The holiday season is the perfect time to boost your social media strategy and paid social media efforts to drive sales all season long. As both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores continue to deal with the shift in consumer behaviors and the growing demand for online shopping, it’s a good idea to start planning your holiday strategy early! We’ve put together a checklist of steps you can take to help you stay organized and kick-start your social and ad strategy for the holiday season.

Review Last Year’s Holiday Strategy & Your Top Competitors

If this is your business’s first holiday season and you don’t have an old holiday strategy to review, the best place to start is by researching your top competitors. Conducting a competitor content analysis can offer valuable insight on what works and what doesn’t with your own target audience to help you figure out how to put together a successful strategy. While analyzing your top competitors, here are a few questions that can help you determine what type of approach might work best for your business:

  • What type of content (lifestyle images, product images, videos, etc) did your competitor use to appeal to their target audience?
  • What type of copy did they use– did they ditch the hard sell? Did they market with a sense of urgency? 
  • What type of content did they create and see the most engagement on?
  • Are they incorporating stories in their content strategy and encouraging user-generated content?
  • Did they run ads during the holidays? If so, what platforms did they run ads on?
  • Is there anything new that they’re doing that you’re not that your target audience is receptive to?

If you do have an old holiday strategy to review for the upcoming holiday season, take a deeper look at last year’s performance and determine which parts of your strategy were the most successful. When analyzing your old holiday strategy, here are a few areas to start with: 

  • Did your strategy have a clear and defined concept/ goal?
  • Was your social content and ad content cohesive across all marketing channels, portraying a common theme and a message that increases brand recognition and entices conversions?
  • Did you run the right ad objectives to serve your core concept? 
  • Did your strategy include dynamic or soft remarketing ads?
  • How did ads perform on each platform and within certain placements?
  • Did your marketing efforts generate a reasonable return on investment?
  • Did you monitor ad performance and turn off ineffective ads with a high cost per result, low click-through-rates, and low conversions?
  • Did you test copy and content for ads and social media to see what works best to drive engagement and conversions?

Answering these questions about your old strategy can help you better understand how to build a strategy that improves problem areas and helps you achieve this year’s holiday goals.

Define Your Goals & Outline Your Strategy

Once you’ve reviewed your biggest competitors and old holiday strategy, it’s time to define this year’s strategy. Be specific and clear on the goals you’re looking to achieve with your holiday strategy. Are you looking to grow your followers and build engagement? Do you want to promote and push certain products for the holidays? Drive new qualified traffic? If you have more than one goal, consider how these goals can work together and build off one another.

Plan Social Posts & Ad Content Early

After you’ve clearly identified your goals for your holiday strategy, align that with your creative direction. Give yourself ample time to create content that fits each of your social platforms so that your marketing efforts are consistent. While putting together your creative strategy, consider each social platform independently and what type content would work best for each one to reach your goals. The creative direction of your holiday social strategy should be elevated from your everyday social strategy to help you stand out from the competition. Here are a few questions you can answer to help you plan your creative concept accordingly:

  • Consider the type of content you want to use: Will you need to take holiday-themed products or lifestyle photos? Does your creative strategy include IG story video content? Do you have enough time to curate a hashtag to build user-generated content that you can repurpose for the holiday content?
  • How many posts will you need for the holiday season? How many ad creatives will you need to support your organic efforts? 
  • What products or services will be at the core focus of your strategy? Consider focusing your strategy on the items that will produce the best return by promoting your top sellers, seasonal hot buys, and easy-to- gift options.
  • What approach works best for your target audience– the hard sell? Limited time offers? Product teasers? Be clear, intentional and genuine with your post copy.
  • Are your social accounts set up to incorporate shoppable posts and make your products easily accessible across all platforms?
  • Will investing in a scheduling tool help you maintain your holiday strategy?

Set Up Ad Campaigns For Success

Having a well thought out ad strategy to coincide with your organic social media strategy during the holidays can help put your marketing efforts over the top. Building a strong ad strategy starts with a Facebook pixel. If you’ve never run ads before and you’re planning on doing so in the future, make sure you install your pixel as soon as possible to start collecting data on your website visitors and their user behaviors. Once your pixel is installed you can optimize your ads to drive more sales.

As you take the time to build out your ad funnel, look over your ad insights and performance data from the previous quarter and holiday season. Determine what type of ad content is connecting with your target audience and use the invaluable information your Facebook pixel provides to make adjustments and optimize your marketing strategy for the holidays. Here are a few areas you should be analyzing to better understand how your ads are performing:

  • Are you a/b testing ad content, copy and calls to action early enough to know what will work for your holiday campaigns?
  • Have you optimized your audience targeting and created custom audiences that are tracking the right products and user behaviors to align with your campaign objectives?
  • Are you utilizing customer lists and customer lists with value-based data to improve and enhance your targeting? 
  • Do you have a catalog setup and approved to use for dynamic remarketing campaigns?
  • Do you have custom audiences set up to track product landing pages or categories so you can run soft dynamic remarketing campaigns on your site’s most recent visitors or checkouts?
  • Do your ads have tracking parameters so you can attribute where your sales are coming from on each platform and from which ad creative?

Align your ad strategy with the big picture of your social strategy. If your primary goal for the holiday is to drive sales while focusing on promoting a specific category of products, you’ll need to build out your ad funnel so that you have campaigns running that nurture consumers at each stage of the buyer’s journey. A full funnel ad strategy encompasses more than just ads that focus on conversions. Prioritize running multiple ad campaigns that work together to build out the top of your funnel with new audiences and simultaneously move people through the funnel so that they convert.  By aligning your ad funnel with the buyer’s journey stages, you can better optimize your marketing funnel and maximize your marketing efforts.

Now that you know what it takes to elevate your holiday strategy, don’t let the holidays sneak up on you. Planning the perfect social media and ads strategy early will allow you to sit back and relax with confidence, knowing you’ve set your business up for its best holiday season yet! If you’re still not sure how to plan your strategy, ask the ecommerce experts at Studio how we can set your social media up for success for the holidays.