As we approach the official one-year anniversary of COVID-19 lockdowns, retail brands collectively are taking a look back at what worked, what didn’t, and how they can maintain positive growth in the year to come.
One of the biggest areas impacted over the past several months was marketing and advertising, as teams were forced to quickly adapt in real-time. It became clear that investing in social advertising was essential in engaging the right consumers and driving brands forward.
Now, brands are strongly considering how marketing budgets will be spent, and where. Should marketers be focusing on the same platforms and approaches, or opt for something new? Due to the tremendous increase of in-app shopping throughout the pandemic, brands have realized the value that social media advertising can have on their business.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what’s in store for social media advertising, everything retailers need to be aware of, and some strategic areas where investments should be made:
You guessed it, ad spend will increase this year
Facebook is still the most popular platform among retailers worldwide, with 93% of retailers currently buying social media ads on the platform. A global survey from Smartly.io found that most retail organizations will increase social advertising spend on Facebook (76%), while nearly half (44%) will increase spend on Twitter, and over one-third (38%) will increase spend on Instagram in 2021. If brands want to stand out, they’ll need to increase their focus and budget on personalization, localization and automation across multiple platforms.
Get creative with personalization
Engaging customers on social media with personalized messages is one of the most effective ways to improve the customer experience, but it does require a significant time investment. As the landscape continues to evolve, brands must take into consideration current health and safety concerns and the needs of their customers.
An increasing number of shoppers want to see brands acknowledging the state of the world, and providing flexible options that cater to the needs of today. Be sure to communicate availability, free shipping, or delivery times to ease the experience for online shoppers. Dedicating time and resources towards the delivery of hand-tailored messages to key customer segments is a sure way to increase return on advertising spend (ROAS).
Do you know where your target audience is on the map?
Make sure to consider local differences in ad messaging. Regulations and cautionary measures vary dramatically per region, country or even city, so be mindful of these differences in each ad. Customizing social ads based on location and putting emphasis on special services or additional instructions for more at-risk populations is an essential for creating impact campaigns. More so, retailers need to be prepared to pivot this messaging as the situation develops – e.g., as vaccines become more readily available.
Automation is the name of the game
More than seven in 10 (72%) retailers still struggle with manual processes as part of their social media advertising strategy. Developing more efficient processes for creating and deploying ads could give brands an edge in the marketplace.
Adding automation to the creative process can provide teams with more time to collaborate, develop personalized creative assets, and engage customers. Ultimately, it will allow teams to focus on higher-level marketing strategy and not get stuck in the tedious tasks.
Automation can also allow retailers to react to quick changes in demand levels and adjust efforts accordingly – an asset very relevant to every brand in today’s environment. Putting energy and resources behind automation development will be top-of-mind for all brands looking to achieve cost savings in the long run. In fact, according to a recent survey, 81% of brands do not use automation technology for their social advertising creation and delivery, but are interested in introducing automation to at least a part of this process in 2021.
In the coming months, retailers must adapt their strategies to the realities of the modern economy. Even as in-person shopping begins to trickle back into consumers’ daily lives, social media will still play a significant role in how they find, follow, and shop for their favorite brands.
As a collective, brands need to reflect in detail what the past year has brought, recognize the demand in-app shoppers bring, and strategically allocate budgets to the most popular social advertising platforms. While personalization, localization and automation are essential today for retaining growth and expanding relevance – they are just the tip of the iceberg for 2021.
Corinne Demadis is VP U.S., East at Smartly.io.