Even though it still feels like summer outside, now is the time to start planning for the holidays.
The first step is to evaluate all of the tests that have been done throughout the year in order to put your best foot forward. In addition, it involves reviewing the results from the prior holiday season. That means determining the most effective:
- communication method (e.g., email, direct mail, multi-channel) by customer segment
- timing (both day of the week and time of day)
- creative (hero images, placement of links, etc.)
- subject lines (when and where to mention free shipping offers, brand or product offers, etc.)
- offers (discount percentages, dollars off, buy one get one free)
Next step is to evaluate any implementation issues from the prior holiday season. Before coming up with your holiday strategy it is important to determine any limitations or challenges with respect to execution. Your strategy cannot be developed in a vacuum. Thus, I recommend that you review what has worked and what did not work with the entire team.
Once all of this information has been gathered, you can develop a holiday strategy. It should incorporate the lessons from past tests and holiday campaigns as well as encompass:
1. Start Date. The average holiday campaign begins in October. Some retailers hold pre-holiday clearance sales and send informational emails to start their holiday campaigns.
2. Black Friday. For Marketers, the holiday campaigns have been starting earlier and earlier on the calendar. The same is true for Black Friday. It is now beginning on Thanksgiving Day for some retailers. When will yours start?
3. Cyber Monday. While many digital sales are made on the Monday after Thanksgiving, digital sales are occurring earlier as consumer shop from home. Will you wait for Cyber Monday or start earlier?
4. Sequence. If you are using email, you can easily send at least an email a day. It is important to determine the contact frequency and cadence. Will all or a segment of your customers receive an email a day, every other day, every third day, etc.? Will emails be sent only on weekdays or only weekends or a mix? Will there be a resting period or a maximum number of emails that can be received?
5. Free Shipping. Many consumers expect to get free shipping online, especially during the holidays, and will not pay for shipping.
6. Social Sharing. Consider how to tie in Facebook, Twitter and other social sites with your campaign.
7. After Christmas. Lastly, there is also the opportunity for follow on sales after Christmas. It is the time to promote use of gift cards and purchases of parts or refills.