UK retail sales have held up surprisingly well this year, despite uncertainty around the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, claimed that July’s figures showed the UK consumer as “extraordinarily resilient” and that “spending has defied expectations of a slowdown since the Brexit referendum”.
That said, to win in this environment from a brand perspective, targeted direct response activity is key. This is particularly important during the upcoming Christmas season, when competition is especially fierce but consumer purchase intent also on a high.
Entice with savings
Everyone loves a sale. And during the impending holiday season, it tends to be one of the primary things consumers look for. Research has shown that 60% of UK shoppers hesitate to make a purchase early in the season because they are afraid of missing out on pre-Christmas price reductions and promotions. Savings entice consumers to shop during this multi-billion-pound season, so it should go without saying that brands need to offer competitive discounts.
And if sales don’t align with your brand guidelines, look for other ways to entice. For instance, half of UK shoppers say that free shipping is the most important factor when choosing an online retailer. In this age of instant gratification, fast and free delivery is becoming the norm.
Mobile is king (but don’t forget desktop)
In the UK, Black Friday isn’t a public holiday, unfortunately – therefore online shopping has become particularly important. And with the majority of Britons stuck at work, this day is one of the only times of the year when desktop almost equals mobile performance. While mobile commerce accounted for one quarter of total UK ecommerce sales in 2016, 40% of Black Friday online purchases were made from a computer. Mobile ad units are great in that they let you reach shoppers on the go, but for this particular day you are wise to combine them with engaging activity that can also be viewed on desktop.
Regardless of which device you are optimising your campaign for, make sure to utilise some of the new and innovative ad formats that are constantly being released and updated by all the major social platforms. Due to the “in the moment” nature of shopping events like Black Friday, there could be an ideal opportunity, for instance, to create a campaign on Facebook Live or Instagram Stories, revealing the promotions that your brand is currently running.
Make people buy
For most businesses, Christmas is not the time to focus solely on brand awareness campaigns. Black Friday and the succeeding festive season are two occasions when it is wise to prioritise direct response activity with the objective of driving sales. Consumers actively want to make purchases, so creative elements should be focused on product demos or inspiring users with gifting ideas. Use formats focused on driving traffic to site and ever closer to purchase.
For example, ads that showcase multiple products, such as Instagram carousels or Facebook Dynamic Product Ads (DPAs), will help boost conversion rates. Direct response ads on Instagram have been found to drive a median 1.8% lift in in-store sales while overlays for Dynamic Ads can make Facebook DPAs work even harder, especially during this critical period. In addition, Facebook’s new Collection mobile ad format, which combines a video, slideshow, or product image taken from the brand’s catalogue, increases the likelihood of user discovery and purchase.
Let’s face it, no matter the uncertainty of ongoing Brexit negotiations, UK consumers would never cancel Christmas. And, with a growing part of purchases taking place online, connecting with shoppers on social channels has never felt more important.
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