Can you believe the 4th quarter is nearly upon us? And while it’s not even time to start carving pumpkins yet, it’s never too early to start planning your holiday offer strategy! The key to a successful strategy is to start planning now, and have a multi-channel approach that builds as December approaches.
Let’s dive in!
Step 1 – Plan Your Offers
How are you actually planning to get customers in the door, or on your website — and get them to buy? It’s the million dollar question!
As with any marketing strategy, a comprehensive, multi-channel approach works best for promoting your holiday offers. And since December is the busiest shopping month of the year, a tiered offer strategy also works well around the holidays. You don’t have to give away the farm in October! Start conservatively, build excitement, and make your offers more aggressive toward December.
What you offer depends on your business and what customers expect. Remember shoppers are comparing deals this time of year. They’re asking “what’s in it for me?” — you want customers to perceive your offer as relevant and valuable, and you want them to perceive your company as the best one to buy from.
What holiday shoppers expect:
- Deep discounts (especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals)
- Free shipping
- Free expedited shipping (2 weeks before Christmas)
- Free gift with purchase
- Free gift or gift card for referring a friend
- Free gift wrapping
- Free exchanges and returns
- Buy one, get one free (or at least 50% off)
And, while this isn’t as clear cut, shoppers also expect above average customer service during the holiday shopping season. Making them stand in long lines, wait on the phone for a representative, or endure website problems is not going to earn you any repeat customers. This is the time of year to beef up staff, and don’t hesitate to brag to customers! Announce it on social media or in your newsletter that you’ve added staff to improve your customers’ holiday shopping experience. Customers appreciate that, and may choose to give you the sale over an understaffed big box store with unhappy workers.
Of course, you need to tell prospects about your upcoming sales and promotions!
How to get the word out:
- Your website
- Popup offers on your website
- Onsite and offsite retargeting
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Online press releases
- Paid ads and geofencing
- Direct mail
- In-store signage and flyers
- Sponsored activities/events
Step 2 – Start Building Interest Now
Most consumers expect to start seeing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sneak peaks starting at the beginning of November. While it’s true you don’t want start advertising so early that people forget you by the third week of November, you can leverage fall holidays in fun ways to stay in front of prospects and give them something to look forward to.
Online PR Media recently had a great post of holiday publicity ideas for Q4. From sponsoring trunk-or-treats and fall festivals, to showing customers appreciation around Thanksgiving, and holly-jolly contests and scavenger hunts, the holidays are a great time to boost publicity, create goodwill, and stay in the minds of customers as the busy shopping season approaches.
Obviously, you should use some of these opportunities to also put coupons in customers’ hands, invite them to your holiday sales, and get them excited about your offers!
And don’t forget, whether you’re using online lead generation strategies or in-person campaigns to boost publicity, one of the goals should always be to collect contact information. Email marketing is still hands down the most effective channel for reaching prospects. It’s 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter. Around two-thirds of customers have made a purchase as a direct result of an email. And on average, email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent.
Step 3 – Prepare For Window Shoppers
All that being said, you’re still going to have an influx of window shoppers – both online and in-store – during the holidays. Again, people are comparing brands, products, pricing, shipping, and service to find the best deal. And it can be frustrating, especially for online retailers, when shoppers add stuff to their cart then jump ship.
Knowing cart abandonment is going to happen, you can take some proactive measures to curb it and even increase conversions:
Conduct an audit of your checkout process. It needs to be SUPER EASY. In fact, in a recent survey of consumers and their online shopping experience, more than 75% cited the importance of an easy checkout process. Get more insights about the checkout process here.
Reveal shipping costs upfront. A lot of people add stuff to their carts and go all the way through the checkout process, just to bail when they see the shipping costs. Be transparent about shipping whenever possible. Negotiate flat rates and advertise the shipping right on product pages if you can! For the holidays, consider a sitewide flat shipping rate, even if you have to eat a portion of it. Advertise it on a banner at the top or bottom of EVERY page.
Use popup offers to retarget shoppers on your website and boost conversions. If a shopper adds items to their cart then makes to leave, you can serve up a well timed offer to entice them to complete the purchase. You can also use offers on product pages and other areas of your site to provide shoppers with something valuable in exchange for their contact information.
Use offsite retargeting. If a shopper leaves your site, all is not lost! Plan for this inevitable event by setting up paid offsite retargeting campaigns to keep your brand fresh in the minds of shoppers as they travel the web.
Create a cart recovery email strategy. When a shopper does leave with items in their cart, have an automated cart recovery email strategy in place. We recommend no more than three reminder emails, starting friendly and helpful, and ending with your best offer for them to return and complete their purchase. Ready to say “bye-bye” to cart abandonment? Read more here!
‘Tis the season to start planning! Have a successful holiday season by starting early, deciding on your offers, building interest all through the 4th quarter, and planning to convert more window shoppers than ever before.
When do you start planning your holiday sales strategy? Have you used popup offers as part of your strategy in the past – if so, how did it go?