Here are 4 places to jump-start your holiday marketing efforts.
For online and offline retail alike, back-to-school season kicks off a long marathon, followed by a sprint.
Halloween. Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday, leading into a mad holiday rush that lasts until the end of the year. From here on out, merchants are facing pretty much one holiday-themed merchandising promotion after another until the end of the year.
It's the most important season for consumer retail, one that can make or break your annual revenue figures.
Emarketer reports that over the course of the holiday season last year, U.S. ecommerce sales jumped 17.8 percent over 2015's holiday sales. In addition to the already busy season, more people are doing their holiday shopping online, with some reports predicting a year-over-year holiday ecommerce revenue increase as high as 20 percent.
It's crucial to get your holiday marketing strategy right – and to do so early. You don't want to find out in the middle of the rush that some of your merchandising techniques were way off base and need to be adjusted. Make sure you're starting off with a solid strategy that can carry marketing momentum from one holiday to the next.
Here are some items to add to your holiday marketing to-do list, so you can ensure a strong start.
Optimize discounts and promotions
Don’t wait too long to start testing and working out the different offers and promotions you're going to run.
You need to be sure they can get the results they need to in accordance with your year-round marketing goals, since your holiday strategy is hopefully more detailed than "sell as many things as possible."
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One year your holiday strategy might include focusing on maximizing cart value for the one-time purchases, while the next you might be more concerned with landing holiday shoppers who will be repeat customers, thereby maximizing customer lifetime value. Your holiday offers will be different depending on those more specific goals, so you'll want to try a few different offer types.
The best discounts are those that take into account sophisticated parameters like scaling, building different tiered discounts, halting rules with stacked discounts, and setting orders of execution for various discount rules. Many ecommerce platforms can support this level of discounting smarts via third-party add-ons (for example Bold's Product Discount for Shopify, or Orion's All Discounts for Woocommerce), although BigCommerce's native discounts solution does it right out of the box, so there's far less risk involved when it comes to add-ons causing conflict.
Adjust your PPC strategy
You'll also need to adjust your PPC strategy in a few ways, both in promoting your timely discount offers as well as tweaking any regular campaigns to prep for holiday changes in consumer behavior.
Expect to increase your budget across the board with increasing bid competition and activity volume for the holiday rush. AdWords's Automated Rules can be extremely useful in this regard. You'll also want to start testing any specific new ideas early enough that you can optimize them by the time they're at their peak.
Then, make sure you're taking advantage of holiday-related keywords for your campaigns and offers. For any specials running for a limited time, you'll want to make sure the timing of your paid promotional campaigns aligns with the actual promotion.
Nail your retargeting campaigns
During such a popular shopping time, consumers are doing a lot of online window shopping as well. Retargeting strategically and often will help you convert as many visitors to customers as possible.
While this tactic is popular with audiences consisting of cart abandoners, where it's definitely effective, retargeting can help you at any stage of the funnel, as explained by Adroll.
Retargeting people with an additional options, such as related recommendations, can catch the attention of those still in window-shopping mode. Abandoned cart shoppers definitely need to be re-engaged but with a different kind of offer.
And because your holiday-driven promotions are ideally extremely time-sensitive, don't forget to adjust the details of your campaign, such as shortening the "time since last visit" settings in your retargeting audience options.
Compile compelling gift guides
Finally, you should publish owned media assets promoting your products. This type of content features curated lists of the best offers and discounts you want to nudge shoppers toward redeeming. It also provides sharable links that can be popular in social media and email campaigns, or even for soft-sell PPC.
For SEO, gift guides tend to have high competition, but they can be effective if your research yields a long-tail keyword with high potential. Answer the Public is a great tool for identifying these semantic opportunities.
Creating different categories within your guide, or multiple pieces of content with products around different themes, is a great way to feature your best products for the holidays. The more specifically content like this serves a target demographic segment or audience, the more likely they'll want to consume and share it.
Now is the time to start implementing your holiday marketing strategy. With the tech at your disposal to create customized and high value campaigns, you need time to optimize toward your best results.
If you haven't started thinking about your holiday marketing yet, at least now you have four places to start.