Black Friday is around the corner and with that commences the silly season. More than ever, brands must consider how they make their mark online in the face of big budget TV tearjerkers that John Lewis and Sainsbury’s have become famous for. 

Forecasts for Black Friday from IMRG show spend in the UK tipping the billion-pound mark, 32% up from 2014. Last year’s overall Christmas spending reached £21.6 billion, and if brands want a piece of the pie they’ll need to cut through the festive noise. Below are AdRoll’s top four tips for optimising your online Christmas trade.

Get your timeline in order

With bargain hunters getting going on the last payday a month before Christmas, it’s important to prepare for the big dates:

  • November 27: Black Friday – A big day for ‘click-and-mortar’ brands means capturing on-the-go savers with a strong mobile push. Prepare ahead of time with mobile ads that highlight low prices.
  • November 30: Cyber Monday – The biggest competition for inventory you’ll see all year. Create ads that blend Cyber Monday with time-sensitive promotions and discounts. Think “Quick – Get it before it’s gone” or “limited supply”.
  • December 1: Retargeting Tuesday – Get ready to bring back customers that looked at your products but didn’t make a purchase. Use retargeting to create personalised product recommendations that turn Cyber Monday browsers into Retargeting Tuesday buyers. This is also a great time to re-engage dormant customers with new products and deals.

Mobile is king

Last year, half of all online shopping traffic came from mobile and 30% of Christmas spending was done using a smartphone or tablet. Mobile purchases were up 55% on 2013, to £8 billion. Cross-device retargeting is therefore an essential investment to let advertisers re-engage desktop visitors as they move to mobile devices, or retarget mobile site visitors when they turn to desktop computers to research larger purchases. 

But many brands are lagging behind in mobile optimisation, as desktop is easier to optimise. The key is to remember that screen size is significantly reduced and consider formats that use this as a strength. Brands should use mobile to pre-empt what the consumer’s goal is, making the path to conversion as smooth as possible within the format.

Prospecting for new customers

While search still remains the most popular channel marketers rely on for new customers, tactics like lookalike and behavioural targeting are gaining traction. New tools let advertisers target new audiences even more effectively. 

Rather than relying on static or demographic data, you can turn to predictive audience targeting to find users who act like your existing customers. 

Smart segmentation

Ad impressions get pretty competitive during Christmas, which means the cost of a bad impression goes up dramatically. To cap things off, make sure you have all your audience segments set up correctly so you’re engaging people with the right messaging:

  • Comparison shoppers – Set up unique segments for visitors who browsed specific products or pages on your site. Visitors who land on your accessories page, for example, can be served with personalised ads for jewellery they browsed.
  • Shopping cart abandoners – set up this segment for your highest intent users to remind them about interesting in your products when the time comes for them to make a purchase decision.
  • Converted users – set up loyalty campaigns to retarget past customers – particularly ones who showed you some love last Christmas.