Digital Display Advertising, the Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing

Digital Display Advertising, the Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a constantly evolving field. Since digital marketing agencies already work in a bewilderingly complicated industry, they sometimes find themselves stuck with old habits. However, the dynamic nature of digital marketing means that digital agencies must keep up with the times and strive to find the hidden strategies that give them an edge over the competition. One of those strategies is display advertising.

Although virtually all experienced digital marketing agencies are at least a little familiar with digital display advertising, it is immensely underrated by many firms. Understanding the potential of display ads can rocket even the smallest digital agency into unparalleled success, making display advertising the unsung hero of digital marketing. If your business needs a hero, it might be time to look into digital display advertising.

What is Display Advertising?

Before explaining exactly why digital display advertising is so effective, it is important to understand what the term entails. Put simply, display advertising refers to any technique used to attract the audience of a website, social media platform, or other online space with an advertising graphic of some kind. Display ads can be text-based, images, or even audiovisual ads. The goal of display advertising is dependent on the campaign strategy.  One of the most common goals is to encouraging the user of the site to click the ad and be directed to a landing page and take a specific action, such as purchasing a product, subscribing to a newsletter, or signing a petition. However, there are other digital display advertising goals to consider, such as branding and overall campaign support.

Display advertising campaigns, like many other online advertising campaigns, can be charged on a “cost per click” (CPC), “cost per thousand” (CPM) or a “cost per day” (CPD) basis.

Cost per click is also sometimes referred to as “pay per click,” depending on which party is talking about it. CPC bidding means that the person buying the ad pays the publisher (such as a search engine or social media platform) for each click on the ad. That means that the person paying for the ad only pays for it if it works, which can be a huge advantage for them. Often clients purchasing CPC bidding campaigns will set a maximum CPC, which is the highest amount they are willing to pay for a click on the ad.

Display advertising campaigns are sometimes used for retargeting campaigns, where ads are delivered to users who have already visited a site, with the goal of “retargeting” them and getting them to return to the site to take the same action or take an action at a later stage of the marketing funnel.

Although display advertising has a modest click-through rate (about 0.05% on average, depending on type of display advertising), it is an important part of a well-rounded marketing strategy. While certain marketing strategies have a better click through rate (such as native advertising or email marketing campaigns), display advertising raises brand awareness every time users see your ads.

Even if they don’t click through, display ads support other campaigns and generally improve the effectiveness of your advertising strategy. In fact, Harvard researchers studying display ads found that display campaigns – when sustained over a longer period of time – significantly increased the conversion of search campaigns.

The Different Kinds of Display Ads

Most digital agencies are familiar to some extent with a few different forms of display ads. However, not all display ads are created equal, and as such it is important to understand the various different forms that display ads take. Since one of the main motivations of display advertising is to reach as many people as possible, using different formats is vital. Having a deeper understanding of the formats allows digital agencies to fit display ads into more spaces, maximizing the reach of the ad campaign and giving a wider range of options to pick from. Here is a list of the main formats that display ads can come in, and some of their unique advantages and disadvantages:

Banner ads

The very first display ad to appear on the internet was a banner ad. On October 27, 1994 – in the era of Netscape Navigator and fax machines – the Wired Magazine website (then known as “HotWired”) uploaded a boldly colored image reading “Have you ever clicked your mouse right HERE? YOU WILL.” Its impact on online advertising was gargantuan. To this day, banner ads are one of the most common ads used by digital agencies. Banner ads that appear on the top of the page, highlighting the offer quite literally above all other content can be advantageous to the advertiser. However ad blocking software can prevent these ads from being displayed.

Interstitial ads

Interstitial ads are interactive, almost always full-screen ads that cover the graphic user interface of the website or app that they appear on. For the most part, interstitial ads appear at natural breaks or transition points between content, such as between levels in a game app (hence the “interstitial” in the name). What makes interstitial ads different is their full coverage of the content that the user came for. To take a specific example, the popular video editing app InShot displays interstitial ads when exporting video footage. Often, the ads are for game apps, and the ad can allow the user to play a demo of the game for 15 to 30 seconds before being able to close the ad and return to InShot. Interstitial ads are highly attention-grabbing. Since they are placed in the natural interstices between content, users do not generally find interstitial ads intrusive or particularly obnoxious. Most of the disadvantages of interstitial ads are technical, such as their potential to negatively impact loading time and search engine optimization.

Pop-up ads

Pop-ups are so ubiquitous that they hardly need explanation. The traditional form of a pop-up ad (which hardly exists nowadays) is a new window opening simultaneously with a user entering a website. Although pop-ups are far less common today than they once were, there are still some reasons to consider them. The traditional “new window” pop-up ads are now blocked by most internet browsers, but some pop-ups are still effective. For instance, pop-ups that open a new tab in the browser, open a sub-window within a page (sometimes referred to as modal pop-ups), or open up a live chat dialogue can be highly valuable in encouraging users to click through. The advantages of these pop-ups is that they are nearly impossible to ignore, they grab attention (50 percent more effectively than banners according to AKA Marketing), and certain kinds of pop-ups are practically invulnerable to ad blocking software. However, there are considerable disadvantages to pop-ups as well. They have a bad reputation due to a historical association with fraud, scams, and adult content, and many users find them extremely obnoxious and intrusive. As such, using pop-up ads can hurt a brand or digital agency’s reputation. They should not be used as a long-term marketing solution, since ad blocker and browser software developers are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with pop-up designers, but they can be an effective short-term boost.

Unicast ads

Unicast ads are comparable to traditional television commercials. They are videos that play on the browser window, usually lasting somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Of course, unlike traditional television commercials, unicast ads are display ads and viewers can click them to get more information. Unicast ads have similar advantages and disadvantages to television commercials, although they do have one unique drawback: they can lay a heavy burden on bandwidth and cause slower loading times, resulting in viewer frustration and a worse user experience.

Contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is a type of targeted advertising where the ad content is based directly on the content of the page. As an example, contextual advertising could take the form of an advertiser placing an ad for airline tickets to France next to an article about travelling through French wine country. Nowadays, contextual advertising is usually organized by semi-automated systems that scan the text of a website or other digital platform for keywords, and then places relevant ads on a page based on those keywords. One major advantage of contextual ads is that users consider them less irritating than traditional ads. Due to the lack of irritation and the targeted nature of contextual advertising, it influences users more efficiently than many other ad types. Contextual advertising has very few disadvantages. Perhaps the only major drawback is that it requires very close cooperation between the digital agency and the publisher/host since the contextual advertising system needs access to a database of content on the site to scan for potential keywords.

Takeover ads

The name takeover ads is an especially accurate one. Takeover ads refer to an advertiser “taking over” the content of a publisher, for instance replacing a website’s homepage primarily with ads (this specific scenario is called a “homepage takeover”). This type of display advertising is usually reserved for successful, high profile brands on very high traffic online publications. Although the specifics of takeover ads vary a lot, in general they involve some portion of a platform’s content being replaced with a digital agency’s content. In recent years, thanks to web development advances, takeover ads are often incorporated into the website background or have interactive features that boost user engagement. The advantages of takeover ads are many: the advertiser becomes associated with popular platforms, the ads grab attention extremely well, and they get a lot of reach. However, takeover ads are usually very expensive and can cause technical difficulties for the host.

How is Display Advertising Efficacy Measured?

For Lancaster County businesses considering using display advertising, it may be important to ensure that the digital agency managing the ads can accurately measure how effective they are. Therefore, it is smart to understand exactly how digital agencies measure display ad efficacy and the basics of the research behind display advertising.

In recent years, the impact of marketing has become far more objectively measurable. Thanks to the digital revolution, computerized metrics can now be automatically measured and analyzed to see whether a campaign is working well or not. On the other hand, that very same digital revolution has made the question of what to measure far more complex. Fortunately, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Europe has developed a set of integrated definitions, measures and metrics for making those measurements, called the Digital Advertising Effectiveness Measurement Framework. The framework covers three main areas of digital advertising effectiveness measurement: effectiveness of sales, brand, and media. For instance, for brand effectiveness, the framework looks into the following key questions to evaluate the influence digital campaigns have on delivering brand outcomes:

  • – Was purchase intent positively impacted?
  • – Has brand favorability been achieved?
  • – Was trust in the brand improved?
  • – What was the ad recall rate (unaided and aided)?
  • – Was brand awareness increased?
  • – Was brand equity improved?

However, it is always good to ensure the effectiveness of an ad campaign before the campaign is launched. Making digital advertising maximally effective requires that digital agencies place their ads in high quality, contextually relevant environments. Brand suitability is crucial for a successful campaign. For instance, if you don’t want your ads appearing next to extremely sensitive content related to COVID-19, certain display ad services can control for that. Often, maximizing effectiveness means learning from past campaigns and seeing what does and doesn’t work – so ensuring the success of future campaigns means looking at ones that are already done. And if brand suitability is not taken into account, then it is virtually impossible to accurately measure whether an ad campaign would or would not have been effective otherwise. Tools like Google’s Brand Lift measurement can help determine what audiences think of an individual ad or ad campaign.

What Makes Display Advertising Work Best?

In 2018, the United Kingdom IAB branch conducted a meta-analysis of a variety of research studies looking at the effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns. The analysis, which covered 675 campaigns, demonstrated that digital display advertising increases (unaided) brand awareness by up to 12 percent compared to controls. The analysis also found that digital display advertising improves public perceptions of brands, and that digital display advertising drives intent to purchase products associated with the brand.

So the question that digital agencies are left with is not whether or not display advertising is effective, the question is what makes display advertising effective and how to maximize that effectiveness. So whether your Lancaster business has an in-house design team or will be hiring a digital agency, it is necessary to ensure the team follows some of the following basic best practices in digital design to stretch every dollar spent on advertising:

Use responsive sizing

In a world that is split between mobile devices and computers, your ads must be responsive and able to properly display on any digital device. Kristanne Roberts, global development director at Kantar, writes that for digital campaigns to succeed they must be carefully tailored to display properly on all formats. Using common sizing for display ads ensures easy trafficking and reduces failed response bugs. Fortunately, there are some standardized sizes for responsive ads that design teams can choose from.

Choose clean design

Minimalistic, uncluttered design is critical to getting your message across. The internet is a place full of fascinating information, a place where your ad is competing for attention with everything from cat videos to breaking news. People will naturally skim past and ignore overly complex ads. Furthermore, digital ad formats on mobile devices are small, so optimize for the mobile world and embrace the “less is more” philosophy. Font choice and font size need to be readable on mobile, so be sure to double check ads on a smartphone.

Be colorful

Making use of colors that reflect your brand’s identity can be immensely helpful in attracting the right audience. The psychology of colors is something everyone in marketing should be familiar with. Different colors are culturally associated with different things, and therefore represent different feelings and ideas. For instance, green represents freshness, growth, vitality, renewal, dependability, practicality, nurturing, adaptability, loyalty and kindness – it is a versatile color that is ideal for portraying feelings of nature or health, particularly environmentally friendly products. Blue represents trust, integrity, responsibility, peace and calm, and helps customers trust businesses which is one reason that blue is so common with IT business and social media logos.

Don’t violate copyright law

It may seem obvious, but it is vital to double check the rights to use images before using them. Never copy and paste an image found on Google, for instance, into an ad. Use professionally taken photos that you own or use image services like Getty. Brands can (and have) gotten into serious legal trouble for violating copyright laws in their marketing campaigns.

Pick the right color mode

The RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color mode is much better suited to digital environments than the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black) color mode, which is better for print media. The RGB color mode uses what is called “additive mixing” meaning that all colors are formed from adding red, green, and/or blue light on top of black darkness to create the correct color. This reflects how digital screens render color, and is therefore ideal for digital environments.

Use GIFs optimally

Animated GIF images can have major benefits over static images. As an example, they can present more information or catch a user’s attention more effectively than a traditional still ad. However, when used improperly, they can overwhelm users with too much movement or information and get glossed over and ignored. If you use GIFs in your display ads, make sure not to overload users to the point that they get annoyed.

Harness the power of HTML5

Back in the day, interactive ads primarily operated off of Flash. However, as Flash became obsolete, HTML5 ads became the standard. HTML5 ads enable animation and interactive content in the same way Flash did, but they have the added benefit of being responsive and looking the same on any device or browser. Any device that can render HTML5 code can render HTML5 ads as well. HTML5 coding is easy to learn and optimize, and there are many tools specifically designed to produce HTML5 ads even with limited coding skills.

Have a clear call to action

The call to action is everything in advertising. Without a clear call to action, even the most eye-catching and otherwise effective ads are useless. Make sure that the call to action is obvious and distinct, and make sure other design elements support the ultimate goal of getting the user to follow through with the call to action.

Targeting Options for Display Advertising

Good targeting is essential to making sure that ads get in front of the right audience. An audience that is interested in photography is far more likely to buy an expensive camera than a general audience. Fortunately, many ad services such as Google Ads offer customizable targeting options that can engage audiences in the right niche. Ad groups can operate off audience targeting, reaching people based on who they are, how they have interacted with similar businesses, interests and habits, and what they are actively researching. For display advertising, here are some common category types that ad services use to reach audiences:

  • – Affinity Reaching users based on what they’re passionate about is one of the most common ways to connect a brand to an audience. Search engines and social media have a wealth of data on the affinity groups that their users belong to, so digital display advertising is ideal for this type of targeting.
  • – Demographics: Reaching users based on long-term life facts is a time-tested method of designing targeting groups.
  • – Life events: Reaching users when they are in the middle of important life milestones can be an extremely effective technique. For instance, a real estate firm might target ads to people who are buying their first house, or a baby product company might target people who are expecting a child.
  • – In-market: Finding a user base from their recent purchase intent has become an extremely common method, especially in recent years. One of the best indicators of whether someone will buy a product or service is having shopped for or bought it previously.
  • – Remarketing: Reaching users that have interacted with your business in the past is effective for reasons similar to in-market targeting. Remarketing is critical to building a base of repeat customers who can develop brand loyalty and essentially serve as free marketing for the business.

Of course, the ultimate goal is not just to use pre-determined targeting categories, but to design a holistic custom audience with a broad range of traits. Ad services such as Google Ads allow digital agencies to set up custom audiences in display advertising campaigns by adding keywords, apps, and website URLs related to the brand. The ads are then shown to audiences with those interests or purchase intentions. Creating custom intent or custom affinity audience types is a fairly new phenomenon, but it has massive potential. For instance, whereas in the past a bicycling gear company may have tried to reach a sports fan affinity audience, they can now reach avid cyclists specifically. With custom audiences, the shoe campaign can define this audience by entering:

  • – Keywords such as “bike race,” “cyclist athlete,” or “mountain biking”
  • – Entering apps in the health and fitness category that an avid cyclist might be interested in, such as Strava, Google Fit, or Endomondo
  • – Entering URLs of web pages with content about cycling, ride schedules, cyclist nutrition, and competitive cycling themes

Why Switch to Display Advertising?

If you still aren’t sure whether display advertising is right for your Lancaster County business, you should understand what advantages display advertising has over other methods. Virtually all modern digital agencies incorporate display adverting as an essential part of their online strategy. Display advertising lets brands creatively connect across the internet to countless potential customers. Unlike email ad campaigns, for instance, display ads’ reach is not limited by a user’s email provider, social channel, or willingness to sign up to an email subscription.

Brands that effectively make use of display advertising can reach consumers across the web anywhere that they could be looking for news, goods, services, recommendations, or any other information. Just the Google Display Network on its own can reach more than 90 percent of total internet users all over the world. Using additional demand-side platforms can increase that reach even more. But even with Google alone, brands are more or less guaranteed to reach more potential customers with display advertising than any other offline or online advertising method.

Display advertising is also far more responsive and ubiquitous than other advertising strategies. Since our modern lives are fully integrated with the digital world, a display ad campaign can let your branding follow a consumer all day – from the morning news checkup, to their workday, to their evening leisure activities.

Retargeting and remarketing allows ads to perform at levels that were thought to be impossible a generation ago. However, the reason why is obvious – users that have a prior interest in a product are more likely to purchase it again. Retarget ads have an excellent click-through rate of 0.7% (compare that figure to 0.07% at the top of the marketing funnel). Retargeting potential repeat customers with display ads is a fantastic method for attracting those customers back to a brand’s site or social media page. This method is ideal for advertising campaigns that are directed more toward conversion. One common example of this is setting up a script-tag on a company checkout page and retargeting with relevant products. This also reduces cart abandonment. Display advertising can even interrupt consumers who are considering going to a competing business and convince the consumer to come to your brand instead. Using search retargeting, companies can go after customers who have looked for products or services on a competitor’s website, and then offer deals for the same product or service at prices that undercut the competition. Brands that don’t use search retargeting in this way are likely having it used against them, so it can be a huge mistake not to.

Another excellent benefit that display ads have over other ad types is its dynamic nature. Display advertising allows designers, advertisers and digital agencies to explore the breadth of their creative potential. As the field continues to grow and evolve, and technology continues to advance, display ads gain more and more features. In recent years, display ads have adopted interactive elements, high quality video, countdowns, live product feeds, and many other new options for designers to take advantage of. In the future, more features will surely come into play. The ability of display advertising to adapt and change over the years means that they are likely to be around for a long time, surviving fluctuations in both the economy and in people’s relationships to the digital world.

Since it is so important to measure marketing performance and know that every dollar spent on advertising is creating a return on investment, many brands that want to know their marketing budget is being used effectively op for display advertising. It is very easy to get a variety of data on the efficacy of display ads, using metrics ranging from how many times ads have been seen, to how many users have clicked the ad and more. Because display ads are best suited for building brand awareness, the number of impressions an ad receives is one of the most important metrics. It is also built in to virtually all display ad services and easily accessible.

Overall, display advertising is an excellent option for any Lancaster County digital agency looking to broaden its reach and maximize impressions with potential customers. Display ads let brands get an edge on the competition, connect with consumers, and build widespread brand awareness and loyalty. In a world so deeply interwoven with the digital domain, brands cannot afford to ignore display advertising.

For more information on display advertising, Google Ads, or any of our other digital services, please contact us.

How to Drive More Business in the Most Important Fourth Quarter Ever

How to Drive More Business in the Most Important Fourth Quarter Ever

When it comes to boosting sales, few times of the year offer more revenue sales opportunities than the fourth quarter. Whether customers are thinking about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day, Lancaster County residents are looking to create special ways to celebrate their traditions. With a little planning and marketing, businesses can find ways to end the year with a bang.

The fourth quarter is a critical time to boost profits and end the year on a high note in any year. It is also when many consumers open up their wallets and start spending more on festive food, luxury goods, and gifts for their loved ones (and themselves!) For some types of businesses, the fourth quarter can account for up to 75% of their annual sales. In challenging years like 2020, not only does the fourth-quarter shopping period hold more importance, but it also offers companies a chance to recoup some of the losses of the past months.

This year, all indicators show that many consumers are ready to buy more in the fourth quarter. Using September of 2020 as an indicator, many experts predict that a variety of retailers and service businesses may be well-positioned to benefit from pent-up demand after months of austerity.

According to Kimberly Amadeo in The Balance,

“The most recent U.S. Retail Sales Report shows that retail sales continued to rebound in September, rising 1.9% since August, and 5.4% since this time last year. Total sales for July through September 2020 were up 3.6% year over year. Sales have been increasing since June after record lows were seen in the spring during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.1″

The events of 2020 showed us how business could change dramatically in just a few months. Consumers became more dependent on digital communications and more open to all kinds of digital commerce, including food delivery, online medicine, and curbside pickup. This means that almost any type of business or retailer can now grow in cost-effective ways by embracing a wide range of digital marketing tools and tactics. During the shelter-in-place order of 2020, online shopping skyrocketed, with 50% of U.S. adults saying they purchased more online than before. The pandemic restrictions motivated many reluctant shoppers to try (and keep using) online shopping tools.

This shift to digital can be good news for small businesses. The wide adoption of digital technologies makes it possible for large and small businesses to get immediate results from tools like email marketing and online advertising, even for companies that lack a sophisticated website.

In fact, with so much change in the air, this is the perfect time for Lancaster County businesses to create (or improve) digital marketing strategies to help their companies get the most out of 2020 and beyond. Moreover, the holiday buying cycle continues to deliver the promise of a robust fourth quarter. From mid-October through early January, each year an extended holiday season motivates consumers to buy holiday gifts. This time of year also encourages people to bake more, cook more, buy more cookware, entertain, improve the look of their home with décor and furnishing, spend more time on personal care, or dress up their wardrobe. In fact, the holiday season provides a limited-time incentive to buy all kinds of goods and services.

This has never been truer than it is in 2020. After months of austerity and isolation, Lancaster County customers are ready for a little seasonal cheer. However, in any year, the holidays are an excellent opportunity to foster feelings of positivity and optimism. Shoppers are showing us that they are ready to celebrate local economies and start shopping locally.

Local is more important than ever. Even though it sometimes seems like big online retailers get all the business, it is not always true. Barron’s has reported that shipping resources are stressed because of the surge in online orders, and major retailers like Walmart and Amazon have not yet been able to staff up to meet the demand. Because of longstanding driver shortages, this challenge will continue long after the pandemic is over. Barron’s reports;

“The nation’s transportation network is already strained, given the major disruption from Covid and other longstanding factors like driver shortages. That could lead to higher costs for shipping companies, retailers, and—possibly—consumers.”

Importantly, during the holiday season, quick delivery is everything. That means this is a perfect time for local retailers to highlight their inventory and the immediate availability of goods. Slow or delayed shipments from big online retailers may give local consumers the incentive they need to lean more heavily on local retailers. This holiday season, shopping may bring different types of opportunities to Lancaster County businesses.

As more and more consumers become frustrated with shipping delays, the fourth quarter is often the perfect time to focus on acquiring new local customers and set your business up for continuing success in the next year.

While getting customers to switch has been a challenge in previous years, customers are now more willing than ever to try something new. According to a McKinsey & Company October 2020 survey,

“With continued pressure on household income, consumers are trying new brands and channels, seeking both better value and convenience. Compared to last year, consumers are more than three times as likely to trade down to lower-cost brands or retailers when shopping a standard basket of goods.”

Of course, consumers are not the only ones who have been hunkering down in the past months. Many businesses have had to close or reduce hours, conduct business digitally, or reduce capacity at their locations. Whether a company is still operating under restrictions or not, the fourth quarter is a great time to reach out to customers and “reset” customer and client relationships.

What can small businesses do to reach their local customers? ‘Tis the season to send out e-newsletters, email updates, promote updated hours or offerings, offer “thank you” deals, give loyalty discounts, preview sales, talk about new products, or offer special hours for loyal customers.

No matter which messages an organization chooses, holiday cheer is an effective way to humanize the business, allowing companies to spread goodwill and joy.

 

Start Marketing for the Holidays now

Whether a business reading this in November or July, the time to start your holiday marketing is now. That is because the best holiday marketing includes both long-term and last-minute components. Companies that take the time build digital marketing into their plans all year round are better prepared to take advantage of digital holiday strategies. However, effective strategies can also be applied to firms who are just starting out with digital marketing efforts.

The first step is for the organization to think about how their consumers buy their type of product or service. For example, restaurants or hair salons with limited capacity can focus on selling gift certificates for future visits. Of course, gift certificates make sense all year long, but they can also be promoted as last-minute gifts. Emails, digital ads, or videos are all effective ways to encourage this type of gift-giving.

Additionally, with some quick planning, businesses can have tremendous sales on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Using LNP Media Group’s suite of digital marketing tools, companies can create curbside pickup deals, online offers, extended hours for less crowded shopping, online-only deals, pay-per-click ads, and unique landing pages. This enables organizations to create promotions and offers that can run for a day, an afternoon, or even an hour.

While a survey by Service Management Group reported that 42% of respondents said that they plan to start their holiday shopping earlier this year, Lancaster County businesses still have time to leverage holiday sales. This survey reports:

“Holiday shopping will start early and be dominated by digital – When you consider the double-digit growth of digital holiday sales in 2019 and how the pandemic is impacting the in-store experience, it’s not surprising that 3 in 4 respondents plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year. When asked to compare the timing of their holiday shopping to last year, 42 percent of respondents said they’ll start shopping earlier. With 61 percent of respondents planning to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving, we found just 15 percent of respondents plan to stock up on Black Friday and only seven percent plan to take advantage of Cyber Monday. When we compare the timing of the two groups of shoppers, 62 percent of online shoppers plan to start shopping earlier whereas 44 percent of in-store shoppers indicate they’ll take advantage of Black Friday sales or do most of their shopping in December.”

Thinking beyond Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and even Cyber Monday can help businesses drive sales through the end of the year and beyond. After all, holiday shopping no longer stops on Christmas Eve. Consumers are now showing a growing interest in post-holiday sales when they look to use their gift money and savings on purchases for themselves and their homes.

Ready to start making digital a part of your holiday marketing? If you are looking for specific ideas to help your business boost sales this month and beyond, take a look at our list of holiday marketing strategies developed with Lancaster County businesses in mind.

 

Thanksgiving Digital Marketing Ideas for Lancaster County Businesses

Every year, Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. This gives businesses plenty of time to ramp up for holiday marketing. Consumers preparing for Thanksgiving are looking for food and cooking supplies, but they also shop for clothes, personal care, linens, furniture, home décor, even carpets, and rugs. Any home furnishing store can tell you that many shoppers request delivery before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving also kicks off a string of annual sales that have become part of the holiday tradition for many shoppers. Black Friday used to kick off the morning after Thanksgiving. But today, many stores open at midnight, the evening of Thanksgiving, or run “early Black Friday” sales in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Pre-Thanksgiving shoppers look online before they buy. In fact, Google reports that 49% of these early-bird shoppers research before they buy.

What can Lancaster County businesses do to get their share of pre-Thanksgiving shoppers?

1. Serve up Search Engine Marketing or SEM

Not too long ago, SEM was a term used to describe pay-per-click text ads that appeared in search results. Today the definition has become broader and refers to a set of advertising opportunities offered by search engines and most often covers ad platforms provided by Google, the search engine used by almost 90% of all searches. In addition to paid search listings designed to drive website traffic, SEM now includes various ads or sponsored listings that appear on search engines and affiliated sites. Using search engine databases, marketers can place display ads on other sites. Retargeted ads, which send follow up ads to people who have visited a specific page on a website, is often considered a part of search engine marketing.

Businesses who want to use SEM to promote Thanksgiving sales or items can use pay-per-click ads, display ads sent to people who have searched for related terms, and even send retargeted ads to site visitors, offering them exclusive offers on the products they previously viewed on the website.

SEM also offers marketer the opportunity to include in-ad countdown clocks that highlight the limited time offers or sales or count down the time until your next deal, event, or Black Friday offers.

2. Gobble up Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing includes organic (unpaid) posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. It also offers paid ads or boosted posts. Social media is a popular way to share ideas and communicate with friends and family, so it is a natural place to place ads to reach people as they’re planning for the holiday. Most social media platforms allow companies to upload your customer lists and market to them (and people like them), but businesses can also choose their audience based on geography and interests such as Thanksgiving, How to Cook a Turkey, Home Décor, Best Sports TV and more.

Most social media platforms are also video-friendly. They can be a great place to post videos of a store, videos showing pre-sale walkthrough, or show employees explaining some of the deals and specials they are offering during the holidays.

Some ad platforms of some social media platforms also allow companies to promote multiple items in a scrolling catalog format, so advertisers do not have to stick to just one item per ad.

3. Video Brings Your Business to Life

When it comes to the holidays, customers want information and inspiration, and nothing does that better than a video. Videos can go on corporate websites or be used in ads or promoted posts. They can even be included in email marketing campaigns!

Working with a local professional video team has become an easy way to show customers how to cook a turkey, develop a menu, or find the best new cooking gadgets for this Thanksgiving. Videos are also a great place to share table-setting ideas, explain how to create a better game-viewing environment, share ideas on what to wear on Thanksgiving, give makeup and hair tips, post tutorials for kids’ crafts, explain how to get the family motivated for a pre-feast game of tag football, and more.

This is also a great time of year to produce a video that features team members giving thanks to customers for their support during these difficult times. After all, Thanksgiving is all about gratitude.

4. Send a Cornucopia of Emails

When it comes to emails, one size does not fit all. The good news is that sending highly targeted messages does not have to be complicated. Companies who work with an experienced email marketing resource like LNP Media Group can launch and analyze email marketing campaigns quickly and efficiently.

Selecting either the firm’s customer email list or by choosing to send to other databases, Lancaster County businesses can send targeted emails to a variety of audiences. Loyal customers may receive thank-you emails that invite them to take advantage of early access for sales and offers. Lapsed customers may get a “we miss you” email that includes a coupon or offer. A potential customer could receive messages promoting pre-thanksgiving sales, promotions, or even offer limited-time offers.

Additionally, today’s emails are more responsive than ever, so they can easily navigate on mobile devices or laptops. It is also easy to include videos, QR codes, or bar codes that enable businesses to track the source of your sales down to the email.

5. We are Grateful for Geo-Targeted Ads

Geofencing is a super-targeted way to reach Lancaster County consumers based on where they are. Marketers can send an ad or marketing message to consumers’ mobile devices after entering a predefined geographic area. These spots can be as small and well-defined as a parking lot, inside a store, or a competitor’s location. Using geo-location, companies can deliver promotions, ads, coupons, and more to mobile phones.

Want some examples of how this works? Using geo-targeted ads, local grocery stores can deliver holiday specials to shoppers, even as they are shopping in a competitor’s store. Retailers who want to attract people shopping down the street can send one-day sale offers to customers when they are in the area. Restaurants can send coupons to people while they attend a nearby event. Auto dealers can send limited-time deals to shoppers while they look at vehicles in a competitor’s lot.

6. Digital Makes Holiday Curbside Pickups Easy

Curbside pickup options have become standard for many types of services. Do your customers know that your business now offers this type of service? It is important to get the word out if you have created online options for curbside pickup orders.

Whether promoting takeout food, veterinary services, or oil changes, curbside service can make a business more accessible, convenient, and safe.

7. Don’t Forget About Print this Thanksgiving!

LNP Media Group offers a range of holiday options and special editions in print. The Thanksgiving edition of LNP is the largest and most anticipated newspaper of the year, stuffed full of holiday deals, coupons, and sales. Lancaster County businesses know that this annual tradition is a favorite with local customers, and print can work in tandem with digital for an even bigger impact.

 

Black Friday: Retail’s Biggest Day of the Year

When it comes to bargain shoppers, Lancaster County has come to expect the biggest and best deals on Black Friday.  As retail traditions continue to change, more Black Friday sales are happening in-store AND on digital media. While crowded sales have been part of the holiday tradition in previous years, when health concerns loom, it is time to develop creative ways to allow customers and clients to access the best deals without facing crowds. Online sales may also bring in more shoppers who were unable (or unwilling) to brave the crowds in years past.

Here are some ways businesses in Lancaster County can make the most of Black Friday using digital media.

1. Combine Search Engine Marketing with F.O.M.O.!

When joining the crowds is not an option, more and more consumers suffer from F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out.) Smart search engine marketing (SEM) ideas can tap into consumers’ need to be a part of the action by posting scarcity counts such as “Only Four Left” or “Only Two Hours Left!

“Don’t want to mess with shipping? Not only can digital marketers program their ads by analyzing search patterns and purchase intent, but they can also limit ad delivery geographically so it’s easy for customers to drive to your location to pick up their purchase.

2. Email Marketing is a Black Friday Staple

Email marketing has been used to promote Black Friday deals for years. Today, new technologies and integrations allow companies to automate countdown emails (“Only 24 hours until the sale starts…”), reminder emails (“Don’t forget, sale ends in two hours”), and abandoned cart emails (“Did you forget something?”).

Best of all, LNP Media Group can offer local lists and help businesses access qualified email lists based on demographics and purchase intent. That means that companies can send their targeted offers directly to the inboxes of potential new customers.

3. Promote Your Deals on Social Media

Social media users expect to be notified of upcoming deals and promotions, especially when it comes to Black Friday. This is a great time for local businesses to invest in Facebook and Instagram ads.

4. Create In-store Excitement With a Walkthrough Video

Want to show your customers your best products? Want to create excitement and anticipation for a visit or online sales? Consider a professionally shot walkthrough video explaining Black Friday deals and showing customers all the great stuff they can access. If health concerns are an issue, it is smart for businesses to use videos to explain what they are doing to keep shoppers safe.

5. 2020 is the Year of the Curbside Pickup

For all those customers who do not want to brave the crowds, curbside pickup is a great way to marry online purchases with retail locations. Curbside pickups make it easy to fulfill orders without investing in complicated shipping programs.

 

Small Business Saturday: Local Business’s Biggest Day of the Year

In past years, local shopping venues have been swamped with Lancaster County shoppers coming out to support their local retailers, restaurants, and businesses. However, the “new normal” requires companies to think beyond in-store sales to keep customers engaged and coming back.

1. Search Engine Marketing for Local Businesses

Many local businesses think search engine marketing is too “big” for their companies, but search marketing is the new phone book. It’s where people go to find shops, services, and food that are “near me.” That is why SEM is such an effective way to promote Small Business Saturday efforts. A good SEM campaign will not only drive people to a business listing, but it can also focus on the uniqueness of a company’s products or services, feature photos of their staff, and even allow organizations to donate a percent of the take to a favorite charity.

2. Local Loves LancasterOnline

When it comes to local advertising in Lancaster County, LancasterOnline is one of the most “local” digital tools you can use. LancasterOnline offers high-impact display ads surrounded by local news, which means the ad message is delivered to the people Lancaster County businesses care about most – local shoppers. Marketers can ask an LNP Media Group rep to demo the reveal ad, a large format ad that appears above the digital masthead.  Sticky anchors stay on the screen even as the user scrolls down. Other high impact formats include skyscraper ads and HTML5 animated ads.

3. Find Your Community on Facebook

When it comes to small communities and groups with shared interests, Facebook is king. Although geographic targeting is available on most social media platforms, Facebook is a favorite place for friends and families to stay in touch. Promoting your local company on Facebook, along with Small Business Saturday offers, special hours, online options, and sales make perfect business sense.

4. Highlight Your Local Presence with Video

Smart local businesses use video to introduce local customers to their business and their neighborhoods! Using LNP Media Group’s professional video production services, companies can show customers their store, their deals, introduce sales people, and even feature customer testimonials.

Best of all, videos can be used on corporate websites, in digital ads, or in promoted posts on social media. They can even be included in email marketing campaigns.

5. Lancaster Loves Print

Lancaster County loves print media. LNP helps customers look for information, offers, and ads from local businesses. LNP usually offers special Small Business Saturday sections or magazines, often part of a holiday marketing package. Ask your LNP Media Group representative for details.

6. Email Marketing Allows Business to Target Local Shoppers

Want to reach people who are most likely to buy local? Need to limit your message by geography or interests?  As a targeted email provider, LNP Media Group can offer clients the option to add or exclude a smaller list of emails from a targeted eblast. These tools may be helpful for organizations that want to target subsets of new users, existing customers, or lapsed customers.

 

Is Your Business Ready to Participate in Cyber Monday?

In 2019 Cyber Monday sales exceeded online sales for Black Friday, according to a report by Adobe. Many of 2019’s sales offered the option to purchase items online and pick up in-store. Although this day seems to be dominated by big players, local businesses can prosper as well.

Any business that is interested in getting more Millennial customers in Lancaster County should consider investing in e-commerce capabilities. After all, Millennials make 60% of their purchases online, according to a recent survey.

Wondering what you can do to make Cyber Monday another big sales day for your organization?

1. Cyber Monday and SEM

Black Friday isn’t the only day that triggers consumers’ F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out.) Search engine marketing (SEM) is a great way to keep consumers updated on inventory counts such as “Only Two Days Remaining” or “Only One Hour Left!” It is also a great way to create online urgency by promoting one-day offers.
And remember that if businesses limit their offers to contained geographic areas, they can ask customers to drive to a local location to pick up their purchases.

2. Combine Cyber and Local with LancasterOnline Campaigns!

There are so many ways to promote Cyber Monday deals on LancasterOnline. And any ad that is placed on this local news and entertainment site is clickable so that potential customers can click through to the purchase page.

3. Cyber Monday Gets Even More Clickable with Email Marketing

Whether a company chooses to create a unique email campaign or sponsor one of LNP Media Group’s e-newsletters, these businesses can reach thousands of online shoppers on Cyber Monday. Sponsoring an e-newsletter ad is an easy way to broadcast Cyber Monday deals, and the email ad will be clickable so that Lancaster County shoppers can click through right to the sponsor’s website and offers.

 

Attract Last-Minute Christmas Shoppers

The days leading up to Christmas are the perfect time to get in front of last-minute shoppers.  Google reports that the average American does about 53% of shopping the week before Christmas.  There are many great ways to take advantage of the rush.

1. Deck the Halls with Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great way to grab consumers’ attention and share information about the latest deals and specials.  Businesses that want to ensure they reach the right people at the right time should create social media ads. Facebook, Instagram, and others have sophisticated targeted tools that allow companies to find their best customers based on geography, interests, and behaviors that are often very detailed, including some purchase history. Social media also allow advertisers to run promotions quickly, even for just one day.

2. Email Marketing Ideas

LNP Media Group offers sponsorships on a variety of daily new emails that are delivered to local shoppers. We are also a targeted email provider, which means Lancaster County businesses can add or exclude a smaller list of emails from a targeted eblast. This may be helpful for organizations that want to target subsets of new users, existing customers, or lapsed customers.

3. Geo-Targeting Offers Precise Delivery Opportunities

When a business needs to reach customers in a very small, defined area, geofencing can help. This ad tools allows companies to send promotions, ads, coupons, and more to mobile phones when the consumer enters a predefined geofenced site. Organizations can get the attention of last-minute shoppers by sending geo-targeted ads to consumers when they are at the mall or in a competitor’s store. Some retailers send offers to people nearby to drive foot traffic to their location.

4. Curbside Pickup Makes Last-Minute Shopping Easy

Having a curbside pickup in place makes digital shopping faster and easier for customers. Make sure your customers know that they can placed an order online, for convenient pickup later.
And remember, when shoppers begin running out of shopping time in the week leading up to Christmas, curbside pickup can offer a valuable shortcut that consumers appreciate.

 

Ring in New Year’s Eve!

New Year’s Eve is a big party night. Whether a business sells food, party supplies, event spaces, or rental limos, digital marketing can help Lancaster County companies be a part of the festivities.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, Millennials are the biggest spenders. According to Anna Hecht for CNBC.com,

“Millennials love to splurge on experiences. They’re often more willing to spend their hard-earned dollars on making memories than on buying tangible things. New Year’s Eve is no exception. For a fun night out to celebrate the start of 2020, millennials (defined here as those 23 to 38) are willing to spend an average of $228.10, according to a recent survey from ticketing site Eventbrite. The poll was conducted online from Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, 2019, with 2,086 U.S. adults 18 or older. Even though millennials are known to spend less than previous generations, the amount they’re willing to put toward a New Year’s outing is about $42 more than the average amount Americans as a whole say they’re willing to spend, $185.60.”

Millennials are also the group that is most likely to start their shopping process online. So if a business wants to reach Millennials getting ready for New Year’s Eve, this is a great time to invest in digital marketing.

1. Start the Celebration with SEM Ideas

Use search engine marketing to promote end-of-year sales. It is an excellent time to run promotions urging Lancaster County Millennials to spend their newly acquired gift cards or exchange unwanted gifts. Create a special landing page for deals shoppers can get when they use gift card sales or do returns.

2. Social Media Marketing Ideas

Social media offers the chance to use photos, videos, or slideshows to showcase a business. Whether the company is offering special New Year’s Eve dinners, snack ideas, the latest fashions, bags, or games for kids, social media can help. Create ads, place posts in feeds, utilize Facebook Marketplace, or create live events like Facebook Live to notify their customers of sales, limited-supply, or special deals.

3. Email Marketing Ideas

Want to fill up a venue? Need to collect RSVPs for your upcoming event? Email marketing offers dozens of ways to communicate event details, share event pages, and even collect RSVPs. Emails also provide easy ways to upsell existing customers by reminding them of add-ons or accessories to complement their initial purchases.

4. Curbside Pickup Ideas

More and more people are celebrating New Year’s Eve at home, so this is the perfect time to offer curbside pickup of meals, catering, party supplies, or even clean up services. Make sure to promote the fact that your business makes it easy and safe to shop via curbside pickup.

 

Are You Ready to Get Digital This Holiday Season?

The world is changing fast, and digital is becoming a more critical part of the shopping journey. From researching future purchases to buying something in-store, apps, websites, emails, and social media all play a role in most shoppers’ consideration process.

More and more, even old-fashioned holiday shopping includes digital components. Consumers look online to see when the tree farm is open, where Santa is appearing, where to get cookie decorating supplies, how to get tickets for the Polar Express, and even to find hand-knitted stockings for the hearth. The fact is, whether customers are looking for old-fashioned nostalgia or the latest electronics, they start their search online.

Whether a company has a digital marketing program in place or if they need to build it from scratch, LNP Media Group has the digital marketing expertise needed to build and maintain robust digital marketing programs designed to increase our clients’ sales without killing their margins.

Make an appointment to talk with our experienced digital marketing team.  We have a wide range of programs that make it easy for your business to build a website, improve your SEO, market on search engines, create professional videos, begin email marketing, and more.