Let’s talk Christmas, what happens to your sales over the ‘quiet period’ and Why Your Facebook Ads Should Run Over Christmas.
We traditionally get a lot of clients ringing up and wanting to put their advertising on ice for the ‘quite’ December period. They believe that over this time, customers are just not looking for their products or services and that magically in the middle of January they can flip the magic light switch and turn their ads back on to instant sales or lead generation.
The scary part is, and the factor that a lot of people do not take into consideration is the sales cycle that their customers are actually in. It is not uncommon for our clients to have a 30-60 day (or even more) sales cycle where their customers are ultimately making the decision to purchase or buy from them.
Many businesses, although they shut down over the Christmas/New Year period and don’t physically see their clients are not factoring in the thought that their clients, in December, are actually making purchase decisions for February and if you are not Front of Mind for them now, you are sadly going to miss the opportunity to convert to them in the new year.
It’s crazy expensive to advertise over Christmas IF you are doing it wrong
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some compelling reasons NOT to advertise over Christmas. Facebook and Instagram ad targeting can be brutally expensive during the holiday season. Facebook and Instagram turn into a storm of self-promoting brand posts and advertisements the second the world commences on Black Friday sales. Australia, although immune to this historically, is now feeling the BFCM pincers tightening down and retailers are jumping on the heavily discounted bandwagon, racing to the bottom of the RRP ladder and driving up the cost per acquisition (CPA) of platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Brands are predicted to spend $23.68 billion on social ads in 2017. Add that to the unpaid promotional content every business is pumping out by the second across every single channel made available to them and it becomes borderline impossible to reach your customers through purely organic efforts. The sad realisation is that you must pay to be heard and while trying to sell a product or service might not be viable, there is a real need for brand awareness and Top of Mind advertising to get your February sales entering your awareness end of the funnel for early qualification.
But if you’re deciding NOT to advertise over the holidays to avoid the expense, you’ll also avoid the online conversion rate predicted to rise 60% during the holiday season. On top of that, you’ll also miss the doubled click-through rate, a 150% increase in direct traffic, the 30% average order value growth, and a 50% increase on your ad impressions.
Allocate ad spend over the holidays to Retargeting
So what do we recommend doing over Christmas to make sure that you are sitting in a good position come mid-January? Start with who you know.
Over October-December rush, your website has had one of the biggest influxes of visitors over the whole year. Of this, traditionally 3-7% of the website visitors converting to buying from you. What about the other 95-ish% of customers that showed interest but not intent? You need to be remarketing your brand, products and services to these people over the dormant holiday season so when January rolls around, you are top of mind and they choose to pick up where they left off before the rush.
Let’s take one of our service based customers for example. They sell a service that checks and helps fix sleep apnoea. These ads are highly effective to the wives of these snoring men. The lovely wives are researching ways to get hubby to stop snoring and they land on one of our client’s ads. They are in an ‘interest’ stage of the sale and are shopping around for solutions. The problem is though, it was Early December when she saw our advertisement and then she got busy.
She got flustered with all things Christmas. She had to organise all things seasonal this time of year and just flat out pushed a snoring problem to the side. The problem is, hubby isn’t going to stop snoring out of consideration to the busy wife. In fact, with the amount of booze and rich food he’s going to consume over this season, he’s actually going to get next-level with his nighttime noises.
While this lovely wife is putting up with the snoring purely as she’s just too busy to do anything about it, the additional noises coming out of hubby over the festive season will surely push her over the edge and get her looking for a solution real quick in the new year.
Now, what was that company that she saw an ad for 4 weeks ago? Darn it, she cannot remember who the company was and she’s going to have to start looking all over again. It’s a pity though as she saw all the great reviews the brand had and was set on making dear hubby a booking for a consultation. Imagine if, you were that business and you decided to do some effective retargeting over the holidays, keeping your service/product front of mind. Not only will the prospective client have a brand ingrained in their mind, they’ll also have ongoing reminders until they are ready to buy.
This scenario could play out in any business providing a service that isn’t directly tied to the holiday period. It could even be extremely relevant for product sales that are not related to buying to wrap up and put under the tree. What if your business is selling something that is needed every day but falls by the wayside over Christmas. It could be something like pet food, or beauty products. What happens when January 2nd rolls around, the extended families all go home, the tree gets packed away and people get back to their normal routine?
Is that new dog food brand that you wanted to try still top of mind? Did your sleep centre messaging stick in someone’s mind? Are your hair products still a consideration? Or did everything you worked so hard for in your regular 60-day sales cycle get paused and forgotten about. What happens now for your sales?
The harsh reality is, that there is no real magic light switch if your sales cycle is 30-60 days and you turn your ads off and on all the time.
If there is no great intent for your prospective customers to purchase right away, they are going to start off on the sales cycle all over again and you are going to be stressing part way through January over the fact that you’ve got record low sales and it’s going to be two whole months until it all kicks back in again.
So what can you do about it? What can ensure that when you turn up for work in the new year, you’ve got clients ready to book your service or purchase your products with a high intent? The good news is that you can stay top of mind over the holiday season, even if it means dialling back your ad spend to save on those over-inflated acquisition costs.
If January 2nd isn’t your first day on the internet, your business already has an audience. People follow your accounts and engage with your content. Participants enter into your contests and subscribe to your email lists. Customers visit your website and read your blogs and every single one of these touch points is a targetable audience. You can get your message in front of people who interacted with your content up to 180 days prior. That’s a long window of retargeting the clients to slipped away or got distracted.
Use the Christmas period to get some awareness messaging out to these people to keep your brand/products/services top of mind.
Use your Facebook and Instagram targeting with these people.
Through retargeting with Facebook Custom Audiences, you can build a highly targeted group of Facebook users (using website views, email lists or through a third-party database) before you ever send out a single ad.
Even if the actual cost per click or conversion on these audiences is higher than average over the Christmas season – it’ll be worth it because these are actually qualified leads that have explicitly shown interest in your business. The budget you spend reaching these people is not a waste. And them seeing your ads certainly won’t anger what could be a potential future customer.
So let’s keep some messaging in front of these highly-targeted audiences over Christmas to keep front of mind for the new year.
The beauty is, you don’t even need to spend extortionate amounts of cash to get in front of them either as they are a warm target and you are only popping into their newsfeeds at this stage to say hi.
Allocating as little as $10-15 per day over Christmas to keep in front of these pre-qualified audiences is single-handedly one of the best ways to ensure that when their intent levels rise again after the silly season, your brand is front and centre and there are minimal barriers for you to lock in a sale.
So now that we’ve saved your January sales through retargeting people with intent and spending very little to do so, how are we going to kick on with February?
Those wives of the snorers are going to be booking dear husband in for your service as soon as you open the doors in January as frankly, she never wants to put up with that level of snoring again. Now we need to turn the dial up on finding new clients and getting the sales funnel filled up again with interest based customers.
Let’s do this by finding some more customers that are in the same boat as the ones you’ve just delighted over Christmas.
Let’s reach out to similar people, who we know we can sell to.
The great thing about this is, Facebook has created ingenious algorithms that find other people on Facebook and Instagram who exhibit the same characteristics as the fans in those custom audiences that you’ve been growing over December.
This custom algorithm goes way, way beyond the simple interest demographics that you can plug into your ads manager – Facebook knows most people better than they know themselves, so it’s exceptionally accurate.
Using your existing custom audience of those high intent content viewers, you can create a Lookalike Audience of similar potential customers from any location. This is a powerful way to expand your audience to hundreds, even thousands of new potential customers – without wasting money on standard demographic targeting to people who don’t care.
You’ve suddenly grown your reach to potential new clients, based on your high intent lists, using Facebook’s scarily accurate algorithms to match you up with them.
According to Facebook Insider, you’ve actually got access to 273,000 touch points of information to base this lookalike audience off. That’s 273,000 snippets of information on your potentials, right down to the restaurants they check in to, the brand of makeup they last purchased online, the blog sites they visit and the videos that they watch – scary right, like I said, Facebook knows more about people than they know themselves.
So that’s it. That’s a pretty compelling reason to keep advertising over Christmas. If your sales cycle lies dormant for a few weeks, you are actually hurting your performance in February and beyond. Simple retargeting based off people who have some a level of interaction or intent can not only provide you with a quick win in the new year to sell to them, but also give you 273,000 intricate touch points to build up your cold leads in the new year.