Listen to your mother: Win Mother’s Day with humor and timing

This Mother’s Day, the moms we celebrate are as diverse as our American families. So why stick to the same old marketing tactics you’ve always used?

Let’s make this year even more special (and successful) with some lesser-known tips and advice based on research compiled by my data scientist colleagues at Bing Ads.

Did you know that 87 percent of Americans participate in Mother’s Day? And regardless of age, gender or relationship, people are looking for ways to celebrate and thank the “mom” in their life. For marketers, be sure you’re there for all the moms, with appropriate audience targeting and messaging.

Celebrate modern moms with humor and authenticity

When you think of Mother’s Day messaging from brands, you may remember those wonderfully emotional ads, such as this one from P&G that can bring a tear to even the most cynical eye:

But you don’t have to send people reaching for the tissue box to draw attention. Humor and authenticity can be just as powerfully engaging.

Modern moms are embracing the imperfections of motherhood, and marketers will benefit from crafting messages that celebrate that imperfect reality.

The hashtag #momfail was top among millennial moms in 2016, showing that we’re happy to laugh at ourselves. These little stories are popular since they are at heart extremely relatable. For example:

Why not make your ads stand out by making them humorous and relatable? And here’s the main secret to success: target your ads carefully to the right demographics.

Demographic targeting: The right person at the right time

You have a wide variety of people of different genders and age ranges researching ideas and shopping for gifts. Make your ad as relatable as possible for each of them.

And while effectively targeting this broad range of customers can seem daunting, you can implement this kind of larger-scale personalization.

How? Bing Ads allows you to adjust bid modifiers based on age and gender ranges in addition to the device, geographic and day modifiers. You can tailor ad groups to reach your desired demographic segment by bidding up for them. Personalization at scale, voila!

Think of the segments that could work best for your products or services:

  • Spouse shopping for wife
  • Kids shopping for mom
  • Friends looking to buy a gift for a friend who is a mom
  • Mom looking up ideas for what she wants, and then leaving hints for her family (On this note, the research showed that 65 percent of Mother’s Day searchers on the Bing Network are female, so a lot of us seem to be doing this! My favorite tip is to search for what I want on my husband’s computer and then wait for him to receive all the remarketing ads that are relevant to things I’d love to receive as a gift.)

For all of these segments, there are different age ranges that could be layered on further — older children looking for gifts for their elderly parents, gifts for new moms, 18- to 25-year-olds shopping for their moms and grandmothers.

Try and find the humor and relatability for each of these groups, for example:

  • Mobile phones: “Don’t forget to call your mother — and give her the perfect gift to answer you in style.”
  • Spa gift certificate: “Her first Mother’s Day. Let her sleep in — then send her away.”

Remember, as long as it isn’t mean-spirited, humor can work really well.

Timing is everything

While shopping for Mother’s Day has traditionally been more offline than online, our research has shown that online shopping is increasing year over year. In 2016, 27 percent of Americans shopped online for Mother’s Day gifts.

Top search terms for gifts range from high-tech (think smart phones) to the traditional (flowers, jewelry, chocolate and cards). On the Bing Network, users are more likely to buy jewelry, flowers and cards as compared to Google.

Mother’s Day shopping typically kicks off with gift research in early April, generally through PC/tablet browsing during the work week. Two weeks before Mother’s Day, searches increase on both PC/tablet and mobile; yet, on the actual day-of, mobile searches surpass PC/tablet searches as forgetful shoppers are looking for last-minute gifts.

The top search days for April and May are:

Adjust your device-based bid mods and ad messaging over this period to make the most of it. Here’s your time-based strategy:

From now until late April

  • Be bold. Steer clear of promoting the same ol’, same ol’. Now is the time to promote a much more diverse range of gifts, so Mom can receive something she really wants.
  • Think beyond the obvious. Flowers die, chocolates add calories, but a customized motorcycle helmet for a chopper-loving mom creates lasting memories. Or a music-loving grandma would love tickets to see her favorite band with her grandkids.
  • No matter what you sell (within reason), you can tailor your ads to reach the different demos we outlined above, and help someone dream up a fantastic Mother’s Day present.
  • Don’t forget to set up remarketing audiences and cookie the visitors to your site from your Mother’s Day ad messaging. Start growing your cookie pool as early as possible to maximize the chances of the conversion.
  • Shoppers are most influenced by recommendations, reviews and online advertising for informing their Mother’s Day purchases— so add review extensions to your Product Listing Ads and consider setting up Merchant Promotions for this time period if you are enrolled in the pilot (on either AdWords and/or Bing Ads).

Two weeks before Mother’s Day

  • Increase the urgency in your ads, as this is peak competitive period. Share your incentives for purchase, and bid up the highest on your remarketing ads bid modifiers.
  • For remarketing ads, remind shoppers that you can still ship in time for Mother’s Day arrival. Also consider offering incentives like free shipping upgrades.
  • And remember, the magic number in remarketing is three. Sentiment is highest after seeing an ad three times — any more and it becomes intrusive.


  • Now’s the time to bid up heavily on mobile and tablet, especially if you’re a local business.
  • For last-minute shoppers, you will want to update your extensions to make it even easier to make purchases. Include location extensions so customers can find the nearest store to quickly pick up their online purchases.
  • This is also the time to include gift cards, last-minute deals and overnight shipping in your Enhanced Sitelinks for last-minute gifts.
  • You can use ad extensions to your advantage here — callout extensions, location extensions and action link extensions can be the best friends to last-minute shoppers.
  • Make sure your ads cover these key points:
    • Clearly state that you can still get the shopper their gift in time for the holiday.
    • Give them ideas for what they can still buy.
    • Tell them where to go to buy it/pick it up.
    • Give them the most convenient way to buy.

Post-Mother’s Day:

  • Just as you did over the winter holidays, don’t forget to target ads explaining your easy return process, and be sure to share ideas for what she could buy with the gift cards she received.

Happy Mom, happy customers

This year, go beyond the ho-hum ads. Humor, targeting and timing are all keys to success this Mother’s Day, while also ensuring that moms receive the thank-you they deserve. After all, when Mom is happy, so are your customers.

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