5 Ecommerce Holiday Trends You Should Know

Advertising Strategy

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The holiday shopping season is officially here. Discover the PPC trends and recommendations you need to know to drive success for 2021.

The holiday season is here. 

And it’s a fickle time for eCommerce as advertisers make up lost ground post-pandemic and vie for new business with eager holiday shoppers. 

But, how do brands reach their goals with increased competition, a slated year for record sales and forecasted shipping delays? 

Here are some holiday eCommerce trends and recommendations to consider when executing your paid media campaigns for the remainder of 2021:

1. Market share is up for grabs. Be ready to push out promotions.

It’s going to be a weird season in light of COVID-19 in eCommerce. Google predicts it’s a big year for eCommerce brands. Some verticals are projected to have $3B in sales up for grabs. Advertisers will be competing against brick and mortars once again. 

Brick and mortar brands are also back open after the lockdown, and they will be vying for new customers and business in an attempt to make up for last year’s loss. 

This season, it will be crucial to push out promotions. Customers are actively looking for the best deals for items on their holiday shopping list. If you don’t have promotions, customers are going elsewhere to find them. Support a strong sale or get lost in the shuffle. 

It’s also important to note that the cost to promote will increase as the competition gets fiercer. We’re going to see some of the highest CPCs of the year this season.

In 2020, one of our eCommerce clients observed a 29% CPC increase for the holiday season when compared to the previous 2 months. The biggest increases were driven by Shopping (up 23%) and Display (up 30%). A similar trend occurred in 2019 when CPCs were up 50% for the same time frame.

2. Social commerce is on the rise. Stand out with video ads.

At the peak of the 2020 holiday season, spending on social media advertising was up by 50.3%. And the trend continues as more consumers continue to buy products on social media using their mobile devices. 

Video also continues to be a significant differentiator when it comes to marketing. Even more, today’s shopping generation interacts well with eye-catching visuals. 

Nearly 85% of millennials say they’ve completed a purchase after viewing a marketing video. With engagement like this, it’s a no-brainer why we saw several new ad formats launched last year on social media platforms to promote the rise of video. 

If you haven’t already, consider video ads for Instagram Reels, Tik Tok, Snapchat and Facebook for your 2021 holiday-eCommerce marketing campaign to spark interest fast and appeal to the short attention spans of consumers today.

From user-generated ads that build brand awareness to effectively demonstrating your value proposition, video ads are an excellent way to stand out in a sea of sameness during the holiday ad season.

3. CPMs will be at an annual high. Buy your traffic early.

Most consumers today are savvy shoppers. Who doesn’t find themselves shopping early for gifts and the best deal? 

We’ve all been there—snooping online in early October and November to see prices for coveted products only to wishlist or favorite later as we keep an eye out for discounts and special promotions around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

This seasonal purchase path is the reason why many advertisers who observe a 1-day click ROAS fall below target. In response, we often see brands reduce budgets between October and November as brands plan to increase spending drastically on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone. Yet, the advertisers that go this route encounter a different dilemma—CPMs are at an all-time high.

It’s critical that brands ride the wave by accepting lower 1-day ROAS leading up to the big eCommerce holidays with assuredness that customers will return in excess. If they don’t, they’ll pay a premium for an already competitive space with brands who have already invested in exciting customers early about their product and discounts.

Google Trends indicates full holiday shopping mode starts mid-October. That means if you haven’t already developed strategies to push out spending before the big purchase push occurring now, you’re late to the game.

Now is the time to apply pressure to spend for prospecting. Generate awareness and engage customers early with gift guides and countdowns to encourage buying.

4. Supply chain issues are still happening. Create a crisis management plan.

Since the onset of COVID-19, eCommerce brands have struggled with supply chain issues. The holiday season is only expected to exacerbate current conditions as consumer spending continues to peak. Nonetheless, people are shopping online earlier in response to supply chain issues.

Now is the time that advertisers create an ad strategy if products go out of stock at any point during the shopping season. 

Brands should be asking themselves: How will we stock in real-time? How do you press pause on ads driving out-of-stock items? How can we change the landing page experience?

Here are some strategies to consider for your inventory crisis management plan: 

  • Don’t wait to push out strong promotion in lieu of expected supply chain issues
  • Establish a process to dynamically replace an out-of-stock product with a similar backup product for landing pages
  • Pre-plan worst-case scenario budget allocations for out-of-stock products
  • Identify opportunities early to test new categories and products 

On the flipside of logistical woes, advertisers should also be aware of media opportunities as brands run out of supply. 

If presented with the right market conditions for inventory sniping, eCommerce brands must communicate with stakeholders ahead of time to allocate a budget for last-minute opportunities. 

5. A cookie-less future is pending. Use holiday promotions to your advantage.

Marketers are facing a cookie-less future as platforms like Facebook and Apple crackdown on consumer privacy concerns. It’s imperative that advertisers collect first-party data now to support future audience targeting and tracking efforts.

The holiday season is a great time to capture first-party data with strategic promotions. Use promotions to fuel consumer data collection as online behavior spikes during the holidays. The current market conditions are in your favor.

While promotions are often viewed as discounting tools to increase sales, they’re also opportunities to gather data across the entire customer journey. Here are three promotion ideas to run this holiday season to motivate repeat visits to capture first-party data.

  • Offer a digital wish list
  • Run a daily sweepstakes
  • Offer special promotions to those who provide email addresses

The holiday shopping season is full-effect, and current market trends are undeniably driving unique conditions. Make a plan today to see the performance you need to drive business outcomes.

Need help tackling your holiday eCommerce ad strategy? Contact a Closed Loop paid media expert today. 

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