Tricks of the marketing trade

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Making the most of your Christmas marketing budget (Part One)

Summer 2014 is well and truly over and Christmas is on the way.

You might think we’re jumping the gun by talking Christmas, but by September many retailers have already got their yuletide plans locked in.

Of course, there’s no need to panic if you haven’t. The festive frenzy in retail runs right up until Christmas Eve and there’s still time to launch a digital marketing plan which reaches the right customers in the right places online.

Christmas is the most important period in the retail calendar and for this reason it’s also the most competitive. So what does that mean to you as a digital retailer? It means that marketing your products will be more challenging and more expensive.

Big brands will spend millions to get millions back. Smaller brands can’t afford to do that but with expert help they can still enjoy a bumper Christmas return.

This week, a team of Hit Search experts will be hosting a day long workshop designed to optimise e-retail marketing campaigns for Christmas 2014. It’s going to be a really exciting day, giving retailers a chance to work with their peers to perfect their all-important holiday strategy.

The key takeaway that we hope people benefit from is the fact that a successful digital marketing campaign should communicate with shoppers at every stage of the decision-making process; and shouldn’t give them the cold shoulder once they’ve made a purchase either.

Let’s take a look at a typical customer purchase process:


Main Content: 

As we move down the funnel, the online shopper gets closer to interacting with your brand and giving you money. At the top, they might be familiar with your brand but not yet be in the market for your stuff. You might sell clothes or gifts. Once people decide to shop around for these things, you need to convince them to choose you over the competition.

Let’s say they do choose you to make a Christmas purchase, there’s still a lot of work to do. If your site isn’t easy to use and doesn’t tell them what they need to know, they could always change their mind and shop somewhere else. On the flip side, if you can provide them with the perfect online shopping experience, you won’t just have gained a sale; you’ll have gained a loyal customer for years to come.

Now let’s compare the customer purchase process to the traditional marketing funnel:


At the top of the funnel we reach the most people but we also spend the most money. Billboards, TV spots and newspapers are fundamental marketing and PR tactics but they cost a lot and you can’t really control who sees them. You don’t even know for sure if a sale came directly from those things.

In mobile marketing and programmatic display advertising, we have digital marketing tactics which reach a large number of prospects for a fraction of the cost. Better yet, these prospects are chosen from a much more targeted demographic and we can track the return since the majority of interactions occur online. 

Mobile Marketing

We’re not telling you anything you didn’t already know when we say that mobile marketing is a must. More consumers than ever before are doing their shopping on smartphones and tablets and they’re also exposed to brands on these devices in a number of ways.

Whether in a web browser or a mobile app, it’s possible to place display banners in front of a user in a number of ways; and it’s highly likely that the right user is going to see them.

Mobile marketing is arguably as targeted as it’s possible to get; since mobile users can be targeted by gender, age, location and activity. It’s going to set you back by at least £5,000 but compare that to the many hundreds of thousands that it costs to shoot a TV ad with models, celebs or animated critters and it represents a cost effective way to reach a targeted audience.

Programmatic Display Planning & Buying

It might be a bit of a mouthful, but programmatic display planning and buying is something we’re particular excited about for Christmas 2014. It’s a combination of software and marketing management, which includes an optimised retargeting campaign and highly intelligent AI.

First, we run a segmented retargeting campaign which allows us to market ourselves to the people who’ve visited your site in the most efficient way. Next, the data we collect through our remarketing campaign is used to build a profile of your ideal customer and new display opportunities are chosen to reach more of these people with banner ads, even if they haven’t been to the site or heard of the brand before.

Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of programmatic display is that it gets better as it goes along. If a site on the placement network doesn’t generate traffic or conversions it is phased out of the campaign. Meanwhile, more budget is assigned to the sites which deliver and other opportunities are trialled as well.

All of this happens automatically within the system but management staff can also moderate the campaign at any time.

Unlike a billboard on a busy road, banner ads are seen by web users who fit the profile for your store, with very little wastage. They also click through to the store, or the specific product that the customer would be interested in. It’s like leaping into the poster and landing on the shop floor.

Whimsical ideas aside, it means more revenue from your marketing spend and a better bottom line as you head into the new year.

The next step down through the funnel brings us to PPC and SEO. Once the cornerstones of digital marketing they’re still important parts of the digital toolbox because they reach customers at an important point in their decision making process.

Lewis Moulds is content strategist with Hit Search.

Read Part Two

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