Holiday marketing: 11 tips to maximise the 2019 shopping season

Ensuring your holiday marketing program has maximum success requires significant advance planning and preparation, flawless execution during the season, and strategic follow-up programs after the holidays.

The following tips can guide your planning and help tune up your program before, during, and after holiday shoppers start flocking to your site. (Also, check out our webinar, 2019 Holiday Marketing: Best Practices for Before, During and After the Shopping Season.)

1. Make subscribing to your email program quick and easy. Take full advantage of all paid and organic search traffic by being sure that every high traffic page on your site has a benefit-driven email opt-in form or a lightbox opt-in form. Also, some purchasers may not opt-in to your promotional program during checkout, so consider adding a dynamic content block to your transactional emails that promotes the benefits of opting into your email program.

2. Manage expectations with a holiday-themed welcome email program. Shoppers who visit your site during the holiday season often have different interests, motivations or concerns. Substitute your regular welcome email during the holiday season with one that includes information on shipping promotions and schedules, return policies, gift-card promotions, gift wrapping, frequency options, and other holiday-centric concerns.

3. Sync up with other departments. Forecast traffic patterns and volume (using previous holiday’s data and your most successful historical campaigns) for your biggest campaigns and make sure all departments are in the loop and are able to support peak response volume.For email, make sure that your sending infrastructure, especially IP addresses, are aligned with your planned sending volumes.

4. Get your customer data together and be sure integrations work correctly. Make sure you have the data you need to deliver targeted or behavior-triggered messages and that it is in a format you can leverage in your email, mobile and website content accurately and at scale. Before the season kicks off, test third-party data integrations to ensure data flows correctly between your ecommerce, web analytics program, email marketing, personalisation, product review, recommendations, and other solutions?

5. Conduct database hygiene now and throughout the shopping season. For email, make sure that your bounce processing and suppression lists are working correctly. During the holiday rush, consider suppressing long-time inactives to lessen the chance you could get dinged by ISPs for sending to dormant address or possible “honeypot” spam traps.

6. Set up your journey and struggle analytics tools to uncover anomalies and customer experience challenges. If your company uses tools that analyse customer journeys and struggles (anomalies), make sure you have real-time access to them to uncover customer experience issues such as a coupon code that doesn’t render correctly on a specific mobile device, payments not processing, and hard to find “call to action” buttons.

7. Understand which digital channels are key to your holiday success (web, email, social, mobile). Leverage your data science team or analytics tools and data to understand which channels were most successful for you in previous holiday seasons and by segment/demographic and product type. Also, analyse your customer journeys to determine which channels and paths lead to higher cart values versus time to conversion.

8. Create and manage content in a way that can be easily reused across channels. Leverage content as much as possible that can be used or tweaked across multiple channels. This approach helps your overtaxed marketing and content teams keep up with the pace of holiday campaigns, especially during peak periods. Identify in advance how content used across channels will have consistent messaging, but also the appropriate tone and personality for each channel.

9. Create or enhance cart abandonment and browse campaigns. Create multi-email cart/browse abandonment remarketing series, for example, sending the first message within a few hours after abandonment, the second 2-3 days later, and the third a week or so later. Adopt a service tone, asking if the shopper had a problem at checkout and refrain from offering incentives in the first message. Better yet, leverage struggle analytics data to uncover specific reasons causing abandonment and personalise messages accordingly.

10. Optimise transactional emails. Add dynamic content, such as product recommendations, to your transactional messages to encourage follow-on purchases. Do keep the main focus on the message on the transaction, but also add content and links that help buyers get the most out of their new purchase.

11. Create a post-purchase email strategy. Create a series of triggered or targeted messages that reflect customer activity and preferences and that will keep your email program fresh after the holiday purchases. These can include post-purchase surveys, product usage tips and videos, product review requests, bounce-back offers, product recommendations, and invites to join loyalty programs.

Your immediate focus is on the next few months, but everything you do now will reverberate long into next year. It is critical to maximise conversions from increased traffic and shoppers during the holidays, but also to take steps to turn new shoppers into loyal, repeat customers.