The holidays are a time of opportunity and challenge for business owners. The opportunity is easy to see. Business owners have known for over a century that the time around Christmas is good for sales. The challenge is that just about every business owner is using ads at the same time.

Business owners and marketers have to put their best foot forward during the holidays to make an impression in a saturated market. Here are four tips business owners can use to improve their online ads this holiday season.

Plan Early

The key to a successful holiday ad campaign is preparation. As was mentioned at the outset, just about every competitor a business has is vying for attention. When marketers try to create ad campaigns at the last minute without much thought, it can lead to several problems. The messaging can be off because the first acceptable idea was used, instead of the best possible idea, which takes time to discern. Similarly, the images end up hastily assembled and the best choices may not get used.

When the ad approval process is rushed, the overall quality of the campaign suffers. This is why business owners and their marketing teams should be working together to prepare high-quality ads for November and December. The more time there is to refine a campaign, the more time there is to think of and test better ways to reach the target consumer.

Increase Your Ad Budget

Online advertising becomes more expensive during the holidays as more marketers create ads for the same target audience. Business owners tend to avoid doing things when they are at their most expensive. With holiday advertising, there are few alternatives except to increase ad budgets and fight for the attention of the target audience.

So long as an ad campaign has a good response rate, then any investment in spreading the ad will pay for itself. If an ad has 5 percent response rate, making the small investment to get the ad seen by 1,000 more consumers could lead to an additional 50 sales.

Business owners that don't want to increase their budgets can try to find underused keyword combinations to reach their target audience. Rather than trying to outbid the oversized budgets of larger companies, small businesses can search for keywords that are being overlooked or underutilized by their competitors.

Utilize Remarketing

Remarketing is a powerful for increasing the revenue generated from online marketing. Business owners who haven't used remarketing in the past should consider doing so for the holidays. Remarketing gives businesses multiple chances to sway the opinion of their target consumer.

In a nutshell, remarketing shows ads targeted to people who recently visited a business's website. The best example is eBay and Facebook. eBay users who visit a product page, will often see that product in Facebook ads with the question "Still Interested?". Such ads often lure consumers back to the target site to finish a transaction they were only considering before.

Though some consumers may not like it, remarketing is a necessary tool for internet marketing. Two statistics from a recent report by Ripen shows why remarketing is needed. First. 97 percent of online consumers do not make purchases on their first visit to an eCommerce site. Second, three out of four (75 percent) of consumers who abandon online shopping carts plan to return to the site or visit a store to complete the purchase. If three quarters of the people who abandon their cart are thinking about completing their purchase, to not use remarketing ads would be a huge missed opportunity.

Go Mobile

Online advertising is useful for physical stores, especially with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Ad networks by Google, Facebook and others have introduced new features that can target users by location. These ad formats are a godsend for physical retailers looking to include foot traffic.

Creating mobile campaigns designed to assist holiday shoppers in-store can increase in-store sales. Mobile ads for in-store specials, for online retailers with in-store pickup can be particularly useful during the holidays. Customers are looking for way to save time and money during a busy shopping season. If a mobile ad promises to do that, it could influence where in the mall the consumer buys that specials gift.

Mobile ads even important for businesses without physical stores. Shoppers are looking for the best value whether it's in store or online. If online retailers use mobile ads properly, they can steer away customer who would've shopped in stores. According to a recent study from Nielsen, 50 percent of online consumers sometimes take action based on mobile ads.

Since more consumers are using their mobile devices while shopping in-store, there are plenty of opportunities for online retailers to make the steal. For example, if someone researches a product online, having a mobile ad that showcases a lower price may convince them to buy online, rather than pay the price they see in the store.

The holidays are a competitive time for businesses that use ads. Using the tips above can help small business owners create ad campaigns that are just as effective as those from major organizations.

For more holiday-related marketing advice, read this article with four holiday SEO tips.

Published on: Oct 19, 2015