If you didn’t start planning “Christmas in July”, we want to be your October Miracle… to help connect your brand with the gift givers on your list.
Like many marketers, all we want for Christmas is…measurable conversion!
Most retailers have goals of leaving the competition in the dust (or snow, as it were) and surpassing revenue expectations. With reports predicting increased consumer spending (just shy of 5% over last year), retailers with a solid plan will take a bigger piece of the pie.
Before your television becomes a showcase of hearty hearths, sugar plums and sacks of toys, you should make sure your holiday marketing advent calendar is well-prepared with some goodies for each of the five phases of holiday marketing: Pre-holiday, Black November, Thanksgiving, Christmas Countdown and the Post-Christmas period. Structuring around these holiday phases ensures you’re not lacking in content or offers during any of the peak shopping times. The truth is big brands have been all over this for months — as the winter promos are wrapping-up for one year, planning for the next commences. For big, established brands this is a well-oiled cycle but if you’re a smaller, mom-and-pop shop or a shiny, new start-up, we’ve highlighted the five opportunity spikes here:
One of the first things marketers should know is that the holiday season is starting earlier every year – not just for brands, but for shoppers. My local news station broadcasted a “Christmas in August” session. The data behind that showed shoppers are jumping on their lists shortly after July 4th to alleviate some of the last-minute stress.
Obviously we are past August now, but the bulk of what’s happening can still be capitalized on. Brands should be starting to connect their messaging to seasonal intent. I don’t mean putting a Santa Claus hat on a Chihuahua (albeit, very cute), but perhaps using some messages that recognize how stressful last-minute shopping can be, giving all the more reason to start now. In other words, encourage your loyalists to get to your stores or sites early so they can enjoy their holiday rush, worry free.
Many retailers jump to an early start because of the competition in the online retail world. If you’re looking to get a jump on some of the .com giants, then earlier is better.
Black November Marketing
Black Friday has morphed – it now spans the entire month of November. It’s a great time to start dropping hints of your full out holiday messaging. Give some teasers, incentives and reasons your customers should get on the wagon with shopping. What many retailers haven’t yet picked up on is this awesome little fact: in November, shoppers tend to stray from their lists and pick up some extra items for themselves. Bonus revenue!
Something that works very well in November is online display advertising. The value of online display is sometimes not immediately realized, but a number of studies show a 5-25% increase in campaign-related searches over the following 14-day period. If your SEO and SEM are up to snuff, you should be able to boost conversion rates based on view-thru conversions.
Almost everyone has some free time and days off surrounding the Thanksgiving week and leading into Cyber Monday (Dec.1) . Can you guess what takes place during that crucial time? Tons of internet usage! Further to that, social media metrics have shown a year-over-year spike in both visits and session duration. People are engaged with social during the Thanksgiving time, and it’s a great idea to continue your messaging in your most profitable social forums.
Repetition is something to remember around Thanksgiving. It sells. Ever hear a radio commercial that has a phone number in it? How many times did you hear the phone number? At least three, I’m sure. Your social messages during Thanksgiving should be in line with your pre-holiday messaging strategy – that continuity will increase brand awareness and result in a lift in your clicks/conversions.
Another idea for your holiday content is to look for ways to blend three distinct ingredients: your known brand messaging; messaging around Thanksgiving (think colors, language, imagery, etc.); and the third ingredient is humor! Coming up with funny and light-hearted content during Thanksgiving makes people feel more like they are away from their daily grind.
Christmas Countdown Marketing
The Christmas Countdown starts pretty much at the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving night. It encompasses Cyber Monday, drives right through Cyber Week and then continues, full-throttle, straight on to December 25th.
This is the most crucial time to stand out. The internet is flashing advertising messages brighter than Las Vegas lights – consumers are inundated and often over-stimulated.
The best way to stand out is to interject your brand personality – and often times that doesn’t mean focusing solely on your products. I saw a great example of this last year by Coca-Cola. It struck a chord with me because I’m a huge fan of ugly sweaters (and ugly sweater parties!). Coke Zero ran a “Sweater Generator” campaign. It was interactive, fun and competitive – a great way to engage a huge audience. The 100 best sweaters were created and sent out to the rightful creators (who quickly became brand advocates). Not only was this campaign special and different, it reflected the Coke brand – it’s no wonder it took Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes (2013). HubSpot’s Matthew Bushery, compiled a great recap of some of the holidays best 2013 campaigns worth revisiting.
Post-Christmas Period Marketing
Have you ever gotten a gift you didn’t want? Me too. I admit I like ugly sweaters – but even I have a line.
How about a gift that needs other stuff? Yep, me too. Those new snowboard bindings are great… just need boots and a lift ticket. I love the picture frame series that will decorate my hallway… just need to print the right pictures. Awesome, a new tablet… I should probably pick up some new headphones to go along with it.
Holiday gifting often generates residual sales, not to mention the crowds that are armed with new gift cards. If you halt your messaging strategy prematurely, you could be missing a pretty significant source of revenue. Make sure your content calendar is lined well into January!
Holiday time can be stressful for a marketer – but it doesn’t have to be! All it takes is some proper planning and the right flow of messages and content to capture your full audience on all of their favorite platforms. So, if you haven’t already, hunker down with a cup of nog and map out a holiday marketing calendar that will delight your consumers and boost your brand.
Adam Picker, Director, New Business @DigitalNative1