companies will be upping their marketing efforts.
After a delicious flurry of long weekends of late, we’ve experienced an upsurge in queries about how companies can increase their online sales before these elusive breaks.
Of course, capitalising on a public holiday isn’t as simple as taking a picture of a dog in bunny ears, typing ‘Happy Easter’ over the top and slapping it up on Facebook. While public holidays are a great time to make some extra sales, they’re also extremely competitive; almost every company you can think of will be carrying out some kind of holiday promotion.
If you want to make the most of Christmas, Easter or whatever public holiday the government sees fit to bestow on us next, you’re going to have to work hard at it – which is where we come in.
This guide aims to offer a comprehensive view of marketing during public holidays. Obviously we can’t reveal all of our secrets, but you’ll find enough in here to up your sales and effectively utilise your marketing platforms.
First, we’re going to be delving into the world of organic online marketing – including content marketing and other fun surprises.
Content marketing is a vitally important part of online marketing, but also one of the hardest methods to achieve results from.
This is especially true during holiday periods, when most brands are creating content on roughly the same theme.
Successful content marketing over holiday periods is a combination of great, sharable content, originality and timing.
Creating ‘quality content’ is often spouted as a tip as if can be achieved through sheer force of will, but this simply isn’t the case. It requires a lot of research and thought, as well as talented producers (designers, writers, etc).
While we can’t tell you exactly what content to create, the tips below should set you on the right track:
Target an audience to narrow down your ideas
Holidays like Christmas and Easter are universally loved, which makes coming up with content difficult. A lot of content produced around holidays is unfocused and as such, doesn’t perform well.
Having a target audience in mind will help you narrow down your ideas. For example, you wouldn’t produce a post called ‘21 Easter lessons we can learn from 90s kids TV’ for 40-somethings but for teens and 20-somethings, it’d be a great idea.
Have an objective in mind when producing content: Content produced without a specific goal in mind generally falls flat for the same reasons as content without a target audience.
Having an objective you want to achieve with your content – more traffic, pushing a particular product, brand exposure, etc – helps you to focus your content.
Keep it relevant
A lot of brands lose their ‘voice’ when producing holiday-themed content. In the rush to get out anything to do with Christmas, companies will produce content completely irrelevant to what they do.
Keep it relevant!
Avoid tropes and cliches
There’s been so much Christmas and Easter-related content that most people have grown immune to it. Think about how many Christmas-related blog posts you skip past over the festive period.
To really stand out, you need to avoid the tropes and cliches of holiday-related content. Believe us when we say that there are very few ‘unbelievable facts’ about Christmas left. Instead, focus on what’s special about your brand and come up with something as original as possible that people will actually want to read, watch or listen to (and then hopefully share).
Marketing your content
With your content complete, you then need to start marketing it. This is actually the hardest part of content marketing; we’ve seen some companies produce brilliant pieces of work that have gone completely unnoticed because they simply didn’t market the content properly.
The best way to go about this is to create a publishing and marketing schedule based on previous data.
- Which of your channels gets the most exposure over holiday periods? Is Facebook effective for you? Have you experienced success sharing content on other sites?
- Which is most likely to drive conversions?
- Which will help you achieve your objectives?
All questions that need to be answered before you hit publish on anything.
You’ll also need to consider how you market your content, whether that’s a piece of writing, graphic or video:
- Your company blog
- Social media channels
- Email marketing
- Video and graphic sharing sites
- Asking industry-related bloggers and sites to share your content.
Content isn’t the only way
You’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘organic’ is simply another term for ‘content’ in the current online marketing climate, but you’d be wrong. There are plenty of other steps you can take to win some more juicy organic traffic.
Optimise relevant pages
Sell products directly related to a specific holiday? Create a page on your website specifically optimised around it! Include the name of the holiday in your page title and include frequently-searched terms within the copy to improve visibility – doing this can help your site rank for certain keywords and ensure that the traffic you receive is relevant.
Creating event-specific pages can also help with your PPC efforts, which we’ll be discussing a little bit more later on.
Giveaways and surprises
Everyone loves prizes, but they love them even more when it potentially bails them out of having to survive the Christmas or Easter hordes (yes, the Easter hordes do exist…). A timely giveaway will bring customers to your site, who’ll then hopefully go on to buy something. You can give them a little push by putting a call to action next to the competition entry form.
You can promote a competition in a number of ways: via social media, on competition websites (check the quality first!) or just through plain-old word of mouth and physical media.
Featuring a holiday-related ‘Easter egg’ hunt can also help build exposure for your brand. This usually involves hiding some kind of entertaining content within your website and either asking users to find it or letting them stumble upon it: Google are particularly good at this. If you wanted, you could tie your Easter egg in with a competition, offering a prize to whoever finds the hidden content first.
This method has a lot of potential. Users who find the hidden content will hopefully share with their friends. A website might include your site in a collection of the ‘web’s best Easter eggs’. It’s all good news!
PPC is often mistaken as a ‘sure thing’. You pay your money, you get your ad and loads of people come and buy stuff from you as a result. Sure thing.
Except it’s not. Running a successful PPC campaign requires meticulous and consistent management – especially over competitive periods such as public holidays.
These steps will help you get the most out of your PPC budget over competitive periods and ensure you’re making a strong return on your investment.
Review budgets for increased search volumes
More people search for products over the Christmas and Easter periods, which means increased click-throughs and exposure. This is obviously great, but it means you can end up spending your PPC budget sooner than usual.
Always review your budget before high search-volume periods; this involves making sure your budget is high enough to fulfil your targets and checking that your campaigns aren’t hitting limitations and being taken offline.
Upgrade to a Google Shopping Campaign
Google Shopping is an increasingly important means of attracting customers. The new Shopping Campaigns recently rolled out by Google are set to replace Product Listing Ads (PLA Campaigns).
Google Shopping campaigns have been brought in to address the historic complexities with setting up and managing Product Listing Ad campaigns. The key difference between the two is that Google Shopping campaigns give users access to inventory and product feed information directly in AdWords. Google has also added the ability to bulk edit product groups at scale.
The changes facilitate greater insights and control at product level within the AdWords interface itself. Regular Product Listing Ads campaigns will be retired in late August so now is the perfect time to upgrade so you can get used to the new features and be ready to take advantage of them in time for the next holiday shopping season.
Tailor your ad copy
People might not instantly associate your brand or products with the holiday you’re trying to capitalise on, so your copy will have to help them.
Include keywords associated with the holiday (so for Easter, you might have chocolate, eggs and, of course, Easter) and write to have some kind of emotional impact; you might play on the fears of last minutes shoppers, or tug on the heartstrings of parents. And of course, ensure that your latest promotions are included in your copy. So for example a January or mid-season sale.
Holidays are also a great time to utilise dynamic ad copy using AdWords scripts. Using AdWords Scripts you can display up-to-date and dynamic values in your text. A common example is a count-down to a sale to build anticipation. There is lots of information and examples of different scripts available online to help you get started.
Create and use custom landing pages
As mentioned under content marketing, creating a page dedicated to whichever holiday is approaching will help increase the relevancy of your ad to users. It’ll also reduce wasted clicks (and thus budget) by directing users to a destination that most accurately reflects their search.
Just make sure to user-test your landing page and ensure that users can find what they’re looking for once they land. Also make sure to push them towards relevant products gently – don’t oversell, but do include call to actions and prompts.
You should also allow potential customers to sort products using the following parameters; it’ll make conversions more likely as customers will be able to find what they’re looking for sooner:
- Sort products by price (low to high, high to low)
- Sort by most popular products
- Sort by stock levels (highest first, lowest last)
Implementing these features can improve the performance of your page in organic search too. An improved user experience will up the overall quality of your site, while also increasing conversions and reducing bounce rate.
Use site extensions to help your ad stand out
AdWords extensions are a powerful tool that can improve the click-through rate of your ad and improve your return on investment.
There are two extensions that are particular useful over holiday periods: site link extensions, and review extensions.
Site link extensions allow you to display links to different areas of the site. This allows you to help customers find specific groups of products. If you sell chocolate at Easter, for example, you’d be able to direct users towards ‘white chocolate eggs’, ‘dairy free’ and so on. It improves the experience of the searcher, thus improving your click-through rate and hopefully conversions.
The review extension helps give your brand authority in a competitive environment by displaying impartial reviews. The best approach is to display reviews from the past 12 months and from recognisable and trustworthy sources.
By taking the steps outlined in this post, you should find that your click-through rates and return on investment improves over Christmas, Easter and other holidays.
Social media isn’t about simply posting your latest must-have product and waiting for the masses to come. It isn’t even about the number of likes and followers you get. Social should be about engagement – not just preaching to your fans, but actually having an ongoing conversation with them.
The following suggestions will help to reduce that echo space and forge profitable relationships with some of your brand’s most valuable cheerleaders.
Determine who you are targeting
B2C brands are often guilty of posting when it suits their business (i.e. 9-5) and forget that their target audience are more likely to be interacting on social media when it suits them. Sadly your must-have product, hilarious meme or version of ‘One does not simply…’ posted at 2pm will lack influence with someone more likely to be engaged at 8pm.
Here we will focus on Facebook and Twitter, however if you have any questions regarding Pinterest, G+, YouTube or any other platforms, feel free to ask away in the comments. Or if you’d prefer a comprehensive guide, we’ll be happy to oblige in our next post!
Establishing when your fans are online
This will largely depend on the nature of your business, but once you understand when your fans are using Facebook, you can tailor and time your posts accordingly.
You can better understand your fans behaviour using the straightforward breakdown in Facebook insights:
Settings > Insights > Posts > When your fans are online
Determining fan demographics
If you have a men’s underwear business then determining the male/female split of your fans is probably fairly obvious (unless you’ve got David Beckham modelling). However, determining what your fans respond to is certainly insightful.
Male to female split and age groups: Insights > People > Your fans
Determining which posts (pictures, links, status updates etc.) perform best: Insights > Posts > Post types
Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t come with a generous insight feature like Facebook, however there are a number of free tools you can use to gain an insight into your following:
Twitonomy.com – Hours could be spent on this as you sift through related tweets and your most influential users, but stay with it, because Twitonomy offers useful insight into which tweets perform well for you (favourites and retweets). Simply sign in with your Twitter log-in, go to your dashboard and hit ‘analyse a Twitter profile’.
Twittercounter.com – Twitter Counter requires you to pay for a premium account in order to gain an insight into your followers, however it does have a compare function so you can easily track your fan uptake against your competitors.
Bit.ly – the ‘two birds with one stone’ URL tool. Signing up with Bit.ly allows you to keep tabs on all of the links you have shortened (regardless of where you’ve posted). Using the ‘stats’ function you can view how many times your link was clicked and at what time of the day.
Now you have an insight, how can you target your audience?
Now you understand a little more about your audience and what makes them tick, but how do you reach them at the ideal time?
Facebook: Facebook scheduled posts makes this simple, just write your post as you would normally and then click on the clock icon in the left hand corner of the status box. You can view your scheduled posts before they go live by clicking ‘edit page’ and ‘use activity log’.
Tweetdeck: For Twitter, there are some fantastic management platforms available, however as these are available for an ongoing fee, Tweetdeck is the ideal (free) choice when keeping your social media management in-house. Simply pen a tweet as you usually would and use the schedule feature to fire off your tweet at the optimum time.
Try it out
If your accounts are new and you haven’t yet built a realistic insight into your fans, simply test it out for yourself by sending out the same style of post (picture, video, status and link) at varying times. Chances are, one of the posts will receive a significantly higher rate of engagement, giving you a useful initial insight into when your fans are biting.
Maximise your social budget and spread the word
Unfortunately, where Facebook is concerned, brands are now expected to pay in order to reach their fans. <ahref=”http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2014/03/06/the-approaching-demise-of-organic-reach-in-facebook/”>Organic reach has significantly dropped
over the past 2 years, and with increasingly meagre results, marketers have come to accept that organic reach now hovers around the 2% mark at worst and the 6% mark at best.
Suddenly upping your advertising spend in order to capitalise on a holiday period isn’t the aim here however, and ideally you should plan to increase advertising in a more sustainable way for your brand.
Start small to build interest
If your Facebook advertising budget is modest, then the most effective way to make your budget stretch is to set up a ‘lifetime’ spend up to 2 months before the holiday period. Using just a few dollars a day can help attract new fans and spark interest from early shoppers.
This can then be increased in the ‘key sales’ weeks before the holiday period. A spend of $20 per day for two weeks can significantly increase your reach and generate much needed hype – just be sure to stop the ad in accordance with your final delivery dates.
Luckily with Twitter, content still prevails and given that a tweet lasts seconds, paid advertising isn’t yet as mainstream as it is on Facebook.
However that doesn’t mean a few tweets are all that is required to take you to viral heights and reap millions over a bank holiday weekend:
Carve your niche
Social media management platforms allow users to alert them to tweets containing selected keywords. This can be very useful, allowing you to respond to a real customer need.
For example if you run a sweet shop, by setting up alerts for ‘American sweets’ or ‘retro sweets’ you have the option to respond to genuine queries. That tweet of “I want American sweets NOW” is suddenly on your radar!
You can utilise this function with Tweetdeck, by simply searching for your keywords and selecting ‘add column’.
The same principles apply with hashtags, use them sparingly, but use them well, searching for popular holiday trends or even creating your own in order to promote an offer or product.
Have we covered what you wanted to know?
As with all of our Fluid Thinking posts, if you would like to put a question to our team then please just add your query to the comments.
Likewise, if you have a great idea for a guide (be that development, design or marketing based) just let us know and we’ll add it to the blog.