Now that we’ve put the Fourth of July in the rearview mirror, it’s time for marketers to focus on… Christmas? That’s right. And Thanksgiving, and Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. And all the other big days that add up to marketers’ most-important season.
According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. holiday-related spending in 2017 was a record $691 billion, driven by “growing wages, stronger employment, and higher consumer confidence.” A huge amount of that spending took place online — $108.2 billion, to be precise, reports CNBC. The drivers that powered those totals last year are still in place. The economy is chugging along, unemployment is at a record low, and consumers remain bullish. Which means this year’s holiday season could be the biggest one ever.
If you haven’t started planning your campaigns yet, you are very likely to be amazed (and dismayed) at how fast time will fly. Richard Lazazzera, writing at Big Commerce, reports that consumers begin searching for “Christmas gift ideas” in August (hey — that’s next month!). If they are already planning, so should you.
It’s time to get busy!
1. Determine the exact dates you need to plan for
“If you’re going to take full advantage of Q4 and all the holidays it has to offer your online business, you need to begin preparing and planning immediately,” Lazazzera writes. “The best way to get started is to map out a promotional calendar. Start by printing out a calendar of the last three months of the year, and reviewing all the holidays in that three-month period that you want to participate in. From there, work backwards to identify when promotional graphics need to be created, when email copy needs to be written, when those emails need to go out, etc.”
Here are some of the big holidays coming up in November and December:
Nov. 22: Thanksgiving
Nov. 23: Black Friday
Nov. 24: Small Business Saturday
Nov. 26: Cyber Monday
Nov. 27: Giving Tuesday
Dec. 10: Green Monday
Dec. 2: Start of Hanukkah
Dec. 14: Free Shipping Day
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
Dec. 26: Start of Kwanza
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve
Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
2. Make sure you know how you did last year – so you can do better this year
If you don’t understand how your marketing efforts performed during last year’s holiday season, it’s incumbent that you get up to speed right away.
“You can’t start planning what you’ll do this year until you understand how you did last year,” writes Susan Guillory at The Drive. “What promotions were the most successful? Which products did you sell the most of? Which marketing channels got the best results? Understanding last year’s wins and losses can help you with much of your planning.” And don’t forget to look at how your subscribers interacted with your website during the 2017 holiday season.
“If you’ve been keeping track of information like what your subscribers browse for on your website and what they’ve purchased from you, segmenting will not seem like a Herculean task,” writes Kevin George on the Hubspot blog. “The better you know your subscribers’ preferences the better you can segment them and send targeted emails during the holidays, which will ultimately lead to better, more qualified conversions.”
3. Ensure you’ll have enough talent in place for the big push
Are you going to have the resources in place who will come up with and execute great holiday-campaign ideas? If you can’t answer “yes” confidently, you need to start planning, and perhaps start hiring, right now.
“The holiday season is full of occasions when you might send a special email campaign that requires more production time – sometimes way more production time – than your average email campaign,” writes Chad White on the Litmus blog. “Plan ahead so you don’t end up in the position of having to scale back your ambitions because of a lack of time to execute, especially if your company has a long approval process.”
If you’ve got contract talent you rely on for creative services when the going gets busy, start making calls now – in today’s red-hot job market, they might not be available as contractors for long.
Ready to take your holiday campaign to the next level?
We’re sharing our favorite holiday campaign ideas in an upcoming webinar. RSVP here.