Each new year, as we put another holiday season behind us, people around the world make a silent commitment to themselves to get their shopping done early for the next season. And every year, around mid-December, many of those same people inevitably find themselves scrambling to check everyone on their list off in time for celebrations and gatherings. Sometimes the season seems to sneak up on us, even with the best intentions.
As an SMB store owner, you may have found yourself in a similar position. You spend each day developing products, managing your site, figuring out the ideal marketing mix and keeping customers happy. Who has time to start planning out campaigns for the holiday season months in advance when you are focused on driving a successful business during all the other days of the year?
Don’t fret. Even with just days left until Black Friday, there are still plenty of things you can do to make the most of what is expected to be another record ($1 trillion!) U.S. shopping season. Here’s a handful of approachable holiday marketing tips and guidelines for the busy eCommerce store owner.
1. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Did you do anything special for the season last year? Did anything work particularly well? Then do it again! There is nothing wrong with going back to the same playbook, especially if it was a success the first time around. Refresh and repurpose an old email campaign. Run the same half-off promotion. Make the most of what you already have on hand.
2. Update your homepage
No resources to develop a special holiday landing page, a gift guide or witty seasonal product descriptions? No problem. At least make sure that your most holiday-relevant products are in the hero spot on the home page. Think about which products make great gifts or are especially appropriate for the winter season and feature those in the most prominent locations.
3. Focus on high performance
You won’t have the time to do everything on your marketing wish list (who does?), so focus your energy on channels and campaigns that provide the most value. Which channels performed best last year? Which perform best all year around? Don’t have historical data to pull from? It’s tempting to immediately latch onto social, because its broad and popular and visible, but research shows that email marketing still has the highest ROI and is the channel most preferred by consumers. If you can’t do it all, a well-designed email campaign is your best bet.
4. Relevancy and timing still (always) matter
Recent consumer research indicates that sending too many communications and sending messages that aren’t relevant are the most annoying things brands do. Just because you dressed it up in a holiday theme doesn’t mean it’s ideal for your audience. Remember too, that the competition for attention is fierce this time of year and consumers will click on messages that speak to them. Pay attention to the message and timing and make sure it’s appropriate for your target customer.
5. Prepare for post-season
There’s that dreaded “P” word again. It may be down to the wire for the incoming seasonal madness, but that means you’ve actually got time to think and plan for what comes next. Does your store lend itself well to an after-season sale? Is there anything you can do to make the inevitable “returns season” easier for your customers? How about a campaign tied to the new year?
By this time of year, you’ve heard plenty about why early planning puts you in the best position for holiday season success. Didn’t have the means to make that happen? Don’t beat yourself up. You still have time to implement a few strategies to take advantage of the shopping frenzy. And if you just can’t decorate your marketing in snowflakes and gift wrap this year, remember that providing a quality customer experience comes above all else, and you’ve got that nailed all year round!
Erika Jolly Brookes is the CMO, Springbot.