With Black Friday just under a month away, there are several steps you should take in the next few weeks to maximize your success during the holiday shopping season. One of the most important steps is building an audience strategy that will allow you to maximize exposure among core audience segments. To take full advantage of audience strategies, make sure to start early. If you don’t ramp up spend until Thanksgiving, you may miss out on “window shopping” consumers who will take advantage of competitors’ early-season deals to make their purchases.

Remarketing Audiences

Remarketing audiences are some of the most valuable audience segments you have. A user who has already visited your website has demonstrated significant interest in your product and is a solid lead for a future sale. Make sure to take full advantage of your audiences over the holidays with the following steps:

1. Create & apply long-term remarketing lists

A remarketing list of all-time visitors for the longest possible time period (Google Ads maxes out at 540 days) is especially useful during the holidays, as it allows you to remind someone who visited your website months ago that they should consider coming back to purchase (or add your product to a holiday wish list). If you previously created these audiences last year before the holiday season, you can even use them to target last year’s holiday website visitors. There are two likely uses for these long-term remarketing lists:

– Search & shopping remarketing – Apply this list to search & shopping campaigns with an increased bid modifier so that you show in a strong position when previous visitors search for your non-brand keywords. Given their prior knowledge of your brand, these visitors should convert at a higher rate than net new traffic.

– Display remarketing – Display remarketing will allow you to inform prior visitors of upcoming sales or promotions, which may drive them to complete a purchase. Even if they don’t purchase immediately, seeing an ad might remind them of your brand and drive them to return to your site later on.

2. Segment your remarketing audiences

All prior site visitors are valuable, but some are more valuable than others. Provided you have enough volume, make sure to take advantage of the following segments.

– Recent visitors vs. long-term visitors – Long-term visitors are valuable but are much less likely to be actively in-market than visitors from the past 30 to 60 days. Make sure to spend more on high-value recent visitor lists to remain top of mind among users looking to make a purchase.

– Product-specific visitors – You should try to show remarketing creative based on the products viewed as often as possible. Consider running dynamic product ads or dynamic remarketing to advertise the specific product the user viewed. If this is not possible, you can at least segment your website into a few different product categories. For example, a furniture retailer might have separate remarketing lists for people who viewed recliners, tables, couches, etc., with corresponding ads for each category.

Prospecting Audiences

Remarketing will help you close the deal with prior site visitors, but the busy holiday season is also the time to aggressively bring new traffic to your site and expand the size of your remarketing cookie pools. Here are some suggestions to target the highest-quality traffic during the holidays.

1. Leverage In-Market Audiences

Google’s in-market audiences allow you to target users whom Google has identified as being in-market for a certain product or service. Add these in-market segments as Observation audiences to your search campaigns as soon as possible so you can review performance. Once you identify the top-performing in-market segments, plan to bid these up during the holiday season.

You an also leverage in-market audiences for a prospecting display campaign to drive brand awareness among users in-market for your product. Just make sure to exclude your remarketing audiences and evaluate campaign performance based on how efficiently it drives new website visitors.

2. Similar Audiences

Similar audiences, which classify users as “similar” to an existing user list based on online behavior, are a great way to focus budget on users that are most likely to convert. To start, you should apply similar audiences to your search campaigns well before the holiday season. Start with a few lists of similar audiences based on your email marketing list, converters list, or list of website visitors. Applying these as Observation audiences in Google will allow you to accrue data and evaluate performance before settling on a budgeting or bidding strategy for similar audiences. Once you get close to the holiday season, you can increase bids on top performing lists to show higher on the search results page for those users.

Similar audiences are also an effective display targeting type to drive new website traffic ahead of the holidays. You can show display ads to users similar to recent purchasers during the pre-holiday season to increase site traffic and fill your remarketing cookie pool. From there, you can show promo ads to convert those visitors during the holidays.

3. Build customer profiles

Use Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, and other available data to understand your ideal customer profile, then build audiences that match this profile with ad copy designed specifically to appeal to that audience. For example, if you are a women’s clothing retailer, you might build two customer profiles – one for women shopping for themselves, and another for men shopping for gifts. Ads for the first group should focus on why the target should purchase your clothing, while the other will focus on aspects that make your clothing a great gift.

4. Be mindful of LTV

If your product has a high LTV or a high repeat purchase rate, don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive more recurring customers over the holidays. Segment your audiences by new vs. returning purchasers, and budget more for net new visitors. This will ultimately be worth the investment, since you know that many of them will return to purchase several more times.

The holidays are your best opportunity to drive more traffic and customers to your brand. Use audiences and customer profiles to get the most out of this holiday season.

Not sure you’re ready for the holidays? Contact Metric Theory for a free audit!