The holiday season is the busiest shopping period of the year, and this year, it’s likely to be busier than ever, against the unpredictable backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday shopping all taking place within a couple of months. That’s a lot of opportunities for retailers. In fact, the flurry of sales, deals, and festive cheer make it ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ for attracting new customers and rewarding existing ones.
But, with so much competition, it can be difficult to stand out.
This is why developing marketing campaigns that connect with shoppers and build trust is absolutely crucial if you want to make the most of the festive season. User-generated content (UGC) is one of the key ways you can do this. Not only does it share authentic content with potential shoppers, but it instills buyer confidence and generates a buzz around your brand.
To help you out, I’ve rounded up some of the best holiday marketing campaign ideas – many of which incorporate UGC elements – so you can have a successful holiday season.
1. Reward Your Best Customers With Early Access Deals
Who doesn’t like to feel special, right?
Customers want to know that they’re your priority, and giving them exclusive offers is a great way to do that. You can quickly show existing shoppers that you value their custom more than ever by offering unique discounts and early-bird deals throughout the shopping season.
This first-buy excitement not only encourages purchases that may not have happened later in the season, but it can also result in multiple buys from your store.
How to Reward Your Best Customers
- Email Campaigns – create an email campaign to send to existing customers and subscribers with a healthy discount that’s only available to them
- Shout On Social – shout about your VIP and early-bird discounts on social media to create a buzz before the holiday season officially starts
- Reward Customers That Get Involved – as well as rewarding early-access customers, offer discounts and exclusive deals to customers that get involved by sharing their stories, photos, and reviews, too
LoveLoft’s early-bird deal gives eager shoppers the chance to claim 50% off purchases.
2. Offer Holiday Bundles to Increase Average Order Value
Everyone wants to get more for their money, and product bundles tap into this drive for value during the holiday season. By offering bundled products at discounted rates, you’ll increase the amount of sales you get and bump up your average order value (AOV).
A lot of the time, an attractive bundle might give shoppers who are on the fence they nudge they need.
How to Offer Holiday Bundles
- Create Relevant Bundles – bundle together similar products and promote them across your website and on social media
- Brag About Best Sellers – identify your best-selling products and pair them with complementary products to create an even better deal
- Name Your Bundles – go one step further and name your bundles (you can even give them their own designated hashtag) to get people talking about them across social media
3. Delight Customers With Relevant and Valuable Upsells
Just as bundles are great for increasing your AOV, so too are upsells. These are basically complementary products tacked on to an order, and are often related to the initial purchase in some way.
The best part is that they’re presented to customers who are well and truly in buy-mode since they’ve made it all the way to checkout.
Not only do upsells increase sales, but they also increase customer satisfaction because you’re giving customers what they need – like matching spoons for their egg cups or socks to go with a new pair of shoes.
How to Delight Customers With Upsells
- Free Gifts – offer customers a free gift if they upgrade their purchase (you can also offer another feature like free shipping if possible)
- Make It Relevant – give shoppers the chance to add relevant upsell items to their order at checkout (these might be items they may have forgotten or that are required to make their initial purchase work properly)
- Leverage the Entire Buying Cycle – upsells don’t have to be resigned to checkout. You can sprinkle promotions for similar products throughout the buying cycle to capture shoppers who are at different stages of the funnel
Pura Vida Bracelets offer customers a free bonus bracelet with their order as well as free shipping.
4. Run a Post-Holiday Campaign for Slow Shoppers
Not everyone is free to shop on Black Friday, and there are plenty of other reasons shoppers can’t make the most of deals on the day. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy from you, though. They might have been distracted, busy at work, or simply didn’t see your offer in time.
To capture these shoppers, many brands extend their Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday offers. This accommodates people who aren’t in impulse buying mode and instead need more time to warm up – especially if they’re new to your brand.
By running a campaign targeting shoppers that “missed out”, you’ll build deeper relationships with new shoppers and make some last minute sales.
Take it one step further too and incorporate social proof in the form of user generated photos, reviews, and stories. This will instill buyer confidence in shoppers that might be on the fence about making a purchase.
How to Run a Post-Holiday Campaign
- Extend Deals – extend your most popular deals longer than a day. This goes for Black Friday offers and Cyber Monday deals as well as any other discounts you have running during the holiday season
- Remind Shoppers – send out emails to past customers who didn’t cash in on the discounts to encourage them to take advantage of them before they run out
- Personalize Emails – send product recommendation emails to remain front-of-mind and increase the chance of shoppers making a purchase
- Leverage Customer Experiences – use the experiences of shoppers who did buy on Black Friday to sell products to customers that didn’t. Share their photos, reviews, and stories across social channels and in emails to drive that all-important FOMO
5. Promote a Different Deal Every Hour
Keep customers coming back by promoting a new deal or discount at regular intervals throughout key holiday shopping dates, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
This builds anticipation and will attract more customers as the day goes on – think of it as a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger and bigger as more consumers are made aware of your deals.
As well as generating a buzz around your brand, you’ll also get more eyeballs on your entire product range as there’s a high chance customers will be interested in some products but not others.
How to Promote a Different Deal Every Hour
- Plan Ahead – planning ahead is key to make this work. Determine which discounts you’re going to promote each hour and create graphics and copy for each of them
- Announce Everywhere – make sure you shout about your “deal of the hour” on your social channels, via email, and across your website
- Create a Buzz – talk about your fresh deals in the lead up to each hour to build anticipation and get customer excited to buy
AutoZone runs flash sales throughout Cyber Monday and has a large countdown timer on their site to build anticipation.
6. Partner With Influencers
People love to buy from people they know and respect, so give yourself a helping hand during the holiday season. Bring well-known industry influencers on board to help promote your deals and create special discounts for their own audiences.
Remember, shoppers invest in authenticity, and with so many discounts and deals promoted throughout the day from all sorts of different brands, it’s much more tempting for shoppers to buy from brands and influencers they know and trust already.
Partnering with influencers also generates a buzz around your brand, since influencers tend to post a lot of their social channels in the lead up to Black Friday and other holiday shopping events.
How to Partner With Influencers
- Make Connections – start by identifying key influencers in your industry (they don’t have to have millions of followers. In fact, micro-influencers with 10,000 followers or less can be just as effective) and open up a conversation with them
- Create a Special Offer – align your holiday deals with the influencer’s audience or create a special discount on a product that’s well-suited to their followers. The more you “personalize” your deals for the influencer, the better success you’ll have
Kopari Beauty teamed up with an influencer for a Black Friday sale on one of their product lines.
7. Use UGC to Turn One-Time Buyers Into Loyal Customers
Speaking of influencers, the best influencers are those who buy and talk about your brand without requiring incentives. They create content about your product or service because they enjoy it and want to share those positive experiences with their friends and followers.
This is called UGC.
When you consider that shoppers prefer content from peers over brands themselves, it’s a no-brainer to incorporate it into your holiday campaigns.
Collecting UGC and sharing it on Black Friday in tandem with your deals will increase trust and drive more sales. The holiday season also attracts a lot of one-time buyers, but the most successful ecommerce brands manage to turn these impulse buyers into long-term customers.
You can do this too through authentic UGC and creating a community around your brand. This makes customers feel like they are a part of something and ensures they come back for more.
How to Use UGC
- Create a Hashtag – create a hashtag especially for the holidays or a specific holiday deal and encourage customers to share their photos, videos, and stories of your products
- Re-Share – keep the buzz going by sharing relevant UGC across your social channels
- Leverage UGC Across the Buying Journey – sprinkle UGC throughout the buying journey, including in product listings and in abandoned cart emails
Paqui has created an entire challenge that centers around UGC. The landing page for their #onechipchallenge features videos and photos of customers taking the challenge. The brand utilizes TINT to collect and share UGC from their loyal customers.
8. Add Social Proof to Ads
Running social ads will help you stand out against a sea of other brands during the busiest shopping season of the year. Instead of sharing brand-produced images alongside ad copy, weave in UGC and social proof to enhance their click-ability.
Research shows that UGC-based ads generate 4x higher click-through rates than regular ads – tapping into the power of your customers is a no brainer.
How to Add Social Proof to Ads:
- Combine Photos and Reviews – create the ultimate conversion combo by sharing both user-generated photos and reviews in your social ads
- Choose Your Platform Wisely – identify which social platform your ads will perform best on and use UGC that’s relevant to that platform
Yandy.com regularly incorporates images shared by its customers and their star-rating reviews into social ads.
Get Your Marketing Campaigns Holiday Ready
There’s not long left before the holidays, which means there’s no time like the present to start thinking about your marketing campaigns. Use some of the ideas we’ve mentioned here to build trust, generate sales, and turn one-time holiday shoppers into life-long customers.
Meta’s Developing and ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers
With the rise of digital avatars, and indeed, fully digital characters that have evolved into genuine social media influencers in their own right, online platforms now have an obligation to establish clear markers as to what’s real and what’s not, and how such creations can be used in their apps.
The coming metaverse shift will further complicate this, with the rise of virtual depictions blurring the lines of what will be allowed, in terms of representation. But with many virtual influencers already operating, Meta is now working to establish ethical boundaries on their application.
As explained by Meta:
“From synthesized versions of real people to wholly invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a rising phenomenon. Meta platforms are home to more than 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VIs boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”
At first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that this is not an actual person, which makes such characters a great vehicle for brand and product promotions, as they can be utilized 24/7, and can be placed into any environment. But that also leads to concerns about body image perception, deepfakes, and other forms of misuse through false or unclear representation.
Deepfakes, in particular, may be problematic, with Meta citing this campaign, with English football star David Beckham, as an example of how new technologies are evolving to expand the use of language, as one element, for varying purpose.
The well-known ‘DeepTomCruise’ account on TikTok is another example of just how far these technologies have come, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they could be used to, say, show a politician saying or doing something that he or she actually didn’t, which could have significant real world impacts.
Which is why Meta is working with developers and experts to establish clearer boundaries on such use – because while there is potential for harm, there are also beneficial uses for such depictions.
“Imagine personalized video messages that address individual followers by name. Or celebrity brand ambassadors appearing as salespeople at local car dealerships. A famous athlete would make a great tutor for a kid who loves sports but hates algebra.”
Such use cases will increasingly become the norm as VR and AR technologies are developed, with these platforms placing digital characters front and center, and establishing new norms for digital connection.
It would be better to know what’s real and what’s not, and as such, Meta needs clear regulations to remove dishonest depictions, and enforce transparency over VI use.
But then again, much of what you see on Instagram these days is not real, with filters and editing tools altering people’s appearance well beyond what’s normal, or realistic. That can also have damaging consequences, and while Meta’s looking to implement rules on VI use, there’s arguably a case for similar transparency in editing tools applied to posted videos and images as well.
That’s a more complex element, particularly as such tools also enable people to feel more comfortable in posting, which no doubt increases their in-app activity. Would Meta be willing to put more focus on this element if it could risk impacting user engagement? The data on the impact of Instagram on people’s mental health are pretty clear, with comparison being a key concern.
Should that also come under the same umbrella of increased digital transparency?
It’s seemingly not included in the initial framework as yet, but at some stage, this is another element that should be examined, especially given the harmful effects that social media usage can have on young women.
But however you look at it, this is no doubt a rising element of concern, and it’s important for Meta to build guardrails and rules around the use of virtual influencers in their apps.
You can read more about Meta’s approach to virtual influencers here.
Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps
Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.
The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.
It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.
For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.
While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.
There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.
It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.
Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.
Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner
Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.
“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.
The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.
The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.
According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.
The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.
As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.
He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.
Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.
On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.
Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.
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