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5 Remarketing Rules for the 2014 Holidays

5 Remarketing Rules for the 2014 Holidays

Few things are more hectic than the Holiday season for retailers, and for good reason. Businesses can make up to 40% of their yearly revenue in a very short period of time. This will be no different in 2014 as sales for the crucial holiday season are expected to rise over 4% – to $616.9 billion – the largest raise since 2011* How can you ensure that your business has a happy Q4 amid what is the most crucial and competitive time of the year? One word: remarketing.

Here are my 5 rules for remarketing for the 2014 Holiday Season

*National Retail Federation, “Optimism Shines as National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 4.1%, October 7, 2014”

RULE #1 – The Holidays are More than The Holidays

Santa makes his list and checks it twice, and if it’s good enough for Santa it’s good enough for me. If you want to be successful for the holidays, that pursuit begins the on December 26th.

Remarketing requires the creation of audiences or the collection of e-mails throughout the year. This is the very keystone of remarketing, and should be treated similarly to how keywords are treated within a search campaign.

While creating audiences or collecting e-mails is a numbers game, it is essential that these be segmented further by product, service, web page visited, and site (web, blog, YouTube, etc). Creating highly segmented groups of buyers over the course of the year will allow you to target them as granularly as possible, which should lead to better click through rates (CTR) and conversion metrics. Taking the extra time to segment your targets can very well be the difference between a happy and a horrible holiday.

RULE #2 – Normal Rules Do Not Apply

I remember a lifetime ago working the Christmas Eve shift at Brine’s Sporting Goods in Cambridge, MA. Our staff would take bets on who could sell the oldest, dirtiest or most useless thing in the store. Without fail, a procrastinating student desperate for a gift for his girlfriend would buy that faded lime green Boston Celtics scarf that had been under the rusted water heater since ’76. We might see that student again, but never with the girlfriend he mentioned.

My point? Normal rules don’t apply.

Holiday shoppers are consumers on steroids. They are going to buy, buy multiple times, and often buy things their demographic would never buy under normal situations. How do you deal with the chaos?

  • Increase impression caps or remove all together – People are looking to buy and are less likely to be offended if your ads follow them around 24/7.
  • Removing conversion exclusion – Normally, a conversion exclusion helps increase ad efficiency, but in the time of rampant consumerism, it doesn’t make sense to artificially limit your sales potential by with a conversion exclusion. If one purchase is good, six is great, so keep those ads running.
  • End any exclusions – During the rest of the year, it’s prudent to have ad exclusions to eliminate any market segment you aren’t interested in your product. That 64 year old Soccer Mom you’d generally exclude from the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ad campaign?  She has a 17 year old grandson who desperately wants a copy. While you’re at it, don’t exclude him from the Lawrence Welk retrospective CD collection

RULE #3 – Use a Little Bit of Everything

When most people think of remarketing, they think of the banner and text ads that follow them around after they leave a site. This basic element of remarketing is still highly effective, especially for users that have already considered a purchasing a product.
However, this is only the tip of the remarketing iceberg. Other options are available that perform equally well, if not better. More importantly, there may be options your competition has yet to consider.

  • Remarketing for Promotion – You can deliver a banner promotion to segmented audiences familiar with your brand that offers discounts, associated product or services simply by loading new creative ads into an already built out Google re-marketing campaign. No costly clicks, no text limitations, and precisely targeted to people either familiar with your brand (site visitor/audiences) or those that have similar behaviors (similar audiences). Where’s the downside?Remarketing for Promotion
  • Dynamic Remarketing – Allows for personalized remarketing at scale! Visitors to your site are cookied and their product viewed is recorded. They are then fed personalized ads from a feed specific to what they viewed on the site. Google claims that these ads have shown an increase conversion rate of 2X and 60% decrease in CPAs.Dynamic Remarketing
  • Remarketing Lists for Search (RLSA) – Unlike traditional remarketing which occurs within the Google Display Network (GDN), RLSA occurs within the traditional search engine results page (SERP). Using audiences similar to traditional remarketing, RLSA allows you to create campaigns that bid on more generic keywords that you would normally avoid. For example, if I’m selling “offshore drilling service” I probably won’t bid on “drilling service” or “drill service” since these terms could be anything from drill sharpening at Home Depot, to local contractors. However, if the searcher has been to your site or converted in the past, they have put themselves in the proper context and allow you to bid more openly on similar terms.Remarketing for Promotion
  • Facebook Remarketing – Allows the marketer to target in a more “social” channel through custom audiences created from website visitors, app users, MailChimp e-mail list, or even a .csv or .txt data file. Custom audiences can also be further refined with standard Facebook targeting for things such as gender, geography, age, and marital status. Much like Google remarketing’s “similar audiences”, Facebook also gives you the option to create a “lookalike audience” based on similarity and/or reach.

RULE #4 – Communicate by Holiday Proximity (and get it Approved)

Don’t just acknowledge the Holiday season in your creative, acknowledge how close you are to the Holiday and tailor your ad copy / creative accordingly.

  • Early Birds – Early Birds want to be rewarded for having their shopping done before Halloween or Thanksgiving. Give them creative that features “Free shipping” or deep discounts. It’s equally as important to give them a low price guarantee so they don’t feel their diligence will be punished late in the shopping season when additional discounts may be offered.
  • Black Friday – Feature valuable promotions, extended hour notifications, in-stock guarantees, and rain check opportunities. It is also important, especially in recent years, to offer assurances of safety and additional security.
  • 11th Hour – Guarantee shipping for the Holiday, last-second discounts, or an in-stock guarantee all work well for the shopping procrastinator.

It is important to create all these messages well in advance of the Holidays so that Google has enough time to review and approve. A week should be more than enough but if the opportunity exists, get it done 2-3 weeks out. Great creative or a fantastic promotion mean little is you’re looking for approval on the night of the 24th.

RULE #5 – Don’t Back Down but Don’t Be Stupid

As we’ve discussed, remarketing is a wonderful channel because it allows you to target people familiar with your brand and lets you do so without having to bid on highly competitive keywords during the most competitive time of the year. Competitor’s budgets are bigger, there are new/ seasonal players joining in the fray and limited real estate becomes even more crowded.

While we encourage you to increase bids and budgets to maintain your desired impression share, don’t do so without tempering it with Return on Investment (ROI). It is essential to remember that more players in the market doesn’t mean that these players are tracking or know what they are doing.

If you sell a product and have been monitoring the ROI, or at the very least, judging a campaign based on conversions, you are doing it the right way. Many in the market are gauging success by visibility (“Oh yeah, I see my ad at the top every time!”) or traffic volume. Neither visibility of visits pay the bills so don’t get caught up in a fool’s game.

Wrapping It Up

The next few months are going to get bumpy, so buckle up. If you’re prepared for the changes, then you can make huge gains during the consumer frenzy. For a fully customized remarketing strategy, contact Forthea today.

Jon Bowers
Jon has seen it all. He is a digital team lead at Forthea and has been part of the online marketing community since its emergence in the 1990s, but don’t worry, he’s vowed to never use phrases like think outside the box, ninja, rock star, or visionary entrepreneur.


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