According to the National Retail Federation, 40% of holiday shoppers begin shopping before Halloween.
The takeaway from that stat is obvious. You need to get your holiday marketing and promotions ready and running early. Santa Claus is coming to trick-or-treat.
Based on our experience, planning ahead is everything with holiday sales. It is, of course, the biggest and most competitive season for retailers.
That means everyone is vying for position. They’re in a rush to create holiday collateral and position themselves to maximize sales. The best, as we’re saying, are ready for the earliest holiday shoppers. The worst are scrambling to get their ads (and even their inventory) ready for Black Friday.
If you’re not prepared by Black Friday, you’ve already missed it. Start getting ready for 2020.
Here are 7 tips and tricks to help you get a jump on this Holiday season so you’re making sales while your competition is still carving pumpkins.
#1 Prepare Your Promotions
Take stock of your inventory and the expected sales trends. Estimate competitor pricing and what special offers they’ll use.
Then plan your promotional offers and how you’ll get them in front of customers. This is the crux of your holiday planning. You must:
- Know what inventory you want to move and what items are likely to be hot sellers.
- Offer deals that give you a competitive advantage.
- Plan your touch points for a sales cycle that may run well into December.
- Make sure you have the budget in place to run ads with competitive placement.
- Ensure your fulfillment process is tight and reliable.
#2. Create a Leaderboard Banner for Website Holiday Promotions
Create a leaderboard banner on your website to promote holiday specials. For specials you really want to push, create a product landing page so you have strong message match.
Here’s an example leaderboard banner:
Your website leaderboard banner shows globally (meaning on all pages of your website with an x-out feature) so this is a powerful way to make sure your holiday promotions are visible.
#3. Design Your Ads
Along with your leaderboard and landing pages, you’ll need to design ads that match the content, promos, and coupon codes.
The essential point here is to have the campaign designs ready in their entirety. It all needs to match so you have a cohesive message and feel.
All too often, we have clients come to us a week before they want to start running campaigns asking us to get these design elements in place. When we start talking about our design queue and realistic delivery timeframes, they’re stressed to the max.
Don’t let that happen to you. By early September, you want a handle on your holiday campaign collateral.
#4. Plan Your Email Campaigns
As part of your ad designs, make sure to prepare email templates.
Then, organize your list(s) and schedule out delivery of your email promos. If you’re not using email software for these tasks, you should be. With software, you can prepare your schedule and automate delivery so when you’re ready, it can be done at the touch of a button.
#5. Determine Schedules and Budgets
As we are expounding here, you need to plan your holiday campaigns with diligence. Materials need to be prepared well in advance so you can run promotions as people gear up to shop for the coming event.
Just as important is budgetary planning. When the holiday season comes and you’re getting your Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns ready, make sure you have the budget in place to compete. Expect that CPCs are going to increase, sometimes dramatically.
At the same time, you need to ensure that you can run campaigns and be profitable. Don’t get into a bidding war on broad keyword targets with Amazon or Zappos that you can’t win.
Instead, outline the niches you can compete in and be prepared to daypart and geo-target ads so you’re reaching your customers without overreaching your budget.
#6. Designate a Campaign Manager
Many holiday campaigns go astray because no one person is accountable for the implementation, either at the beginning or end.
If you run an eCommerce website, you should be well apprised of what’s happening with holiday campaigns, even if you delegate some of the execution.
Make sure things are turned on and accurate when they start. Also, make sure things like coupon codes and leaderboard banners are turned off after the promotion is over. It’s not a sign of strong organization when your Christmas banner is still on your website for MLK day.
Also, make sure all bid adjustments and changes are pulled back after the most competitive periods, or you might find yourself overspending for clicks after the shopping has pretty much come to a halt.
#7. Track Your Results
Here is an assertion for you. The holiday campaign you run next year should be better than the one you run this year.
The reason is that you’ll have data on this year’s campaigns so you can make modifications and improvements. Analyze your data and discover what content, offers, and products did best. Use that information to plan out next year’s campaigns.
We know from experience that eCommerce stores in their first year always have the roughest holiday campaign rollouts. Many businesses, in fact, fail to even turn a profit because they’re not yet positioned in the market.
Furthermore, many first years do not follow the tips we’ve outlined here. They start preparing for holiday sales a week before Thanksgiving. They don’t make allowances for holiday advertising budgets. They’re not even prepared to meet fulfillment demands if their sales accelerate.
Follow these tips to avoid those first-year frustrations, and use your data and experience to improve holiday sales each subsequent season.
The holiday season isn’t just a boon for retailers, is a revenue necessity. Preparation and planning are the keys to taking advantage of this consumer spending festival.