We know you’d much rather hear waves crashing on a sun-kissed beach than the jingling of sleigh bells these late summer days, but for e-commerce businesses it’s never too early to start thinking about the holiday season.
Black Friday will be here before you know it, so it’s imperative that you start planning your holiday campaigns now. To help you out, let’s look at some things you should be doing now to plan and prepare for a prosperous holiday season.
Decide on Key Activities
Think about the key promotional activities you want to engage in for the holiday season. This could include:
- Blog posts
- Email campaigns
- Social media campaigns
- Website banner ads or other holiday website design
- Landing pages
- Paid advertising (Google AdWords, social media advertisements, retargeting)
- Special perks (like free shipping, expedited shipping, coupon codes, free returns)
- Special projects (like making a holiday gift guide or creating an app)
You want a well-rounded list of promotional activities, but make sure to include only what you can reasonably manage.
Consider the Trends
When identifying the direction for your holiday campaigns, you should also keep in mind key trends. For example, a recent Bizrate Insights guide identified the following hot trends for the 2016 holiday season:
- The growth of mobile shopping means you should consider offering mobile-friendly payment options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal.
- Customers search retailers’ websites for coupon codes and discount, so make sure they are prominent on your site.
- Free shipping is preferred by a majority of shoppers. However, if you can’t afford that, many are also looking for free returns.
- Customer satisfaction drops dramatically if you cannot deliver on your shipping promises, so if you offer expedited shipping, be prepared to follow through.
- A projected 40 percent of purchases will be made on mobile devices, so make sure your website is optimized for mobile, including the checkout experience.
Create a Calendar
Now it’s time to map out all of your activities so you can execute them in a timely fashion. Take out the calendar and start with the launch date for each activity and work backwards. Creating a pre-Black Friday email? In addition to scheduling the actual send date, you’ll want to set completion dates for important activities like reviewing your email list, creating email copy, designing images, and setting up the email in your email marketing program.
The goal of creating your calendar is to set deadlines for all the smaller tasks associated with each project to help you monitor the project and complete it on time.
Preparing Your Campaigns
Now that you have your key dates set out, it’s time to start executing tasks according to your timeline. It’s here where you’ll want to add a little finesse to make sure your campaigns stand out from the competition:
- Advertisements – You only have a few seconds to catch your prospect’s attention. Include a vivid image that will draw their eyes to your ad, a clear and concise headline, and a message and call to action that will resonate with your target audience.
- Emails – The first goal is getting people to open your email. Choose a compelling email subject line that uses power words and is short (50 characters or less). Inside, follow email marketing best practices like providing useful information, adding a personal touch and sharing special offers.
- Blog Posts – If blog posts are part of your strategy, make sure to choose topics that your readers are interested in. The goal is to educate and/or entertain, so don’t try to “sell” but do try to work in important links or end with a call to action. For more exposure, market blog posts to your email list, on social media, and incorporate SEO so you can be found in searches.
The time to start planning your holiday campaigns is NOW, especially considering that in 2015, 62 percent of consumers planned to start holiday shopping on or before Thanksgiving. Try the tips listed above, and you’re sure to enjoy a profitable holiday season.