Many online retailers know that the holidays are a major business season. If your business is affected by seasonal shifts, holiday shopping could be your biggest, most lucrative opportunity of the year. If you haven’t started planning for your holiday marketing campaigns already, it’s time to start now!
Don’t fall behind other online retailers that are getting ready to make the most of this holiday season. Here’s what you need to do to make sure you’re ahead of the pack.
Christmas Is (Un)Officially Coming Early
Christmas is coming earlier than usual this year. You usually see big box retailers starting up their holiday season after Black Friday or sooner. Thanksgiving is the new unofficial start for retailers to shift into their holiday season habits. 75% of major retailers sent out one or more holiday promotional emails on Thanksgiving Day 2011, up from 60% in 2010 and 45% in 2009.
Mark Your Calendars
Don’t miss out on major days between now and New Year’s Day. Mark major dates on your calendar, and develop email marketing strategies around days that benefit you the most. Knowing all the big days your targeted demographics are looking to spend money on will help you get their attention.
It’s Time to Go Mobile
Smartphones and tablets rocketed into mainstream adoption throughout 2012, and this holiday season will be the first major retail surge that buyers will interact with across multiple devices. Making sure that your emails are not only timely, but also optimized for mobile devices, is going to be crucial for higher open and click-through rates.
Increase Your Email Frequency—But Not Too Much, Too Soon
Many retailers want to bump their email frequency during the holidays. You’ll be competing with other retailers for your customer’s attention. Think a higher email frequency will result in happier, more attentive customers? Think again. Ramping up too quickly will chase subscribers away. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send more emails. You can scale your email frequency up slowly and gradually going into the holiday season. You’d better start now, or soon, just to get customers used to the extra volume. And if you’re worried that you might still lose too many subscribers…
Give the Gift of Control: Opt-Up or Opt-Down Options
If part of your holiday email marketing campaign includes sending out daily deals, or you’re considering a high-volume holiday mailing strategy, you need to acknowledge that not everyone is interested in all of that information. Instead of offering a simple unsubscribe as the only option to reduce the emails you’re sending, you should offer opt-up and opt-down options to your subscribers. Setting up an email preference center is also a great way to retain subscribers and let them customize how much they hear from you. This way, subscribers can control your messages to fit their preferences, and you can measure more carefully just how much volume your subscribers can take before they start getting grinchy.
Adjust Your Triggered Emails to Fit the Season
Triggered emails can be your best friend during the holiday season. That said, you might need to retool your triggered emails, or create an entirely different set of holiday triggered mailings. Your normal triggered emails might give customers discounts, messages or offers that don’t make sense for the holiday season—normal triggered email deals might be giving away too much! Make sure your triggered emails match holiday season shopping habits and themes. Customers will appreciate the extra attention to detail, and are usually willing to take many more repeat opportunities than they normally would. Use that good cheer to your advantage!
‘Tis the Season to Test New Acquisition Strategies
If you’re expecting a lot of retail traffic to your website, now is the time to start preparing to measure and monitor where all that traffic is coming from. Start making specialized landing pages that are exclusive to new opportunities, or new methods to track customers from advertising and marketing channels you haven’t gotten a lot of good data on yet. The holiday rush is a goldmine for anyone that gets excited about optimization testing.
Sharing is Caring—So Make Sharing Easier
Be sure to include prominent social media sharing buttons in your email marketing campaigns. People are naturally excited about sales, deals, and other opportunities, no matter where they may come from—email included. Be sure to make it easy for your customers to hit a button and instantly share something exciting with their friends and family, because according to a study of 4,500 adults, social media is a major influence on holiday sales.
Free Shipping Could Make or Break Your Bottom Line
…because two-thirds of major retailers are going to offer it. If you’re competing with other online retailers for conversions on products that aren’t exclusive to you, you should sweeten the deal and provide free shipping, especially if your competitors aren’t. Holiday shopping centers and online retailers are fiercely competing with each other for sales and services that trump the other, and you don’t want to lose sales to a competitor offering better incentives.
Maybe the Holidays Aren’t For You?
Last but certainly not least, if your online retail efforts aren’t affected by holiday seasonality, maybe holiday marketing isn’t something you need to even worry about. Practical Ecommerce makes a valid point that many of us may forget going into the holidays: if your business isn’t affected by holiday sales, a business-as-usual approach to your marketing might be more cost-effective. Don’t say “humbug” to holiday preparations this year! Get started on your holiday email campaigns now—you’ll thank yourself later!