In case you didn’t get the memo, Holiday starts now. With the added Prime Day Event in October kicking off the race to win Q4, retailers need to make the most of momentum now to compete in what most analysts expect to be a challenging holiday climate.
To sum up our holiday marketing guidance for you, it would be to go big- and go early with your marketing promos, campaigns, and events for the holiday. Don’t save the best for those magical Black Friday/Cyber event weeks. The paradigm is shifting this year: It’s all about capturing market share while it’s there to get.
Below are some dos and don’ts:
1. Continue strengthening the fundamentals. Think landing pages, CTA’s, site merchandising, and helpful content. It’s not about new implementations now (code freeze, alas), rather, it’s about flawless execution that will deliver value throughout the season. This all may sound very basic, and it is- until you realize it’s not executed well. Round up your teams to make sure you nail it.
- Rank your best product at the top to drive engagement
- Reduce clicks to products, check your refinement options & landing page strategies.
- Create and edit- curate top gifts, top picks, best of, etc.
- Tell the story well: help your customers understand why they should care, why will they love it, why they need it.
- Display clear messaging on holiday deadlines, expected delivery dates, add-on benefits, and promo qualifiers.
2. Don’t hold off on spending for new customer acquisition. Get attention share now, capture emails/SMS sign-ups/loyalty members now, so you have a stronger pipeline throughout the holidays.
- Incentivize the sign-up, and prioritize text opt-ins. It’s more immediate, more likely to be seen, and typically much higher performing than email.
- Make sure you’re timing your Email/SMS pop-up strategically- hitting the customer with this when they land on the site can be too intrusive (Google frowns on this), and annoying. Test the timing, and if you’re just starting out, plan a slight delay, so you’re not hitting them up with a sign-up before they’ve had a chance to see what’s on the page.
- Give shoppers a reason to join loyalty- offer a benefit she can use TODAY, and play up the benefits for holiday: perks! Previews! Better deals (if applicable).
- Watch your marketing unit costs- and establish a threshold for where you will pull-back on unproductive spend. Make the strategic decision (don’t leave it to your agency) on whether you want to fund more to leverage upside/high ROI- or pull-back to optimize funds for key event days.
3. Get your best customers engaged now. Create premium events for your loyalists to reward and incentivize another purchase.
- Loyal customers expect to get leveled up on perks. Free or faster shipping, extra points, event previews, extra promos- pick and choose what works within your brand and margin targets. Keep in mind, the CLTV of your loyalists should be much higher, so it’s typically less expensive to nurture them than it is to acquire a new customer.
- Create personalized, relevant experiences- the more you can segment marketing content to what your shopper cares about, the more productive it will be.
- Create tie-ins to retail: BOPIS, bounce-backs, previews, add-ons exclusive to loyalists.
4. Plan contingencies. If results come in under expectation (or ideally OVER expectation), know what your fallbacks or alternate plans are, and have assets prepared to enable quick changes.
- Document your plans and contingencies; align cross-functionally to avoid disconnects or fire-drills later. Review the plan and execution weekly with your cross-functional teams to ensure alignment as trends shift.
- Preparation now will prevent havoc later- get teams aligned on who the decision makers are, who’s on deck to execute, and who to call for a judgement call or escalation.
- Communicate key contacts and escalation points by area, align now on channels for updates & escalations (email, text, calls, slack), and create a calendar for on-call and PTO through the holidays. Include cross-functional teams and essential vendor contacts. Make sure this is shared with your teams and executive leadership well ahead of black Friday.
5. Shop like a customer. There’s no better way to find friction points and opportunities for improvement in the shopping path.
- Perform an end-to-end review of the creative, the messaging, and all linking strategies. At high-volume times, it’s too easy to miss things that will create friction points for the shopper (an extra click, a confusing choice, missing info, etc.). Review the path your customer takes from different channels, and make sure it makes sense.
- Plan a ‘shopping hour’ each week for your team. You will find things. And every time you surface something fixable- it’s a win for your customers. Fix what you can and make a backlog of the things you can’t fix now for your 2023 roadmap.
And P.S., your shoppers also read the news. They know that retailers are worried about holidays. They’ve read that many have excess inventory. And they are worried about inflation and energy costs. They may budget more carefully, but they will still shop for the holidays: they’ll start early, and they’ll look for the good deals. There’s market share to get if you play your cards right.
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