Tis the Season forHoliday BrandingBored with the usual"Seasons Greetings" clientpostcard? Use a bit ofholiday spirit to warm upyour social campaigns! Meghan Gargan has made a list ofdos and donts for sending social holiday greetingswith panache. "While you should capture the magic and merriment of thistime of year, brands should also be cautious of not excluding
or isolating audiences with ver-the-top holiday themes," shewrites.Heres a sampling of her holiday advice:DO refresh your profile imagery on Facebook, Twitter,YouTube and promotional landing pages. You might giveyour Facebook photo strip a festive refurbish, or promote aholly-laced campaign on all platforms.
DONT overdo the red and green. Use holiday accents, but also incorporate other seasonal colors (like white, blue, silver, gold). DO seize the moment to play with your audience, using a holiday-themed game or giveaway that ties back to your service. Thislovely Starbucks AR cup app comes to mind. The spirit of
giving translates beautifullyinto sharing, so make yourwork as share-worthy aspossible. If theres a charitableaspect (such as donationsmade easy by mobile phone),all the better.DONT isolate your public byfocusing too much on certainholidays ortraditions. Highlight generalfun activities like shopping,eating, family time.
DO feel free to theme your content with cheerful celebration. Play off notions of gift- giving, partying and winter activities with multimedia content, andcustomize responses to fans and followers.DONT use generic holiday messaging that isnt brand-relevant. Keep your message consistent with your brand
voice for maximum engagement value, and encouragecustomers to spread the message in partnership with you.The Po!nt: Celebrate the joy of it all. The holidays are aprime opportunity to rally enthusiasm and engage users withan authentic sense of spirit. Spread cheer in your own uniqueway!
Make the Most of Holiday Marketing: FiveThings Online Retailers Should Do Nowby Liz EltingEvery year, yourstakes are at theirhighest during theholiday season. Thisyear, with the USeconomy still inrecovery, retailersgot someencouraging news
from Chicago consumer retail research companyShopperTrak: For the 2012 holiday shopping season, retailsales are expected to increase 3.3% from last year, and agood chunk of that increase will come from online retail.Every retailer wants to maximize the influx of shoppers atthis time of year, and those that sell online have moreopportunities than ever before to convert website visitorsinto buyers. Cyber Monday is becoming as much of atradition as Black Friday. Holiday deals and discounts, such asfree shipping and special coupons for program membersproved especially attractive to online shoppers last year.
But what else canretailers do to boostsales online? Andhow do retailerskeep these shopperscoming back whenthe holidays areover?1. The time to prepare for the holidays is nowExperts agree that if retailers want to be first to captureshoppers attention, they need to get ready now. Hanukkahfalls 11 days earlier this year than it did last, so expect anearly start to the season. Also, two extra calendar days fall
between Black Friday and ChristmasEve, so retailers need to preparedeals and offers accordingly.Many online retailers have alreadyput the final touches on their newwebsite code and are rolling outholiday-themed landing pages anddeals.2. Reduce shopper anxiety at everypoint in the sales processThough you may pick and choose
products, product families, or services to create the right mixof offerings for your target market, the one thing you cantselectively omit is your end-to-end sales cycle support.According to the National Retail Federation, an estimated9.9% of all holiday gifts end up being returned or exchanged.So, shopping cart interfaces, checkout information, termsand conditions, shipping details, and return policies mustoffer online shoppers a seamless experience.If shoppers have any doubt that they wont get theirpurchases in time for holiday gift giving, theyre more likelyto move on to the next site.
3. Like Santa, transcend international bordersSome US-based retailers need to be prepared for incomingsite visitors from around the world, especially hotbeds ofgrowth like Latin America, China, and the Middle East. Inthose regions consumer spending is on the rise, andresidents of many countries there both need and expect toshop in their own languages.Accommodate global shoppers by translating your websitecopy well and providing customer service such as email,phone support, and chat in various languages.
4. What you dont know can sink youThe holidays have different meanings for consumers fromdifferent cultures and countries. Your website, text, images,social media presence, mobile sites, apps, and advertisingcampaigns should reflect those differences. Know themarkets you are targeting, and understand that a simplelanguage translation is likely not enough if you dont want tosound "foreign"—or, worse, negative—to a potentialconsumer.Successful website localization shows that you understandyour consumers expectations. For example, what may sound"braggy" to people from one culture can be the perfect pitchfor another.
5. Design all of your holiday promotions to be consistent A holiday retail website doesnt operate in a vacuum. Big-name department stores engage consumers online with the goalof luring them to brick-and-mortar locations. (Thats because70% of shoppers still favor the security and convenience ofordering items online and then picking them up in a physicallocation.)
Emails, mobile apps, online offers, and social media are allgreat mechanisms for increasing sales online and in stores.For such a multipronged strategy to succeed, retailers needto deliver consistent messages via each method—and to doso in other languages as well.***Retailers depend on the last two months of the year for upto 40% of their annual sales. It makes sense to prepare yourcompanys most valuable asset—your online interface—early. Its also smart to open up your site to as many visitorsworldwide as possible. Planning ahead with successfullytranslated and localized site content, from the landing page
to the shopping cart, will make this holiday seasonconsiderably more merry and bright.
Three Strategies forInspired Holiday Emailin Tough Timesby Karen TalaveraIts holiday marketing time.Yet, in recessionary periods,what is normally a festiveseason is not all sweetnessand light—for consumers orretailers. Still, that doesntmean advertisers cant find
ways to add some luster to their email-marketing programsthis season.Especially during down times, here are three ways to makeyour holiday email shine.1. Put an extra treat in their stockings this yearMost holiday email is focused on e-commerce, but it doesnthave to be all about simply driving sales. If youre still sellingby way of promotion rather than service, youre missing animportant opportunity to build brand equity and long-termrelationships.
In the spirit of the holiday season, focus your email on bothgiving and receiving. What immediate non-purchase-relatedvalue can youoffer for free?How aboutsome cheer, asOfficeMax hasdone forseveral yearsrunning withits ElfYourself program? Or, better yet, feature additional,seasonally relevant and helpful content such as recipes,
shopping tips, orideas for a newholiday tradition. Orlaunch a holiday-themedsweepstakes orcontest. Theres notime like gift-givingseason to awardthose big prizes.2. Holiday time is story timeThe holiday season is the perfect period for a limited-timeemail series.
Think of a series as a way to tell a story. Just as good fictionfollows an arc, so can your holiday email series. Plus, we loveto hear our favorite holiday stories year after year, so craftyour email program to tell a new one about your company orproducts.Easier to launch than an ongoing continuity program such asa newsletter, the limited-time series is palatable both tomarketers and to subscribers.Provided you dont go overboard with frequency, subscriberslove a limited-time email series because it clarifies andmanages their expectations from the start and promises not
to go on indefinitely. Its also an extended opportunity tobuild a solid foundation with the many new subscribers orfirst-time customers youre sure to attract this time of year.You can go with the tried-and-true holiday season"countdown" approach, but what about something moreunique? Ask subscribers for feedback and then vary thecontent within a series to suit their needs.Maybe you launch a weekly gift-suggestion campaign thathighlights gift ideas for the people most people are buyingfor—parents one week, siblings another, the boss the next.
Be sure to set clear expectations about what subscribers willbe getting, when theyll get it, and for how long. And, ofcourse, give your list members a chance to change theirminds or stop the flow of email mid-stream if thats whatthey want.3. Come Dancer, come Prancer: Expect more onlineshoppers and reward channel loyaltyEven during last years recession, online sales on December1, 2008 (known as "cyber-Monday"—the Monday afterThanksgiving), jumped 15% over 2007 levels, to $846 million,making it the second heaviest online-spending day onrecord, according to comScore.
More people are shopping online than ever before, and wecan expect the trend to continue this year, for three reasons: 1. Its more cost-effective to comparison-shop on the Internet than to spend gas money driving from place to place.2. Consumers are looking for the very best deals and believe they are usually found online.3. Ordering online for delivery saves time and money, and is less of a hassle than in-store shopping and shipping.Reward your site visitors and email loyalists with channel-exclusive offers and inventory they cant get anywhere else.Use the unlimited real estate of your website to promote
"Internet exclusives" that arent available in-store or viacatalog.And for the love of e-commerce, if your companyisnt using abandoned-shopping-cart-triggeredemails yet, start a programwith a holiday-purchasediscount tied to it.
Last but not least, remember that you can issue post-holidayrewards for holiday-period purchases. Numerous retailersroutinely do so at intervals throughout the year.That strategy prevents erosion of holiday-sales margins whileigniting post-holiday sales during typically slow periods.Brookstone did it last year; think also of GymboreesGymbucks program, and PacSuns Repeat Rewards, whichkick in around back-to-school time.***Seasons change, but we must remember the basics survive.Sure, its email and its holiday time, but its still marketing.
Be in it for the long haul. Build on the new relationshipsyouve forged rather than never calling again. January 2 isnttime to breathe a sigh of relief, cease and desist, and returnto your off-season status quo.Instead, think about how to ease off from, yet continue,holiday momentum through gift-card redemption offers,upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and post-holiday sales.Youll also want to debrief in January and take a look back athow your holiday email performed to develop a benchmarkfor next year.