What does it take for a marketing campaign strategy to draw the target audience in and make a long-lasting, high-impact impression? As a marketer, you will spend insane amounts of resources and time planning campaigns and creating content and for most, the end game is to generate new leads that will eventually become paying customers.
Creativity is key in order to win mindshare. Yet, channel distribution is necessary in order to win sales. So how should you be allocating resources in order ramp up sales during the most profitable time of the year?
October is here, in business, you are most likely planning on how to boost revenue for the last quarter, maximize your 2018 marketing budget, and set yourself up for success in 2019. Herewith some ideas from 64 of the top ecommerce marketers, agencies, consultants and brands that will help you create an effective marketing campaign that will attract potential clients and boost your last quarter of the year sales!
1. Start planning for holiday marketing campaigns early.
2. Offer exclusive deals (with high ROAS).
3. Don’t just sell products––sell your brand.
4. Personalize your holiday selling experience.
5. Launch your holiday channel strategy ASAP.
6. Focus on tactics that work (based on data).
7. Put emphasis on customer loyalty and make it a main KPI.
8. Focus on the right metrics to measure success.
9. Email and remarketing strategies tend to have huge returns.
10. Wow your customers and make them remember your brand.
1. Prepare for the Holidays Early (You’re Already Late!)
“Start in September and October.”
Sarah Sanchez, Manager of Performance Social, CPC Strategy
Successful holiday campaigns start in September and October.
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.”
Bill Widmer, Ecommerce SEO & Content Marketing Consultant
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.
2. Cash in on Exclusivity (And High ROAS)
“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.
3. 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.”
Shayla Price, B2B Marketer
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.
4. Get Up Close and Personal (It’s The Holidays After All!)
“Think outside the box.”
Kaleigh Moore, freelance writer
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.”
Lianna Patch, Head Puncher, Punchline Copy
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. 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.
5. Launch a Holiday Channel Strategy Now (Or Lose Out Later)
“Coordinate your holiday campaigns and rollouts.”
Jordan Brannon, President, Coalition Technologies
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.”
Bill Widmer, Ecommerce SEO & Content Marketing Consultant
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.
“Look at channels your competition is ignoring.”
Ross Simmonds, Founder, Foundation Marketing
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, 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.
6. The Time For Tests is Over – Double Down Where It Works
“Create a sense of urgency that is tied to an incentive.”
Nick Raushenbush, Cofounder, Shogun Landing Page Builder
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.”
Chloe Thomas, Marketing Problem Solver, eCommerce MasterPlan
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.
“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.
7. 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).
“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.
8. Mind Your Metrics (Or End Up in the Red)
“Know your baselines.”
Lon Safko, CEO, LonSafko.com
Measure ahead of time. Be sure where you are advertising is an effective use of your money.
“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.
9. The Email + Remarketing Double Whammy for More $$$
“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. People have a natural fear of missing out, so use that.
“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.
10. 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.
“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.