What happens when you’re reminded that there’s not much time left until the holiday season officially begins? A look of horror probably appears on your face as you realize that long hours and really big sales are just around the corner.
This might have been you last year, but this year could be different. Ideally, your holiday marketing strategy should start way before the first helping of turkey and the Black Friday rush — and even before costumes, candy and plastic pumpkins.
Even though the modern consumer has access to time-saving helpers like Amazon Prime and its magical two-day shipping option, we, as online marketing professionals, don’t have the luxury of waiting until the last minute to prepare for the holidays (except maybe when it comes to our own shopping). In my experience, the earlier you start preparing, the more likely you are to crush those sales goals, surpass your competitors and even enjoy your own holiday season.
But remember — the art of holiday marketing isn’t a one-and-done tactic. Keep in mind, as you plan, that your marketing strategy must evolve as the holiday season does. You’ll want to continually adjust to keep pace with the different festivities and events that come one after the other in the final quarter of 2019.
So get out your calendar and start planning. Here are some suggestions for optimizing your online marketing tactics throughout the holiday season.
Refresh Your Website
As we head into fall, consider revamping your website to signal the arrival of a new season. It’s too early just yet to give your site a full holiday makeover, but consider presenting a palette that expresses the cool, crisp vibes associated with this time of year.
You can start with your hero images — the large banners that your visitors see immediately when they land on your site. Introducing some fall-inspired design elements, such as leaves and pumpkins, and appropriate seasonal colors (red, orange and yellow) can help get prospects in the mood to shop your pre-winter sales. Just remember to keep your brand guidelines in mind no matter how many spooky or cheerful temporary changes you make. Yes, your site should whisper, “Welcome to a new season,” but it shouldn’t make a visitor question whether they’re on the right site. Be seasonal, but stay branded.
Reach Out To Past Customers
If your brand has already gone through at least one holiday season, then you likely already have a pool of satisfied customers eager to come back for another dip this year. October is the ideal time to start reaching out to your past customers to remind them of last year’s holiday haul and encourage them to return. If you run a loyalty program, consider offering bundle sales to your repeat buyers or free gifts with their purchases.
Also, remember that not everyone waits until the last moment to begin their shopping expeditions — around 40% of consumers start their holiday shopping before Halloween. Be ready to grab the attention of these early shoppers with personalized promotions.
Update Paid Media For Each Upcoming Holiday
Now it’s time to get your paid ads looking as good as your website. Plan your ads calendar to introduce updated creative as you move through the holiday season: harvest colors and themes in October and early November, stylish short-run ads for Black Friday and winter holiday themes as you move into late November and December.
Be sure to leverage your new creative on the platforms that rely on visuals: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. These ads may also act as a great companion to your Google pay-per-click campaigns.
Use Retargeting For Website And Landing Page Visitors
Most people arrive at a landing page, maybe look around a little and leave without making a purchase. If you’ve been having trouble turning your holiday site visitors into customers, you’re hardly alone — it’s been said that “only 2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store.” Setting up retargeting ads can help convert some of that uncommitted 98%. Consider doing this in mid-to-late October.
Hold Timely Sales On Special Shopping Days
It seems like we’re seeing new special shopping days just about every year. As things stand now, we have Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and maybe a few others I’m forgetting. It’s important to understand that each of these days has a particular audience that you may want to target. For instance, Cyber Monday is for online shoppers, who were responsible for $7.9 billion in spending on that day last year.
Don’t assume that all these dates on the calendar are weird promotional stunts that can be ignored, like International Talk Like a Pirate Day or something like that. These are actually perfect opportunities for online flash sales and promotions.
Target Last-Minute Shoppers And Impulse Buyers
Black Friday through New Year’s Day is the final stretch for holiday shoppers, and the sense of urgency is at an all-time high. To attract impulse buyers and last-minute shoppers, consider using the ideal impulse-buying platform: Instagram. You can do your own holiday countdown by featuring a new product — and using product tags and stickers — every day as the year comes to a close.
Instagram is even offering in-app checkout to select U.S. brands. If all goes well, more of us just may have access to this feature in time for the 2020 holiday season.
Let The Countdown Begin
For the online marketing professional, the holiday season begins right now — if it hasn’t already. Fill out your calendar to plan ahead and prepare for your most profitable holiday season yet. Remember: This year is going to be different.