Holiday Marketing During the Pandemic

14 September 2020

Can you hear the bells ring? Yes, the bells of the Holidays season are coming. The end of the summer season is a great time to make a winning plan for Holiday shoppers. And this year, it’s more important than ever.


Getting ready for the holiday sales season isn’t something that happens just in the few weeks leading up to the holidays. It is truly something to start thinking about months in advance. Focusing heavily on list growth and better engagement throughout the year will pay off when the holidays come.


COVID-19 has seriously impacted how we shop. With unemployment rates decreasing as people head back to work, shoppers will have means to give gifts. With buying habits shifting and online sales rising, we’re looking at a shopping season unlike any we’ve seen before. For businesses looking to convert an unprecedented holiday into record-breaking growth, planning early and prioritizing online efforts are essential.


Now more than ever shoppers all over the world have a stronger preference for online shopping, with 66% of shoppers anticipating they will increase their online purchases during the 2020 holiday season, according to recent studies on shopping behavior.


The holiday season benefits brands and consumers alike. To little surprise, it drives some of the highest sales of the year. In 2019, U.S. online holiday sales reached $135.35 billion and average order value reached $152.95.


A successful holiday strategy starts with a strong online presence.


To compete during the busiest season of the year, brands need to create meaningful experiences and conversations with their consumers, offer highly-personalized online experiences, and provide holiday shoppers with added conveniences and peace of mind.


Anticipation and enhanced experience while shopping during this period is the key for both generating those sales that all brands are looking for, but more importantly, for being able to offer a true value to shoppers all over the world.


Here are a few things to consider and evaluate for your business if you are serious about planning this season ahead and making your brand stand out this year:


Give your consumers a truly personalized online experience.

98% of your potential new clients will judge your business by the way your website design looks like. How does your site match up to their expectations?

Does your ecommerce store have:

  • Easy product set-up functionality
  • Automated abandoned cart notifications
  • Industry-leading uptime
  • Multi-recipient functionality
  • Automated web app backups
  • Zero transaction fees

If not, now may be the time to update your experience.


Other key areas to measure are:

  • Shipping and fulfillment options
  • Third-party integrations
  • Promotion functionality
  • Marketplace integrations
  • Tech support
  • Meaningful Marketing Analytics

When evaluating your current website, you may discover large cost-saving opportunities, leaving more room for your marketing budget.


Imagine the holiday marketing campaigns you could execute with that extra budget!


Prepare Your Merchandising Strategy

  • What products will you sell during the holidays?
  • How will you display these products on your site?
  • Will you have a holiday-specific category in your navigation?

These are just some of the questions you can consider for your holidays merchandising strategy.

But why not go the extra mile and give your potential customers an extra bonus, like an advanced search and personalization. Everybody loves to be able to find what they are looking for and when it comes to holidays, everybody likes to find it FAST. Make your customers search for the perfect gift easier, from you.


To execute on a great customer experience strategy, you’ll need a clear plan on where to sell your products and how to ship and fulfill orders. Your ecommerce store isn’t the only place to spread holiday cheer. Here are some other sales channels to consider:


  • Online Marketplaces
  • Social Commerce
  • Brick-and-Mortar


Just as with your own ecommerce site, you’ll want to ensure the experience is as smooth as possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind to expand your reach and acquire new customers:


  • Write compelling product titles and clear descriptions.
  • Feature only high-quality product images to entice new customers.
  • Incorporate video in on your product pages whenever possible.
  • Integrate the channels you sell on with your ecommerce platform. Be extra careful on all your channels descriptions, pricing and imagery. There is no bigger turn off than finding the same product with a different pricing on two different channels.
  • Create simple and meaningful product categories and collections. Let your customers know where they can find your products right away. Remember that speed is the key work during the holidays.
  • Encourage customers to opt into your email newsletter or follow you on social media. Consider running a contest or offering them a reward for following, like an extra bonus or something valuable you can share with them as a thank you for their support.
  • Consider specific ecommerce features like enabling multi-currency functionality – this allows customers to transact in their local currency and improves customer satisfaction, increases conversion rates, and gives brands complete control of pricing.


Shipping

We all wish we had a big red sleigh to deliver products to homes around the world in one night. But, there are many shipping and fulfillment solutions that can help when Rudolf doesn’t show up.

Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the rush of the holidays when it comes to delivering, this is the part where you can truly make it or break it for your brand. Get extra prepared for timing deliveries and remember that your own reputation, not only your sales, depend on it. Here are a few things to consider in your planning.

Firstly, you need to determine how you will handle shipping. There are three primary options:

  • Handle shipping and fulfillment in-house
  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a third-party logistics provider (3PL)
  • Outsource shipping and fulfillment with a dropshipper

Whichever path you follow, you’ll want to automate your shipping process. To understand how sales tax affects your shipping cost, integrate a tax and accounting software to determine where and when you need to charge tax. With the right shipping strategy in place, you’ll be able to offer your shoppers a better shipping experience, improving conversion and brand loyalty.


Think of every order as a gift.

The unboxing experience is very important to both your customers and marketing strategy. Create an exceptional unboxing experience that inspires them to share on social media or with friends and family.


Win back customers with returns.

On average, shoppers return 15% to 30% of online purchases during the holiday season. In 2019, this amounted to roughly $41.6 billion in returns. As a result, returns continue to be a large area of concern for many e-tailers. Rather than viewing returns as a loss, use them as an opportunity to win back customers (and potentially acquire new ones who discovered you from a gift). Make the return process as convenient as possible. You can work directly with your 3PL provider to create an automated process or use a returns solution to simplify the process for customers — and earn their loyalty.


Give the Gift of Promotions

By tying your brand to the season, customers will feel more inclined to shop with you. Take it a step further with promotional strategies and they’ll also feel more inclined to purchase, share with friends, and, ultimately, come back for more.

  • Upsell with gift cards at checkout
  • Offer special seasonal services like free gift-wrapping and shipping
  • Add urgency with limited-time offers by the hour or days
  • Enable customers to give back by adding a PayPal Donate button to checkout
  • Reward customers with exclusive discounts through a referral or loyalty program


Integrate Your Marketing Efforts

Just like a holiday cookie recipe, your campaign will consist of many sweet ingredients. Your ecommerce store is your home, so begin by creating core messaging for your website. Craft content and copywriting that resonates and engages your audience and do your best to offer additional content resources, like holiday gift guides. Once you’ve locked down your website content strategy, spread the cheer onto additional marketing channels.


Customer Service and Support

It’s often overlooked, but support for your business is make or break for success.


ASK FOR FEEDBACK.

“How was your experience today?” This is a simple question that brings a lot of value to your business. Not only are you obtaining customer testimonials, but you will also learn a lot about how you can improve as a business.


Measuring Holiday Success

Numbers don’t mean much until you translate them into insights. Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) can help you understand your overall performance.

When it comes to KPIs, there are three buckets to consider tracking:

  • Marketing Success Factors - This group of data will help you understand how specific campaigns are performing. Here are a few to conder: Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Click-Through-Rate (CTR), Subscriber Growth Rate, Email Open & Click Rate, Social Followers engagement
  • Ecommerce Data - This group of data helps measure the performance of your website, customer journeys, and what content or products are performing best. Here are few KPIs to consider: Sales, Average Order Value (AOV), Conversion Rate, Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate, Traffic (New vs. Returning)
  • General Business Metrics - You are probably measuring these KPIs throughout the year, but taking a closer look during the holidays can help identify opportunities for the future. Here are a few to consider: Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Gross Profit, Average Margin, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), Competitive Pricing


In Conclusion

There is more to the Cheers than the HoHoHo and if you are here it means that you know your brand deserves to get ready with a full marketing strategy for the Holidays. While each brand is unique and you need to keep your uniqueness in your strategy approach for this season, with the help of these tips, tactics tools, you’ll create an award-winning holiday strategy, grow your online presence through powerful storytelling, and convert consumers into loyal customers through:

  • Optimized site experience and UX
  • Efficient selling, shipping and fulfillment strategies
  • Fully integrated marketing campaigns
  • Best-in-class customer service and support
  • In-depth analytics and insights

And even more importantly, you’ll have the tools to grow and scale your business into the New Year.


Happy Holidays preparations to all!


Rebecca