Unbelievably, we find ourselves in September, meaning that the festive season has basically already started. Salmon predicts that £1bn will be spent online on Black Friday this year (27th November).
While your digital marketing planning and preparation should really have kicked off before now, there’s still time to whip your strategy into shape before peak online shopping season really begins.
First, have a look at last year’s campaigns and analyse the results from email marketing and social media - as well as spikes in traffic from Google Analytics. This should help you work out what to tweak and improve on from last year, and decide what approach your are going to take in 2015.
Next, focus on generating newsletter sign-up to build a database of potential customers. Sign-ups at your point of sale (offering exclusive news and deals, perhaps) and Facebook competitions (where people share their details to win a prize) are a good source of new contacts. Then clean it up! Make sure your data is accurate, and segment your database in terms of messaging - groups for whom the same type of communications may be relevant.
Around October, you should create a clear content calendar for the rest of the quarter. What will be produced, released and promoted when, and what could hold up success? Think about risks now (such as site load speed, which we discussed in a recent post and how to manage them.
It’s never too late to build strategic partnerships, perhaps with affiliates, and use these to strengthen the impact of your festive campaigns.
While it may be too late to start installing beacon technology in your physical stores, there are still ways to connect the online and offline festive experience. You could try QR codes as a way to offer store customers online discounts, while connecting data on your most loyal consumers, to maximise sales across every channel.
You will probably want to create (and test!!!) Christmas landing pages and associated graphic elements (make sure these work across social media or in print). If you have easy and cost-effective access to website developers, consider adding wish list functionality, to let shoppers save down their desired items and help you build a clear picture of what stock will be most popular.
Remember those organised, virtuous and slightly annoying people who start shopping early? Target them with communications about ideal gift items, and retarget them with similar deals wherever possible, to convert them from browsers to buyers.
Indeed, smart online retailers will start promoting their festive sale items early, putting these products at the front of customers’ minds.
Now you need to attract people from outside your database to your festive landing pages and promoted offers. Deploying a display campaign could be a useful tactic, or upping your affiliate marketing spend to get your products in front of more of the right people.
Our top tip is to use PPC to test messaging for other media call-to-actions. As a very cost-effective digital channel, Google AdWords can let you see what works for shoppers and what doesn’t, cheaply and quickly. Don’t forget to continuously test this.
Also, perform experiments using Google Analytics, to see what will convert users best on your landing pages. You can direct a percentage of site traffic to a test page and measure results, and understand what messaging, designs and calls-to-action work best.
Whatever your promotion is (perhaps a Christmas giveaway, a ‘12 days of Christmas’ countdown, or special discounts), make good use of social media. As well as being handy for sharing content and offering a good platform for competitions (which get your brand out in the public realm), Facebook offers cost-effective advertising to very targeted demographics.
Throughout your campaign, use retargeting adverts to win back potential customers. November and December may be the busiest shopping period... but it’s also the time when your competitors will be trying harder than ever to compete, so you need to work hard to win customers.
If you are a marketer, you know the importance of creating a sense of urgency. Think about what’s possible in terms of delivery speed and reliability, and use your existing database and contacts you’ve collected this quarter for a last-minute email campaign. Remember: if you won’t be in the office, you can still schedule ads to go live on Christmas day or boxing day. Google AdWords and Facebook let you schedule ads; platforms such as Hootsuite let you schedule social media posts. Indeed, AdWords arguably offers the best automation options, so you can set rules and let Google show the ads that will work best.
And once the turkey has been used up and the sprouts are a distant memory, you can analyse the success of Christmas and feed this into your strategy for holiday season 2016… which will surely be an even bigger year for digital commerce.
Read more advice here.
For help with your digital marketing strategy this Christmas, please get in touch.