A Little More Than Half of Consumers Are Buying From Social Ads. Here’s How to Make the Most of It.

Marketers should prioritize creative elements and automate everything

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It isn’t enough to have carefully built audiences. Source: Getty Images
Headshot of Corinne Demadis

The accelerated digitization of the retail industry in 2020 has created a clear opportunity for brands. Optimize your marketing mix and reach consumers where they are right now: social media.

In the last 30 days, 51% of global consumers made a purchase stemming from an ad they saw on social, according to new data from Smartly.io. Retailers that previously relied on brick-and-mortar sales are now forced into today’s omnichannel reality.

Global retailers have been embracing the opportunity that exists online and ramping up their advertising on social media since May, now consistently spending about 30% more on social ads than before the pandemic. However, when examining cost-per-mille (CPM) rates in the U.S. retail space over the past six months, the fluctuation indicates there is still huge potential for U.S. retailers to adopt social advertising into their marketing mix and gain benefits fast.

As brands look to connect with their audiences across social media channels to drive business outcomes, marketing teams should consider the following: plan for the target audience, optimize and automate everything possible, prioritize creative elements, and constantly test and adapt.

Plan for your target audience

Covid-19 has created a retail landscape ripe for transformation. Brands need to rethink essential strategies and relearn what customer loyalty looks like through social. Going forward, retailers able to adapt to changing consumer demands at a local level will have success in both customer acquisition and retention.

As the world continues to progress through the different stages of the pandemic, retailers must note that a blanket marketing strategy won’t work. Targeting to specific zip codes or locations, advertisers need to provide updates on products, prices and local availability in real time, and highlight accurate store conditions such as opening hours and delivery area. Initiatives like curbside pickup and “buy online, pick up in store” should also be highlighted in ads to drive store foot traffic.

Optimize and automate everything you can

With the ongoing CPM fluctuations in the U.S. retail space, and an anticipated spike ahead of the busy holiday season, retail advertisers need to be agile and maximize results with smarter optimization and budget scheduling.

It isn’t enough to have carefully built audiences. Advertisers need to bid high enough to reach consumers, so they should allocate budget in areas where it will garner results. Program budgets and set bids should be based on criteria such as platform, age, audience list or geographic location.

For example, prioritize bidding on the shoppers that provide a higher lifetime value or return on ad spend. From there, advertisers should automatically shift budgets and scale based on purchases happening in real-time.

Creative is king

Creative content has become the performance lever that sets brands apart from the competition. From video ads to carousels to Instagram Stories, brands must offer interactive and dynamic content that can seamlessly integrate into consumers’ feeds. To do so successfully, performance and creative teams must work together. Specifically:

  • Creative teams need to understand performance benchmarks
  • Advertisers must leverage creativity with performance growth mindset
  • Performance teams must deliver meaningful insights back to the creative team to inform future concepts and production

Test and adapt

A successful ad doesn’t just stop at good creative. To win in today’s competitive advertising landscape, brands need to rapidly test and iterate to drill down and find the winning creatives that resonate with their audiences and drive the best performance.

It’s also important for retailers to connect online clicks with offline conversions. Here are some ways brands can get a complete view of their customers’ purchase journeys:


Corinne Demadis is vice president U.S., East at Smartly.io, an automation software company for social advertising.
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