Last week I was asked if it’s too late to plan a Christmas marketing campaign. I replied that November is certainly late to start planning. But it’s not too late. This is why.
According to Google Trends, shoppers started searching for ‘Christmas gift ideas’ back in August! Ideally by the beginning of November, you should be well-advanced with your holiday promotion plans – whether or not you’re excited about hearing Christmas music in the department stores or seeing the latest John Lewis advert.
Don’t you just love this year’s advert by the way?
Now back to your Christmas marketing campaign! As I explained in my article How To Prevent A Cash Crunch, many small and medium-sized retail businesses do between 20 and 40 percent of their annual sales in the last quarter of the year. So it’s a critical time of year for most businesses.
So grab yourself a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and let’s start thinking about how you can bring some Christmas cheer to your marketing campaign, and make Q4 a bumper sales period.
1. You’ve Got Three Bites Of The Cherry
The Christmas sales season formally begins with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (also known as “Cyber Week”), leads up to the December holidays and finishes on 5th January. Essential you have three key periods you can target:
- Cyber Week
- Advent – starting on 27th November and running through to Christmas Eve
- The 12 Days of Christmas – from Christmas Day through to 5th January
Whatever your business, these three periods will give you a number of touch-points when you can connect with your customers. So get out your calendar and use this to plan a to-do list of Christmas related business activities. From promotions to events through to content marketing and social media. Work out a plan that’s realistic and achievable for your business.
2. Wow Your Customers
The most important thing to remember for any brand wishing to execute an outstanding holiday marketing campaign is this: every other company is trying to do exactly the same thing. When customers are bombarded with marketing messages from 100+ different companies, the key to success is standing out from the crowd.
As a small or medium sized business, how can you make your customers feel special in the run up to Christmas? What can you do to delight your customers that your larger competitors can’t? For example, you could:
- Send a personalised Christmas card with a thank you note.
- Give a small gift or freebie to those who’ve supported your business;
- Gift wrap purchases;
- Deliver purchases locally, together with a personalised thank you note;
- A VIP sales night;
- Christmas drinks;
- A holiday lunch for your top clients;
- Extend your opening hours.
Be different to your competitors and do something that no other company will do. And be personal, thinking about small touches that will delight your customers. This is how your offer(s) will stand out among the crowd.
3. Double Down On What Works
The holidays aren’t the time to test out new ideas; they’re the time to double down on what works most successfully for your business this year, and scale this up. Focus on those channels which drove the best results in the last holiday season. If you’re a start-up, focus on the marketing channels that work best for you, and check out my article, How To Know Which Marketing Channels Will Work For Your Business.
If your sales primarily come through your website, focus your efforts on optimising your digital marketing strategy. If your business comes from networking, get out and meet people. If you get great results with email marketing, ramp it up. If Facebook adverts work for your business, prioritise these. (But bear in mind advertising costs are likely to go up. See point 7 below).
That said, if you ran a successful Christmas sales campaign last year, do consider adding a new channel and marketing strategy into the mix if you have the capacity and resources to do so.
4. Focus On Existing Customers
Too often brands get tunnel vision and focus on short term customer acquisition over the holidays, rather than getting repeat business from people who’ve already made purchases.
Go back over your records to see who bought from you at Christmas in the last two to three years. This is where having a mailing list helps. Focus your marketing efforts on this group. There’s a very good chance that a customer who bought from you during a previous promotion will return and buy again.
Think about other customer groups you could focus on. Customers who bought during a Valentine’s or Mother’s Day promotion? Or customers who bought for a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary? Include these groups in your marketing plans.
5. Convert New Customers In To Repeat Buyers
The biggest mistake businesses make is lacking a nurturing system that converts new customers acquired from a holiday marketing campaign into repeat buyers.
To have a truly successful holiday season, consider how you’re going to engage with your newly acquired customers in the medium to long term and keep them coming back. Focus on customer lifetime value, instead of one-time customer acquisition.
6. Be Available
You’ll need to be available, or have someone available, to answer customer support questions and respond to comments and other inquires on social media. Being responsive and available will help you to convert the people who demonstrate interest into buyers.
If you’re not in a position to employ anybody just yet, consider using a customer service software like Zendesk and/ or an outsourced telephone answering service to give you additional capacity. They’re an inexpensive option which you can turn on and off depending on demand, and many of these companies offer free trials.
7. Mind Your ROI
Make sure your holiday sales are profitable, especially if you’ll be running adverts on Facebook or Google. Typically you can expect your ad costs to go up by 30% during the holidays due to higher demand and activity, especially when the ad source price is bid on like PPC etc.
Be sure to factor in the cost of acquiring new customers relative to their likely lifetime value to make sure that this is an effective marketing strategy over the Christmas period. (See Point 5 about a customer nurturing strategy).
8. Build Your Email List
Building your email list is the simplest way to increase traffic conversion and grow your list of leads heading into the holiday shopping season. Email marketing drove 174% more conversions than social media in 2016 and the trend continued in 2017. Add an email pop-up with a great lead magnet and start building your list. Email is low-hanging fruit when it comes to the holiday season so don’t overlook it!
In addition to the basics, turn your focus to ‘trigger email’s which are sent based on a shopper’s actions or a specific trigger. Trigger emails include welcome emails, cart abandonment emails, purchase confirmation emails, shipping confirmation emails, delivery emails and so on.
9. Double Down On Retargeting
Facebook offers the possibility of segmenting your target audience, making this channel an easy choice for retargeting. When retargeting, look at these four audiences:
- Customers over the past 180 days
- Newsletter subscribers
- Website visitors
- Lookalike audiences
These are the segments that generally give you the best return on your investment.
10. Plan For The Worst, Prepare For The Best
With such a high proportion of businesses making a substantial chunk of their sales in the last quarter of the year, it pays to think about what could go wrong. This is called scenario planning. It’s where you think of everything that could possibly go wrong and prevent you from having a successful Christmas sales campaign. Bandwidth spikes, your website going down, inventory running out etc. You get the picture.
Once you’ve come up with a list of everything that could possible go wrong, determine how likely this is and put together contingency plans.
Whatever industry you’re in, Christmas offers so many marketing opportunities. Double down on what you know works for your business, and focus on delivering the very best customer experience possible.
Wishing you a very successful Christmas marketing campaign.
Question: What’s your top tip for a successful Christmas sales campaign? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share in the comments box below.
Explore These Additional Resources
Did you miss?
- How To Know Which Marketing Channels Will Work For Your Business
- How To Run An Autumn Campaign Like The White Company
- Do You Have Diamonds In Your Product Mix?
- Scenario Planning In An Uncertain World
If it’s your first time here, you may also want to check out the resources I’ve curated to help you grow your business. These include some of my most popular content.
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