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2021 Holiday Retail Blog Series: Personalized Marketing Campaigns for the Holidays

Published: September 22, 2021

Author: Diana Gordon

Insights from the Experts: eCommerce Series. Diana Gordon, VP, eCommerce & Marketplace Strategy

Consumers No Longer “Go Shopping.” They are ALWAYS Shopping.

With marketplaces becoming increasingly crowded, it’s critical that brands ensure their products are easily discoverable through personalized ad campaigns. This will increase brand exposure and provide an opportunity to differentiate from competitors and capture market share. Here’s how you can do that.

Tip 1: Be sure that you are able to reach your consumers where they are

Utilizing multi-channel tactics will be the most effective way to capture your consumer demand. Through robust testing, we have seen these tactics drastically improve bottom line revenue performance. Here are a few online advertising campaigns you can employ to help fuel consumers on their journey through the buying process.

  • Discovery Campaigns
    • This new type of campaign is beneficial because it can reach audiences on multiple Google priorities with just one campaign. Discovery Campaigns automatically place ads within YouTube, Gmail Promotions, and Google Discover. These have shown excellent results as a mid-funnel strategy. Through testing, we have seen performance improvements of 57% in CPA and an 11% increase in conversions.
  • YouTube Video Action Campaigns
    • Another online campaign type that leans into automated ad placements is Video Action Campaigns. With one campaign, advertisers can display ads on YouTube home feed, YouTube watch pages, and Google video partners. These campaigns can expand the reach of video campaigns efficiently because advertisers can also utilize existing cost-per-conversion (CPA) automated bidding to optimize performance.
  • Google Performance Max
    • If advertisers want to go “all in” on automation, they should test Google’s Performance Max Campaigns. Performance Max accesses all of Google Ad’s inventory, including YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps, in one campaign. Advertisers provide a CPA target and ad assets and the algorithm does the rest!

Tip 2: Optimize SEM to drive sales online and in-person

The primary driving force behind search marketing is to be right there whenever someone is searching. There are now a multitude of campaign types that can be leveraged to ensure that you stay front and center in your consumers’ journey every step of the way.

  • Smart Shopping Campaigns
    • 3Q has seen immense success in utilizing Smart Shopping Campaigns. Smart Shopping relies on automation to place products ads across Google Search Network, Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. These campaigns have provided positive results for 3Q clients and they can save time on account management. Smart Shopping Campaigns don’t provide granular performance data but if advertisers are comfortable with less control and more automated optimization, then this could be a good internet marketing campaign strategy. Our own testing into these campaigns has resulted in a 21% increase in revenue and a 10% increase in ROAS.
  • Local Inventory
    • Local Inventory ads focus on products that are in close proximity to a user at their time of search. They allow you to place a higher priority on those users who are closest to specific stores and highlight opportunities to pick up items in-store and curbside. Local Inventory Ads in Google have a new Beta feature that allows brands to expand in-store pickup options. Advertisers have “pickup today” and “curbside pickup” and the new shopping features will have “pickup later” options so consumers can choose their pickup time and date. According to Google, searches for “in stock” have grown globally by over 800% year-over-year and advertisers need to craft strategies that provide online shoppers with in-person options.
  • Local Campaigns
    • Local Campaigns in Google focus on driving customers into your physical location. Local Campaigns continue to provide more features that can help consumers find your store location. Auto Suggest ads show ads within Google Maps based on their geographic location. Local Campaigns can now feature Navigational ads. These ads are shown while you are using Google Maps driving directions. Another recent option for Local Campaigns is Similar Places ads. These ads appear when someone searches for a specific business location and that business is closed. Brands can utilize all of these options to dominate their local area!
  • Dynamic Product Ads
    • eCommerce and retail brands can put their product catalog right in front of potential customers and Dynamic Ads are an extremely effective way to accomplish this. Two examples of these include:
      • Dynamic Ads for Broad Audiences: Leverage Facebook and Instagram algorithms to dynamically showcase products based on interest and behaviors
      • Dynamic Product Ads for Retargeting: Allow brands to subtly nudge customers and remind them of a specific product they previously viewed
  • Facebook/Instagram Shops
    • Features like Facebook Shops and Product Tags allow a brand to tie brand building to conversions. Whether it’s within your Instagram Shop or on an organic post, ensure you are using all tools available to drive brand building and conversions. Product Tag ads can also be added to beautiful lifestyle photos to make them shoppable.
  • Instagram Checkout
    • Transaction fees associated with Instagram Checkout are being waived until 2022, which eases the barrier to testing this capability this holiday season! Instagram Checkout enables access to features like Live Shopping and Product Drops, which help increase sales and consideration. You’ll also reach incremental audiences that prefer to shop and engage on Instagram’s platform itself (as opposed to having them navigate to an external website).
  • Offer Ads and Lead Form Ads
    • While not net-new features, Offer Ads and Lead Form Ads are tactics to help capture customers who are interested, but are either not ready to convert OR would like to learn more before purchasing.

“92% of holiday shoppers surveyed who say they discover on Facebook platforms made a spontaneous discovery whilst shopping online.”


Tip 3: Leverage native-style content across the entire funnel to appeal to consumers

Lo-fi, native-looking creative is shown to resonate with audiences as more relevant and authentic. According to a Facebook study, self-recorded ads from brands outperformed studio-recorded creative in Facebook Stories for content views 84% of the time. Test out native-style content in all phases of the funnel this holiday season to drive success and break through the noise.

Types of UGC Creative for Each Phase of the Funnel

Top Funnel

UGC creatives with a singular persona focused on explaining the key features of the product.


Ad example from a makeup brand

Focused on native-looking creative that speak to individual personas to explain how your brand will benefit audiences.

Bottom Funnel

A Facebook ad for a food company

Product-focused UGC creative coupled with compelling offers and urgency to drive conversions.

Create Mobile-First Video to Help You Win Big This Holiday Season

Video marketing is going to help you win big this holiday season. According to a study from Wyzowl, 84% of marketers stated that video has helped them generate leads, and 78% have said that video has directly helped increase sales. Taking a mobile video approach is also critical, because 70% of total web traffic and 72% of digital ad spend now occurs on mobile devices. Utilizing video correctly will help your brand break through the noise, clearly explain your product, and capture the attention of your audience.

Here are a few best practices to follow to ensure your videos are most effective during the holidays.

  • Aim to take up as much real estate as possible on the screen – tall and wide is better than short and wide.
  • Use bright footage – because it shows up better on dim phone screens – and big text/graphics and close crops on faces/key details, so those can be clearer on small screens.
  • Appeal to shorter consumer attention spans by using fast cuts and pacing – ask yourself if a 30 second video can be shortened to 15 or even 10 seconds.

Example of Mobile-First Holiday Video:

A target ad showing a little girl and dog in halloween costumes

Seasonally-relevant imagery drives better performance
We know from first-hand experience working with our clients that incorporating seasonally-relevant imagery increases performance. Consider tailoring your photography and overlays to match the season you’re in to drive more success. You can start testing these as soon as Halloween and keep it going through New Year’s Day.

A Facebook ad for holiday socks
Ad example of a skincare brand

With one of our clients, we tested imagery that was lifestyle-focused – but could also be relevant during any season of the year – against holiday-specific imagery that would only be relevant during the holiday season. All other variables besides that imagery were held constant in this creative testing. While not specific to the client we worked with, the images above are good examples of how that imagery can differ.

The results? Holiday-specific imagery outperformed regular lifestyle imagery with a 9% higher click-through rate, 21% lower cost per acquisition, and a 11% higher conversion rate.

We hope these tips help you get started in building your holiday retail strategy! Stay tuned for our additional upcoming blogs in this series, because we’ll be sharing even more insights! In the meantime, please reach out if you have any questions or if you’re ready to start working with 3Q’s eCommerce and retail experts.

You can also check out the other entries from our Holiday Retail blog series here.

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