Last year, online holiday spending accounted for a whopping $122.9 billion, according to data from the National Retail Foundation. This greatly exceeded the marketing prediction of $110 billion, set earlier in the year. That’s a healthy increase of 12.6 percent from the preceding year. The upcoming holiday season looks just as bright for online retailers, but early preparation is essential if you want to maximize your holiday sales.
Planning your holiday marketing strategies for the next five months may seem daunting, but your early prep will pay off in the long run. Not only will you be much less stressed during the height of the holiday season, but your eCommerce marketing campaigns will be poised to rake in sales.
To make things a little easier for you, we’ve gone ahead and created a holiday game plan designed to maximize your traffic, online conversions and revenue. With this outline, you can position your eCommerce business to have its best holiday season yet.
August—Align and Organize for the Holidays
It’s time to begin laying the groundwork for your holiday marketing campaigns. To capitalize on this year’s shopping frenzy, you need to take a data-driven approach to your marketing strategies. Now is a good time to look back at last year’s holiday marketing data and identify your strongest channels.
As you prep for the biggest spending months of the year, use this time to parse through last year’s holiday marketing data. This data will inform your current holiday marketing strategies and help you win over customers and drive more sales.
What were your best-selling products? Which eCommerce marketing channels were most profitable for your eCommerce store?
By knowing what worked well last year, you can focus more of your time and effort on strategies that boosted your traffic, sales, and revenue. If you don’t have any data from last year, utilize the data that you currently have to inform your campaigns and be sure to track and measure this year’s results.
Build Your Content Calendar
Each year, holiday-themed content flood inboxes and social newsfeeds. Customers expect it, but businesses need a plan to make their content stand out from the rest of the crowd.
Coming up with ideas at the last-minute isn’t a good strategy for success. Begin building your holiday content calendar now to create compelling, holiday-themed content that resonates with your audience across different channels.
Good ideas can come at the last-minute—but don’t rely on that happening during your busiest holiday season. If you suddenly come up with a great idea for a holiday gift guide, then you can simply make room for it on your content calendar. Even if you don’t have any last-minute inspirations, you can stay confident that you have a great plan in place to capture the most revenue during this busy season.
Prioritize Email Design and Content
Email marketing still generates the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel, and it is poised to be the shining star again this holiday season. With the right email design and compelling content, you can increase engagement, generate excitement, and boost your holiday sales.
Yet, with so many email design options, how do you know which ones to leverage this holiday season? To answer your question in greater detail, read our 2017 Email Design Lookbook.
In this guide, you’ll find the five must-have email designs for welcome emails, promotional newsletters, abandoned cart emails, triggered win-backs, and post-purchase emails. We also cover template designs, content, and calls-to-action (CTA’s)—everything you need to enhance your email marketing campaigns for the holidays and maximize customer engagement all year long.
September—Build Strong Customer Relations Across All Platforms
When the holiday rush arrives, your biggest spenders are likely going to be those who are already familiar with your brand. To drive more sales this year, you should be building stronger customer relationships early and engage customers across all devices and platforms.
Leverage Social Ad Retargeting
Social media advertising is a hot topic among digital marketer because it really works to drive up revenue. To enhance your ad performance this year, take advantage of social ad retargeting on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media channels. With their sophisticated retargeting capabilities, you can put your products back in front of online shoppers who have expressed interest in your eCommerce store.
To achieve a greater edge over your competition this year, customize your Facebook and Instagram ads to feature products that are highly relevant to your visitors. By displaying personalized ads to online shoppers, you can keep your brand highly visual during the busiest times of the year.
Drive Engagement with Mobile Marketing Automation
Holiday shoppers use mobile devices all the time, even when they are in the store or shopping online. To say that mobile is important this holiday season would be an understatement of the year. According to data from Adobe Digital Insights, half of the web traffic through early December came from mobile users, and 30% of retail sales arrived from mobile sites.
With mobile marketing automation, you can engage with mobile users through messaging apps and reach them with the right message at the optimal time. Use this opportunity to meet your customer’s needs and nudge them toward a purchase.
Finalize Planning for Holiday Marketing
September tends to fly by very quickly for digital marketers. At this stage, you will be building brand awareness for the holidays while simultaneously putting the final touches on your holiday marketing strategies.
With your holiday marketing campaigns developed, you can begin testing them in advance to prepare for the busy months ahead. This is also a good time to figure out the logistics of your inventory and shipment planning, as well as testing the demand for any new products.
October—Final Preparation for the Big Season
The countdown is on to Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Your goal for the month of October is to optimize your eCommerce marketing campaigns in a final preparation for the peak holiday season.
Optimize and Build Excitement
As a data-driven marketer, you are always using your eCommerce marketing metrics to optimize your campaigns. By diving deep into your analytics, you can maximize the performance of your holiday marketing.
To inspire huge sales, identify customers who purchased from your eCommerce store last holiday season and re-engage them once more. These customers are far more likely to purchase from you again compared to new customers.
Begin building excitement for your upcoming holiday promotions to both new and existing customers by sending them triggered emails to include holiday teaser emails, sneak peeks and just for your promotions. Hold social media contests to capture more email addresses and get your fans in the holiday spirit.
Once you have their information, use Facebook’s Custom Audiences to introduce these new prospects to your brand and prime them for the holiday season. You can also take advantage of Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences feature and begin teasing promotions to those who resemble your current customers.
Personalize Your Holiday Branding
Your products aren’t the only thing you should be selling this holiday season. Your brand is your online store’s identity, and it is key to building loyal customers.
How can you inspire loyalty to your brand? For starters, you can begin personalizing the customer journey. An Aberdeen report found that 75 percent of customers prefer brands that personalize their shopping experience.
To meet your customer’s high expectations, segment your email lists based on their past purchase history and send them personalized email recommendations. Better yet, segment your customers by purchase frequency and send your most valuable customers offers that make them feel special and inspire action.
With automated marketing technology, these strategies are easy to implement. Before you know it, your VIP customers will turn into powerful brand evangelists who will drive more holiday sales to your online store.
Trouble-Shoot the Transaction Process
The end goal of any eCommerce business is to increase transactions. After spending so much time and effort moving a prospect down the funnel, you don’t want them to abandon the sale because something went wrong on your end.
Before the biggest online shopping days of the year arrive, be sure to troubleshoot the transaction process and clear any potential barriers on the path to purchase. Remember to keep fill-out forms minimal, A/B test design elements and calls to action, and purchase something yourself to test checkout flow. You want to streamline the checkout process to make holiday shopping a breeze for your customers!
November—Execute Holiday Marketing Plan
It’s game time! Thanks to your early planning, your holiday marketing plan is poised to rake in the holiday sales. However, you can’t sit back and expect everything to go smoothly. To optimize your holiday sales, you need to be ready to capitalize on every opportunity to delight holiday shoppers.
Engage at Every Moment
Every day, your customers are researching, discovering or purchasing something online. These are just a few examples of what Google calls “micro-moments,” and each one offers an opportunity for you to win over additional customers.
With more purchases taking place on mobile than ever before, it’s essential that you are ready to engage with your audience with the right message at a prime time. This may sound difficult, but it is much easier to do with data-driven eCommerce marketing automation by your side.
Marketing automation allows you to track the customer journey in real-time and seize valuable opportunities to guide consumers along the path to purchase. As holiday shoppers research gifts to buy, you can answer their questions with a helpful buyer’s guide.
Answer your customer’s questions and be ready to assist at any moment. Wow them with your customer support. By taking advantage of these micro-moments, you will gain loyal customers who return to your eCommerce store long after the holidays are over.
Use Automation to Drive Conversions and Revenue
The biggest shopping days of the season are here, and customer expectations rise every year. With the right digital technology, you can meet these high expectations and drive conversions to your online store.
How do you do this? First, set up automated triggered emails to welcome new customers, recapture abandoned shopping carts, and send personalized recommendations based on past purchase history. You can also use your email marketing to cross-sell and up-sell products to your existing customers.
Another way to leverage automation this year is by sending special holiday offers to your most loyal fans. Drive up your revenue further by offering bundle discounts or a time-sensitive deal that encourages them to act fast.
Utilize Real-Time Data to Inform Your Marketing Plan
One of the biggest advantages to being a data-driven marketer is being able to leverage real-time data to maximize your ROI, but with so much data available, it can be hard to make sense of it all.
If you’re a Springbot customer, all you need to do is sit back and get automated eCommerce marketing recommendations sent to your dashboard in real-time. Based on sales attribution data and customer behavior, you can adjust your marketing campaigns for maximized holiday spending.
By making smart use of your data in real-time, you can resolve issues quickly, shift your eCommerce marketing budget as necessary, and respond quickly to your customers’ needs.
December—The Home Stretch
By now, your holiday marketing campaigns should be as strong and finely-tuned as possible. To capture as many sales as you can in the final month of the year, you need to be prepared to assist last-minute holiday shoppers until they make a purchase.
Promote Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guides
Although there are plenty of early bird shoppers, there are also many who shop at the last minute. In fact, one study found that 72% of shoppers plan on making purchases until the holiday actually arrives. To help these frantic shoppers find the perfect present, now is the perfect time to promote your last-minute gift guides.
Additionally, there are shoppers who are simply searching for a great last-minute deal. Get them excited by offering flash promotions that expire within 24 hours. This is a great way to earn additional revenue and end Q4 on a high note.
Turn First-Time Purchases into Lifelong Customers
If your holiday marketing strategies went according to plan, then you probably gained plenty of new customers. It’s important that you follow up with these first-time purchasers quickly to transform them into lifelong customers.
Create an email segment of these new customers and begin sending them post-purchase emails that will build your relationships with them. For instance, you can send them limited-time offers to encourage a second purchase or invite them to join your loyalty rewards program.
By welcoming these new customers to your brand, you can foster trust and begin turning them into loyal customers. As many of you know, loyal customers are your eCommerce business’s most valuable asset.
To gain a competitive edge this holiday season, it’s important for you to start planning your holiday eCommerce marketing strategies well in advance. The busiest months of the year are just around the corner, and your campaigns need to be data-driven and engaging if you want to gain a piece of the $122.9 billion pie.
By following this holiday game plan, you can gear up for the season by building rapport with your customers and working out the kinks in your eCommerce marketing strategies well in advance. With early and strategic planning, your online business is poised to have the most successful holiday season ever!