Holiday eCommerce sales are on the rise year-on-year…
Billions of dollars are spent from November through January, and we all want a slice of the pie.
But with an increase in traffic, product interest, and sales comes a lot more work.
The 101 priorities you are juggling for the rest of the year grow legs and multiply. Before long you’re drowning in marketing emails, battling logistics challenges, and managing a heavily under-resourced team.
How do you come up for air and capitalize on what could be the most profitable few months of the year?
Here are 5 holiday marketing time-savers that will help you take control of the festive season:
#1. Plan in advance
Entering the holiday marketing season without an adequate amount of planning and preparation can derail your efforts before they even get going.
Along with more sales, you can also expect to have an increase in customer service requests, load on your website, cross-channel stock issues, and an array of other problems that didn’t seem possible when it was “business-as-usual.”
Not to mention, your customers have very little reason to show loyalty at this time of year. All of your competitors are running sales and ramping up their holiday season marketing, so if your campaigns miss the mark then things can go south very quickly. All of a sudden, what could have been a great opportunity for your business becomes a drain on resources.
The only way to handle the chaos that is the holiday season is to meticulously plan every element of your marketing so that when something out of the ordinary pops up, you have the headspace and resources to deal with it.
What should you plan in advance? Here are some critical elements that you can plan and prepare prior to the rush:
- Your holiday season offers, deals, and discounts.
- Your competitive differentiator and key messaging.
- The budget, structure, and content that will make up your campaigns.
- The tools you will use and the roles your team will play during the period.
- How you will test your systems, processes, and campaign components so that you run into fewer issues.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts that influence the successful execution of your holiday marketing efforts. If you don’t plan ahead – you are planning to fail.
#2. Batch your work
No, we’re not talking about baking a “batch” of Christmas cookies…
The concept of “batching” comes from the same school of thought as Cal Newport’s idea of “deep work.” Basically, Newport attributes poor productivity to distractions that keep us from completing tasks. If you can eliminate all distractions and break complex tasks down into batches, you can focus all of your energy on one batch at a time and speed up the time it takes to complete a group of tasks.
When it comes to your holiday marketing strategy, there are a lot of tasks that need to be done. The reason many of us put off doing these tasks is that it all seems insurmountable. Planning an entire three-month marketing campaign could take hours, days, even weeks to finish. Of course, creating this amount of space in your schedule is near impossible. So we push it to one side.
Instead of viewing your holiday marketing promotions as a holistic campaign, break it down into small batches that you can attack one at a time. You can make these tasks as granular as you wish, the idea is to make each task seem more manageable and easy. Instead of having a small number of large tasks on your to-do list, you are left with a longer list of small and easily achievable tasks.
By being more productive in the way you work, the more time you will spare for other important activities.
#3. Repurpose and repeat
How did your holiday marketing campaigns perform last year?
Good, bad, or ugly, they are the perfect starting point.
If you had success, then there’s no point in recreating the wheel. Adjust a few settings, switch up some of the copy, and lock and load again.
If your campaigns underperformed, conduct a close analysis of why they did. Which components could be improved? What should be kept?
Another idea is to repurpose a successful campaign from another event in the year. For example, what’s to say the key components of an Easter or Halloween campaign couldn’t be applied to Black Friday or Christmas?
This “Cornfield of Cash” gift card giveaway could be converted into something Christmas related with some new creative, and the back-end marketing structure would remain the same:
Repurposing content, campaign structures, operations plans, and any other collateral you have used in previous holiday seasons can be a huge time-saver.
#4. Automate as much as you can
Using technology to automate tasks is by far the biggest time-saver we have at our disposal for the holiday season.
Here are some ideas on the things you can automate to save time with your holiday marketing:
- Pre-schedule all of your email campaigns using marketing automation software.
- Automatically trigger holiday gift cards to be sent to previous customers. Here is an example of an automated Christmas discount voucher from CaptainForm:
- Create relevant triggers in your CRM so that customers are automatically sent the information they need when they place an order. Some businesses update customers during the delivery process, too, which is a great way to keep them informed:
Automated follow up information for customers.
- Use social media management software to plan and schedule all of your holiday content.
- Sync and connect your multi-channel order fulfillment using technology like Ricemill to reduce manual tasks.
- Set up chatbots to handle the initial interactions with customers and answer basic questions.
These are just a few examples of the things you can automate with technology to save time during the holiday marketing season.
Even with all the planning, batching, repurposing, and automating you can do… sometimes there still isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. In this case, consider outsourcing your holiday marketing campaigns to a service provider.
For example, the ShortStack done-for-you service can handle the whole thing from start to finish, including:
- Creating a strategy, roadmap, and planning deadlines.
- Developing the required landing pages and offers you need.
- Professionally designing all the relevant marketing collateral.
- Planning a way to promote and test the effectiveness of the campaign.
- Providing a dedicated account manager to handle any questions you have.
Of course, there are plenty of marketing agencies, freelancers, and consultants who you could outsource your holiday marketing too. We are just one option :)
For online businesses and retailers, the holiday season is likely to be a busy one. People are primed to spend more at this time of year and it’s an opportunity your business can’t afford to miss.
However, this additional activity can create unnecessary stress and expose gaps in your systems and processes. To handle the holiday rush, use the tips in this article to save time and allow yourself to manage the important customer-facing issues as they present themselves in the heat of the battle.