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How Non-Holiday Mobile Marketers Conquer the Holidays

By Sam Szczesny-Dale | November 1, 2016

colette-nataf-headshot-02Guest Blog: Colette Nataf is the CEO and Co-Founder at Lightning AI. Previously, Colette was a User Acquisition Manager at MileIQ. After the company was acquired by Microsoft, she managed the Demand Generation team at Intercom. Colette is now helping marketers scale their businesses through Facebook, Google AdWords, and other channels.

The holidays are coming.

When stores start putting out Christmas decorations before Halloween, you know it’s going to be a busy quarter in the advertising world. So what should you do as a mobile performance marketer in the holiday season?

It’s time to up your marketing game.

Here’s the dirty truth about holiday advertising: it’s got the same bones as advertising at any other time of the year. In order to compete with big-name holiday advertisers, you need to double down and get more creative.

Get ready to test constantly. Do you have a testing calendar? It’s already November, and that means it’s time to make one for the rest of November and December. You should be running at least 3-5 new creatives a week and do the same testing for audiences. You know that brand marketers will be looking to target broad groups in high-income areas, so do the opposite. Make your audiences small and think about how your product could thrive in places outside of San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.

Last year in 2015, I was running user acquisition for a little mobile app called MileIQ, which tracks the miles that you drive for work (if you live in a city, you’ll just have to believe me that this is a thing). MileIQ sells for $5.99/month, so there was absolutely no way that we could compete with the Quickbooks and H&R Blocks of the world.

But we tried. We tested new audiences constantly. My goal was to build out at least 100 ad targeting groups per day on Facebook and Google, and we ended up scaling to almost 40,000 targeting groups per platform throughout the holiday season. A lot were terrible. Some were amazing – and that’s where you find the gold buried in your account.

For this year’s holiday season, I’m following the same set of rules. I’m creating between 100 and 200 new targeting groups every day for each of my customers. We’re testing 3-5 new generic creatives a week and sending each of these ads out to all targeting groups. If I’ve learned anything from Liftoff’s Which Ad Won, it’s almost impossible to predict which ad will perform better and why. So I don’t guess. Every new creative goes out to every ad group. I’ve never seen holiday ads actually out perform standard ads, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m definitely going to try it this year anyways, just like I did last year – and just like I’ll do next year.

We are already starting to see highs and lows in pricing and volume (I’m guessing this is partially election-related). But what’s more exciting is the opposite – my customers are starting to scale. Week over week, I had one customer spend 5x more and another spend 2x more (profitably, of course).

The secret to holiday advertising as a performance marketer is just to keep doing what you do best: optimize performance, and test constantly. And be ready for December 26th – it’ll feel like going to the dollar store after the increases in holiday CPMs!