Holiday planning is on every eCommerce company’s mind as Black Friday and the kickoff to the 2018 season approaches. And it’s closer than we all realize.
Last year’s holiday season broke records in the eCommerce space, with online shopping totaling $108.2B during the season, a 14.7% YOY growth, according to the 2017 ADI Holiday Recap. And, with continued growth expected in 2018 we’re in for big revenue opportunities in November and December again.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday previously marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season, the two days have since transitioned into a month-long fanfare of promotions, marketing plays, anticipatory build-up, and irresistible offers beginning as early as late-October. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thanksgiving weekend, however, remains a key focus for eCommerce teams with a large portion of revenue from the season generated during these days. In 2017, Thanksgiving weekend alone brought in $19.6B, 18.1% of overall holiday season revenue (ADI Holiday Recap).
There’s a reason that marketers invest heavily in these two months, and in particular these two key days. Not only do the consumers demand it, the revenue is well worth it! With little time remaining to put plans together and begin taking action...how ready are you? While all businesses are a bit different in their approach to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday craze we’ve compiled a list of five recommendations to make sure you’re prepared for the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Don't Wait
With the start of the season already creeping toward October, it’s critical to start your marketing campaigns early. This means your planning should already be underway!
Don’t get ahead of yourself, either. The basics are necessary to pulling off an incredible holiday season:
- Create a timeline. We know, it’s obvious; but, it’s so often overlooked. A timeline is a valuable way to guide your team, align goals, meet necessary deadlines, and assign tasks across departments.
- Plan your inventory. Don’t forget this one - otherwise your marketing spend and effort is all-for-not when your products fly off the shelves.
- Eliminate friction points. Few will come back after a bad experience, so take careful time to review your processes and shopping journey to smooth out any potential wrinkles for your customers.
- Staff appropriately. With heightened traffic, sales, returns, and customer service questions it’s important to hire a team to handle the increased bandwidth.
Once the basics are sorted out...start teasing your holiday promotions! Leverage your top-performing channels to keep your company top-of-mind to consumers who will no-doubt be inundated with “holiday doorbuster”, “you can’t beat this pricing”, and “deal of the year” messaging. The more creative/eye-catching/memorable you can be, the better!
2. Adjust Your Campaign Messaging
The holiday season puts consumers into a frenzy. We’ve all been there. If you asked me in July, I could have told you seven different perfect gifts for my husband, mom, and brother. But when the time comes to actually purchase, you will catch me searching for all sorts of queries like “best kitchen gifts for mom 2018”. Not surprisingly, during 2017’s holiday season, search drove the most traffic industry-wide at 44.8% - 21.3% organic, 23.5% paid - and email generated 20% of traffic (ADI Holiday Recap).
Anecdotes aside, consumer behavior seems to change during the holiday season, and it’s important to adjust your paid campaigns, bidding, and overall messaging to reflect this behavioral shift.
Not sure where to begin or what messaging will resonate best with your customers? Start is by measuring and analyzing your 2017 performance. What search queries and ad groups performed particularly well? What didn’t convert like you had hoped? Was there a particular email campaign that knocked it out of the park? Are there products that performed great last year that are now hidden on page 3 of your product sort? We’ll bet that, with some digging, you can uncover trends in your existing data that will help inform your 2018 holiday planning decisions.
Alongside your creative messaging, be sure to build in clarity that instills a sense of urgency by prominently featuring your sale times and other key dates - like the last day to order for guaranteed holiday delivery - so your customers don’t have to dig for this important information!
3. Incentivize Repeat Shopping
Double-down during this peak season by offering bounce back campaigns and retargeting to shoppers that abandon carts, those that have recently shopped (or shown intent to shop) at your store, and more. Optimizing your automated transactional emails is a good medium to drive traffic from those that already understand the value of your business. And, the holiday season is a perfect time to verify the messaging in these high-engagement emails reflects content that’s proven to convert! Metricstory’s eBook "How to Leverage Transactional Emails" has some great tips! on how best to optimize your automated transactional emails.
One way to encourage repeat shopping (or simply upsells) is by offering gifts to the gift giver. 50% of respondents to a Deloitte holiday survey said they’ll shop for themselves while shopping for others. So, from BOGO promotions and complimentary gift cards with a purchase exceeding a certain dollar amount, adding on something special can be a good way to increase conversion rates for those that are also looking for reasons to self-gift during the holidays.
4. Consider the Mobile Experience
Mobile shopping is on the rise, in particular during the holiday season while consumers are out-and-about, tied up at family gatherings, and spending less time in front of a desktop. The 2017 ADI Holiday Recap cites mobile shopping during the holiday season with an astounding 28% YOY growth, accounting for 33.1% of total online holiday revenue.
As your holiday campaign planning continues, it’s crucial to optimize all your content, advertisements, emails, and landing pages to convert for mobile and tablet users. Social media is a prime example of a mobile-friendly medium. Can you leverage influencers and shareable content to generate a bigger buzz around your holiday offers?
5. Adjust as Needed
Finally, you know what they say about best-laid-plans! There’s no amount of organization and planning that can result in a “perfect” holiday season, so trust your data and don’t be hesitant to adjust if certain campaigns are performing fabulously or poorly. By the time the season (in particular Thanksgiving weekend) hits, you should have a solid understanding of your customers, what they respond well to, and your campaign timelines. But, what worked last year might not be the solution for this year’s audience.
With large amounts of revenue on the line, it’s not the time to go on autopilot. Be ready to speed up, slow down, jump in, and adjust along the way to take advantage of every opportunity you see.