We’re writing to you from our favorite time of the year, a time where marketing goes haywire, a time when people who haven’t spent a cent online for the entire year hop onto to the Internet and frantically whip out their credit cards in a frenzy to shop online for themselves and their loved ones. Yes, it’s Holiday Season, and all the e-Commerce giants are currently introducing great deals and offering ludicrous discounts to get their products moving from their shelves, digital or otherwise.
As a small/medium business owner, it’s your job to tap into this amazing spirit and maximize your revenue while offering awesome value to your customers that encourages them to spend on you and your business. However, we often have to eliminate the old-school thought process of marketing and harness the power of the latest technologies to skyrocket your ROI with minimum effort and investment on your part. Our guide will push you in the correct direction, as we share 10 tactics you can implement TODAY to make sure this holiday season is as profitable as can be, for you.
Common Holiday Season Trends & Why These Are Important
Global studies by various data collection agencies prove the explosive growth of buying trends and spending each consecutive year during Holiday Season.
It was recorded that 36% of surveyed customers are planning to spend more online than 2013 Holiday Season. Moreover, a huge chunk of sales are going to be done through mobile devices (tablets, phones) than ever before.
Another interesting factoid that our research threw up is that customers are becoming increasingly brand neutral and taking more informed buying decisions than ever before. This means a horde of customers trawling through review and deal websites and checking product reputation – make sure your customer support pulls their socks up!
- An extremely high percentage (92%) of shoppers will check prices online for the best bargain (parago, 2014).
- 91% of shoppers say a low price is an important to very important factor in the decision to buy (Google).
- Free shipping was deemed the second-most important factor for shoppers when purchasing online (Shop.org, Spring Planning Guide, 2014).
- A comScore/UPS study reports that 83% of online shoppers are willing to wait additional days for delivery if they can get free shipping.
This being said, we’ve established that there is a mass consumption pool we want to tap into. The question now remains, what techniques can we use to ensure our market share? Read on to find out our 10 preferred ways to do Holiday Season right.
- Discounts, flash sales, promotions
No holiday promotion is complete without massive discounts! One of the primary reasons why customers are so eager to shop during the holidays is because its the best time to buy something that’s been on their mind for the entire year, and is usually marked down heavily now.
Make sure you’re running appealing, “no-brainer” deals that encourages all the inactive people on your email list/social media pages to buy from you. Stock counters/Time Countdowns are a great idea, creating a feeling of urgency and scarcity, and increasing conversions. Make it clear that you won’t be offering these deals for another year.
- Segment Customers who spend more
A smart idea is to identify and segregate (using CRMs like Infusionsoft) customers that regularly and consistently spend a lot of money with you. Offering your high ticket items usually leads to great responses. Enroll them into a loyalty program, offer them exclusive time sensitive discount coupons and communicate how appreciative you are! Sending them greetings cards is a great WOW that creates brand loyalty that lasts a lifetime. Get creative!
- Engage Social Media + Ads
During 2013, it was estimated that there was a 39% increase in traffic to retail sites through Facebook. This year, similar trends are being projected, but also accounting for other Social Media platforms – Twitter and Groupon being a few examples.
You can expect customers actively interacting with your Social Media Pages – for customer support, purchase inquiries and of course, discount schemes and special promotions. Make sure all these are featured prominently on your accounts.
You might want to consider ramping up your SMM team and block off a special Holiday Season workshop to make sure they are prepared sufficiently.
A natural extension of this is ramping your ad campaigns up for this time period. Make sure you’re consistently serving targeted ads to your audience, educating them about your amazing deals. You can use Retargeting to really drive home the point, everything is fair in Holiday Season!
- Revamp Your Website + Servers
As an experienced marketing company, we can tell you (through painful experience!) about the horror that only stems from a large volume of traffic crushing your website while trying to get their hands on a “100-only-limited-offer”.
You don't want this happening to your website a week before Christmas!!
We sincerely don’t wish this fate even on our worst enemies – a “down” website is an instant turn-off for any customers and a huge, huge trust breaker. It damages reputations forever, and it implies that you don’t take your own business seriously. We like telling the famous parable of the cobbler – who makes a living fixing soles, but ironically his own children walk around in holey shoes. Don’t be a Cobbler! Mend your own shoes. Invest money into getting reliable hosting, a Content Distribution Network to manage traffic surges, and enough bandwidth to secure a fully functional website during this holiday season.
Upgrade your website by offering context sensitive upsells and other intelligent buying opportunities to visitors.
It’s human nature to engage in challenges and learn through competition. Thankfully, this is very true in the world of marketing as well – case in point the huge crowds of people waiting outside large chain stores during Christmas Week, waiting to grab the best deals before their peers (competitors!)
You can harness the power of Marketing Psychology 101 and offer intriguing high reward contests to your rabid fanbase. You can also start competitions on Social Media to collect email addresses and get people into your funnel and send them promotional emails.
- Mobile Users
We’d like to add a quick word about mobile users. As we’ve mentioned before, more and more users are completing purchases through their mobile devices – therefore it’s important that your website has a mobile responsive version and is mobile traffic friendly. You can incentivize people downloading your iOS and Android apps by offering flat discounts to all purchases completed through your mobile app. Partner with mobile ad servers to deliver your deals to your mobile users.
“Increasingly, shoppers are relying on their smartphone while making in-store visits. A 2013 Google study done in conjunction with the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council and M/A/R/C Research tracked mobile's impact on the in-store shopping experience. The research showed that 84% of smartphone shoppers use their device while shopping in a store, and one in three will use it to find the information they need rather than ask an employee.”
Print QR codes to special discounts on your physical products, leaflets and other media and encourage customers to scan these codes to avail these discounts.
- Email Marketing
This topic deserves a stand-alone article by itself, but we’ll attempt to condense the most effective techniques in this section.
- First off, as covered in the previous section, make your emails as mobile friendly as possible. Last Christmas, surveys showed that the email open rate was greater than 45% on smartphones.
- It’s a great idea to design a full fledged, thorough email marketing campaign covering the entire holiday period. Make sure you set up tracking and open rate recording so you can optimize as much as possible.
- Thirdly, segment your list according to the following factors: region (ex: not all countries celebrate Thanksgiving!), age, freebie-seekers/low-spenders/high-spenders, etc.
All this being said, please keep in mind a couple of safety instructions: Don’t be tempted to buy email addresses for promotions’ sake, make sure you have permission to email each and everyone on your list. Lastly, its a great idea to have a prominent Unsubscribe button for the disgruntled customers who are getting mails from about a hundred different companies, who you might catch in a foul mood and hit the “Spam” button for you email – which as email marketers is the worst thing that can happen. Play wisely.
- Paid Ads
This is a great time to setup ads on AdSense and other ad servers, and to start Retargeting campaigns as well. The key here is to target the same terms you run ads for during the rest of the year, but to add in “holiday-appropriate” terms at the end of it – for example, if you bid on “blue widgets” you can start campaigns for “blue widget christmas” “blue widget holiday deals” etc.
Get your banner ads to high traffic, niche relevant websites and expect a steady influx of high intent buyer traffic. A/B testing will help you skyrocket your ROI for this method.
This is an extension of the earlier section – preferably you should have kickstarted your SEO efforts 3 months beforehand for targeting holiday terms. However, don’t worry, its not too late. Start with keyword research (refer earlier section) – really get into the minds of your customers about what kind of terms they’d type into search engines to secure great deals for themselves.
A quick tip to ranking almost immediately and getting great buyer traffic is to target long tail keyword traffic. There is almost no competition for the right terms, such as “blue widget special christmas discounts) – and a combination of great On-Page SEO and minimal link-building will see you on position #1 on Google in a matter of days.
- Physical Advertising
Now that we’ve talked so much in detail about digital marketing methods, we still feel this article isn’t complete without educating our readers about how powerful physical marketing still is. Consider looking into the following methods to quickly get the word out to your customers about your discounts:
- Send holiday greeting cards to your customers with special discount codes.
- QR codes on print media.
- Advertise on local television networks
- Advertise in magazines and newspapers that have great circulation
- Radio adverts – yes, people do turn on those ancient machines – while they’re driving, or to listen to Christmas tunes – get your ad in there.
- Any other ways to get your message out there: brochures, banners, business cards, calendars, stickers, fridge magnets. Get creative.
We hope you’ve benefitted from our ideas, and hopefully your mind has overclocked into churning up some great creative ideas to get more customers. Offer great value, be persistent, and make your buying process as painless as possible, and your customers will come to you. Consistently test what’s working and what’s not, and eliminate the latter. We’d love to know your thoughts and any other methods you’d want to share with our reader base about your out of the box ideas for holiday promotions. Happy holidays!