For most, the answer is a resounding “not yet,” which means there is no better time than now to start thinking about your holiday marketing campaigns.
The season formally begins with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (also known as “Cyber Week”) and leads up to the slew of December holidays.
You don’t want to miss seasonal promotional opportunities or holiday shopping sales — especially to your competitors who may have started preparing already.
That said, we have now fully entrenched in the planning phase – arguably the most important part of a successful season.
Creativity is key in order to win mindshare. Yet, channel distribution is necessary in order to win sales.
This is a balancing act between marketing and operations – two retail departments continuing to better blend as consumer expectations demand seamless experiences.
Knowing this, we consulted with 64 of the top ecommerce marketers, agencies, consultants and brands in order to gauge how your teams should be allocating resources across departments and customer touch points for holiday marketing campaign planning. In speaking to these experts, 12 areas of concentration emerged.
We’ve ordered them in priority based on the number of respondents that spoke to each need.
The following holiday marketing tips and promotion ideas will help you refine your efforts to ramp up sales during the most profitable time of the year.
- Start planning for holiday marketing campaigns early.
- Offer exclusive deals (with high ROAS).
- Don’t just sell products––sell your brand.
- Personalize your holiday selling experience.
- Launch your holiday channel strategy ASAP.
- Focus on tactics that work (based on data).
- Put emphasis on customer loyalty and make it a main KPI.
- Focus on the right metrics to measure success.
- Email and remarketing strategies tend to have huge returns.
- Wow your customers and make them remember your brand.
Prepare for the Holidays Early (You’re Already Late!)
“Start in July.”
Erik Huberman, Founder and CEO, Hawke Media
Advertising gets very expensive in Q4 and so to have a successful marketing strategy, you should start filling the top of the funnel at the beginning of July.
The most important thing you can do is prepare.
“Start in September and October.”
Sarah Sanchez, Manager of Performance Social, CPC Strategy
Successful holiday campaigns start in September and October.
“We always recommend for clients to heavy up on brand awareness tactics early fall in order to have a larger re-targeting pool during November and December.”
Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10xFactory
For the holiday, the most important thing you can do is prepare.
While during the holiday season you are likely to see increased conversion and sales, you are also likely to see increased ad competition on platforms like Facebook.
That being said, one of the best things you can do is try to build up the “people that know you” before the holiday season kicks in.
This means building your email list, messenger list, and generating more pixel traffic that later can be retargeted.
Maddy Osman, SEO Content Strategist, The Blogsmith
Many businesses make the mistake of not thinking about the holidays until they’re here, when their time and energy to act is at an all-time low.
A more relaxing and effective strategy is to plan marketing campaigns months ahead of time, so that you can get all the moving pieces together.
Planning ahead can also mean more ad inventory at more reasonable prices.
To be sure, waiting to plan holiday paid campaigns until the last minute is going to be more costly to promote.
“Don’t forget about inventory.”
William Harris, Advertising Expert, Elumynt.com
Plan ahead. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve worked with people, successfully scaled their ads, only to have them run out of inventory shortly into the holiday season.
“Social is great, but search is better.”
Focus on holiday SEO.
Many keywords are seasonal, so if you’re ranking well for your main keywords, you’ll pick up on a ton of extra free traffic.
And do it now.
Holiday SEO takes time, so if you want to rank in December, you need to start today.
Give it at least 6 months to see results; 12 to really see things kick in.
Of course, this process can be sped up significantly if you work with an SEO expert.
“Develop your marketing strategy early.”
Rupert Cross, Digital Director, 5874
Plan, plan, plan – you should be working months ahead of the event.
You should know well in advance when your last shipping days are and what your Black Friday offers or any other holiday deals are, so you should be working around these.
Develop your marketing strategy early, with pre-written emails and content, and this way you can edit later rather than start from scratch during your busiest time.
“Start planning now!”
Chad White, Research Director, Litmus
Start planning now! The majority of brands don’t plan their holiday email marketing campaigns more than two months in advance, according to our State of Email Production report.
That’s a missed opportunity, given how much revenue is at stake and the additional production workload that occurs during the holiday season.
On average, retailers increase their email frequency to their subscribers by roughly 50% during November and December, compared to non-holiday months.
That’s a lot of extra emails that have to get designed, coded and QAed.
Starting early can help marketers avoid rushing later.
“Acquire up to 59% more customers.”
Paige Gerber, Director of Content Experience, Uberflip
Retailers can acquire up to 59% more customers during the holiday season.
In 2016, Black Friday and Cyber Monday shifted from two days into an entire weekend of sales.
We saw bigger discounts, longer sales periods, and an increase in shoppers and order sizes.
The best thing you can do as an ecommerce business is plan ahead. (21.26% of BigCommerce businesses start their holiday campaign planning in September, according to our recent study on holiday ecommerce plans.)
Make sure you have a holiday campaign strategy for both your online advertising and email marketing.
These marketing channels are essential to increasing sales over the holidays.
Social ads are a must!
Get in front of shoppers where they already spend the majority of their time, and show them with a beautifully built ad to prove why your product is a must-buy this holiday season.
“Conversions can increase from .6% to nearly 20%.”
Sweta Patel, Founder, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing
I would say start early and engage your database before anyone else.
Use ads that stand out and raise curiosity.
For example, with one Silicon Valley startup we used a rabbit with a pancake on its head to sell our latest marketing tool for CMOs.
It was effective just because people didn’t know what we were selling and they found the ad to be funny.
It was actually our most engaged ad in the history of the company.
Our conversions increased from .6% to nearly 20% after the holidays.
“It’s always crazier than you remember!”
Jim Huffman, Marketing Consultant, Packlane
Plan 3 months in advance because it’s always crazier than you remember.
Facebook and Instagram will be good, but oversaturated.
Look at innovative ways to ride the news cycle with creative content and influencer marketing.
“Start promoting now!”
Know your market and brand.
For the crafting industry, promoting holiday stamps now is mandatory!
People are getting ready for craft shows during the summer and early fall months.
Giving them inspiration and the supplies needed early is going to help them and your sales.
Post completed projects for inspiration on Instagram and Facebook to get maximum exposure.
Use Facebook groups more so than your Facebook page to give your brand a more humanized feel.
People want to buy from people, not from a “company.”
Interact, show off your new goodies, post pictures and videos showcasing the new products.
“Retargeting and email are cash cows around the holidays.”
Annie Cushing, Founder of Annielytics
Start testing retargeting campaigns now, if you’re not running them already.
Retargeting and email tend to be significant cash cows around the holidays.
Case in point: A couple years ago, I left a couple key gifts in the cart on one website but checked them off as bought.
The next day, I had a retargeting ad letting me know I left two items in the cart.
That ad saved Christmas for one of my daughters!
“The #1 cause of chaos is getting a late start.”
This advice is going to seem pretty fundamental and straightforward, but it can also save you tons of stress and can prevent needless mistakes.
As most marketers know, the #1 cause of chaos in preparing any campaign is when you get a late start.
There’s nothing worse than trying to make a deadline under duress.
It creates unnecessary stress and leads to mistakes that are easily avoidable.
So, as fundamental as it may seem, my piece of advice is to get a head start.
It’ll save you (and your colleagues) plenty of heartache.
And, since you’ll be ahead of the curve, you’ll have time to step back, take a look at what you’re doing, and then make tweaks and improvements before launching.
Get a head start. Crazy, I know. But it works!
Jeff Sauer, Founder and Lead Instructor, Jeffalytics
My best advice for brands to execute a successful holiday marketing campaign is to start early!
If you start your marketing plan in November, the holidays will be over before you have insights into performance or have the chance to optimize.
The sooner you can test messages, creative and email strategies, the sooner you can make the adjustments necessary to significantly improve your results.
This involves being flexible, open to new ideas, and planning out actions that you will take when certain scenarios occur.
Plan early. Plan often. Plan to succeed
“You should have already begun.”
Being an entrepreneur and managing a million things means lots of tasks tend to fall through the cracks, and sometimes, even important things like holiday planning for your online store gets pushed to the back burner.
With the holiday season being on the the most lucrative time of the year for ecommerce, it’s something that deserves extra attention and preparation.
So when should you begin your holiday promotional planning?
It turns out, you should have already begun. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Google Trends for last year. As shocking as it is, consumers started searching for “Christmas Gift Ideas” in the middle of August. Yup. You’re already behind.
If you’re going to take full advantage of Q4 and all the holidays it has to offer your online business, you need to begin preparing and planning immediately.
The best way to get started is to map out a promotional calendar. Start by printing out a calendar of the last three months of the year, and reviewing all the holidays in that three month period that you want to participate in.
From there, work backwards to identify when promotional graphics need to be created, when email copy needs to be written, when those emails need to go out, etc.
Starting now and mapping important dates on a calendar can go a long way in helping you prepare, allowing you to take full advantage of the increased consumer spending habits of the holiday season.
My advice is to be prepared.
Preparation for a holiday ecommerce marketing campaign should at least include the following activities:
- Schedule your campaign activities: From creative, to technical, to launch, it’s critical that campaign activities are scheduled well in advance, with plenty of buffer room for the inevitable hurdles that you’ll face.
- Make sure you’ll be adequately staffed: Increased activity means increased need for customer service and fulfillment staff. Make sure you’ll be ready. Customers don’t care that your order volume is the cause of slower response times. They expect the same level of service all year long. Consider adding live chat. This is a great way to address customer concerns and keep them moving down the funnel.
- Give your site a festive, holiday feel: This tends to heighten the emotional shopping experience, which can boost conversions!
- Feature your top sellers and offer gift suggestions.
- Figure out your holiday shipping deadlines and plan to post them prominently: Holiday shipping deadlines are helpful and adds a subtle bit of urgency, which is a conversion booster. Plus, it’ll mean fewer headaches on the fulfillment side.
- Determine which channels to focus on: Will it be email, blog posts, Facebook ads, etc.? Get a clear picture of your channels so you can develop holiday marketing strategies for each, and perhaps an overall strategy that makes them all a cohesive unit.
- Develop landing pages for specific products and promotions: Holiday landing pages tend to convert much better than a standard product page.
- Track your results: Make sure you’re tracking individual campaigns and channels, as well as money in vs. money out.
Cash in on Exclusivity (And High ROAS)
“It all comes down to messaging.”
Scott Ginsberg, Head of Content, Metric Digital
Consider running a mini newsletter-only promo the week before Thanksgiving, even a BOGO or gift with purchase can help jump start your holiday, but save the big offer for Black Friday/Cyber Monday.
So much of this comes down to messaging – even teasing what promos you’ll have during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, or teasing that you’ll have a promo, but not the specific details, can build up interest in your audience that you can cash in on later.
Market a product’s potential beyond the holidays.
Create something unique that people can only take advantage of for a short period of time that ties in with the holidays, but can be used or worn well beyond that timeframe.
And don’t forget to create and utilize scarcity.
The holidays are a time of high demand for people with a limited window.
“People are out looking for deals.”
David Tendrich, CEO & Co-Founder, Reliable PSD
During holidays, people are out looking for deals.
Your best bet is to create a special “holiday deal” that’s too good for your market to pass up.
It *has* to pass the “you’d be crazy not to grab this deal” test.
If it doesn’t give you or others that reaction – it’s not good enough.
That doesn’t mean crazy discount, by the way. It can mean adding in other services, products or deals to create a bundle.
“Create an offer with an exclusive product.”
Max DB, Founder, HeyMaxDB
Create an offer, ideally with an exclusive product only available during that time of the year.
Facebook is the biggest “instant” channel right now, and coupons and rebates work great on there.
Just make sure that you use landing pages for the offer, or optimize your whole site around that offer come the holidays.
“Offer gift cards with an added twist.”
We sell to a niche market and find the wife is not likely to buy the husband photographic equipment as only the photographer knows best what he needs.
So, what we’ll experiment with this year is offering up gift cards in advance of holidays but with an added twist.
For example: Buy a $75 gift card now. Use it from x date to x date and redeem for $100 in purchasing power. After holiday or x date it reverts back to face value.
We use social networking blasts, newsletters and Google Adwords.
Google Adwords has always performed best.
“Folks have a lot more tolerance for promotional material.”
Come November, folks have a lot more tolerance for promotional material.
Run a sale and let everyone know about it!
Send a lot of emails and exhaust your social media channels.
It doesn’t matter if your products don’t make for good holiday gifts.
We all know people use holiday sales to buy things for themselves.
Sell More Than Your Product – Sell Your Brand
“Don’t forget about operations!”
Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy, CPC Strategy
Brands must prepare for holidays by being operationally sound in every aspect of their ecommerce operations from inventory planning, product reviews, optimized content, customer service, and best in class marketing campaigns which run through the duration of Q4.
“Engage directly with people and help them.”
Daniel Wallock, Marketing Strategist, Wallock Media
If you’re planning on ramping up your sales during the holidays, you need to be available or have someone available to answer customer support questions and you need to be ready to respond to comments and other inquiries on social media.
Just being responsive and available will help you convert the people who demonstrate interest into buyers.
Besides ramping up paid acquisition channels, I think the holidays are a perfect time to begin going out to your target audience with content and posting valuable information in niche communities.
Go to the places your audience is hanging out and offer value, but then also promote your product by offering their community a deal.
Engage directly with people on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook Groups, etc. and help them.
A ton of companies are spending money on advertising during the holidays.
Another great avenue would be to use influencers to market your products instead of spending on paid ads.
“Sell the brand lifestyle, not just the product.”
Sell the brand lifestyle, not just the product.
Every holiday season, millions of companies compete for a portion of the consumer’s wallet.
Where most fail is continuing to sell based on price or the product itself.
If you want to drive sales this holiday season, position your products as a lifestyle choice.
This strategy empowers the consumer to be part of an ideal (e.g. luxury, fitness or adventure).
By human nature, we want to join these types of lifestyles.
Therefore, the consumer mindset changes.
Instead of brooding the price, your consumers become eager to embrace a lifestyle as they select your product over the competition.
Get Up Close and Personal (It’s The Holidays After All!)
“Think outside the box.”
Inboxes are flooded during the holidays with lookalike campaigns.
Ask yourself: What can we do differently that will make us stand out?
If you’re not sure what that is, turn to your customers and ASK THEM what they want.
“Market to win goodwill.”
Stand out from the onslaught of sales by making sure your promotions are meaningful!
For instance, instead of running a “12 Days of Christmas” sales campaign, you could run a “12 Holiday Stories from Customers” campaign to build more genuine goodwill with customers (which translates into sales).
“It’s 2018 and customers are savvy.”
Val Geisler, Email Marketing Strategist
They’re expecting holiday deals, door busters on door busters, and it seems “Black Friday” gets earlier and earlier (not to mention longer and longer) every year.
So surprise and delight your customers by doing things differently. Make it about them and not you.
- What do your customers really want?
- Is it truly a discount?
- Or do they want to hear stories of others like them?
- See your products in action?
- Learn how your company gives back?
Adding a personalized element to your campaigns will help you stand out from the blast of discounts and last-minute grabs for attention.
“Build a customer segmentation strategy.”
James Brown, Client Engagement Manager, RANDEM
Typically, the most lucrative marketing activities an ecommerce business can do are those directed toward their existing audience and customer base.
An effective way to increase the ROI of your marketing is to adapt and personalize the marketing messages and channels to what each of your customers are most likely to respond to.
The first step along this path is to start to build a core customer segmentation strategy.
Look at your customers who have bought over the last 6 months and build a picture of the different segments of customers that purchase from you.
These segments can be based on demographics (age, sex…) type of product bought (the main different types of product categories you stock) or even how much they’ve spent or how many times they’ve bought (watch for your big spenders!).
Try to limit the number of segments to around 5 (the goal is to keep the complexity low) and place each of your customers into a given segment.
For some, this might be difficult, as they could fall into a number of them, but it’s important here for consistency that each customer lives only in one place.
Next, you’ll need to craft an effective marketing message, one per segment, that you think will resonate with the majority of customers in that segment.
This could be a promotion on equipment for a particular sport they’ve shown interest in if you’re a multi-sports store, for example, or an offer to become part of an exclusive loyalty club if they spend over a certain amount before the end of the year.
Once you’ve built your messages (and any promotions or otherwise that you need to support them in BigCommerce), you need to settle on the best channel or channels that will get the most traction for each segment.
Perhaps social for your younger audience, and email for the older ones, for example, and build out the strategy of which marketing campaigns you are going to run and when.
Finally, as with all marketing strategies, you must be sure to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns after the dust has settled, understand what worked and what didn’t, make the necessary changes to your customer segments and marketing messages, and prepare the whole thing again for the next holiday season!
“Track how personas behave.”
Edin Sabanovic, senior CRO consultant, Objeqt
Create personas and establish how each of them navigates the website and what channels they use to get there.
Track how personas behave on holidays and adjust to their preferred channels with your ad messaging.
When you have accurate personas, you can personalize the message and address their specific needs.
When you track personas and know what channels they use on holidays, you can double down on these channels to both increase the traffic and make visitors more likely to convert.
“Shoppers are bombarded with ads.”
Donald Pettit, Sales & Partners Manager, SalesWarp
When it comes to marketing, personalization is key.
Shoppers are bombarded with ads everywhere they look, whether it be their personal email inboxes or their social media accounts.
Breakthrough typical content by using customer data and order history to create personalized ads.
If customer order history shows that a customer purchased a surfboard three months ago, target them with ads promoting a holiday sale on surfboard accessories.
This ad is much more likely to get their attention rather than a generic surfing gear ad.
In terms of channels, don’t forget to take advantage of social channels such as Facebook and Instagram.
Also, keep in mind that most of your customer’s research starts on Amazon, but do not overlook your Google shopping feed: lots of customers will continue to use that tool and it’s great for easily spreading your promotions.
Launch a Holiday Channel Strategy Now (Or Lose Out Later)
“Coordinate your holiday campaigns and rollouts.”
Brands should coordinate their holiday marketing campaign roll outs across channels, ensuring each channel either features a unique presentation of the same campaign, or features unique opportunities within the broader campaign.
“Alignment is key.”
Josh Brisco, Sr. Manager of Retail Search Operations, CPC Strategy
Ensuring your promotion and marketing execution strategies are aligned.
Having a solid game plan as you roll into the thick of the holiday season, as well as actually executing in terms of channel coordination are absolutely crucial to Q4 success.
“Cash in on holiday SEO opportunities.”
One of the easiest and most lucrative ways to run a successful holiday campaign is to create content around holiday keywords and rank for them on Google before the holiday gets here.
For example, I rank for the term “RV gift ideas”.
Guess what people are searching for around the holidays? Gift ideas.
It’s actually an article sharing over 50 gift ideas for people who own an RV.
And sure enough, every holiday season, that article makes me a lot of money.
That said, don’t neglect paid search engine ads and even social media ads.
Simply add this to your list, and approach marketing holistically.
“Target your Google Ads.”
Target intent-based audiences in Google Ads based on searches for “gifts for… <person>” queries to advertise to people who are already looking to purchase something during the holidays.
“Have you considered Instagram?”
Daniel Clutterbuck, Ecommerce and Social Media Strategy Consultant
You’re looking to gain some reach and big exposure these holidays, right? Have you considered Instagram?
Startups and established brands utilize what are called “influencers” to promote their content to the masses.
To make sure you get it right and don’t waste too much money, remember the following tips:
- Understand your target demographic/persona
- Research pages that your target persona may follow
- Look at who has tagged your competitors by clicking the tag link on their Instagram page
- Search on hashtags that describe your product e.g #reddress
- When you find an influencer, scrutinize their engagement. People buy follows and likes these days, so a great way to spot a true influencer is by the amount of comments they have.
- Get prices off them and negotiate! Never accept the first offer!
- Campaigns work better when you pull back the trigger on a few, then BANG! Release them all at once within a 24-hour period. I call this a “Blitz Campaign” and they work ridiculously well.
Brands just like yours are running influencer campaigns across a multitude of pages on Instagram.
They range from bloggers to what I call “sector pages” (for example, fashion, quotes, fitness).
These aren’t people, they are brands in and of themselves.
They charge the cheapest and you can reach a high number of people.
Think out of the box when you’re looking and if you want to ask me any questions, tweet me on @DCLUTT or check out my IG page (113k followers).
“Look at channels your competition is ignoring.”
My #1 tip for brands looking to ramp up holiday marketing and increase sales over the holidays is to spend a bit more time looking at the channels your competition is ignoring.
Millions of people are visiting sites like Pinterest, Reddit, StackExchange, Quora and YouTube every single day, but many brands are only focused on Facebook, Google and some variation of Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram.
Instead of following the crowd, create your own path by reverse engineering the success that others have had on niche channels and double down on them.
The Time For Tests is Over – Double Down Where It Works
“Create a sense of urgency that is tied to an incentive.”
For example, create a landing page promoting discounted products on a time-sensitive holiday sale.
Use a countdown timer to make it clear that they should transact now, or risk losing the deal.
“Know what action you want customers to take.”
Any promotion should get the customer to do what you want them to do as cheaply as possible.
So start from what you want the customers do – buy more items? spend more? buy for the first time? buy again? just buy!? buy the product you have too much of?
Whatever it is you want them to do make sure the promotion incentivizes that behavior.
Buy more items => do 3 for 2s, spend more = Free P&P Over $x, etc AND do the maths – is what you’re giving away affordable and worth it?
“Utilize bandit tests.”
Alex Birkett, Growth Marketing Manager, HubSpot
Speaking from the perspective of website optimization and user experience, realize that your traffic during peak holiday campaigns is probably not representative of your average audience.
Their makeup will likely be different and their buying behavior not quite the same as a non-holiday period.
Therefore, if you’re running an A/B test during this time, you need to realize the results may not be translatable to future time periods.
You can still run tests, but a winner may only be a winner for that period. Because of that perishability, you may want to consider running a bandit test, which uses reinforcement learning to continuously update the best variation in real time.
That way, you can “earn while you learn,” and make sure you are serving your audience the best variant for that time period.
“Focus on what you do best.”
William Harris, Ecommerce Consultant, Elumynt
Focus on what you do best.
If you’re great at FB ads – double down there.
If you’re great at email marketing – that should be what you ramp up.
The holidays aren’t the time to test out new ideas as much as they are a time to double down on what you’ve been very successful with the rest of the year.
“Never forget to pay extra attention to mobile.”
Use those channels which drove the best results in the previous holiday season for you.
But never forget to pay extra attention to email marketing and mobile.
According to last year’s Black Friday statistics, for the first time ever, more than $1.2 billion in revenue was generated in a single day through purchases made on mobile devices.
Holiday Selling on Amazon? What You Need to Know
“Get products in to FBA ASAP.”
Most Amazon Sellers don’t fully anticipate the difficulty in getting product to FBA prior to the holiday season.
If you’re out of stock because Amazon takes several weeks to receive your product, then you won’t sell anything during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and those amazon early December weeks.
To run successful holiday campaigns on Black Friday & Cyber Monday and in December, you need to have inventory at FBA.
This requires shipping product to arrive at Amazon by November 1 to avoid the massive congestion during November and December.
“For Amazon sellers, its headline ads and AMS.”
For Amazon sellers, it’s Headline Ads and AMS…hands down.
For off-Amazon traffic, we focus on developing our Facebook pixels and retargeting leading up to Q4.
“Get FBA inventory to Amazon by November 10.”
James Thomson, President, PROSPER Show
If you sell on Amazon, be sure to get your FBA inventory to Amazon by November 10, at the latest.
If you expect to sell through most inventory, calculate the cost of a stockout vs. holding more inventory….usually better to have more inventory in FBA.
And don’t forget to plan for inventory you expect to sell in January…so many companies run out of inventory in early January when suppliers are slow to replenish.
Make Customer Loyalty a KPI
“Offer free shipping promotions.”
Laura Behrens Wu, CEO & Co-founder, Shippo
Offer a free shipping promotion or risk losing customers to your competitors, especially since nine out of 10 people said free shipping was the No. 1 incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often.
There are many ways to offer free shipping.
You can offer it when customers have reached a purchase value threshold for their order, if they add a featured product to their cart, or if they participate in a rewards program.”
“Get your promotions ready!”
Ryan Pfleger, Founder, PayWhirl
Get your promotions ready!
Make sure that you have attractive deals if you use coupons or discounts and make sure they are easily accessible on other coupon websites.
You could also offer gift SUBSCRIPTIONS quite easily (the gift that keeps on giving, even after the holidays).
With PayWhirl you can set up profiles (like Amazon) when you check out, so it’s easy to order a subscription for a friend, etc.
“Focus on longevity.”
Steve Deckert, Co-Founder, Smile.io
Oftentimes when companies think about the holiday season, they get all caught up in the number of people that will be brought on by those couple months alone.
However, the most important part of the holiday season is actually focusing on longevity and ensuring you retain those customers and give them a reason to come back.
There are a few ways you can do this, such as a customer rewards program, but you also have to make sure that you provide the best possible experience when customers land on your site.
Make sure that your site, your inventory and everything else are conducive to a fantastically smooth experience. When it comes to the holiday season, you must first look inwards before you reach outwards.
“Convert new customers into repeat buyers.”
Raheem Sarcar, Founder and CEO, RewardCamp
The biggest mistake that retailers make when executing a holiday marketing campaign is lacking a nurturing system that converts new customers acquired from holiday promotions into repeat buyers.
There’s a very good chance that a customer who bought from you during a ‘back-to-school’ or Mother’s Day promotion will return and buy again.
But they will return only if you have a nurturing system in place.
I’ve seen retailers increase repeat business by 300% as a result of converting new customers into repeat customers.
The good news is that it can take very little work to nurture new customers. One of the most effective ways to nurture customers is by implementing a customer-friendly loyalty program.
A good loyalty app will do two things very well:
- It will make it easy for customers to earn rewards
- It will nurture them into returning whenever they are ready to buy again.
With a good loyalty program in place, retailers can get a bigger bang from their holiday promotions and improve customer retention.
“Think big picture.”
Susannah Morris, Industries Marketing Specialist, Hubspot
To execute on a successful holiday marketing campaign, you need to think big picture.
Too often brands get tunnel vision and only focus on short-term customer acquisition over the holidays.
For you to have a truly successful holiday season, consider how you’re going to engage with holiday customers in the longer term and keep them coming back.
“Experiment with your pricing strategy.”
Our holiday sales grow every year because we experiment respectfully with our pricing strategy.
We raise and lower prices on new mug styles.
We use video and stunning photography to bring customers inside our studio by simply opening an email or checking out our Facebook page.
We remind customers of our massive accomplishments, like our pottery Guinness World Record.
We give them amazing deals that sell out in a day or two.
Our team does whatever we can to help customers understand that we are giving them remarkable deals on functional artwork that is truly world-class.
Mind Your Metrics (Or End Up in the Red)
“Know your baselines.”
Measure ahead of time. Be sure where you are advertising is an effective use of your money.
“Keep an eye on ROAS and aCos.”
Jason Boyce, Co-founder & CEO, Dazadi
Keep an eye on ROAS and aCos.
Holiday sales are great, but profitable holiday sales are better.
Typically the cost of ads goes up during the holidays, so when projecting which ad channels to spend on in the holiday, add a buffer of at least 30%.
On average our ad costs increase 30% during the holidays due to higher demand and activity, especially when the ad source price is bid on like PPC, etc.
“Make noise about any shipping perks.”
Harrison Dromgoole, Content Creator, Ordoro
Shipping, shipping, shipping.
In addition to ramping up their fulfillment operation — buying inventory, preparing for high volume — brands should make some noise about any shipping perks they’re offering to consumers, especially if it’s free shipping or a free shipping threshold.
The sales channels that a merchant should invest in are definitely the ones responsible for the majority of order volume throughout the year.
The Email + Remarketing Double Whammy for More $$$
“Build your email list.”
Erik Christiansen, CEO, Justuno
Build your email list.
This is the simplest way to increase traffic conversion and grow your list of leads heading into the holiday shopping season.
Focusing on email capture is also going to fuel your most effective marketing channels in email marketing (4400% ROI) and Facebook/Instagram advertising.
Think custom audiences and lookalike audiences.
No surprises here, double down on email marketing.
Email marketing drove 174% more conversions than social media in 2016 and the trend has continued.
Add an email pop-up, start building your list, and start putting together a schedule for your batch emails.
Email is low-hanging fruit when it comes to the holiday season so don’t overlook it!
In addition to the basics, turn your focus to triggered emails which are emails that are sent based on a shopper’s actions or a specific trigger.
These include welcome emails, cart abandonment emails, purchase confirmation emails, shipping confirmation emails, delivery emails and so on.
“Ramp up your email list.”
Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10X Factory
So, with the holidays on the horizon, ad inventory often increases in cost because of increased competition, but ecommerce conversion also goes up too.
Before the holidays, I would look to ramp up my email list and look to double down on getting more sales out of my existing customers and leads.
“Double down on retargeting.”
Emil Kristensen, co-founder & CMO, Sleeknote
First of all, you should double down on retargeting.
Facebook offers the possibility of segmenting your target audience, making this channel an easy choice for retargeting.
When retargeting, a good idea is to look at these four audiences:
- Customers over the past 180 days.
- Newsletter subscribers.
- Website visitors.
- Lookalike audiences.
My experience is that these are the segments that give the best ROAS.
I would also double down on email marketing.
Be aggressive and send more emails than you do today.
At Sleeknote, we found that a good tactic is to include scarcity. People have a natural fear of missing out, so use that.
You should also make specific landing pages that focus on the holiday, such as Black Friday, and guide your potential customers to this page.
This can, for example, be by ensuring you’re on various Black Friday lists where you can see all the great offers from different stores.
“Customers are actively looking for sales.”
George Hartley, CEO and Co-founder, SmartrMail
We’re biased, but email has the best ROI of any channel, and leading into a holiday (say Cyber Monday) your customers are actively looking for sales. Perfect excuse to communicate with them.
“Increase your frequency of email marketing.”
Aaron Houghton, Co-Founder and CEO, BoostSuite
Increase your frequency of email marketing to remain top-of-mind throughout the holiday retail season.
Add branding/display-style advertising campaigns on top of direct response advertising campaigns to keep your name in front of prospects throughout the buying season.
“Don’t get lost in the crowd.”
If you are trying to move more products during the holiday season, it is important to not get lost in the crowd.
Make sure that when people land on your site that day, it is memorable.
Then follow them around with some re-marketing and deliver them the deal that makes them buy.
“Retargeting and email.”
Jason Ehmke, Senior Client Data Analyst, AddShoppers
Retargeting. Customers visit a few websites before making a final purchase. If your ad is visible (or an email from you is in their inbox) when your customer is ready to buy, they are much more likely to buy from you.
Wow Them Like Your Sales Depend on It (Hint: They Do!)
“Schedule to inspire curiosity.”
Emil Kristensen, CMO & Co-founder, Sleeknote
Schedule your on and off-site campaigns in advance, so there’s one thing less to worry about on an, otherwise, busy day.
For instance, setting up an advent calendar campaign that releases a popup on your website with a special offer for each day in the lead up to Christmas.
This inspires curiosity in each day’s unique offer, which encourages people to return to your site more often and makes them more likely to complete a purchase.
Scheduling popups or ads in advance allows you to get a head start on your holiday campaign preparation, without worrying about activating and then deactivating the offer when the campaign has finished.
“Build your value prop, not your ego.”
Jackson Jeyanayagam, CMO, Boxed
Try very hard not to look like everyone else.
It’s so crowded, so it’s critical that brands try and stand out but also provide a clear value prop for the consumer.
“Customers’ inboxes are going to be slammed.”
Andrew Youderian, Founder, EcommerceFuel
Over the busy holidays, and especially over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, your customers’ inboxes are going to be slammed with emails, offers and promotions.
It’s all too easy for them hit the “Delete” key and move on with their lives.
So, make it hard to do!
Create a funny, clever or otherwise engaging holiday marketing campaign that grabs their interest from the first email subject line and keeps them wondering when you’ll be mailing again.
Do whatever you can to rise above the fold. Discounting is an option, but a much better one is humor, newly released products or a compelling storyline.
“Narrow in on your focus.”
Luke Guy, Blogger and Entrepreneur
Spend more time studying the trends of your customers.
The biggest weakness of most campaigns is research.
Study your keywords that will be your core for SEO.
If you could label your campaign in one word, what would it be?
Try to narrow in on your focus.
Have your strategy ready and when your dates arrive, execute everything you planned.
Be creative, and most of all, ask yourself this: What will your competition be doing?
Then from there, study how you can differentiate and stand out.
The goal shouldn’t be more revenue, but instead, more fans that love you.
“Dare to be different.”
The most important thing for any brand wishing to execute an effective holiday marketing campaign is this: every other company is trying to do the same thing.
When customers are bombarded with messaging from 100 different companies, the key to success is standing out from the crowd.
Dare to be different.
With humor, or messaging, or timing or mode of contact.
Take a risk and do something that no other company will do.
That’s how your offer will stand out among the rest.
Or, Just Forgo The Holidays Altogether (Seriously)
“I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to holiday sales.”
Call me crazy, but I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to the holiday sales, and tend to sit them out.
We actually decrease our ad bids, and try not to get caught up in all the madness.
I’ve lost money trying to play the game of spend more on ads, and sell your product for less.
There is plenty of money to be made in holiday sales, but we’re a small staff, and we all enjoy time off with our families during the holiday season.
We tend to use the time to prioritize major projects to be accomplished, and try to regroup with a plan for the next year.
If there is a channel that I’d double down on, it’d certainly be FBA.
I’m guilty of last minute “Prime” Christmas shopping every year.
That said, you can count me out of the holiday madness!