‘Tis the season for huge profits and high stress. As the fourth quarter of 2017 begins, businesses are rushing to put their holiday marketing campaigns into overdrive. The good news is that retailers should see solid gains in 2017, with analysts expecting holiday sales to rise between 3.8 and 4.5 percent over last year.
The bad news is that competition has grown stiff. That puts tremendous pressure on executives and entrepreneurs to up their game. Want to make sure the upcoming season is as profitable as it is festive? Here are a few pointers that will help you stay abreast of the latest holiday marketing trends.
Tip #1: Plan Early and Reap the Profits
Once upon a time, people flocked to stores after cleaning up the dishes on Thanksgiving. These days, consumers reach for their phones and tablets as early as October. That means it’s never too soon to start strategizing.
How early should you roll out your holiday ad campaign? According to the National Retail Foundation, 40 percent of people in the U.S. start shopping before Halloween. Another 42 percent kick off their shopping spree in November. That means businesses should reach out to consumers around the beginning of Fall. Delay too long and you could miss an opportunity to grab those crucial early sales.
Tip #2: Optimize Your SEO for the Holiday Season
Search habits change when the holidays come around. Keywords that suffice during the rest of the year may not cut it when people shift from personal purchases to gift-buying. During the holidays, potential buyers scour the net for ideas as much as they hunt for specific items, leading to a major spike in search terms like “great stocking stuffers” and “stocking stuffers for adults.”
Does your lineup include smaller products that would fit nicely over the mantle? It’s important to let your customers (and the search engines) know. For best results, rebrand key products as “gift ideas” and incorporate holiday-themed SEO terms into your content well before the peak buying season hits.
Tip #3: Ring in the Season with Mobile Content
The percentage of customers who do their online shopping on smartphones and tablets has grown steadily over the past few years. Already in 2016, more than 20 percent of online shoppers used a mobile device to make holiday purchases, and many more browsed for products on their smartphones before buying them on desktops or in stores. That number will only increase in the next few years.
Here are a few ways you can tailor your marketing strategy to mobile users:
- Switch to a responsive site
- Send holiday push notifications
- Encourage customers to sign up for text message alerts
- Create mobile-friendly gift guides
Tip # 4: Capture Attention with Stunning Visual Content
Businesses that want to realize their full potential should look for ways to incorporate seasonal topics into their visual content. Create holiday-themed images and roll them out at strategic times. SMBs can also create quick holiday ads with the YouTube Director app, which helps small businesses make high-quality videos in less than an hour.
Tip #5: Perfect Your Targeting
Take advantage of Facebook’s powerful marketing tools to gain a deeper understanding of your consumer base. Draw a distinction between the seasonal buyers, who come around once or twice a year, and those who may become long-term enthusiasts.
You may also want to emphasize different holidays depending on your average customer. Generic season’s greetings work well for most businesses, but don’t be afraid to get more specific, if your audience is up for it.
Maybe your customers prefer Hanukkah or Christmas-friendly content. Perhaps a Winter Solstice, Kwanza, or New Year theme would fit your brand better. Know your customers. Know what will turn them on and what will drive them away.
Tip # 6: Play the Long Game
The holidays are a great time to sell products. They’re also the perfect time to expand and
reinforce your customer base. When crafting a winning strategy, think beyond seasonal sales and plan for long-term growth.
Here are a few tips for harnessing the full power of holiday marketing:
- Reach out to your base. Use social media to remind loyal supporters that you have them in mind this holiday season. Send season’s greeting cards that don’t include a sales pitch. That will inspire trust and reinforce brand loyalty.
- Reach out to lapsed customers. Use the holidays as an excuse to rekindle interest in your brand. Tell former customers you miss them and include pictures of products they’ve abandoned in their shopping carts.
- Engage new customers. Grow your base by offering holiday coupons and deals in exchange for e-mail signups or app downloads.
- Don’t forget the post-holiday bargain hunters. The post-holiday season is just as important as the pre-holiday season. Many people use the dead of winter to find great deals. Think beyond discounted inventory and find creative ways to engage bargain shoppers.
Tip #7: Measure Results and Adapt Accordingly
Successful holiday marketing campaigns have one thing in common: they’re well-planned and well-researched. Indeed, no strategy can succeed without reliable metrics. Use last year’s data to inform this year’s strategy. Which promotions worked? Which marketing channels performed the best? What products topped the seasonal popularity list? What feedback did you get from customers?
That being said, don’t just parrot last year’s game plan. Things change. Adapt your plan to accommodate new realities and budding trends. Of course, that’s easier said than done. With so many platforms, apps, tools, and trends out there, you need someone who can make order out of chaos. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, enlist the help of a digital marketing firm that can help you transform your bright holiday ideas into a cohesive strategy.
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