Ana Gotter is a regular contributor to the ShortStack blog. She also writes for sites including Social Media Examiner, Business 2 Community and Adspresso. Find her at Expert Business Writer - Ana Gotter.
Winter is coming at us fast -- we're already well into November. You know what that means: The holiday season is here! Are you ready? While plenty of brands have started pushing their Black Friday and other holiday promotions earlier and earlier every year, that doesn't mean you're too late. To make sure you don’t miss out on the potential holiday goldmine, check out these six ways to prepare your marketing campaigns for the holiday season.
1. Know What You want to Promote
Every year, there are a few big-seller items that get a lot of attention. Figure out what's on your customers' wish lists now, before you need to start creating campaigns. And then think about the items you'd like to be your biggest sellers and build campaigns around them.
Big name brands are already ready for Christmas, so you want to know what you’ll be focusing on selling, too. Having this information as early as possible will give you a great jump start. You get to think more about how you want to market your products; you may have big ticket items (example: iPad) and “stocking stuffers” (wireless ear buds, a gift card for apps, etc.). Once you’ve decided how you want to market your products or services, you can start creating content like blog posts, Facebook ads and posts, email campaigns, landing pages, and offers that are all centered around the products you want to push. You want to be ready before the chaos strikes, because it always sneaks up faster than you’d think.
2. Clean Up Your Email List
One of the most important ways you can prepare for the approaching holiday season is to clean up your email list. This is a task that often goes ignored by businesses once a list is initially compiled, but this can seriously hinder your effort, especially at this time of the year. The first thing you need to do is remove all non-responsive users, especially those who don’t open their emails. This will not only give you a more accurate view of the success of your campaigns, but it can prevent spam reportings. This time of year, consumers’ inboxes are flooded with too many messages from too many brands, and they’re more likely to start reporting spam instead of unsubscribing. Next, think about sending emails with special offers that will catch your customers' attention during these busy months (and use catchy subject lines to increase open rates).
If you're running a contest, you can use autoresponders to automatically send entry confirmation messages and then schedule follow-up messages with special offers during the holiday and into the new year.
3. Create Holiday-Themed Offers
Zoella releases “Christmas Collection” products. This title allows them to drive more conversions. Anyone who has ever worked in retail can tell you that holiday shopping isn’t a leisurely activity -- it typically feels a lot more like a last-minute feeding frenzy. Make your product as holiday-friendly as possible. You can, for example, offer "buy one, get one 50% off," advertising,motivating people to stock up on gifts because you're offering unbeatable prices.You can also market your products as being holiday-oriented. A great example is Coke’s "Drinkable Placecards" where their Share-a-Coke bottles are used as placecards at the Thanksgiving family dinner table. Pinterest users love adorable, seasonable ideas like this, so make sure you share them there. Holiday-themed offers will flourish, whether you’re hosting a holiday-themed contest or running ad campaigns.
4. Analyze the Results of Previous Years
Taking a look into Christmas past isn’t just for ole’ Ebenezer; all businesses would benefit from doing the same. There are a few big things to look at. The first thing to analyze is which campaigns worked for you, and which platforms were most effective. Were email marketing and Pinterest sponsored ads your hotspots, but your blog didn’t quite offer the conversions you were hoping for? Knowing what was most effective can enable you to focus more of your budget towards those platforms. You also want to take a look at when you had your biggest sales. Did you get a ton of sales on Black Friday, but none afterward? Or did you get a swarm of purchases immediately before Christmas but not before? Adding some extra campaigns to bolster slower periods could help increase your overall conversions.Each year, new marketing tools are available to businesses; this year we’ve seen Facebook’s Lead Ads, Facebook Canvas, Pinterest Sponsored Ads, and more. Take a look at what’s new from the previous year, and see if it can help you this time around.
5. Remember the Entire Holiday Season
An enormous percentage of holiday offers focus on Christmas; marketing can ramp up big time in the early weeks of December, and seems to suddenly peter out on December 26. There is a much larger holiday season, though, with plenty of big events and holidays before and after Christmas that shouldn’t be ignored. Black Friday is the most obvious, and the majority of businesses do a good job marketing for this one with creative ideas like these. With some big-name brands now extending Black Friday into a multi-day or week-long event, though, you want to make sure that your offers are competitive.
The holiday season doesn’t begin and end with Christmas Cyber Monday is growing in importance, and slamming users with campaigns immediately before and during Cyber Monday can give you big online conversions. Small Business Saturday is also becoming more popular. Hanukkah is another huge, multi-day holiday that is often overlooked by a large number of businesses. Even after Christmas is over, you can continue to push conversions at the tail end of the holiday season with copy like “Start the new year off right with (insert benefit here).” While the gift giving season is over, people are still in the holiday spirit, and this can help drive sales into the new year.
6. Compile Gift Lists
Come the holiday season, gift-giving takes center stage for a large number of consumers. They start looking for gifts for significant others, family members, children, friends, coworkers, and even for themselves. This can become stressful, and sometimes people run out of ideas. That’s where gift lists come in.
Etsy always has “one-of-a-kind” gift ideas available online, no matter what holiday is coming up. Push out content, including blog posts, landing pages, Facebook Ads, and email campaigns that contain lists of recommended gifts customers can purchase from you. You can create a generalized “best gift list,” or you can make them more specific. Examples include:
- Gifts under $20
- Gifts for him/her
- Outside the box gifts that are unique to you
- Gifts you should buy yourself this holiday season
You can use your segmented email lists to send relevant gift suggestions to the right audience and display ads on social media through custom audiences, based on past purchase activity.
When the holiday season comes around, people have their credit cards out and are ready to buy, so make sure that it’s your campaigns they’re converting on. These six holiday marketing preparation tips will help you get ready, and get the results you want. When did you start preparing for your holiday marketing? Tweet us @ShortStackLab and @Ana_Gotter.
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