The Do's and Don'ts of Online Marketing Around the Holidays

For new business owners, marketing around the holidays can seem stressful—after all, there's so much noise, and also so much pressure to hit sales goals before the end of the year. Starting with Black Friday through the end of the year, it's critical to be thoughtful and strategic in your marketing plan so you can stand out against your competitors while making sure you're catering to your customers' needs.
 
Of course, you'll want to keep all your basic marketing best practices in mind: use various channels to execute a well-rounded campaign, make sure you have consistent messaging and branding in everything you do, etc. Then, take a look at some top tips (and mistakes to avoid) so you can craft the perfect holiday strategy.
 
Do Personalize Your Communications
 
One strategy for differentiating your brand is to make customers feel at home and appreciated—not just like they're being sold to. Use your database to add a personal touch, like by greeting them by name in emails and sending them offers that are related to their prior interests and behaviors. Research shows that emails that feel personalized generate a 75% higher open rate. If you're a small business, you could even try sending handwritten greeting cards to loyal customers and vendors around the holidays.
 
Don't Send Too Many Communications
 
A study from Campaign Monitor revealed that 53% of customers said they receive too many emails from retail brands, and this wasn't even during the holidays. It's safe to say that during this season, everyone is busier. Extra time with friends and family, in addition to an avalanche of sales and promotions, means that your prospects will often be distracted. So, do your best to add value to your customer—without adding to the insanity. The days surrounding key holidays are typically low for brand engagement anyway, so you can earn some trust and credibility by strategically limiting your communications.
 
Do Use Your Data to Craft Custom Incentives
 
Similarly to personalizing your communications, you can drill down into your customer data to uncover invaluable shopping behaviors, purchasing trends, and demographic data. Use this information to develop holiday sales and promotions that your customers are really interested in. Do your loyalty program members spend $40 per purchase on average? Offer them free shipping with $50 purchases. Do your northern customers spend more on coats and boots? Offer a 20% winter apparel discount based on their past activity.
 
Don't Stop After the Holiday Sale
 
A report from Accenture showed that holiday spending activity lingered as far as early January. To make sure you're keeping your customers engaged while they're still in spending mode, plan how your campaign tone and messaging will shift without compromising your relevance or losing their attention. Consider some tips from Kissmetrics, like marketing to the “New Year" mentality, releasing a new product, or having a promotion like a “winter clearance" or incentivized loyalty program.
 
Do Be Mindful of Your Audience
 
There's an eternal debate around greetings like “Merry Christmas" vs. “Happy Holidays"—with good reason. Research has shown that some audiences respond better to greetings based on specific religions and cultures, but it's important to do your own research on your particular audience. There's no better way to ruin a great campaign than by offending or excluding your customers.
 
Don't Focus Solely on the Sales and Ignore Building Relationships
 
A common mistake during the holidays is focusing so hard on conversions, sales, and revenue that the customer experience suffers. Especially in a highly-competitive online landscape, it takes a lot of work to build trust and create loyal customer. While it's a great opportunity to meet your numbers, don't take your eyes off the bigger picture of developing a strong relationship with your customers so you can continue to see success after the season is over.
 
Keep these points in mind as you approach the holidays and into the new year. With the right planning, research, and strategy, you can position your brand to hit maximum sales while building stronger relationships and laying the groundwork for a successful 2018.
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Thursday, November 16, 2017