Welcome to the holiday season – yes, it is starting, which means consumers will be looking for the deals. According to Internet Retailer, U.S. online holiday sales are expected to increase 15.1% this year with record sales of $61 billion (Rueter, 2013).

Online shoppers are bombarded with messages this time of year, so crafting an effective marketing strategy is key to driving the most sales possible. When crafting your marketing plan, make sure to keep some of these things in mind:

GET THEIR ATTENTION! That’s right, you are going to have to create a buzz in order to be heard this season, so don’t be afraid of a bold campaign. The traditional brick and mortar retailers are also going to have a strong presence, so small business owners are going to want to get ahead of them in both offers and timing. This is the perfect time to create bold headlines with unique offerings.

Value – Customers want to see high value during the holidays, so make sure your offers reflect that. This is the time you want to pull out the big discounts, bundles or BOGO deals. The typical 10% – 30% off is not going to get attention in this environment, the discounts are going to need to be aggressive. One of the best ways create value without losing on the margins is by bundling – it is a great way to show value without giving away the actual discount. This is definitely when you want to offer unparalleled savings!

Urgency – You want customers to BUY NOW – create a sense of urgency for them. Put clear end dates on the offers – don’t extend them. Shoppers respond to different things, so mix it up and cast a wide net by offering unique promotions each time. If you have a wildly successful campaign, feel free to repeat it, however consider changing out the products. For example, if you offer $50 off an $80 product, maybe try another product in that same price range or mix it up with your bundles.

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Get social – Now, you knew we were going to go here! Chris Hoell, our Social Media Manager writes articles all the time on how important social media is to your business – in fact if you missed it, check out his 5 Tips for Holiday Social Media Plan. If you haven’t been listening, listen now. In a recent Forrester report, social media shows it has a significant impact on consumer’s buying decisions. Social media ads are very inexpensive and yet have tremendous impact. And better yet, the ads can be displayed in key markets– giving you the opportunity to speak directly to your target audience.

Make sure you are utilizing your branded Twitter, Facebook, Weibo or any other network. Social is about engaging existing and potential customers, so make sure your posts drive your audience to engage! Get your ads ready and start your campaign.

• PPC/SEM – Yes, these should ALWAYS be a part of your ongoing strategy, but most definitely during the holiday season.  Now with Google’s new enhanced listings, this is now available for promotions – a great example of a company using both is Nuance. They are running their PPC, paid advertisements and doing enhanced listings for their campaigns.

Paid Advertisement (PPC/SEM)

Dragon Software

Enhanced Listing

 Nuance Enhanced Listing

If you have not done PPC in the past, this is a great time to start. Also, you don’t need to jump into the deep end of the pool at first, set up a budget that you can work with and test it out. If you don’t have the time to dedicate to something like this, look into hiring a PPC/SEM agency or consultant who can invest the time so you can get the best results.

Emails – Create holiday themed emails with great offers, solid design and catchy subject lines and you will see results. These are some of the quickest and easiest ways to engage both existing and potential clients. So, dust off those client lists and let them know about your great holiday offerings!

Your website – Your own website can be one of the best tools to promote your campaigns. Since it is your world, you can do a lot with it:

  • Put the promotions on your home page o Use bold headlines and showcase areas throughout the website promoting the offering
  • Create landing pages for the campaign so you can drive your social and PPC ads directly to the offering
  • Give your site a holiday theme – get them in the holiday spirit so they want to shop!

You don’t have to do all of these things this year; however focus on the things that you can execute really well. The season seems to start earlier and end later each year, so get your campaigns ready and remember, be bold, be unique – get their attention!

Our focus will continue to be on the holidays, so be sure to check our blog and read the latest articles and tips.

Reference

Rueter, T. (2013, September 5). Online holiday forecast: sales will increase 15.1%. Retrieved 2013, from

http://www.internetretailer.com/2013/09/05/online-holiday-forecast-sales-will-increase-151.