Holiday Marketing Planning + Digital Marketing Headlines

Fine Point Grey Natalie Barreda, Senior Client Manager, Point It

Holiday Marketing Planning + Digital Marketing Headlines

(25-minute podcast)

Maureen Jann, Director of Digital Marketing speaks to the digital marketing headlines. Natalie Barreda, Senior Client Manager at Point It Digital Marketing talks about best practices for the upcoming holiday season.

Fine Point iTunes

Fine Point Stitcher

Fine Point Google Play

Featured Experts:

Natalie Barreda, Senior Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Guests and Experts

Natalie Barreda, Senior Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing


Natalie Barreda is a digital marketing veteran who focuses on driving revenue for enterprise-level clients. Thanks to her six years of agency experience, she adept at predicting and responding to critical trends in paid search.  Currently a senior client manager at Point It Digital Marketing, she primarily focuses on year-round seasonality and B2C e-commerce digital advertising. Completely self-taught, Natalie considers herself a results maven.  In her down time, Natalie enjoys hanging out with her aptly-named dog Xena and exploring the Seattle beer scene.

HOST: Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing


Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.



Maureen: Hi everybody and welcome to our production of Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. Each week we feature industry experts and guests to talk through what’s happening in digital marketing. I’m Maureen Jann, the director of marketing at Point In Digital Marketing here in Seattle, Washington. I promise you it is definitely Seattle we live in, it is very wet, it is very rainy today and I’ll be your hostess, and I’m dry now so I feel like the day’s looking up. Today we’ll be running through a few headlines we’ve seen in the news and I’ll be introducing you to Natalie Barreda, our senior client manager. We’ll be talking about timely seasonality, holidays around the corner, so welcome Natalie.


Natalie: Hey oh, how’s it going?


Maureen: Good, good how are you?


Natalie: Good, good, also attempting to stay dry. We’ve got apparently a massive storm coming our way this weekend.


Maureen: I like to call it rainpocalypse.


Natalie: Rainpocalypse yes, yes that’s a thing. I’m hoping that power doesn’t go out and I can sit in my house and watch Netflix all weekend. Here’s to hoping.


Maureen: You’re from Arizona so this is a departure.


Natalie: Yes, you don’t get a ton of rain in Arizona but you do get good thunderstorms which you don’t get here, so I’m pretty stoked about that.


Maureen: We should get some good thunder, they’re scary here too. They always catch me off guard.


Natalie: You actually have some legitimate rain for an extended period of time.


Maureen: It’s true.


Natalie: Little things.


Maureen: Well let’s get started running through the headlines today. The high level overview would be Amazon is limiting third party sellers for holiday, that’s a big deal. Twitter streams the election over Facebook, and then Google buys more companies.


Natalie: Yes, things are happening which is crazy. I was kind of looking through some of these and it’s pretty funny. The Amazon one really stuck with me because obviously I’m a shopper, I am 100% the holiday shopping, I am last minute shopping on Amazon, I am trying to save on shipping, I’m trying to ship things out to my family because, as Maureen said, I’m not from here and it’s a lot easier to ship holiday presents than it is to pack them when I fly out there. The Amazon one I thought was kind of funny because the whole idea is FBA, fulfillment by Amazon isn’t having sellers send in their products so that they can sell the stuff that they have now and they can sell their Amazon products.


Maureen: Right.


Natalie: Which is going to be kind of a big hit for retailers who rely in shipping their products through Amazon. I think it’s kind of interesting because you have all these retailers prepping for holiday, this is a little bit of a last minute-


Maureen: I thought so too.


Natalie: Kind of shock as someone who really specializes in the B to C space. We’ve already started holiday planning and people have already started having these conversations and they’re pulling Amazon in is one of their tactics or one of their resources and hey guess what, can’t do that anymore.


Maureen: Yes, and I mean especially when Amazon is arguably the largest retail search engine out there. I mean this has got to be brutal for these sellers. I was reading about it and it said, it was something like on the 19th, that’s when they found out last month.


Natalie: Yes.


Maureen: Yes, and I mean how deep are you in with clients and doing your holiday planning for retail?


Natalie: We’re already starting to pull together the execution and tactic notes, so the actual planning part of it. This happened at least a month ago, so these are conversations that people have either started having or frankly should have started having. One of the big things is people sell through Amazon because with fulfillment by Amazon you can reach prime members, so you get the free prime shipping, they get their products in a couple of days, all that. Now I think advertisers are like well, they’re kind of scrambling like what do I do? I think a couple things like thinking about someone who’s probably going to have to go and restructure a little bit their holiday planning, is think about what benefits does Amazon offer and how can I either match or beat those benefits? Things like offering free shipping, offering really easy checkouts on your site, things maybe like guest checkout. One of the big benefits that Amazon has is everyone’s always signed in, so you can really easily go in, set your shipping, your shipping address and your billing info and ship, super, super quickly, it’s just a couple clicks.


The amount you can minimize that on your site is the best way that you’re going to be able to get people to convert, and instead of going and buying things somewhere else. I think that’s one thing free shipping is something that definitely everybody should try to look into, free expedited shipping especially closer to the holiday, those last couple of days, that’s going to be a really big one on those last minute shoppers such as myself.


Maureen: The other thing that might be interesting is bringing in, to speak to the whole idea of you’re always logged in to Amazon. Well there’s a lot of payment platforms you’re also always logged into. I mean if you can’t be the always logged in you could always work with a partner who you are always logged into and that could be a really good option too for your site.


Natalie: Yes absolutely, PayPal obviously is one. Apple Pay, I use Apple Pay especially with people who have downloaded IOS 10, people who have gotten to the new iPhones, Apple Pay is really well integrated into a lot of the other ecommerce sites, apps and stuff like that. Having an integration with Apple Pay so people can just … I literally did it a couple of days ago where you could just do it with your fingerprint, boom you have your shipping address in there, you have your billing info, easy, done. I always say this about conversion right, the easier you can make it to have people give you money stick with that.


Maureen: Absolutely.


Natalie: Yes, don’t make it hard for people to give you money.


Maureen: Please don’t, and from a design perspective same thing. As a creative I know that it’s just make it simple stupid, don’t make it hard.


Natalie: Yes, one thing that even huge corporations do is force people to log in to be able to checkout on their site. I do it all the time where I’ll go to whatever site it is and if I have to go and log in and if I’m on my phone and their site isn’t responsive to mobile, at that point I’m like you know what, over it.


Maureen: Totally.


Natalie: Check out-


Maureen: I’ve abandoned 1,000 carts.


Natalie: Yes, over it, I’m out, I’m going to go find somewhere else or I’m going to go buy something else. Guest checkout is a huge one. Make it really easy, make people go in and … Even if you’re doing guest checkout have them put in their email address, then you could hit them later and get them to sign up that’s fine, but don’t make it a hurdle that they have to jump through.


Maureen: Yes no kidding. Speaking of hurdles and difficult things, let’s talk about the election. Twitter, not Facebook, will live stream Buzz Feed’s election night coverage which I though was remarkable. First of all because Buzz Feed already has a relationship with Facebook and I think that’s pretty interesting. I’m curious, the other thing that I pulled from this article was that it’s clear that Twitter’s the platform that people are talking politics on. I mean on Facebook you see all the meme’s and stuff like that but I’m not sure that the conversations are quite as rich and I’m always curious what the advertising ramifications of that are going to be.


Natalie: It’s a great point, when I’m following the election I am a Facebook user to the core, super loyal. Twitter I’m pretty good at it, however when I’m following things live like a live stream type thing I’m on Twitter. When I’m looking for a conversation and seeing what people are talking about, seeing different opinions that people are having I go to Twitter. Frankly, on the debate screen they have Twitter feed at the bottom, so it is a super seamless integration of a conversation. For folks who maybe know their demographic is someone who’s going to be a little more politically inclined you could look at maybe household income type demographic data that would probably give you an idea that this audience is going to be someone who’s interested in talking about the election, things like that. Getting your ads in front of them it’s super easy, I think that’s a super great way to maximize because the visibility is going to be there. Making sure you’re increasing your budgets, that you have aggressive bids. Essentially for certain kind of advertisers I think this could be a small Black Friday ish kind of thing for them.


Maureen: That’s a big deal.


Natalie: Yes because people are there.


Maureen: You got the eyes.


Natalie: The whole idea of Black Friday is not yes there’s great deals and all that stuff, but it’s because there’s a brand behind it because people are there, people are shopping. Only reason advertisers really care about Black Friday is because people are there and people want to spend money. With the election people are there, people want to engage with this Twitter platform, people want to engage in the conversation. Using that to your advantage I think is smart.


Maureen: Yes why not?


Natalie: Yes.


Maureen: I’m going to stand by my media blackout on the election because I just can’t even, but I love that our political process isn’t reliant on broadcast TV anymore and it really opens it up for the rest of us. Because I don’t actually have cable, we’re a cord cutter and we just don’t have access.


Natalie: Same here, I streamed it through YouTube, I’ve seen it through Buzz Feed, a couple other big platforms and stuff are doing that as well. I think that’s how people are engaging nowadays and you have to be flexible and go with your audience.


Maureen: I love the word nowadays, it makes us all seem so old.


Natalie: Nowadays.


Maureen: Nowadays.


Natalie: Back in my day.


Maureen: Yes.


Natalie: In my day they had-


Maureen: I walk uphill.


Natalie: Showing these things on television, have to get up and change the channel.


Maureen: With your hand. It’s horrible, so moving on Google buys more companies. We’re looking at Google, they bought a digital marketing company called FameBit. It connects brands to YouTube stars, which I think is really interesting because there’s been a lot of talk in the marketing generalist realm about the importance of influencer marketing and where there’s even some monetization around that which I find very interesting. There’s platforms you can buy to help you reach out to influencers, which I’m like doesn’t that kind of defeat the whole purpose of personally connecting with your influencers? I don’t know, who am I?


Natalie: Money is always part of it. As someone who spends a probably shameless amount of time on YouTube, or shameful amount of time on YouTube.


Maureen: I like shameless better, go with that.


Natalie: I have no shame, it’s cool.


Maureen: Go with that.


Natalie: I am not surprised about this because you know who Google owns? YouTube, and they are connecting brands with YouTube stars, people are going to want to advertise, people are going to want to show ads on YouTube, guess who gets that money? Google, they are literally investing into themselves which is smart. When you have those two things connected that seems like a no brainer if you will.


Maureen: Right, I mean they’ve always been smart investors. I mean they wouldn’t be where they were if they weren’t, and with Google owning YouTube and YouTube being the number one search engine for video. I mean we’ve talked about retail, now let’s talk about video. Why wouldn’t you further monetize that? I know that’s something that Google has been pushing for a while their video ads, that’s been a big push, at least that’s what our reps are telling us when they come in. It’s always interesting to see when they deepen that relationship both with the brands and with the agencies.


Natalie: Yes absolutely, yes YouTube is always a really big focus of Google.


Maureen: The Google.


Natalie: Yes, one of the downsides of advertising on YouTube is sometimes it’s a prospecting medium. With paid search typically, let’s just say AdWords, when you’re advertising on AdWords it tends to be lower the funnel. YouTube definitely is higher in that funnel, so it’s more of a prospecting medium, it’s more of a branding type play. Sometimes advertisers are hesitant to invest there because it’s not going to have the return if they were to invest that money in something as simple as just a paid search ad.


Maureen: It’s not even that they won’t have the return, it’s just harder to measure that return right? Because we all have to have a top of funnel, we all have that awareness.


Natalie: You got to feed the funnel to get to the bottom.


Maureen: Yes, it’s a beast so yes.


Natalie: Yes, I think it should be interesting and I think once all the legalities and all that stuff get ironed out I think it’ll be interesting to see how this impacts advertising on YouTube. I don’t think we’ll have an idea until we have the ability to actually see the numbers and see the money, but this is a really smart play. Maybe not for your huge enterprise advertisers but definitely for your products that have a viral type feel, like the hair vitamins that the Kardashians advertise.


Maureen: Is that a thing?


Natalie: Yes and it totally is a thing.


Maureen: I can’t even handle that.


Natalie: Yes there’s a Buzz Feed video about it.


Maureen: Of course there is.


Natalie: Yes, it’s getting advertising, those things and connecting it with YouTube stars. To people who have grown up watching YouTube, that early millennial right, people have grown up watching YouTube and it’s now going to be a bit part in their purchasing path, even if it’s just like creating brand recognition and stuff.


Maureen: Yes, and it’s hard to find these influencers if you aren’t steeped deeply and I mean if you’re in marketing you should be, but to take a couple of steps out of that I think there’s definitely a benefit there for sure.


Natalie: Yes, and it’ll be interesting. We’ll see how it all plays out.


Maureen: Awesome, well let’s move on to the topic of the day and the topic of the day is holiday and seasonality. Natalie’s been working with us in marketing to help share tips and tricks and knowledge around getting the most out of your holiday marketing. Her in depth knowledge of seasonal paid search strategies is pretty impressive, I think you guys will enjoy hearing what she has to say. She also has a great sense of humor and a really cute dog she brings into the office named Xena. What kind of dog is Xena, I can’t remember.


Natalie: She’s a lab, collie mix and the name Xena sticks with her really well because she’s a little bit of a princess warrior for those of you that will know what I’m talking about because that’s an older show. She’s great, she comes in the office, it’s nice to have a little bit of a break and she loves it, she’s the most enthusiastic employee here.


Maureen: We’re all pretty enthusiastic so that’s saying something.


Natalie: Yes, well you know if I went somewhere and someone just loved on me all day long doesn’t sound terrible.


Maureen: Yes, there’s some great moments with Xena laying around on the floor and we all sit and look at her and go I wish I was that happy for even a moment.


Natalie: Just rolling around with a tennis ball in your mouth.


Maureen: Impossibly happy, impossibly, and she’s got a really jaunty wardrobe.


Natalie: Well you know, she’s got a little hoodie, it is Seattle.


Maureen: Yes it’s cold here.


Natalie: It’s cold, she gets a little chilly.


Maureen: Let’s talk seasonality. Tell me what you’re seeing that’s hot in seasonality right now.


Natalie: Seasonality obviously we’re talking holiday.


Maureen: Yes.


Natalie: Right now we’re pretty much at the middle of October, so what do I have top of mind? Black Friday, does that mean I’m not talking about Black Friday until the week before? Absolutely not, we’re starting to do some planning, really you have to think of how the whole buying process works. People buy on Black Friday, Thanksgiving, that whole weekend, Cyber Monday, but people don’t start researching then. People have started researching a month beforehand. I am a hardcore Black Friday shopper, I’m the person who has stood in many a Best Buy line in my day buying TV’s or PlayStation’s or whatever it is, I do that. Now I’m definitely going online because don’t really feel like standing in the rain on Black Friday. It’s a matter of getting things going.


We’re starting to talk about running ads around holidays towards the beginning of November. We’re also talking about how can we maximize those folks who are doing the research? Do you want to just have people research and like each other ads and that’s that? Absolutely not, so one of my favorite tactics that we do that has worked out really, really well for us is we’ll start advertising holiday ads towards the beginning of November, depending on your industry you might want to do it October, it all just kind of depends on what vertical and stuff you’re in. You start to do them early and then with that you start to build audiences off of these people, so these are people that are very interested in your products. Typically they tend to start out … I don’t know, let’s take a computer for example. Someone is like I want to buy a laptop for Black Friday. I don’t know what kind of laptop but I want to buy a laptop.


They go and they start searching laptops, and then they do some research and then they’ll like you know what, these Dell laptops look cool. Then they start searching Dell laptops and then they start searching, you know what I think I want one with a 13″ screen, 13″ screen Dell laptop and then they start to figure out exactly which one they want. You want to follow them through that process, so you start building these audiences off of these people and then these people have done this research so you know that they want to start buying on Black Friday. You build these audiences, then right at the time of when you have your specials going be it Black Friday, be it Thanksgiving, even if it’s Cyber Monday same idea.


You add these audiences onto your existing campaigns and add bid modifiers on them that are super aggressive because these are super valuable people, these are people that have been to your site and then not only been to your site but are also looking for your keywords, so really specific on brand terms. It’s really important to get in front of them because once these people have narrowed down which computer they want they’re going to go and search for that brand keyword. I want to buy a Dell computer from, I don’t know, Amazon because we were just talking about them. They’re going to search those keywords, so you want to bid up on those audiences on those terms.


Along with that Google recently came out with, what is it, similar audiences in search. They have had this available for display in YouTube for some time now, I can’t say exactly how long. Pretty much what it is is you build your audiences, you could build audiences off of people who’ve converted on your site. Then you set up similar audiences saying I want to target people that have same online behaviors as the people who’ve converted on my site. It’s kind of higher funnel, it’s not technically remarketing because they haven’t been to your site, but at this point it’s someone who’s pretty similar to people who’ve been to your site, pretty similar to people who have either been to your site and abandoned a cart or converted or whatever it is that the audience that you set up. It’ll just create that similar audience off of that and then you can target that.


You wouldn’t want to target ads aggressively as you do the folks who have already been to your site, but these are people that are probably a lot more likely to convert than just your regular, untouched, uncookied if you will searcher. It’s a really easy way to kind of expand out your reach, and those similar audiences that I’ve seen, I’ve been playing around with them for probably the last couple weeks or so, they’re really big and they’re performing pretty well which is really nice. People always ask how can I expand my remarketing efforts? How can I expand my RSLA efforts because it works. That’s why people want to do more of it. How do you do it is you expand your reach and similar audiences it’s a great and super easy way to do it.


Maureen: Fantastic, you know it’s interesting because when I talk to Evan, our director of display and programmatic, he talks about very similar tactics and he talks about how successful they are. In fact we have a case study based on that around Microsoft store Canada where take those top of funnel and move them over and it’s pretty sexy, it’s pretty cool.


Natalie: Yes, oh yes, no absolutely, it’s a really great way of doing it. Especially if you kind of have maybe a little bit more limited budget and stuff like that, it’s a really good way to spend that money in a really smart manner. I know not every advertiser out there has unlimited budget, I don’t have an unlimited budget, wish I did. I know a lot of advertisers don’t so they’re trying to figure out how to maximize their results for the amount of money they have to spend and that’s a super simple, it’s super easy to setup and it’s a really great way to expand out your efforts there without throwing money at the wall and hoping it catches.


Maureen: Always a good strategy. Great, we got a few more minutes, let’s talk about what you suggest people should be doing right now. It’s mid-October, you talked about what you’re doing, but what would you suggest your average Joe Schmo retailer, how can they best prepare for this upcoming barrage?


Natalie: Yes, so holiday I feel like for a lot of people can be really scary because it’s a very hectic time. One thing that sounds kind of simple but I’ve found this to be really successful for me is literally taking a calendar and mapping out exactly when I’m going to do certain steps. Literally mapping out things too like increase bid modifiers on this day at this time, and you map it all out so that you have an idea of exactly when you’re going to start doing things so that you’re not scrambling and things don’t fall through the cracks. I think that’s a super easy way to do it. Also, a little bit going back to that Amazon thing, looking at your unique selling propositions, looking at am I offering free shipping? Am I offering free expedited shipping? Am I offering competitive prices?


If you do some searches online you can start to see what kinds of deals are going up on Black Friday. See if your deals are competitive enough. Is that something you’re going to have to revisit? I think those are conversations you should start to have now instead of a week or two before it.


Maureen: Then I mean now is the time to be setting up your landing pages, planning your creative.


Natalie: Precisely.


Maureen: Based on that calendar of when you’re saying free shipping or whatever, make sure that creative reflects it.


Natalie: Exactly, yes there’s a bunch of stuff like landing pages, making sure that you’re having good relevant landing pages, really easy conversion paths. As I said before don’t make it hard for people to give you money.


Maureen: Take my money.


Natalie: Yes, make it really easy for people to give you money, do that. Looking at different capabilities that Google has. Something that I use a lot through holiday is countdown ads, especially when you’re coming to last shipping day or counting down to Black Friday. Having ads that there’s a dynamic snippet you could add in through Google that it’ll countdown how many hours, how many minutes, how many seconds. Especially when it’s that Black Friday time people are on there waiting for hours, minutes, seconds and stuff. I think those are super easy wins and super easy to setup.


Maureen: Great ideas.


Natalie: Yes.


Maureen: Awesome, well if you have any questions for Natalie you can just reach out to us on … Oh you have a Twitter handle don’t you?


Natalie: I do have a Twitter handle.


Maureen: What’s your Twitter handle?


Natalie: It’s @nataliebarreda, so just my name, full name. You can also see me floating around the Point It account a bit.


Maureen: Yes that’s true, and just for the record it’s B-A-R-R-E-D as in dog A.


Natalie: Yes.


Maureen: I’ve misspelled your name before and it’s embarrassing.


Natalie: I always get Beretta like the gun, that’s the one I always get.


Maureen: That’s where I go for sure. All right everybody, well thanks for joining me and Natalie it was great.


Natalie: Absolutely, thank you for having me.


Maureen: Good to have you yes, and thank you guys for joining us. Like I said my name is Maureen Jann, I’m the director of marketing for Point It Digital Marketing and you have been with us for Fine Point, a weekly digest of digital marketing updates. We’re here in the Point It studies, aka the conference room in Seattle and next week we’ll be talking to Sean Van Guilder, Point It’s director of SEO. We’re looking forward to having you all join us then, until then stay on point.


Additional Resources


Holiday Planning Tools

(Case Study) Microsoft Store Upper Funnel Holiday Display Success


LENGTH: 25 Minutes