Facebook to Retailers: Start Holiday Shopping Season Prep Now

It’s not even Labor Day yet, but retailers who have not begun preparations for the holiday shopping season are in danger of falling behind, Facebook for Business warned.

It’s not even Labor Day yet, but retailers who have not begun preparations for the holiday shopping season are in danger of falling behind, Facebook for Business warned.

Facebook for Business reminded retailers that mobile will be an even bigger factor in holiday shopping this year, saying as an example that 68 percent of shoppers in the U.K. use their mobile phones while in stores.

The social network provided a best practices guide for retailers preparing for the holiday shopping season, and it offered the following takeaways in a post:

  • Refresh your audience profile: Before you can build ads that resonate, you have to know who your current and potential customers are. Use audience insights to review your audience’s demographics, location, psychographics (such as interests, attitudes and lifestyle) and purchase behavior. Then put together a profile of your target audience (or audiences). For example, your audience profile could be women who like high-end retail brands and live in the suburbs of certain geographic locations.
  • Identify your key audience segments: Once you know the characteristics of your target audience, think about segments within that group that you want to connect with leading up to the holidays. Will you focus on connecting with loyal customers, new customers or both? Divide your target audience into segments so that you can plan distinct campaigns that will resonate with each group and accomplish your business goals.
  • Add the Facebook conversion pixel and software-development kit to your website and app: The Facebook pixel and SDK are snippets of code that, when added to websites and mobile apps, respectively, empower advertisers to reach their website and app visitors with targeted ads on Facebook. So if someone browsed for watches in your mobile app but didn’t purchase, you can automatically retarget them with an ad for that watch next time they visit Facebook. Have your website engineering team make sure that your pixel and SDK are set up correctly ahead of the season.
  • Find your customer conversion path: The pixel and SDK code also help advertisers understand their customers’ paths to conversion, so advertisers can tailor ad campaigns to their customers. Once you have them set up, review the conversion device data in Ads Manager or Power Editor to find out which devices your customers use when they see your ads versus when they buy. You may find that your customers tend to see your ads on iPhone and then purchase later on desktop. Use this report to plan which devices to run ads on this holiday season and in what sequence.
  • Optimize your mobile experience: Last year, nearly one-half of online shopping traffic came from mobile and 56 percent of in-store sales were influenced by mobile activity. But people tend to purchase on desktop and tablet, not on phones. Marketers can shorten the path to purchase by making it easy for people to shop on mobile. Make sure your ad creative translates well on smaller screens. Then click through your ads into your mobile website or app to see where you can improve the shopping experience. The better mobile experience you can offer, the more likely you are to increase purchases there.
  • Divide your budget strategically: During holiday shopping season, you’ll want some ad campaigns that run continuously and some that promote key events, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and any limited-time promotions you run, like free shipping or discount codes. Allocate your budget accordingly.
  • Test creative and ad types: Use the time before the holidays to test different creative and ad formats with your audience segments. Are your customers most responsive to images or video? Test different images, copy and calls to action so you know what resonates best with your audience before holiday shopping starts.
  • Prepare your product catalog: Retailers with large product sets that want to use dynamic product ads during the holidays need to prepare and upload their product catalogs to Facebook. Product catalogs contain a list of products you want to advertise, their availability, product URL, image URL and other product attributes. If you’re already advertising your product catalog on other advertising platforms, you can upload the same catalog to Facebook. Learn more about setting up dynamic product ads.

Retailers: How far along are you in your holiday shopping season preparations?


Image of wrapped gifts courtesy of Shutterstock.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.