For online retailers, the holiday shopping season can be make-or-break. Many stores depend on Christmas gift-giving to pad their annual sales, which means it’s important to go all-out in terms of marketing. Remember, you may have the best products, the best deals, and the best customer service—but none of that helps if consumers don’t know you exist.
And the time to get started marketing your online store is now. Here are a few guidelines we’d recommend for seasonal ecommerce marketing.
Start by Setting the Right Goals
You can’t have a successful marketing campaign without first defining success. A good place to begin is with basic sales goals. How much revenue do you hope to bring in this holiday season? How much did you make last year, and by what percentage do you think you can improve on those numbers? Get a clear sense of what you hope to accomplish in terms of seasonal sales.
Then, consider some marketing-specific goals. Given the sales targets you’ve set, how many email blasts do you think you’ll need? What kind of product guides should you develop to highlight your best offers? What sorts of discounts or promotions can you afford without compromising your profit margins? These are the kinds of questions you should ask to clarify your marketing objectives.
Get Your Website Ready
If your marketing efforts go according to plan, you’ll have a lot more traffic coming to your site—so it’s best to ensure your site is at its best.
- Go through your site and audit it for accessibility issues, such as broken links. We’d also recommend running some speed tests to ensure the site loads quickly across platforms and device types.
- Brainstorm some content opportunities for your site—for instance, product guides, how-tos, and tutorials that can highlight the value of some of your main products.
- Develop landing pages for use in PPC and email marketing campaigns; make sure you have offer-specific, conversion-oriented sites for the products you’re heavily promoting.
Put Your Marketing Plan in Place
At this point you’re ready to execute your marketing plan. Some steps to consider:
- Choose the platforms and mediums you’ll use, whether that’s PPC, email, social media, direct mailers, etc. You’ll likely want to strike a balance here, employing diverse methods without spreading yourself too thin.
- Develop a promotional calendar: When will you run different sales and promotions (Cyber Monday, etc.)? When will you start advertising those promotions? Which products will be discounted, and by how much?
- Also make sure you put together the creative materials you’ll need for these promotions, whether that’s infographics, promotional banners, or blog posts to highlight particular products.
Build Out Your Marketing Emails Now
If there’s one marketing platform we see as truly non-negotiable, it’s email marketing—still the best way to connect with potential customers, and to put offers/discounts/promo codes right into the palm of their hands.
Once you’ve decided on your promotional calendar, you can start actually building your marketing emails—something that can be hard work in and of itself. Choosing templates, uploading graphics, writing the text of your message—these things all take some time, so we’d recommend getting a jump on it now.
Schedule PPC Campaigns
Something else you can do now is load your PPC campaigns. It’s not too early to strategize on which keywords you want to pursue, to make your PPC budget, and to actually get some ads scheduled.
Additionally, make sure you build whatever landing pages you’ll need for these campaigns. Targeted landing pages can be key for PPC success, and again, it can take a little time to get them constructed. Get a head start!
Monitor Your Efforts
Once your efforts are underway—emails are sent, PPC campaigns are in full swing, etc.—you’ll want to make sure you keep a finger on the pulse. Pay attention to your email open rates, your website traffic, and so forth. Ensure that you’re hitting your targets—and if you worry that your marketing efforts aren’t doing what they should, don’t hesitate to think on the fly and make some course corrections.
The important thing is that you’re not flying blind. Make use of the analytics available to you to ensure a marketing campaign that works. And once the season is over, you can really go back through the data and draw some lessons for next year, focusing on what worked and correcting what didn’t.
It All Starts with a Plan
For online retailers, the holiday shopping season is crunch time. It can be daunting, but having an integrated marketing plan in place can help you feel more grounded. That’s something the enCOMPASS team would love to help you with. Reach out to us today and ask how we can help you develop and executive a seasonal marketing strategy.
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