2011 Holiday Marketing Guide
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2011 Holiday Marketing Guide

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What’s the most wonderful time of the year? Now! The holidays are rife with opportunities for your small business to grow its lists, attract new customers, and increase sales. And if you start your ...

What’s the most wonderful time of the year? Now! The holidays are rife with opportunities for your small business to grow its lists, attract new customers, and increase sales. And if you start your holiday marketing now, you will be able to take full advantage of all the holiday season has in store for you.
Learn everything you need to know about successful holiday marketing in our 12 chapters, complete with ideas, advice, and insider tips.

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2011 Holiday Marketing Guide Document Transcript

  • 1. A Holiday Marketing Story: The 12 Chap ters of a Successful Season CWhat’s the most wonderful time of the year? Now! The holidays are rife withopportunities for your small business to grow its lists, attract new customers, andincrease sales. And if you start your holiday marketing now, you will be able to takefull advantage of all the holiday season has in store for you.Learn everything you need to know about successful holiday marketing in our 12 chapters, complete withideas, advice, and insider tips.1CHAPTER 1: CREATE A PLANAs with any marketing campaign, you will want to create a plan before you get off and running. In coming up witha plan, you’ll need to ask yourself some key questions about what you want to accomplish this holiday season andcreate goals for your campaign. Once you have your overall goals, you will need to establish a budget. Knowing yourbudget and goals will help you create a plan that works for your business.In creating your plan, you’ll want tothink about how email and social media Did You Know?marketing fit into your overall marketing mix. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s The Power of DirectYour messages and offers should be fairly Marketing, email delivers the highest return on investment acrossconsistent across your marketing channels, marketing mediums by a whopping $43.62 for every dollar spent.whether online, print, etc. Consider yourgoals and how each channel will help youachieve those goals. Some channels perform better than others for different goals and audiences. One key advantageof online channels versus print, aside from lower cost, is flexibility. With an email campaign, you can generally makeminor tweaks to an offer up until the time you send the email to your list. Additionally, your email list is made up ofcustomers who have asked you to send them marketing offers by signing up for your communications.While having a plan is definitely important to a successful holiday campaign, having flexibility in that plan can be thedifference between a campaign that flops and one that soars. Markets, competitors, and circumstances can all } }change. What seemed like a great offer or what worked well in the past may not work this year. If you build in flexibility,you’ll be able to adjust your campaign early and salvage your holiday season. Resource #1 Jenni Williams, “Top 10 Steps for Creating aFor a more detailed list of tips for planning your holiday campaign, Holiday Marketing Campaign That Shines,” The Official Email Blog of iContact, September 9,check out our blog post “Top 10 Steps for Creating a Holiday Marketing 2011.Campaign That Shines.” 11 | www.iContact.com
  • 2. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season2 CHAPTER 2: BUILD A SCHEDULE A key component to any holiday campaign is creating Did You Know? a workable schedule around key holidays and marketing An informal iContact Facebook poll shows that most dates. Take note of the dates below for the 2011 holiday marketers are getting an early start on holiday marketing: season, and build your plan around the activities you  58% will start in September  95% will begin before Thanksgiving would like to do for each date. Then, work backward from those dates to ensure you can complete everything in time to reach customers on the right days. Planning, September to early October OCTOBER Halloween, October 31 – Although many don’t necessarily lump Halloween in with the rest of the 31 holidays, it can be key to kicking off your holiday season. NOVEMBER Thanksgiving Week, November 18–25 – Many companies start their big sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly known as “Black Friday.” Marketing of those sales often begins as early as 18–25 the Friday before, and some companies, particularly in the B2B space, begin their big sales as early as the Monday before Thanksgiving to get an edge over their competition. NOVEMBER Thanksgiving Day, November 24 – This is the last day to communicate your offers to your 24 customers before Black Friday. Consider sending a reminder email on Thanksgiving Day to keep your offer top of mind for customers as they finalize their Friday shopping plans. NOVEMBER Black Friday, November 25 – This is the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and 25 the single biggest shopping day in the United States. NOVEMBER Cyber Monday, November 28 – People are back at work after the Thanksgiving break and easing 28 into the week by doing some online shopping. DECEMBER Super Saturday (sort of), December 17 – Super Saturday is typically the Saturday before Christmas, but 17 with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, Super Saturday only really leaves time for overnight shipping (assuming Sunday delivery is available). So, Saturday, December 17, will likely fill the Super Saturday shoes this year. Use this to your advantage by creating some urgency in your last-minute shoppers. 2 | www.iContact.com
  • 3. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season DECEMBER Hanukkah, starts December 20 – Hanukkah involves eight nights of giving, so you may consider 20 sending a series of offers promoting a new gift idea for each night. DECEMBER Christmas Day, December 25 – Christmas Day is the culmination of most of the shopping that has 25 occurred over the past couple of months and is typically a slow day for retail. DEC–JAN Week after Christmas, December 26–January 2 – This week presents a great opportunity to clear out remaining merchandise, take advantage of shoppers with holiday money and gift cards to spend, 26–2 and finalize your planning for the new year. This is also a good time to promote offers relating to New Year’s Eve celebrations. DECEMBER New Year’s Eve, December 31 – This is the last chance to make sales before the end of the 31 year as well as a major day for celebrating. JANUARY New Year’s Day, January 1 – This is a great day to rest and enjoy yourself before starting your 1 plans for your next 12 months of marketing! 3 | www.iContact.com
  • 4. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season3 CHAPTER 3: GET IN THEIR HEADS There are four types of holiday shoppers: early birds, prime-time buyers, last-minute shoppers, and post-holiday bargain hunters. Each shopper wants you to speak directly to their needs—from offering deep discounts early in the season to guaranteeing rush shipping at the last possible moment. Once you learn what motivates your shoppers, you will know how to create messages that best connect with them. Early Birds Early birds know what they need, have a budget, and want to finish their shopping before the holiday rush. They are willing to sacrifice the best offers (which typically come at prime time) for access to the best products and services (which may sell out before the height of the shopping season). Don’t assume early birds will pay full price, though; they expect to be rewarded for shopping early, and they love snagging a good deal. Start sending messages in early October to your best customers and those who purchased from you last year at this time. Focus your promotions on the perks of early shopping (think “enjoy a glass of eggnog while your friends battle for mall parking spots”). Here are a few offers that will catch the eye of an early bird:  Time-sensitive discount (e.g., 30% off before November 1)  Exclusive free gift with purchase  Exclusive event or early access to new products/services  Advance purchasing (e.g., customer thank-you gifts that can be ordered by administrative professionals early in the season and shipped to their customers closer to the holidays) Prime-Time Buyers Prime-time buyers check gifts off their lists between late November and mid-December. They have several weeks to make buying decisions, and competition is fierce among businesses vying for their attention, especially during peak shopping times, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you decide to throw your hat in the ring, you want to reach your contacts’ inboxes well before Thanksgiving. If you are a B2B company, send your messages the Friday or Monday before Thanksgiving; this will give contacts plenty of time to read them before they leave the office for vacation. If you are an e-commerce company, send messages early in the Thanksgiving week to promote your online sales. Insider Tip If you are an e-commerce company, consider running a sale that starts as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Black Friday. Armchair shoppers and those looking for a break from family will thank you (in sales). 4 | www.iContact.com
  • 5. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season Prime-time buyers are not as frazzled as last-minute shoppers, so any old marketing message will not win their notice. Focus on creating offers, text, and designs that stand out. Here are some marketing activities sure to win prime-time buyers’ attention: Entice Shoppers with In-Store Promotions for Black Friday Thanksgiving means turkey, football, and shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. There are many prime-time buyers who look forward to Black Friday all year, but not everyone has the same shopping strategy. Create an email and social media marketing plan that addresses shoppers’ different needs. Door-buster deals work well for shoppers who consider loss of sleep a minor price to pay to be done with their holiday shopping by 7:00 am Friday. The mid-day and evening shoppers want great deals all day long. Extend your shopping hours, and promote offers that are good until closing. Throughout the day, use social media to let shoppers know you still have high- demand items in stock or to share gift ideas for different members of the family. Don’t Forget Cyber Monday Cyber Monday is the busiest online holiday shopping day of the year. For some prime-time buyers, there’s nothing more satisfying than spending the day pretending to work while covertly filling online shopping carts. Although most shoppers will make their purchases at work, it’s probably not their work email addresses they’ve given you. Send an email to your contacts on Sunday letting them know that a special surprise will arrive in their personal inboxes Monday morning. Then reach out on Monday with special discounts and free shipping offers that will draw them to your site. Insider Tip In a 2010 study by ATG (Consumer Shopping Experiences, Preferences, and Behaviors), 70% of respondents reported that they abandoned online shopping carts because they learned that shipping charges were more than they had expected. Free shipping offers, therefore, will be very attractive to shoppers this holiday season. Be a Source of Inspiration Prime-time buyers with dozens of friends and relatives on their lists are often in search of great gift ideas. Help buyers out by sending a series of emails highlighting products and services that would make nice gifts for different recipients and budgets. 5 | www.iContact.com
  • 6. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season Last-Minute Shoppers Some people work best under pressure. These are your last-minute holiday shoppers. They want to find great gifts, but mostly they want a no-nonsense buying experience, helpful service, and guaranteed rush shipping. These shoppers are most receptive to marketing messages; every passing hour lowers the barrier to sell. This Crate & Barrel email from the 2010 holiday season is a good example of how to communicate with last-minute shoppers:  The email states how many days are left to shop before the holiday.  It provides last-minute gift suggestions.  It promotes electronic gift cards, the last-minute gift of choice for many shoppers.  It notes the last days to order for guaranteed holiday delivery.  It highlights a mobile application, which makes last-minute shopping easier. Post-Holiday Bargain Hunters One size doesn’t always fit all, which means many people will be back in stores after the holidays to exchange gifts they have received. Others will be looking to use up their newly acquired stacks of gift cards. Use email and social media to promote your end-of-year deals and to update shoppers on what you have in stock. Try these promotions targeted at post-holiday bargain hunters:  Talk up products and services for the new year (from champagne and dresses for New Year’s Eve to gym memberships and closet organizers for resolution-setters).  Offer free financing to get people in the door before the start of the new year. You will pay tax on any inventory you have as of January 1, so you want to clear out as much as possible before the new year begins.  Let your shoppers know you understand their needs. If you own a travel agency, for example, you might advertise discounts on real vacations now that the in-laws have left town. 6 | www.iContact.com
  • 7. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season4 CHAPTER 4: BE SELECTIVE Every shopper loves a good deal, but think of your messages like a menu in a restaurant—too many dishes to choose from, and nothing looks appetizing. Too many deals, and a potential customer may walk away overwhelmed, confused, or, at worst, irritated. Promote just one offer per email and social media message, and segment your list accordingly. If you have a range of complementary products, focus on a hero product, and promote additional items with less prominent links.5 CHAPTER 5: KEEP IN TOUCH Unlike distant relatives who may be content with receiving your family’s holiday newsletter once a year and not much more, your customers need constant attention during the season. Marketing noise is at its peak, and your brand needs to be sticky to make it onto your contacts’ shopping lists. Think about increasing the frequency of your email and social media messages during the season. As long as your messages are relevant and interesting, your subscribers will welcome the additional touches.6 CHAPTER 6: FOCUS ON BENEFITS Holiday shoppers are more likely to open emails that have enticing subject lines. Keep these four characteristics of winning subject lines in mind: 2 { } 1. Useful Resource #2 2. Ultra-Specific Brian Clark, “The Three Key Elements of Irresistible 3. Unique Email Subject Lines,” Copyblogger, August 26, 2010. 4. Urgent For example, Piperlime—an online retailer of shoes, apparel, and accessories for men and women—sent an email with this subject line in the summer of 2011: “Last day! 20% off fall apparel + smokin’ slippers.” This has all the characteristics of a winning subject line: 1. Useful – The offer of 20% off is valuable to the email’s recipient. 2. Ultra-Specific – The subject line is clear: the recipient can save on fall clothing for one more day. 3. Unique – This promotion stands out because instead of offering a discount at the end of the season like most retailers, Piperlime offers it at the beginning. Plus, the reference to “smokin’ slippers” is unusual and catchy. 4. Urgent – “Last day!” pushes the recipient to read the full email sooner rather than later. Another great example can be seen in the short-but-sweet subject line “99 under $9,” sent by Fred Flare—an online shop for fashion and home items. Short subject lines quickly grab the attention of customers and prompt them to take action, which in this case involved viewing a guide with 99 gift ideas, each under $9. 7 | www.iContact.com
  • 8. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season7 CHAPTER 7: STAY SOCIAL In 2010, Experian Hitwise—a global online competitive intelligence service—reported that Facebook had surpassed Google in the United States to become the most visited website on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. And when Facebook isn’t outperforming Google during the holiday season, it’s coming very close. 3 { } Get your brand in front of the millions of people flocking to social media Resource #3 during the holiday season to check out friends’ pictures and post about Heather Dougherty, “Facebook Reaches Top Ranking in their travel plans: US,” Experian Hitwise Analyst Weblog, March 15, 2010.  Post offers and gift ideas on Facebook and Twitter.  Encourage your fans and followers to talk about your brand, and surprise a few who say nice things with rewards, such as gift cards or special discounts.  Attract new fans and followers by including social media links in your holiday emails.  Reward your fans and followers with giveaway campaigns.  Gauge your contacts’ needs by asking questions (e.g., “What’s the best holiday gift you have ever received?”) and running polls. 8 | www.iContact.com
  • 9. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season8 CHAPTER 8: LEARN WHAT WORKS The holiday season is short, which means time spent on campaigns that miss the mark can be especially costly for your business. Whenever possible, split test your subject lines, offers, and email designs. These dos and don’ts for testing—from iContact’s chief product, marketing, and strategy officer, Jeff Revoy—will help you test for success this holiday season: 4 { Resource #4 Jeff Revoy, “Testing: 5 Steps to Find the Right Formula for Effective Emails,” DemandGen Report, July 19, 2011. }  Don’t: Send one test message to 50% of your list and the other to the remaining 50%.  Do: Use the 10-10-80 rule: One test goes to 10% of your list and the other to a second 10%. Send the winner of these two messages to the remaining 80%.  Don’t: Test multiple variables at a time. Testing multiple variables can make it difficult to determine which changes affected your results.  Do: Test one variable at a time.  Don’t: Be discouraged by tests that yield similar results between your 10% segments.  Do: Recognize that tests with similar results can mean that what you tested wasn’t an important component of your message or that both of your messages performed well.9 CHAPTER 9: MEASURE AGAINST YOUR GOALS Once you’ve done the hard work of setting your holiday Clickthrough Rate (CTR) The number of times a link is clicked in a message divided by marketing goals (perhaps increasing brand awareness the number of delivered messages. For example, if a message or revenue), don’t forget to check in periodically to make is sent to four subscribers and one subscriber clicks on the sure that your campaign is meeting the mark. Choose message twice, the resulting CTR for that message is 25% (1 unique click / 4 delivered emails = 25%). the metrics that tie to your goals, and track them regularly. If your goal, for example, is to increase your Unique Clicks / Delivered Emails = CTR brand awareness by generating traffic to your website, track your email clickthrough rates. By the same token, don’t focus too much on metrics that are not related to your goals. If you want to increase revenue, and you’re performing in that area, don’t sweat lower email open rates. Historical data can also be very helpful as you measure against your goals. If you had similar holiday marketing goals last year, compare where you are today to where you were at the same time last year. If you are underperforming, consider revisiting some of your more successful promotions from last year. 9 | www.iContact.com
  • 10. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season10 CHAPTER 10: CORRECT YOUR COURSE If you measure against your goals and find that your campaign is not getting you the results you would like, don’t be afraid to correct your course. You know what is best for your business, and being flexible this holiday season is a must. If you need to turn your holiday marketing campaign around, consider these strategies:  Trot out new and different offers.  Reconsider the “winning” subject lines and designs from previous split tests, and overhaul your email communications accordingly.  Think about whether the holidays are really the right time for you to try to compete with big-box retailers, especially when it comes to price. If your holiday marketing campaign is costing your business too much and doesn’t look like it will be successful or even sustainable throughout the rest of the season, abandon course. Sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and focus on the time of year when you are most competitive.11 CHAPTER 11: GROW YOUR LIST During the holiday season, shoppers are visiting websites and stores that may not be on their radars during other months of the year. If you can convince these shoppers of your business’s value in their everyday lives, the holiday season can be a time of tremendous growth for your lists. These shoppers will likely be harder sells, but with the right messages, they may become some of your most loyal, repeat customers. Entice them to sign up for your lists with special discounts for the immediate season. Include sign- up forms on your website, on your social media pages, and at the checkout counters of physical store locations. Once a contact signs up, send a welcome email with a list of all the great perks they will receive as a subscriber, and follow up with messages that have been highly successful for you in the past. 10 | www.iContact.com
  • 11. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season12 CHAPTER 12: REMEMBER THE BASICS The frenetic pace of the holiday season will keep any marketer, new or experienced, on their toes. Don’t, however, forget the basics; your holiday email and social media marketing campaigns will benefit from the best practices that inform your campaigns during other times of the year. Cleanse Your Lists Take time to cut cold contacts from your lists. Hard-bounced email addresses and contacts who have ignored your emails for a significant period of time can be safely removed. Sending to disengaged contacts or email addresses that no longer exist can be both expensive and damaging to your sending reputation. Automate Your Messages Set up autoresponders to automatically deliver a predetermined series of messages. These can include welcome messages to new subscribers, online course invitations, or carefully crafted sales messages. Autoresponders are a great way to nurture contacts early in their relationship with you, especially if you offer a product that includes some type of free trial. Just be sure that your autoresponders are not sent on the same day as your holiday messages; reaching out to a contact too frequently can result in an unsubscribe. Opt for Text Make good use of real text (not graphics) at the tops of your emails. A graphic-heavy email will appear blank until the recipient has selected to download the graphics. Real text is always visible. Don’t feel like you can’t include holiday- themed graphics in your messages at all; just do it smartly. And always remember to create a text-only version of your message. This is especially important because many of your contacts will be away from their computers and will depend on their smartphones while traveling for the holidays. Make sure your holiday marketing story this year is a story of success. Start using the tips and tricks in this guide today, and guarantee your business a very happy holiday season. – The End – 11 | www.iContact.com
  • 12. A Holiday Marketing Story: TheA Holiday Marka Successful Season Chapters of a Succ 12 Chapters of eting Story: The 12 essful Season ABOUT iContact Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, iContact is a purpose-driven company that makes email marketing and social media marketing easy, so that small and midsized companies and causes can grow and succeed. More than one million users have signed up for an iContact account, and the company maintains B Corporation status, a certification awarded to companies meeting comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards. As part of its ongoing social mission, iContact applies the 4-1s Corporate Social Responsibility Model, donating 1 percent from each of its payroll, equity, product, and employee time to its local and global communities. Visit us online at iContact.com, on Twitter @iContact, at our LinkedIn Group, and at our Facebook page. Contact Us: 5221 Paramount Pkwy. Suite 200 Morrisville, NC 27560 Tel: (877) 820-7837 12 | www.iContact.com