Remarketing tactics can mitigate post-holiday waste, here’s how

December 18, 2018

‘Twas the week before the holidays when all through the ‘nets,
All the Search practitioners were bustling, executing and optimizing big bets.
The campaigns were strategized from past data with care,
In hopes that a 15X ROAS soon would be there.
All the audiences were curated, segmented, aligned;
But what happens post-holiday? It’s back to the grind.
Remarketing campaigns are now bloated, full of unqualified users,
Define your post-holiday tactics; Don’t waste money on ROI-losers.

There’s no place like SERPs for the holidays. B2C and e-comm spaces are chock-full of competition. Strategies and tactics are cutthroat and quarters in the making. Yet, time and time again we see wasted spend from an ineffective remarketing post-holiday season. Organizations expand budgets to garner incremental revenue and traffic, then commonly pull back on holiday campaigns (or pause altogether) and shift the focus of nurturing by way of email.

For those looking to avoid remarketing myopia, get the most of holiday search spend (and remain in future purchasers’ good graces), let’s explore a few ways to recycle audiences for future re-marketing success.

Block remarketing audiences: Tactic 1

‘Tis the season for gifting! While that means a glut of purchases, it also means a lot of people that aren’t your normal shoppers. Segment these audiences into their own buckets of traffic, whether it’s via particular URLs (gift guides, for example) based on time periods (like Black Friday or Cyber Monday) or level of stress (plan ahead-ers, last minute purchasers, week-after shoppers).

May seem obvious, but these audiences can wreak havoc with your remarketing efforts and brand image in a few ways: perhaps they didn’t buy, but weeks later you’re still remarketing to them and they already bought elsewhere (or worse, they already purchased from you). Or, maybe you have implemented lookalike audiences running off-site visitors. Those suckers are now polluted with people who may not be folks you want more of year-round.

Consider creating smart remarketing windows that block out those days, or creating lookalikes off email lists that exclude users who registered on those days. There are many ways of approaching but think creatively about how you can isolate that traffic to avoid over-reinvestment post-holiday, or creating audiences off them.

Upcycle valuable holiday traffic for other milestones: Tactic 2

But wait! Those audiences ARE useful to you, even if not in your year-round efforts. Even though the winter holiday is the granddaddy of the shopping world, there are other holidays that your organization likely experiences seasonality. These audiences can be useful for that time of year. Hang onto them for holiday like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day Valentine’s Day, graduation, etc. Combining the targeting with gift-centric messaging will help skyrocket returns more quickly.

These holiday audiences may also be prime candidates for spinning lookalike audiences from, using smart layers to refine them. For example, create the lookalike and then filter by women of different age ranges with messaging to buy for their husband and father for Fathers’ Day.

Improve seasonal inventory management: Tactic 3

You can still capitalize on the holiday purchasers as a remarketing audience, so all is not lost for the season once a user purchases. If you’re nimble enough and traffic volume is high enough to justify, these audiences can be used as lists in holiday remarketing, as well. Segment audiences at the product-level and run ads for upsells and add-ons to what they purchased to maximize that visitor.

Further down the remarketing road, use these holiday plus product-level audiences as a means to get rid of seasonal inventory faster. Offer product-specific promos or discounts towards end-of-season sales based on the items purchased to make way for fresh inventory – users may want to get one or two more if incentivized enough.

Nurture one-time buyers into loyalists: Tactic 4

Since it’s an expensive time of year, making the gift traffic count for more than just the purchases you can squeeze is short-term thinking for such a chunk of spending. Hone in on transaction size or high-value holiday purchasers. A $350 order value or 10-plus cart item list will likely be better candidates than the lists that bought one item or >$25 cart value. Further, assess not only the number of items or cart value, but the type of products purchased: was it three of the same item, three items in the same product family, or across the board purchases? Also, don’t be afraid to layer hyper-localization retargeting near store locations ensures cost efficiencies and engagement.

Consider pushing for non-purchase actions as well, such as emails, birthdays, interests, etc. This means future messaging can be at a cadence you decide, bids can be adjusted appropriately, and you’re relying on them noticing your ads as a remarketing audience. It’s also a perfect way to reach out during other gifting seasons or promotions to stretch that original media spend well into subsequent months of returns.

You worked hard for that holiday traffic. Capitalizing on paid audiences in a thoughtful and efficient way can not only combat post-holiday performance slumps but increase future ROAS, loyalty and average order values.

Happy Holiday campaign season to all, and to all a good fight!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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