The holiday shopping season generally begins in November. After the Halloween candy has been eaten and the costumes put away, consumers begin getting ready for Thanksgiving. Beyond turkeys and cranberry sauce, early shoppers also start their Christmas lists and upcoming New Year’s Eve party preparations.
Retailers need to prepare for high inbound volume. After all, the holiday season generates more revenue than any other time of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday spending for the 2016 season reached $655.8 billion, and it’s forecasted to increase by another 3.6% to 4% this year. Online sales accounted for roughly $122.9 billion, which means an uplift of 12.9% compared to the year before. Merchants who aren’t equipped to handle these kinds of sales will ultimately lose out.
It’s always a good idea to keep important dates very visible to help develop a strategic plan for high sales with your holiday marketing campaign.
If you need any help in identifying key dates or important objectives in a successful Holiday Email Marketing Campaign, make sure that you check out our Holiday Guide, which has all the tips and tricks you will need to begin!
2017 holiday schedule
- Thanksgiving: Thursday, November 23rd
- Black Friday: Friday, November 24th
- Christmas: Monday, December 25th
- New Year’s Eve: Sunday, December 31st, 2017
Retailers and eCommerce sites must have an action plan to not only handle the expected volume but to ensure smooth operations and profit accordingly. The following are our top tips for a successful holiday revenue plan:
1) Create a course of action
A clear plan can drive sales and handle the expected volume. Include the holiday schedule and add key points before, during and after each date. What needs to happen before Black Friday? Will there be a post-sales meeting after Christmas? Ensure that all key staff members become familiar with the action plan.
2) Establish unique promotions for each holiday
Your store’s products that are available before Thanksgiving should be different in the pre-Christmas shopping days. Customers should be aware that whatever they purchase in November may be different from December’s offers. Focus on your sales reports to ensure you have sufficient stock and can move products as needed. But when it comes to your marketing, use your customers’ past purchases and website behavior to guide what December product offers will go to each customer. Your marketing automation platform will have the data that will guide this process.
3) Offer ‘extras’
Specialty offers such as overnight shipping, gift wrapping, “Buy 1, get the 2nd half off” deals are common promotions that can dramatically increase your sales during the Holidays. Use them during Holidays to encourage people to buy.
4) Design unique landing pages
If an online shopper clicks on a Black Friday sale item, for example, they would see a unique, dedicated Black Friday message. If the same user shops for Christmas items 1 month later, they would see a Christmas-themed page with related images and text based on the previous visit.
5) Use web personalization tactics
Your Marketing team can customize messages or extra offers based on shoppers’ locations, demographics or past purchase history.
For example, a customer from New York might receive an order confirmation with estimated delivery times for the NY area. A shopper from New Mexico might receive a thank you message which includes local offers from 3rd party vendors. The more customization you offer, the higher likelihood of returning customers and higher sales volumes.
6) Optimize webpages
Since the goal is to convert visitors into paying customers, optimizing your site’s main pages is a crucial step in accomplishing this. Use A/B testing and analytics programs to get a good understanding of your customer behavior.
Are certain products selling well in specific regions? Are there times of the day or night when sales are lower? Work closely with your sales team and developers to establish a clear sales funnel and revise it as needed.
7) Prepare ahead of time
Make sure your site’s servers can handle a surge in website activity, you have enough customer support employees, the warehouse is sufficiently stocked, etc. Run pre-holiday tests on all aspects of your eCommerce site to ensure a smooth flow and uninterrupted business. This includes having all your sale offers prepared, and ready to go in your marketing automation system. Use segmenting, past purchases, abandoned carts, to help determine your customized messages.