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Facebook Advertising During the Holiday Season

Welcome to the "Spend $10K a Day" podcast! We're kicking things off with a look at important Facebook ad tactics you need to know for the holiday season.

Episode Transcript — Facebook Advertising During the Holiday Season

00:04 Stewart Anderson:Welcome to the Spend $10K A Day podcast. I'm Stewart Anderson. I'm the Chief Marketing Officer here at MuteSix. With me today, Steve Weiss, our CEO.

00:14 Steve Weiss:Hey, guys. I'm Steve Weiss, CEO of MuteSix. Today, we're gonna be talking about ecommerce on Facebook for the holiday season. Specifically, our podcast is directed at performance marketing or companies that wanna drive a return on investment or return on ad spend from their ads on Facebook, Google and Native. We're gonna be discussing some high-level tactics today for the holidays pertaining around the holidays, but we're also gonna be talking about some cool new ad tech that's coming out from Facebook that is going into beta that is gonna be game-changing for ecommerce sites or all performance marketers.

00:54 SA:Yeah. And we're really excited for the holiday season. Obviously, it gets a little bit busy. People are crazy, ad costs go up. This is the time of year where everybody's spending. This is the time of year where a lot of businesses actually are making a pretty significant portion of their revenue in over a month, month-and-a-half period of time. It's pretty crazy. So it's crunch time coming up. So Steve, you've been, obviously, marketing online for over a decade. Talk to me about some of the things that work year in, year out, Facebook and Google. What are the main things people need to focus on during this holiday period?

01:31 SW:Every time the holiday season comes around, I get all my campaign managers, my whole Facebook ads team, we all get in a room and we just brainstorm and discuss what is hot right now on Facebook. What is driving acquisition? What tactics, what thoughts, what's driving the bottom line of campaigns? And the first thing I'm gonna discuss is video. If you don't have any video in your ad mix right now on Facebook, you are losing out. And I know you hear this a lot, "I got new video, I got a new video," but I'm gonna keep saying it, is so important. It's so important in that Facebook is prioritizing putting video on newsfeeds, because they wanna get data coming back on how users are engaging with that video.

02:16 SW:When you do Facebook video, there's a couple of things that you should understand. Most video on Facebook, almost all video on Facebook, doesn't have sound. You can't sell a product with sound. And the way you get around sound is you have captions. Inside of Facebook you can actually put captions or wording across your videos so that you don't have to use sound to sell your product. Stewart, we have a bunch of clients that are leveraging video on Facebook. You want to talk a little more about more some of your thoughts on video?

02:51 SA:Yeah. I think you brought up a really good point about captions. Because obviously, you're seeing a lot more video in the news feed right now. Some ads really catch your eye, others not so much. The other day I was actually scrolling through and went right past a video ad that didn't have captions. It was probably actually for a better product. But what caught me later on as I'm scrolling through that news feed was a video that had captions and it was just much more engaging. It's just like an image, you really want to have something that catches people's attention and matches that user's behavior. Eye-grabbing video with captions, even though the product really wasn't as interesting to me as this other one, their ad really really grabbed me. I think you bring up a really, really good point talking about making the best use of the available features within Facebook for those video ads.

03:38 SW:Also remember one thing. An ad on Facebook, or any ad in general that you're running on any of Facebook's properties, one of the main goals, whether it's mobile or desktop, is you wanna disrupt the eye. You want them to stop scrolling the news feed. You wanna, whether it's imagery, whether it's colors, whether it's text, you wanna do whatever is possible to disrupt the user from doing whatever they're doing. And I keep reminding people that on the creative side that this is the part where you have to get creative and get people interested and engaged in your ads. And that's what video really does.

04:13 SA:And I think that's even more relevant right now. Just because during the holiday season people are being bombarded with ads. There is a little a bit of ad fatigue out there because they're constantly having products pushed on them. But if you have creative, that really grabs the eye, that can make a huge difference when people are more willing to pull out their credit card and pay for something. If people see something, a gift idea for either their husband or wife, their kids, somebody in their family, it can make a huge difference if you're that one company that can really grab them. This is the perfect time of year to make a good impression on people.

04:50 SW:And number two, I want to talk a little bit more about audiences, about targeting. Facebook, as you know, there's a plethora of options in targeting. There's interests, there's lookalikes, there's website custom audiences, re-marketing. And a lot of people I talk to are still using interest targeting. Interest targeting is an older type of targeting on Facebook. And I usually give the advice to everyone I work with to really shy away from interest targeting for this reason: Most of your interest targeting is already a part of your look-alike targeting. You really wanna focus on getting lookalikes converting, because that's the data that you're passing back to Facebook to build audiences off of. Again, to make look-alike to work, you have to keep uploading a new email list every... As often as possible. If you have an ecommerce you're gathering, hundreds of emails a day, I would upload an email list two, three, four times a month. The key is you wanna give Facebook as much data, as much relevant data as possible to build lookalikes.

05:55 SA:Yeah, I think audiences... There's a lot of interesting tactics you can take during the holiday season, just because it's much different than the rest of the year. One of the things that I think about when I'm doing targeting for a holiday-oriented campaign, I've been around for a couple of years where I'm advising companies who've been around for a little bit. I have to say, "Hey, if you have enough data, if you have enough people that bought during a certain period of time, if you have access to that data, try doing export of people who bought during November and December of last year, build an audience off of that, maybe build a look-alike," that could be a better targeting group for the holidays than the rest of the year, because these people are more likely to be gift buyers. They're less likely to be just like your random typical customers. This is a different type, and you're gonna have different types of people come to your website. It is similarly like when you're doing the post-holiday stuff, if you're doing things like the new Time On Site Audiences, if you're building...

06:52 SW:Whoa, Stew, talk about the new Time On Site Audience. This is a new feature that Facebook released about two months ago, that we've already seen amazing results with. I feel like a lot of people have not heard or understand how this works.

07:05 SA:It's a good point. Yeah, we should dive into that a little bit. So the Time On Site Audiences, as Steve mentioned, they're a very new feature, they're being rolled out. What it allows you to do is actually target people based on how much time they spend on your website. So, you can... I think there's three options, 5%, 10% and 25%. And you can target basically the top five, the top 10 or the top 25% of people who have been to your website in terms of how much time they've spent on your site. If you wanna market to everybody who has spent an hour on your website or something like that, but they haven't bought, it's as easy as selecting this targeting option and then excluding all purchasers. That's a huge, huge win.

07:46 SW:It's game-changing. This kind of all falls under what we call "audience segmentation". We're actually gonna do another podcast, just around audience segmentation. We have a bunch of tricks that we use for segmenting audiences. The big picture is, both me and Stew, we don't look at Facebook as an advertising platform, we look at it as a CRM system.

08:05 SA:Absolutely. Yeah, it's a really good point. Essentially, if you've ever spent time both in Facebook and in a CRM platform like Salesforce, HubSpot or any of these, you'll notice the similarities of how you can reach people, and how you segment people out. They're basically two different channels all tapping into the same sort of capability.

08:26 SW:What a lot of our clients do, who are big spenders on Facebook, is they like to personalize the ad experience, based on prior user behavior. So if someone has never seen your website, or never seen your product before, we call that a prospecting campaign. So we're gonna show them a specific ad unit. They've been on your website within the last 30 days, but they haven't purchased, then we'll have a specific ad unit for them. So, the goal of Facebook, and this all goes back to audience segmentation, is to have a personalized ad experience for every user, based on where they are in their funnel. We're gonna do a whole podcast on that, I don't wanna get very granular, because that's a huge topic in itself.

09:07 SA:Storyboarding, I could probably talk for two hours about how to storyboard an ad process. It's something that you... But once you master that, every campaign you run after that is a completely different situation. It's like, once you go and do it this way, you'll never go back to doing it the other way. It's a complete game-changer.

09:27 SW:So, the first two things, let's go back. Number one, videos. Number two, audience segmentation, and then the third one I wanna discuss is Instagram. Instagram got bought by Facebook, about, what, three-and-a-half years ago now?

09:40 SA:I believe so, yeah.

09:41 SW:And now, Facebook' ad tech is 100% integrated into Instagram. So, anything you could do on Facebook, now you could do on Instagram. But the Instagram user is a lot different than the Facebook user. Their expectations of buying products are a lot different. So, we kind of custom tailor our marketing strategies around both Instagram and Facebook, and especially during the holiday season. Instagram is a great top of funnel channel. We love running video ads, top of funnel to reach new users on Instagram. Instagram is also more expensive than Facebook. CPMs on Instagram are almost 2x to 3x what Facebook is, because Instagram is a younger demographic. So remember, if you really wanna reach the younger demographic, focus on Instagram, focus on doing prospecting on Instagram. Then you can run your remarketing then on Facebook, cross-device.

10:36 SA:Yeah. I think one of the key things with Instagram, because the way it works, obviously within Facebook, if you're in Power Editor, is it's another placement. It's another option for you to distribute an ad. And for some people who says, "Oh, it looks easy, let's push this campaign out to Instagram." Easy peasy. What I would recommend, especially if you have the time, if you have the resources, create custom creative that's specific for that placement. You don't wanna run the same creative that you're doing on Facebook. And ideally, if you have the time, I would have dedicated campaigns that are just focused on Instagram, things where, not only is the visual creative, whether it's image or video, specifically created for Instagram, but the messaging itself is a little bit different too, 'cause you're right. The difference in the typical audience there, if you wanna get the best bang for your buck, you really wanna speak to them.

11:24 SW:And just talking about holiday... We're talking holiday. This whole conversation right now is holiday, holiday, holiday. So for Instagram, remember, you don't wanna discount your product too hard on Instagram. Instagram isn't a deals platform, whereas Facebook is where people make purchases, Instagram is an image discovery platform. So, you don't wanna throw everything you have into a big deal on Instagram, because it's not gonna work, it's not gonna engage people. So, what you wanna do is top of funnel as possible. Unique imagery, unique value props, videos, that's what really... Engaging content works amazing on Instagram, then on Facebook you could turn your Black Friday deals, you could turn those types of ads loose on Facebook from users who've already engaged with you on Instagram.

12:11 SA:Yeah. And I think the other, and this is an obvious point, for the holidays is speak to the season, talk about gifting. If you're targeting people that are not your usual customer demographic, but the people who would buy for that customer demographic, make sure that your messaging speaks to like, "Hey, buy this gift for this person." Speak to the nature of the season because, ultimately, if you talk to some of this holiday audience like they're your customers, it might not work out, because they're not usually your customers. The people they are buying gifts for are your customers.

12:49 SW:Exactly. Another thing, so let's just remix it back. Number one video, number two audience segmentation, number three Instagram, and the fourth one I wanna discuss is timing. So many times I see companies forget to turn off ads for Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving is over and it's very frustrating. I see it on my news feed all the time, be as current as possible with your ads. If you're running a Black Friday special and Black Friday is over, even if that ad set's converting really high, it's gonna die down. It's just, it's a sad reality that that is not gonna last forever, because people realize it isn't Black Friday, it's December 4th, why am I still running this ad? So, I want to really talk about timing. Stew, you could talk a little about how important timing is as well.

13:36 SA:Yeah. Essentially, it's always an issue if you have anything that is time-intensive. This deal ends on this day at this time, and if you have ads going out for that afterwards, it's gonna cause a problem. That is always gonna be an important case, but it's extra important here just because there's so many people that are seeing ads, and the cost of running ads right now during the holiday season is that much higher. The extra price that you're gonna pay for a Black Friday ad that runs into, let's say Saturday or something like that, or even to Sunday or depending on how long the sale is, just whenever it's over, if you run an ad, you're gonna pay upwards of two to two and a half times you would normally pay for each one of those ads. That adds up if you leave something on and you have a high budget. If you wanna talk about getting good return on your investment. Make sure that you're either setting some sort of rules or keeping a close eye on specific time-oriented campaigns, that they have a specific end date that matches. It sounds obvious, but a lot of advertisers make these mistakes.

14:37 SW:Okay, cool. So, let's go back, videos, Instagram, audience segmentation, timing, and the fifth one which I really wanna dig into, 'cause this is so important, I see so many people messing this up, is your deal. Everyone has a deal, it's the holiday season, you wanna get people in the door, you wanna give them the best possible deal as possible. You're hitting at price hunters, you have all people searching the news feed for the best deal and I feel like people are so, especially in ecommerce, they're so quick to discount their product. It's just, "Let's just discount it 50%, let's discount it 60%," and I think that that's the wrong way to look at a business. You can't be a discount to everyone, and I feel like there's a lot of unnecessary discounting going on over the holiday season. It's just not necessary, 'cause there's no data to back it up. Maybe you might get the same conversion rates by doing a 30% off deal as a 50% off deal, so you're leaving 20% on the table. I feel like you need to really understand and have a process for testing out deals.

15:46 SA:Yeah. You really wanna make sure that you don't over-discount. I think also offering a low discount compared to all the other deals that people are seeing for Black Friday. Depending on what you're doing, 'cause Black Friday, yeah, there's a lot of people that are buying it for gifts, but at the same time that's pretty much the endpoint of hitting current customers, 'cause people, if they wanna buy something from a brand, they are gonna look for that Black Friday deal. If you say, "Hey, we never do this but we're giving away 15%," if you have a high-end brand especially, that helps cultivate that, because they're just like, "Oh, they're not like a discount, cheap brand. They're not giving me 50% off." There's extreme value here in the most that they're giving even on Black Friday, the deal day of the year is 15%, that's huge. If you are a brand that does do regular offers, I absolutely agree with Steve, test different discounts. You can test them in ads, make sure they go to the same landing pages, or present it with the same offers, you could test 10% versus 30%.

16:41 SW:You could also cross-sell to different segments of your audience. Maybe you wanna test out a deal to people who've already bought, just this deal's only for people who bought. You don't wanna give a large deal or discount and have an ad go to people who already bought, 'cause that's gonna really piss them off.

17:01 SA:That is very true, happened to me recently. I was just super frustrated after seeing that something that I bought a few days later just like, "Hey, this thing's 30% off now." I was like, "Crap. I'm out a good deal of money," but I think... That reminds me of something, it's another really good option for avoiding the discount-itis during the season, which is, instead of discounting and providing value that way, provide additional value by offering a custom bundle. So, maybe you have two different types of products, instead of offering money off...

17:33 SW:Stewart, give me an example of that, two different types of bundles.

17:36 SA:Yeah. So, maybe you have, let's say you're a bedding company or something like that, and instead of discounting a sheet set by 30%, you say, "Hey, buy our sheet set and get two pillows free," or something like that or, "Get a pillow free," a bundle. So, instead of them associating your brand with saving money or getting a discount off, it's just their big Black Friday offer is you're getting additional value when you pay. It sounds like it's kind of two flavors of the same thing, but mentally, psychologically, when you're talking about brand marketing, it's actually not.

18:11 SW:Yeah, that's a great point. And remember, don't always go with the psychology that, "I need to get my product into as many people's hands as possible." I get it, that's very important, but remember, don't discount your brand. 'Cause you know what? You're gonna have to market to people come January 1st, back at normal prices, and if you're showing somewhat continuously an ad with a huge discount, that's gonna affect your conversion rates in the future.

18:37 SA:Yeah. The big problem with over-discounting that we know as operators, which is, if you present people with ads or offers all the time where it's 40% off, 50% off, even 30% off, constantly, people are gonna be like, "Well, if they have such margins where they can constantly offer these discounts, why is their product so expensive right now? They should just have a cheaper product." And that is definitely not what you want people to think.

19:00 SW:Yep. I know, there's this last thing before we go, this is probably the most important thing in ecommerce marketing on Facebookis, this will piss everyone off if you don't have this part locked down. And that's your inventory. Understand your inventory before you spend money on Facebook. The worst thing in the world is to sell out of inventory and continue to spend money on ads.

19:27 SA:And it's super, super important right now. Obviously, in the holiday season, you don't wanna have a hot product that everybody wants that you've understocked. You don't wanna be putting a big promotion with ad dollars behind a product where you have limited inventory. You need to make sure that you monitor your inventory levels for any products that you think are gonna be hot during the holiday season. You really wanna properly stock it, look at past data. Think about what you know about competitors and how they stock during the holiday season, and talk to your friends that might be in similar businesses. Reach out to a service provider might work for you, if you're a client of ours or you just wanna become a client of ours, talk to us and we'll tell you about how to do this during the holiday season. But inventory levels, you make a mistake with those during the holiday season, it can really, really negatively affect your...

20:13 SW:It can wreck your brand.

20:14 SA:It can really wreck your brand.

20:15 SW:Because remember, this is a moment in time, during the holidays, where you're in touch with the emotional side of the person. They are buying a gift for somebody important in their life. If they buy that gift and that experience is not synergistic with the holiday... The expectations aren't managed properly, they will never buy from you again, they will be your biggest hate... They'll just bring so much hate mail to you.

20:45 SA:Yeah, imagine somebody seeing ads for something on Facebook. They see a few ads, they're interested, they click, they wanna come back, they have fallen in love with the idea of giving this perfect gift to their kid, to their wife, to their husband, somebody important in their life, and then all of a sudden they go to buy it and it's out of stock, and they're not gonna be able to get it for the holiday season. That sucks. And it sucks for your brand, because that person forever's gonna associate that disappointment with you. It's something you really gotta avoid. But I think the good thing about Facebook and Instagram is, when it comes to inventory levels and at least making sure that you're not over-advertising products with low stock, dynamic product ads, DPA, it allows you to kind of cut off ads once things are out of stock, so at least you're not showing things for which there's no inventory.

21:31 SW:That's another product that Facebook recently released. I think that's... DPA, and the way to leverage DPA, and the way to leverage the product for you, is a podcast in itself, so I don't wanna open up the treasure chest to everything on this podcast, Stew, so I think that I wanna just keep it holiday-focused, so just to give a quick recap of what we discussed in this podcast. Number one, video, the importance of video, making video a big part of your media strategy. Number two, Instagram. Number three, audience segmentation. Number four, getting the right deal structure for your audience. And then number five, inventory. Stew, did I miss anything? I'm just making sure that I didn't...

22:12 SA:We talked about a lot, it's always possible something could slip through our fingers here, but I think that's a pretty good cover. These are all things that are always gonna be important, but really important right now during the holiday season. This is crunch time, this is basically the playoffs for us, we're headed into the NBA finals, running ads for people during the holiday season. I think, Steve, do you have anything else before we wrap up?

22:35 SW:No, I think Stew brought a good point. This is the finals for us, this is game time. We're in the office really late tonight, me and Stew, we're getting to know each other really well, we're sharing our lives with you on our podcast. We live and breathe Facebook ads, this is what we're passionate about, this is what we enjoy doing. And I just wanna talk a little bit, just real quick, about just life in general. This is something that is fun. And never forget that, the ups and downs of Facebook, it's a challenge, it sucks, but at the end of the day, we're all lucky to be in the place we are today, because this is a space that didn't exist 15 years ago, 20 years ago, and to be able to sell a product just behind a computer, from wherever you are on Earth, is just an amazing... It's amazing, it's life-changing. I just wanted to chime in on that, because I'm very grateful to be working around all the amazing people in my office and all the amazing clients that we get to work with.

23:32 SA:Yeah, I feel the same way. With Thanksgiving coming up, I think, I know what I'm thankful for this year. It's just that I get to come to the office every day and not feel like I'm working. I work my ass off, but I feel like I'm just coming to the office and doing some cool marketing stuff with people I like being around. So, we wanna thank you for joining us on the first episode of the Spend $10K A Day podcast. We're gonna be coming at you regularly with more content, talking about how to do performance marketing like an expert.

24:00 SW:How to do performance marketing at scale. So, remember every single client we work with, their goal is, "How do I spend $10K a day profitably?"

24:08 SA:Absolutely.

24:08 SW:Return on ad spend. They want 3x, 4x, 5x, 6x return on ad spend. How do I get up to that $10K a day? And we're gonna be sharing everything we've learned with you. We manage significant, millions of dollars a month in ad spend across a multitude of industries. And I'm excited to share our knowledge and I get to know some new people.

24:25 SA:Yeah. So, signing off for today, we had Steve Weiss, our Chief Executive Officer. I'm Stewart Anderson, our CMO. We'll be with you next time. Have a great day.

24:34 SW:Take it easy.

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