This isn’t your first time experiencing the end of the year holiday shopping frenzy, so you are well aware of the seasonal boost in consumer spending and Q4 revenue that kicked off on Halloween and won’t slow down till well into the new year.
The 10 biggest USA sale days of 2018 will all occur between November and December, because Q4 is as stuffed with high conversion shopping days as an only child’s Christmas stocking is stuffed with trinkets and sweets. That’s because gift buying, decorating, splurging on bargains, traveling, and stocking up on gear for New Year’s resolutions, is all par for the course for the next several weeks.
What is interesting for app marketers is that in recent years, the seasonal boost has been increasingly mobile; a recent survey found that 48% of the polled audience was going to increase their digital shopping during the holidays, sighting they now feel more comfortable completing purchases on mobile devices, enjoy the convenience of avoiding crowds, and believe their gadgets help them bag better deals than when physically shopping in stores. And with overall consumer confidence at its highest levels since 2000 by some measurements, the mobile boost for November and December is poised to equal or surpass the epic 17.8% increase in retail ecommerce sales seen in 2017 (eMarketer predicts US e-commerce alone will generate $123.4 billion in Q4 revenue).
So enough data and hype, we all want a piece of the holiday UA and conversion boost, so let’s get to some actionable insights! Our international Mobile Masterminds have pooled together their knowledge to share how they plan to get the most out of their end of the year marketing budgets, so check out their stories below and put their insight to work for you, see you at the bottom!
Planning ahead will save you $$
The first insight comes from Arturo Camargo, who was the Head of Growth and Marketing at InstaFit App during the holiday season last year. He says getting an early start and ramping up to the holidays is critical to getting the most out of the end of the year marketing spend. Timing can mean the difference between campaigns that reach highly engaged holiday season users at a killer CPI, and expensive campaigns that reach a fraction of your usual audience.
And what qualifies as an “early start” may be changing for many verticals. If your brand will be advertising to encourage purchases of holiday gifts, for example, according to Google Trends, in 2017 searches for “Christmas gift ideas” began to take off as early as the end of October. And with the wealth of search data easily available, marketers are increasingly targeting these early searchers and starting their campaigns progressively earlier in the year. ((Free shipping is critical and remember, you have an extra shipping day with thanksgiving on the 22nd this year as opposed to last year, when it was on the 23rd!))
To compensate, Arturo says his winning strategy last year was building an audience before the holidays, while CPMs were still stable. Additionally, pre-booking ad placements made it possible to negotiate the best prices and ensure that the premium placements he wanted were available, and didn’t get scooped up by other companies with bigger purse strings. With his strategic spend pre-booked he then identified the best dates to focus on alternative, cheaper channels (email, SMS, push notifications, etc.) to retarget users with tailored messaging and boost CTR and CVR.
“InstaFit was an interesting app to strategize for during the holidays last year. As a fitness app, we weren’t sure if we would be able to see the end of year boost in our particular vertical, until the New Year’s resolution season kicked in (in January), and weren’t sure if increased marketing budget was going to be worth it too far out from the new year.
We decided to begin our holiday campaigns at the beginning of November, with an emphasis on emails and push notifications, and saw a significant boost in CTR and installs. We then focused the rest of our budget on retargeting leading up to the new year. What we found was, for us, a low-cost multichannel approach was key to keeping the momentum up until the first of the year, at a sustainable budget for the still growing app.“- Arturo Camargo, Head of Growth in LATAM
Delight your audience with the right deals for the occasion
Our next bit of insight comes from Rocio Perez, the Mobile Acquisition Manager at Liligo (Edreams Odigeo). Although the meta travel search app is relatively new in the market, Rocio isn’t, and her previous experience marketing during the end of the year quarter told her she needed the eye-catching creatives and special deals to boost conversions.
Many marketers use festive colors and seasonal references during the holiday season, as they have been shown to increase new and existing users’ interest in app store listings, ad creatives, and retargeting. But interested users will only convert if their expectations are met. If you change your app’s icon or UI, or use festive creatives, you need to deliver something new and exciting in order to actually turn users’ curiosity, into conversions, which is where special deals and promos come into play.
But for many apps, the ability to offer special deals or promos is limited. In the case of Liligo’s app, Rocio wanted her campaigns to center around a great offer, but as a metasearch site that doesn’t actually control any of their pricing, they were facing a roadblock. So what was the workaround?
“For discount season, we were facing a difficult situation as a metasearch app, so we switched our thinking from what we could try and offer, to instead partnering with our providers to promote their offers. Our sales team has been working hard to get exclusive offers with existing providers and even use the opportunity to find new deals with airlines. We will focus on 4 channels to promote the new offers:
1.) Promote dedicated FB campaigns for Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Christmas, which will display the right banners for each occasion with offers and new prices 2.) Share discount banners with our retargeting partners during the campaigns 3.) Promote the campaigns with our top networks 4.) Send a special newsletter with all deals/offers per country.
The plan is to then complement the channels with push notifications to existing users and personalize them depending on their engagement. We will aim our final efforts at impacting dormant users with the most aggressive discounts we have collected from the airlines in order to engage them.”-Rocío Pérez, Mobile Acquisition Manager at Liligo
By thinking outside the box, any app can offer something special or new to capitalize on the increased interest during the end of the year seasonal. It’s important when possible, to have your deals and design elements evolve to fit the different contexts in November and December, like Liligo’s segmented Black Friday and Christmas campaigns. In November ads might countdown to a big sale with fall colors, but mid-December the focus should shift to “last minute” gift ideas, “free shipping” or “delivery by the big day” messaging, to evolve with your user’s interests. And make sure to update your creatives after the holiday is over to avoid looking outdated. You don’t want to look like the app equivalent of that neighbor that keeps their Christmas lights up till February.
Don’t get hung up on the expensive dates
For eCooltra’s Mobile Marketing Manager, Michael Jessen, the key to successful campaigns during the holidays is not to get caught up in the bidding wars. Instead, eCooltra focuses on increasing intelligent spending with a well thought out seasonal retargeting strategy that is right for their target region, audience, and app vertical.
The end of the year shopping season offers lots of opportunities to generate revenue that strategic marketers can take advantage of and avoid battling big brands on Black Friday/Cyber Monday/White Friday. Although they are all gaining in popularity, Retargeting Tuesday, Boxing Day, Singles Day, Free Shipping Day, Buen Fin (and others), are some great opportunities to connect with specific audiences around the world. Additionally, countries that celebrate Christmas see spending increase on all weekends in December and the 20-24th see even higher sale rates than on Black Friday in the US (and if free shipping is important for you, remember you have an extra shipping day with thanksgiving on the 22nd this year as opposed to last year when it was on the 23rd!).
Marketers should view “Retargeting Tuesday” as the opening of the retargeting season, leading up to the new year. Looking at our own campaign data from last year we found the majority of our clients increased ad spending beginning in November and kept their spend relatively consistent until the new year. You can run retargeting campaigns to chase prospects who showed previous interest in one of your ads, or target your existing users and prompt them to return and make an in-app action or purchase. The popular scooter sharing app eCooltra will strike a balance between chasing the peak opportunity dates as well as budgeting for a general push. Their Mobile Marketing Manager, Michael Jessen explained how the app implements this concept.
“We will be offering a special discount pack of 750 minutes for bargain hunters, then for the rest of the holiday season we will be focusing on retention campaigns. Fighting for placements on specific dates during the holidays doesn’t make sense for us (as the cold season is a natural low season for scooter rentals) so we instead will do our big push with the discount offer ramping up to Black Friday, then maintain a consistent presence with retargeting to engage with existing users.“- Michael Jessen, Mobile Marketing Manager at eCooltra