The good news is that the Holiday Season is a highly responsive time of year. However, as you know, it is a very competitive time, too. Here are some marketing ideas – both online and offline – to ensure that your current customers continue to shop with you and that new customers start shopping as well.
So just how do you overcome short attention spans and deal seeking, fickle customer nature? Many of these ideas are obvious, but many are also often overlooked. Try these holiday helpers:
Free Shipping – We’ll just get this one out of the way first. Free shipping has become a holiday staple with a majority of retailers. And, the majority of shoppers are most responsive to this offer. Seventy-five percent of shoppers prefer to shop with online retailers offering free shipping. (Source: Forrester Research).
Start Early – Overcome procrastination and beat Black Friday to the punch with “early bird” offers. Also, note peak dates and give customers a “heads up” on upcoming offers so they’ll keep your offers in mind versus your competitors’ offers. Peak dates for 2010:
October & November – Previews, Pre-Orders, Limited Quantities, and Early Bird specials
Friday 11/26 > Monday 11/29 – also known as Black Friday > Cyber Monday
Friday 12/10 > Wednesday 12/17 – includes standard shipping service delivery expiration
Tuesday 12/11 – getting it there with 2-3 day shipping service
Wednesday 12/22 – getting it there with 1-2 day service
Thursday 12/23 – getting it there overnight
Friday 12/24 – Email gift certificates
Saturday 12/25 – Christmas
Monday 12/27 – After holiday sale
Well-Coordinated Campaigns – Many missed opportunities occur because campaigns are disjointed. Focusing your message and consistently executing it in all channels will drive customer response. Use a master campaign calendar to ensure all your media singing the same song-Search engine marketing, website, email, affiliates, comparison shopping engines, online advertising, catalog/direct mail, magazine, radio, TV, social networking, etc.
Online Video – Including professional video clips of featured products can increase conversion 10-30% and also decrease returns. Videos engage customers and help avoid high bounce rates at your website. These videos can also be used on blogs (good SEO!) and social networking sites, so the small investment can go a long way.
Delayed Payment or Installments – Especially during these times, delayed payments (eBillme, Bill Me Later) and payment installments are popular options, particularly on higher ticket items. They are proven to increase conversion.
Gift Guides & Gift Finders – Making it EASY is key to holiday shopping. Gift guides by price or type or an interactive gift finder saves shoppers time. It can also help you focus customers on the merchandise that is most appealing and in stock.
Gift Cards – Offer gift cards for easy gift giving. Many customers become indecisive because they are overwhelmed with gift choices. Gift cards can overcome this. Also, gift cards delivered by email are a great last minute gift solution all the way up to Christmas Day! (Extends your holiday revenue opportunity, too.)Gift cards also help introduce new customers to your company.
Social Networking – Audience demographic makeup = which social network is most relevant. However, Facebook is an easy choice for most marketers. The holidays are the best time to leverage social networking to build up your network and engage customers who are potentially your most loyal customers. Give these fans and followers your absolute best deals. Consider holiday giveaways, too. There are over 150 million Facebook users (Source: Facebook), over 50% are women, and users are starting to resemble the general population as the larger growth has been coming from people over 35 years old (Source: istrategylabs.com).
Give a Gift to the Giver – Coupons, free gifts, free gift cards and other offers are great rewards to give to your shoppers. People like free gifts either to keep for themselves or to pass along as a gift.
Super Hot Daily Offers – For a week or two prior to Christmas, daily offers will keep your website top of mind. By knowing what your customer likes, you’ll know the most popular products to put on sale each day.
Office Gift Giving – Does it make sense for you to promote your products as great gifts for businesses and business people?
Coupons in Shopping Cart – Why encourage your buyers to go out to coupon sites when they are shopping on your site? Shoppers could change their mind when they go to these sites, and you may have to incur extra marketing costs at this coupon sites. Feature a couple of attractive offers upon checkout. These coupons could simply reinforce the offers you already have on your site.
Other ideas that have high potential for the Holidays and any time of year:
Cart Abandonment – Utilize emails and/or live chat to recover lost sales. Only about 15% of online retailers address shopping abandon carts, with abandon cart email re-marketing converting at 10-20 times more than other emails (Source: Listrack). A Forrester Research study reports these reasons why 60-70% of shoppers report they abandon carts:
> Shipping and handling costs were too high (44 percent)
> I was not ready to purchase the product (41 percent)
> I wanted to compare prices on other sites (27 percent)
> Product price was higher than I was willing to pay (25 percent)
> Just wanted to save products in my cart for later consideration (24 percent)
Sitewide Web Banners – We pay a lot of attention to home page marketing. However, the home page is typically a smaller share of total site traffic. Flaunt your great offers using sitewide banners. “Slim banners” under top navigation or other banner formats in side navigation.
Web Shopping Cart Upsells/Cross Sells – Relevant items and impulse buys are great ways to increase average order value. Stocking stuffers make great upsells/cross sells. You are guaranteed a lift in average order size and incremental revenue from the first day you implement this one. Even test a more interruptive (vs. passive) up-sell with a pop-up or roadblock web page as long as there is great value in your up-sell.
Refer A Friend – A best kept secret to acquire customers at the lowest cost and easily increase loyalty. Reward customers with offers when friends they refer become customers.
Bounce Back Offers – These offers are given to buyers to get them to come back and shop again. Why not start promoting holiday offers in shipping packages in October and November? An after holiday sale could be promoted in your packages, email, point-of-sale, and direct mail campaigns in December.
Reward/Points Programs – Increasingly popular way to increase loyalty is a rewards program. Incentivize customers with extra points/rewards during the Holidays.
Website Performance – Are there any user interface, user flow, application availability, speed, or other website performance issues? Website speed and navigation has become critical in maintaining customer attention. Slow sites can easily lead to site abandonment. Speed is also now a big factor for natural search rankings in Google (SEO).