Last-minute help for the holidays
There’s still time to tweak your seasonal campaigns. Four industry pros say making small changes in your e-mail, insert, e-commerce or search efforts can make all the difference.
VP of brokerage, Singer Direct
For marketers looking to use inserts to promote their service, product or brand during the holiday season, there are several factors to consider when developing the insert’s offer, creative and distribution.
An added incentive or special offer is particularly important during this timeframe. Some examples are free shipping or discounts. Today, many customers expect added-value offers and will comparison shop to seek out the best deal.
Also, consider recommending the product or service as a gift. Sometimes we need to remind the customer that although they may have seen this offer before, they may have not thought of it for someone else. Consider tweaking the creative or messaging on the piece to enhance the holiday theme. Because inserts will typically be placed in catalogs and product shipments and as ride-a-longs, the recipient of these offers will be more engaged and receptive.
Timing and program selection also play very important roles for any marketer. When inserting during the holidays, it is important to get your marketing message in the hands of the consumer when purchasing decisions will most likely be made. Focus on planning the distribution of inserts when you expect the catalog or package to arrive and the amount of time you will give the consumer to respond to the offer.
In addition, test programs continuously during different times of the year. A program that may not work well for your offer during the non-holiday timeframe can work well during the holiday season, when purchasing behavior is augmented.
Program selection and timing are essential for holiday insert campaigns
Senior director of industry relations, Goodmail
While your customers will drive themselves nuts figuring out how to deliver “value add” and meaningful presents to their loved ones during the holidays, marketers must similarly think about how their e-mail campaigns can add value to customers’ lives during the gift-purchasing process.
First, use past purchase and browsing behaviors to develop offers. Segment and use dynamic content to closely match offers to your recipients’ interests. Look especially for customers that have already used your Web site to send someone else one of your products — the odds are pretty decent that they’re going to need to send that same recipient a gift for the holidays as well.
Segment early- and late-season shoppers and target them differently. Last year’s early-season shoppers should be targeted early again this year, even before Thanksgiving. On the other hand, it’s going to make more sense to target procrastinators later in the season. The last thing you want to do is send dozens of “holiday specials” to a single recipient. Figure out when they’re most likely to do their shopping and appeal to them with your special offers then.
Authenticate and certify. If you haven’t already done so, it’s not too late to take advantage of consumer-trust building solutions that are proven to drive incremental lifts in opens, clickthroughs and key business metrics.
People love free shipping. A large retailer I’ve worked with for years swears by the inclusion of “Free Shipping” in their subject lines when it comes to driving holiday sales. A/B testing revealed consumers are more responsive to the concept of receiving free shipping compared to sweepstakes or even discounts — give it a shot.
Add value to e-mail campaigns with segmented lists and product offers
VP of industry relations, Didit
If you haven’t started thinking about your holiday search campaigns, you’re already running behind schedule. So, my holiday search advice is as follows.
First, start early. It can take a while to build up a strong Quality Score and to produce the right analysis as to which keywords, ad copy, and landing pages resonate best with your search customers. My advice for holiday marketers is to start early.
Conversely, if you haven’t been doing serious work on your search campaigns since August, you’ll face an uphill battle getting your campaign up to speed now. If you are a late starter, I’d suggest getting some extra help from an outsourced search firm, or at least from additional search staff, as soon as possible. SEMPO.org is a good place to start looking for help.
Next, use last year’s data. Holiday shopping is different from year-round shopping, and holiday search behavior also tends to be different from year-round search behavior. So when you’re trying to get the best data to predict holiday searcher behavior, look to last year’s holiday search activity. That data will give you strong clues as to how searchers will behave this holiday season.
Finally, if you have it, flaunt it. Work hard to tout the things you offer that your competitors don’t — by mentioning them in your ad copy. Tout your competitive selling points, from your lower prices and free shipping, to your wider selection and superior customer service. If you have it, flaunt it — especially during the hypercompetitive holiday season.
Last year’s data can help predict behavior this holiday season
Partner and creative director, Digital Pulp
It feels like each year the holiday season becomes more and more important to our economy and the convenience of holiday shopping online has put e-commerce in the spotlight. To that end, many companies try to “step it up” during the holidays with a variety of sometimes creative, often desperate measures. There are a few keys to success that, surprisingly, retailers often ignore.
Know your customers. Successful holiday marketing demands that retailers understand their customers’ unique habits, desires, needs and tolerances. Special deals, product bundles, holiday-themed showcases, and free shipping are still among the most effective, but it’s important to incorporate these strategies into a CRM framework.
Delight your customers. Make their shopping experience as enjoyable, intuitive and hassle-free as possible. This can include holiday-specific navigation that places a heavier emphasis on recipient shopping or relevant gift advice.
Simple tools can speed the process and truly showcase the benefits of shopping online. These could be recommendation modules, product comparisons, shipping calculators and lists of most popular or “in-demand” products.
Service your customers. Holiday shopping is stressful for people, and the problem is exacerbated online where you don’t have someone you can walk up to and ask for help. Online retailers need to service their customers more effectively by setting expectations. Making e-mail addresses and phone numbers for customer service easy to find is often less than desirable from management’s perspective, but that is what customers need and want. Shipping notifications, and realistic arrival dates are essential. Streamlined checkout processes and “quick buy” options can increase conversion and improve the referrals that customers might make to their peers.
Streamlined checkout processes can increase conversions and referrals