As consumers begin to transition from summer to back-to-school schedules, football season and shorter days, retailers are well into the throes of holiday planning. We’ve polled our agency team of digital marketing experts to bring retailers this digital media edition of our holiday prep survival guide, so they can thrive during this holiday season.

We’ve polled our team of digital marketing experts to bring retailers this digital media edition of our holiday prep survival guide, so they can thrive during this holiday season.

Let’s begin.

Leverage holistic digital media strategies. Begin testing digital media strategies now to inform your holiday plan. Test smart bidding campaigns in paid search. Activate new audiences now to increase awareness and expand your target pool, spending on conversion tactics later when consumers are in-market. Continually be testing new ad formats and messaging.

Audit your digital media programs now. Get your tagging in place to track all aspects of your digital campaigns including proper sourcing for search engines, marketplaces, display vendors and affiliate networks. Plan to update your CRM files two-to-three times during peak holiday time periods to maintain efficiency, minimize waste and hone audience targeting capacity.

Balance media budget across the shopping journey for current customers and for reaching new ones. Make sure to have your branded paid search terms and retargeting display campaigns fully covered and budgeted before expanding into acquisition efforts.

Once brand is covered, the next recommended step is Google Shopping. Add entire inventory into your product feed and optimize it to show up for the most relevant searches. Once that is optimized, it is key to have the appropriate bidding strategy per product category.

Plan now for expected CPM and CPC hikes. Have brick-and-mortar stores? Make sure to prepare local inventory feeds within your shopping campaigns as well. Non-brand paid search is next, which can be tailored to your most relevant customer through different targeting methods. Things like search lookalike targeting or location targeting. Monitor impressions share versus audience reach to make sure spend levels are still reaching your desired audience at a sufficient level.

Ask yourself these questions to fill in any gaps.

Are you speaking to and catering towards your current customer with these levers?
• Branded Paid Search
• Shopping Campaigns
• Retargeting in Display and Paid Social
• Affiliate targeting and messaging

Are you filling the top of the purchase funnel with new, qualified shoppers by pulling these levers?
• Non-Brand Paid Search
• Shopping Campaigns
• Prospecting in Display and Paid Social
• Brand Awareness Efforts + Influencers

Create separate seasonal campaigns that align your brand and merchandise with shoppers in the right moment.

Remember you must be present to be in the consideration set, and the brands that will win are those that assist the buyer by presenting relevant information in that key moment.

Don’t underestimate the power of creative! The mobile surge is here (and it is here to stay) and with it comes an opportunity to resonate with shoppers on high-resolution devices. Make sure your creative messaging aligns across all marketing channels. Plan backup creative in case a campaign isn’t connecting with your audience. Remember to secure creative assets for prime time early as digital media partners, vendors and platforms will get back logged.

Want more holiday planning insights? Check out our Holiday Insights hub to power up your marketing efforts.