The holiday season can be a huge challenge for clients, who often expect a lot from their communication agencies at this time of year. And they have good reason to, as Christmas is often the busiest time of the year in many industries. James Murphy, Chief Executive of ad agency Adam&EveDDB, emphasized the impact it has on the rest of year, telling The Guardian “If Christmas goes well, the year goes well.”
Christmas shopping is now primarily done online, hence the importance of ecommerce and online advertising at this time of year. In France, €2.4 bn is spent online in the 10 days before Christmas. This is reflected in global advertising budgets as well – according to the AA Warc Expenditure Report, advertisers in the UK are set to spend a record €6.7 bn in the run up to Christmas 2016, and almost 50% of this will be spent on digital media. Mobile is projected to be up 36% to €1.3bn.
Christmas ad campaigns have become an event in themselves as many people eagerly anticipate the first Christmas-themed adverts of the season. This year, British fashion house Burberry teamed up with a host of influential celebrities, including Sienna Miller, to create a short film as part of its festive campaign, which has since gone viral and had fans wanting more content.
You too can get your brand on Santa’s nice list this holiday season. Our Christmas gift to you is an insight into influencer marketing, and how it can optimize the buying journey. Let’s begin…
An influencer: someone to rely on
An influencer is someone who has the ability to guide the opinion of others through the content they create, and who acts as a point of inspiration (or aspiration) within their circle.
Influencers create relevant and useful content and most importantly, have the trust of their community who regularly engage with the content published. Forbes notes that influencers have the power to make or break trends within their sphere of influence because “they can establish trust with each handshake, social post, or advertisement and their content impacts audiences in the top tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy: belongingness, esteem and self-actualization”. No wonder they are one of the top publishers of native adverts.
Influencers can be great partners for your brand as they can help boost brand awareness, grow your audience and increase engagement with your content. To identify the right influencer(s) for your brand and your marketing activities, a three main points need to be considered:
- Audience. Do you share the same target audience?
- Personal brand. Does it align with your brand positioning?
- Metrics. What is their audience size, engagement rate, frequency of posts etc.?
But after identifying your influencer, what is the next step?
A perfect native ad campaign makes for a perfect Christmas
Coca-Cola frequently produces memorable and iconic Christmas campaigns. Wendy Clark Senior VP of Marketing Communications at Coca-Cola explains what makes them so great: “we’ve moved from the notion of one-way storytelling (content we push out) into something that is more about a loop of content and conversation. Our job is to fuel the dialog.”
She calls this ‘dynamic storytelling’ and reveals the fundamental question that is central to Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy: ‘How are we going to create stories that are “social at the heart” and ultimately share-worthy?’. She underlines the influence of social networks, describing them as our ‘most trusted source’. We all know that storytelling becomes even more important during the holidays, whether you’re a large corporation like Coca-Cola or an independent niche brand, so consider the story you want to tell through your ad campaign, and how it will connect with your audience.
Make it mobile
All campaigns need to be cross channel and cross media, but priority these days should be going to mobile content. Mobile is where many consumers make their initial queries that may lead to later purchases, so having a strong presence here is vital.
Time spent on mobile is increasing, and has now actually surpassed time spent on desktops, at a rate of 51% to 42%. For this reason both native advertising and original content must be optimized for mobile or you risk missing half your opportunities to reach your market.
Take jewellery company Swarovski as an example: After developing visual, inspirational and easy-to-navigate mobile content they saw an increase in online sales of 50% year over year, with mobile sales growing more than 150%. By prioritizing mobile, they ensured that their content was optimized for the way in which consumers frequently accessed it.
However, creating the content isn’t enough. People need to see what you’ve produced. SEO is important here, as it will allow you to be present in the micro-moment when consumers first look for information. Around Christmas, this is even more important, as we do so much of our browsing and shopping for gifts online.
Let’s see how Swarovski harnessed this: search insights showed there was an opportunity to engage people in everyday online moments, when they were searching for inspiration about how to style an outfit. By creating content based around ‘style inspiration’, they grabbed consumers’ attention in the micro-moment when they were first looking for information, ‘when decisions are being made and preferences are being shaped’, thus leading to increased sales.
Vine, Vimeo, Snapchat, Reddit, Periscope, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram… let’s focus
Social media is a useful tool to communicate with your audience, but you have to be aware of which networks are appropriate for which messages. Networks can come and go, and it is better to have a focused presence on the key networks targeted to your audience rather than trying to rehash the same content on every site. The infographic below breaks down the demographics of the top sites:
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks, with 30% of all internet users on the network. Over a third of Instagram users have used their mobile to purchase a product online, making them 70% more likely to do so than non-users and proving that it’s the perfect platform for brands.
The power of Instagram is in the intimate storytelling and powerful visuals of photographs and videos, which can be especially potent at Christmas. Some bloggers leading the way with native advertising campaigns are Fleur de Force who partnered with luxury homeware brand Christy and Hello October who launched a competition with Viktor & Rolf. Good influencers will have a large audience, leading to more exposure and creating tons of engagement for your brand.
Track every step of your campaign to measure your success
One of the major benefits of a digital campaign is the fact that we can accurately measure every action. Whether launching an information campaign, awareness campaign, or consideration campaign (for example product testing) it’s important to quantify and assess conversion.
You can track the impact of an influencer campaign – whether your goal is to increase your reach, or increase engagement – by tracking impressions, clicks and shares. What matters even more is measuring the direct impact on your business- have more shares increased your company’s online community? Has more clicks correlated with a surge in sales? Measure these over the period you have collaborated with the influencer and compare year on year. Ultimately you should find out if your campaign is achieving your desired goals by measuring the ROI based on your original KPIs.
Influencer marketing can maximise your Christmas appeal
As we can see from the data above, influencers are the perfect intermediary through each step of a modern advertising strategy; from awareness to content creation and engagement, through to purchase. In the chaos surrounding the holiday season, don’t forget that an influencer can validate every part of a consumer journey and are a vital asset to allow you to tell a story and engage with your audience.