The Christmas shopping season is coming soon. Are you ready with an effective marketing strategy?
Last year, retail sales increased in the November-December months by a greater-than-expected 5.3% over 2016…
And online sales were up a whopping 11.5% from the previous year!
The expected total sales increase for this Christmas season is another 4.3% to 4.8% above the 2017 total.
The November-January season is the best time of the year to advertise your products and services and drive up ROI. But marketers must strategize effectively to increase sales and profits during the holiday months.
Here are 31 Need-to-Know tips to help you successfully market this Christmas season … helping to get the attention of prospective customers, gain new leads, and drive up sales.
1. Go Ahead: Say “Merry Christmas.”
Just saying “Happy Holidays” will depress sales and turn off over 25% of your prospects. Political correctness will drive down response, not help.
2. Refocus your web ads to reflect the Christmas season.
Tweak or fully revise your direct response copy to reflect this time of year.
3. Use an integrated and multi-channel marketing approach.
Your marketing strategy is critical for the November-January season. Your approach should include an integrated, multi-channel strategy with direct mail, social Facebook, Pre-rolls, email, banner ads, and video all to the same targeted audience. With an integrated approach, a prospective customer will receive a catalog or direct mail piece in the mail, an email series in their inbox, see a Facebook ad, watch a Pre-roll video on YouTube, and finally, click-through a banner ad to your landing page to make a purchase.
4. Make sure your email, paid search ads, banner ads, Pre-rolls and Facebook ads are relevant to your landing page.
If prospects click through and can’t quickly see what they are searching for, you won’t generate sales. That’s why your landing page must make it clear that they are in the right place. If you don’t have a specific landing page in place for your paid search ads right now, try linking ads to a product-specific page instead of your generic homepage.
5. Create urgency.
Tell your prospects exactly how much time they have left to take advantage of your special seasonal discounts. Also tell them that they must order by a certain date to receive their merchandise in time for Christmas. Amazon.com typically displays this in the top-right corner as the big day draws near.
6. Diversify your marketing.
It’s important to have a powerful Christmas-oriented strategy, but repetitive content can actually cause prospects to tune out. Include editorial content and value-added marketing to draw prospects in to your offer.
7. Value-added marketing boosts response.
Including a free gift is a powerful way to increase response from prospects. For example, Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats included 1 lb. of free smoked pork chops for customers that placed their orders by October 26th. This provided a tempting incentive for customers to place their orders early, and a way for Nueske’s to ensure an increase on their ROI early on.
8. Create and send several email sales letters.
Here are 3 types of emails you can send that will increase click-through:
Urgency email. Use your subject line to communicate immediacy and vitality: “Get Two-For One on all Gift Wrap, Ribbons, Buttons and Bows – Today Only!”
How-to email. Offer information and help with your customers’ Christmas needs: “How to Plan the Perfect Children’s Christmas Party. “
Command email. Don’t use excessive force here. Make the subject line a call for action: “Check Out the New Website Arrivals.”
9. Use email subject lines that are Christmas-themed, but not always offer-driven.
Prospective customers will be turned off if they feel hounded to make a purchase. Try using subject lines that excite curiosity and ensure the reader that the information will be quick and digestible.
Try lists. For example, “5 Christmas Gift Ideas for Your Dad.”
Take a look at this article on email subject lines to see which ones perform best.
10. Use Social Media.
Aggressively use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to offer specials. Don’t just “tweet” or “post updates”… get in there and use “#hashtags” and “likes” to grow exposure exponentially. Ask yourself, “Am I doing all that I can to market successfully for Christmas?
11. Custom lists target the right prospects.
A custom list targets specific prospects that are most likely to respond to your advertising and marketing—so that you reach valuable audiences and get a higher response and increased profits.
For example, a custom list on Facebook will target people who have already shown an interest in your product. During the Christmas season, your prospects may turn into customers, as they click on your ads and purchase your products during this boom of pre- and post-holiday spending.
12. Look-a-like audiences increase your leads and sales during Christmas.
Building a look-a-like audience is one of the best ways to increase sales, by reaching prospects with similar qualities to your existing customers, such as age, demographics, and personal interests.
Look-a-like audiences can be built through Facebook, direct mail transactional data, traffic on Google search, AdRoll, Bing, YouTube and other platforms, so you can expand your audience with email marketing, banner ads, and more.
Use this strategy during the November-January season to dramatically expand your reach to new prospects.
13. Christmas-themed pre-roll videos boost response.
Video is a powerful way to reach new and existing prospects with Christmas marketing and advertising. Pre-roll commercials run before YouTube videos, and can be targeted to specific audiences to grow new leads (See Tip #11 for more information on custom lists).
14. Encourage last-minute Christmas shopping.
Use email or texting to offer last-minute deals. You help customers, you clear out inventory, and you come to be known as a go-to site for fast and efficient service.
15. Double-check your offer details, guarantee, shipping procedures, and return policy for clarity.
Customers want to see these 6 things on your website:
- Free shipping for orders
- Plenty of product details
- An easy return policy
- Prepaid shipping for returns
- A clear guarantee
- Social proof: ratings and testimonials
When one or more of these elements are missing, it will depress your response.
16. Show “most popular” gift selections on your site.
Everyone needs gift ideas—or at least the reassurance that what they’re looking for would make a great gift.
Your site must include an area or gift center that highlights these items. An icon that leads to a gift center is an excellent idea because curiosity will prompt prospects to click.
17. Create unique gift groupings.
Unique gift groupings will inspire curiosity and increase response in prospects.
On a direct mail piece such as a catalog, you can include lists and photos of different kinds of gifts, giving prospects specific ideas for gifts for their family and friends.
Look at this example from Sporty’s Tool Shop showing a list of “Practical Gifts” on the cover of their Christmas catalog.
The gift emporium website “Uncommon Goods” sent out an email with the subject line, “Stocking Stuffers That Aren’t Just Stuff.” This unique category included links to similarly themed gifts, increasing click-through.
18. Use a rating system to increase credibility.
In today’s marketing, you must have a rating system to increase credibility. Customers love rating systems to help them make a choice about purchasing a product. Use 3-5 star reviews to help them make an easy decision.
19. Help prospects easily find what they need.
If you have multiple products available through the Christmas season, be sure your site lets prospects sort by variables such as category, price range, age, and interests.
20. Comparison charts help prospects make quick decisions.
When looking for gifts, prospective customers want to be able to make quick, easy decisions. Comparison charts help them to easily identify the benefits of your product vs. the product of a comparable brand or company.
For example, you can use a comparison chart to highlight the superior benefits of your product.
Take a look at this comparison chart that we recently created for Monaco Rare Coins.
21. Offer gift cards to boost Christmas profits.
According to surveys, 65% of people prefer a gift card to all “nonessential” holiday gifts. It’s regularly in the top 5 of all gift choices.
For one of their Christmas marketing emails, the online subscription and personal shopping service Stitchfix sent out an email with a simple Call-to-Action button- “Give a Gift Card.” They also included a clever option for prospects to ask for a gift card from another with a “Send a Hint” button.
22. Give customers good reasons to shop with you.
Be clear about why they need to buy your product. Reinforce the message with testimonials, a vibrant color, design scheme – and benefit-rich copy.
23. Use a countdown meter.
Place on your website a “countdown” meter or ticker to show the “shopping days until” that final day. It’s fun, has good graphics, and it will cultivate tension and urgency for the customer to buy from you.
24. Maximize your mobile landing page.
Make sure your landing page is optimized for mobile, as 4 out of 5 consumers now use their mobile devices to shop.
Your mobile landing page should be free of distractions, have a clear Call-to-Action, a 1-2 step process for the shopping cart, and use direct response copy and art. For more information, watch this video:
25. Text prospective customers with holiday deals.
The rise of mobile marketing and the success of texting (with value!) make your last-minute deals and Christmas direct marketing far more immediate. Communicate to your lists often during prime shopping hours which are evenings, weekends, and lunch hours. Incorporate location and demographic data, target buyers based on their preferences – stores, products, and price range.
26. Where are you located?
If appropriate, your website should offer store locators (including via text messaging) so that customers searching the web to buy from you can find the easiest – and closest – place to do it.
27. Expand paid search keywords.
Prospects won’t find your ad to click through in the first place if the search words aren’t updated, relevant and incisive…including phrases.
28. Review your online shopping cart.
As always, it’s critical to simplify your customer shopping experience by using at most 2 click-throughs. This way you don’t lose orders or leads.
A re-targeting strategy will drive customers back to your shopping cart, where they’ve already placed items.
To learn how to avoid making shopping cart blunders, watch this video:
29. Make sure your re-targeting is powerful… and Christmas oriented.
Re-targeting will ensure you reinforce your marketing and remind your customers to complete sales. Use Christmas-themed banner ads or Facebook ads to re-target customers who have already visited your landing page, but have not completed a transaction.
Re-target by product, “days left”, “not too late”, and other specific ads.
Coupons, both paper and digital, are a great incentive for prospective customers to make a purchase.
Coupons can be offered on the cover of a catalog with direct response copy. Look at the coupon below, offered on the cover of “Collections Etc.” with the copy “Just For You—an exclusive discount!”
Mobile coupons can be offered in an email, in the checkout line to capture a phone number in exchange for 15% off, or bounce-back deals that appear a week later to encourage repeat business.
Such coupons have up to 15 times the response rate of paper coupon offers – and they’re faster.
31. Target Generation Z.
Generation Z is roughly categorized as those born between 1993 and 1999. There’s $720 billion at stake for holiday shopping, and how you target this key demographic of consumers could significantly boost your overall sales.
Some of the key characteristics of this generation are that they a) feel very comfortable carrying a credit card balance, and b) are more focused on quality when it comes to holiday gifts.
With that in mind, make sure your checkout process is streamlined and easy to use for credit card users. Value-added information or incentives can also be powerful response-boosters for Generation Z. For example, provide valuable information on promotions and credit scores…facts that Gen Z customers will find useful.
Finally, don’t forget that the best time of the year to market is the last week of December and the first week of January. Your marketing strategy through this season is critical to gaining new leads and increasing profits.
If you would like to discuss your Christmas marketing strategy, give me a call at (310) 212-5727, or email Caleb at firstname.lastname@example.org.