With 2020 bringing us into uncharted territory as far as the economy goes, consumer behaviors and their buying habits have significantly shifted since the emergence of COVID-19. In August, eMarketer reported that they expect total retail sales to decilne by about 11% this year in the United States due to social distancing measures being in place, but that ecommerce will likely grow by as much as 18% by the end of the year.
With these predicted outcomes and with what we are already seeing in many of our own ecommerce social media advertising accounts, it's clear that it will be crucial for brands to leverage social media this holiday shopping season.
Image via Facebook
In this post, I'm going to cover eight tips, best practices, and strategies to help you maximize your holiday ecommerce advertising success this year—with a particular focus on two awesome social media advertising tools for ecommerce: Facebook Shops and Instagram Checkout.
The data behind social media and ecommerce holiday advertising success
It's not just paid social professionals who are claiming that social media will be the most important means of connecting with customers this 2020 holiday season. A combination of ecommerce predictions and conclusions from recent studies are backing this claim.
Forecasted social media buying behavior
A recent post by Salesforce on holiday 2020 predictions stated that “Social media will be the most important emerging platform for engaging with consumers.” The following are some of their data-based predictions:
- Up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this holiday season.
- 10% of mobile orders will take place on social media channels.
- As much as 15% of mobile orders will take place during peak shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Current social media buying behavior
Also, the current behavior of consumers helps make the case for ecommerce advertising on social media this holiday season. According to Salesforce's Snapshot Research Series data, 73% of Gen Z consumers have purchased on social media during the pandemic.
Radial, an omnichannel commerce technology platform, underscored Salesforce's predictions in a study conducted earlier this summer. Among 1,000 consumers surveyed in the United States about their 2020 holiday shopping plans, 66% reported that they will increase their online purchases this year, and 60% claimed that they plan to shop less in retail stores during the holiday season. In addition, the majority of these consumers said they planned to spend the same amount of money on gifts this year as they did last year.
66% of consumers have reported that they will increase their online purchases this year, and 60% claimed that they plan to shop less in retail stores during the holiday season.
It is with this data that we can feel pretty confident in investing our ecommerce advertising dollars into social media. As Salesforce puts it, “brands must break down the historical friction between inspiration and purchase.”
How to use paid social for ecommerce advertising success this holiday season
While these findings can be helpful as we strategize and launch our holiday shopping campaigns, we can't know for certain how or how much consumers will spend their money this season until after the fact. What we can do for certain is get prepared, be in stock, develop a holistic seasonal strategy, make sure our websites and apps work properly, and use social to amplify our reach, purchase volume, and revenue.
So how do you use paid social to enhance your holiday advertising success? If you work in ecommerce, you’re in luck because both Facebook and Instagram have launched new features this year to help advertisers better utilize their respective ecommerce capabilities. For Facebook, it's Shops and for Instagram it's Checkout; and with these exciting new tools, small businesses and big brands alike can create seamless online buying experiences using Facebook and Instagram audiences. In this section, I'll go over best practices, tips, and these new tools to help you drive more online sales this holiday season.
1. Prioritize mobile strategies
According to Facebook’s Holiday Package report, since the beginning of the pandemic, an average of 72% of Gen Xers and 50% of Baby Boomers are spending more time on mobile as quarantines, shelter-in-place, and social distancing measures were enforced. These facts, paired with Salesforce’s forecast above that as much as 15% of mobile orders will be placed through social media channels this holiday season, translates to an increasing reliance on mobile-first ecommerce for consumers across varying demographics.
2. Optimize the user experience to prevent losing frustrated mobile shoppers
According to the Facebook Holiday Insights Report on last year's holiday trends, 82% of global shoppers reported user experience issues when shopping online during the holidays. In addition, 32% of Baby Boomers reported that font sizes were too small on their mobile devices; 25% of Millennials claimed that content did not fit on the screen; and over 25% of all consumers reported that images were not clear. As advertisers, we need to optimize our Facebook and Instagram campaigns accordingly by creating mobile experiences that align with the way users view our branded content.
3. Perform extra quality assurance checks to ensure engagement
These are easily avoidable issues. Detect and resolve them now and plan ahead this season, especially before we get to peak shopping days. When launching new Facebook and Instagram campaigns, take the time with your teams or your clients to perform quality checks on ad creatives and your landing pages—especially on mobile. The devil is in the details when it comes to creating effective, engaging social media ads. Focus on producing an optimal mobile experience so that you don’t leave money on the table that your competitors will surely grab.
As advertisers, we need to optimize our Facebook and Instagram campaigns accordingly by creating mobile experiences that align with the way users view our branded content.
4. Expand your ecommerce capabilities with Facebook Shops
Earlier this year in May, Facebook launched Facebook Shops, an ecommerce storefront, in an effort to help small businesses expand their ecommerce efforts. This was a very timely launch given the economic impact of COVID-19 on small businesses. With Shops, it is now easier for small businesses to adapt to selling more online and for their target audiences to discover and shop for the products they offer.
Image via Facebook
Facebook Shops gives brands the ability to create a mobile-first online store that resides on their Facebook Business Page and Instagram Profile, and is accessible to users across both platforms. Businesses can use it to upload their product catalogs that Facebook and Instagram users can easily browse to save or order products directly in the app.
5. Try Facebook Shops' design layouts
Then in July, Facebook added new design layouts for Facebook Shops so that brands could feature single products or groups of products. The latest update also includes new insights via Facebook’s Commerce Manager, allowing brands to measure the performance of their Facebook Shops.
Image via Facebook
6. Test out your Facebook Shop now, before the holidays hit
As we quickly approach the holiday season, brands should test out Facebook Shops beforehand to get a better understanding of how it works. They can then later use it to feature popular products that people may want to purchase for holiday gifts. This will help give your products more exposure across Facebook and Instagram and create more accessible online shopping opportunities for audiences.
7. Utilize Instagram Checkout to drive conversions
Instagram Checkout was launched over a year ago to a limited number of brand accounts. Since then, it has been slowly rolling out to others and has become one of the best strategies for ecommerce advertisers. Checkout makes it possible for users to purchase the brand’s products directly within the Instagram app, thus, creating a seamless and secure payment in-app option. With the heavy impact on businesses this year due to the pandemic, it was with great timing that Facebook announced in August that it was rolling out Instagram Checkout to all eligible United States-based business and creator accounts with a Shops integration – tying together the Shops experience with Checkout’s in-app purchasing capabilities.
Image via Instagram
If you have not yet done so, check out Instagram Checkout to drive more Instagram sales this holiday season. You can either open up a Shop with Checkout on Instagram by using their Commerce Manager, or, if you are already using a third-party platform like Shopify, you can easily integrate it with your account.
According to their own blog post on Checkout, enabling Checkout enables you to:
- Reduce friction in the path to purchase
- Tag your products in other creators' posts
- Gain access to additional ad products and signals
- Create product launch announcements
- Enable live shopping for your customers
8. Leverage Instagram waived selling fees
In addition to opening up Checkout access to more brands in recent months, Instagram is also waiving its selling fees through the end of 2020 so that more brands, especially small businesses, can take advantage of the in-app purchasing feature. Regardless of your brand, if you are in the DTC space, the waived fee is also a major benefit and is worthwhile to leverage this holiday season as it can offer you the opportunity to create a seamless customer journey from product discovery to purchase with little implementation cost.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for your Checkout efforts or to see some examples in the wild, head over to your Instagram app and click the Discover tab and then click the Shop link.
With the surge of online sales that are to come this holiday season, come out ahead by optimizing your ads to create a seamless buying experience for your shoppers and shorten the gap between browsing and buying your products online— and Facebook and Instagram have the features to enable you to do just that.