The pace of change in digital marketing means there are always new trends and opportunities to consider as retailers think through their plans to maximise sales at the busiest time of the year.

So here are five areas to consider this holiday season:

1. Look again at how you approach Facebook ads

Facebook knows that retail advertisers come to it to drive business goals, such an in-store traffic and website clicks, so it recently changed the definition of cost per click (CPC) to only include clicks to websites and apps meaning you don’t need to pay for ‘likes’, shares and comments. 

The change will help retailers better understand how Facebook ads are delivering on their goals.

But bear in mind that social clicks can increase engagement and help future sales, so, dependent on your overall aims, brands should look at both sales and engagement clicks when it comes to Facebook advertising.

2. In paid search, start by looking back, then adapt 

Shopping patterns can be unpredictable, so start with a paid search strategy based on analysis of historical seasonal data.

But don’t be afraid to adapt it as the season goes on in order to produce more optimal results.

Adjust bids to target emerging opportunities – whether from market trends, external events such as bad weather driving shoppers online (the weathermen are predicting one of the coldest winters on record) or activity by rivals. 

At the same time there will be heavy competition on key dates, so set aside sufficient budget to ensure you are visible on these. 

Finally, while we’re talking search, don’t forget to look at Bing. In the US over half (52%) of retail searchers on the Yahoo Bing Network are unique to Bing, with a calculated market share of 29%.

It is also worth bearing in mind that Bing powers Siri’s web search on the iPhone, providing access to that audience as well.

Get noticed through prominent Product Ads and remember that Bing Shopping Campaigns allow you to import Google campaign structures.

3. Integrate search and social

Understanding the links between consumer activity on social and paid search is a proven method of delivering results. 

Running campaigns in tandem has been shown to increase ROI, while analysis of what is working on social advertising can be used to expand your paid search keyword targets.

At the same time you can use search intent data to refine your social advertising, for example, by using Facebook Custom Audiences to retarget consumers who click on paid search ads. 

If you’re already promoting visual images of your products via Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to stimulate higher engagement in searches, you can then re-use the most successful PLAs by repurposing them as Facebook ads, spreading your resources wider.

4. Consider Instagram

Instagram advertising may be a relatively new phenomenon, but it is already proving to be effective.

Analysis of 25 active client campaigns by Kenshoo found that average click through rates (CTR) were 2.48% – 2.5 times higher than social advertising industry averages. 

Given its visual nature, captivating image and video content is paramount on Instagram, as is compelling creative overall, meaning you can’t try to save on budgets by borrowing from other channels.

Simply using Facebook adverts is unlikely to deliver strong results, for example.

However you can use Facebook’s targeting parameters (such as Lookalike Audiences) as this has been shown to be successful in early campaigns.

Be sure to incorporate Instagram’s “Shop Now” call-to-action within your ads to generate clicks and sales.

5. Pay even more attention to mobile

Last Christmas mobile devices (phones and tablets) accounted for 48% of clicks and 28% of conversions across global retail paid search advertising last season.

All the figures show this trend is set to intensify this shopping season, so you should keep focusing on mobile publishers. 

If you already have an app, one way of capitalising on this growth is to drive app downloads through native advertising in mobile ads and through app store ads.

For example, Google has just introduced Search Ads on Google Play, a new service that enables companies to enhance the visibility of their apps by paid search advertising within the Google Play app store.

Look at using this as part of your strategy to increase mobile engagement and sales.

Many mobile searches are around finding a physical store in the consumer’s vicinity. Therefore explore local search features such as Local Inventory ads so your consumers can find in-stock products in your nearby shops to make purchases.

Close the loop by capturing and integrating this offline activity to gain a single customer view, and to see which tactics are delivering most value.

Every Christmas competition seems to increase in online marketing. However, by following these five tips, advertisers can ensure they have a successful Christmas, and a Happy New Year.