- Holiday sales often make up a large amount of a business’s overall sales. That's why holiday marketing is crucial to your bottom line.
- This year, holiday shopping will look a little different. But with the right marketing strategies, from email marketing to digital ads, you can meet your customers where they are for a more personalized experience.
- It's especially important to appear "human" this year. Make sure your brand shines through in your marketing efforts.
- This article is for marketers or small business owners looking to drive sales this holiday season.
The holidays may be the most wonderful time of year, but for retailers, it is also the busiest. With restrictions on in-store shopping in many communities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's holiday season is shaping up to be like none other. However, a solid marketing plan can help businesses navigate the new shopping environment in order to make hectic sales days, such as Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, a success.
Find out what marketing experts say about how to market during the holiday season, and what will ultimately drive sales.
No matter what industry you're in, it's important to provide a fast and seamless web experience.
"Time is of the essence during the holiday season," said Jenn Horner, senior relationship marketing specialist at DEG. "If your website is difficult to navigate, or search or simply takes too long to load, customers will leave."
Small businesses can't afford to lose this kind of business during such a busy season, especially this year when many shoppers will be forgoing in-person shopping, so address any lags or missing information on your website. [Related: How to Optimize your E-Commerce Website for Holiday Shoppers.]
"Optimizing your website to attract and retain traffic through conversion with as few steps as possible will lead to happier customers who are easily able to navigate your site," Horner added.
It's also important to make sure your website is mobile optimized for holiday shoppers.
"Making sure your site is mobile friendly is the most important piece," said Katie Wilson, founder and CEO of TapOnIt. "Over 50% of searches start on mobile so make sure it's easy to view your inventory, click-to-call, and to click for directions."
Key takeaways: With most consumers shopping online this year, it's crucial you optimize your website for visitors, ensuring a quick and seamless experience.
Everyone is increasing their marketing efforts during the holidays, so your regular channels will be more crowded than usual.
"This is when segmentation will pay off; by paying attention to what your customers are showing interest in and then targeting them with creative and offers that match their interest, you'll be able to stay more relevant to your customer," said Horner.
Some businesses are also leveraging mobile messaging to get customers to their stores or on their websites. "As consumers rely on their smartphone for gift ideas and finding the best deals, brands can reach their audience through digital platforms such as text messaging, offering relevant and customized information in a timely manner," Wilson said.
Key takeaway: Segmentation helps you specifically target groups of consumers based on their shopping habits or other demographics, so you know how best to market to them.
Social media marketing
As social media is becoming more popular, it's becoming vital to include social media marketing into your marketing efforts. If you don't market on social during the holidays, you're missing out on a lot of potential customers.
"Social media is a great tool for businesses to share information about their brand while engaging with their community on a more personal level," said Wilson. "It allows businesses to increase awareness and sales during the busiest shopping season by leveraging targeted social media campaigns on their unique offerings."
Conor Ryan, CIO of StitcherAds, agrees that social media is important this season.
"There's ample opportunity to drive sales with branded and direct-response campaigns," he added. "This is particularly the case on Facebook and Instagram, which both have massive audience sizes."
Key takeaway: Social media is a marketing powerhouse. Share promotional content across all your social platforms for the largest reach.
While online shopping and social media marketing are critical right now amidst COVID-19, getting shoppers into your physical store encourages impulse purchases. Even during the pandemic, so long as you are following safety protocols, you can still create a positive in-store shopping experience for your customers.
"If you have brick-and-mortar stores, use digital channels to encourage shoppers to interact with your brand in-person," said Ryan. "Most impulse purchases still take place in physical stores – meaning that if you can get shoppers in-store, there's a good chance they will pick up additional items they had not anticipated buying."
Use your social media campaigns to entice shoppers to buy online or visit your store. Wilson also recommends offering specials and ways to interact in store.
"To compete against big brands and e-commerce during the holiday shopping season, providing special offers for unique products that can only be obtained in-store can help increase foot traffic for small businesses," Wilson said.
Key takeaway: Digital ads will find consumers where they are and entice them to shop at your store — either online or in person.
Email has always been a great marketing tactic for driving ROI, but it's especially useful for quick performance feedback, so you know what's working and what's not. This will be extremely beneficial in 2020, seeing as all marketers are shifting their efforts and experimenting with trends that accommodate this 'new normal."
If your email isn’t reaching as many people or performing as well as you'd hoped, you can quickly adjust your strategy and launch new campaigns. Just make sure you're keeping your content relevant to the times and communicating in a way that will get your audience’s attention. [Looking for email marketing software? Check out our recommendations for the best email marketing software for small businesses]
You want to meet consumers where they are. Tell them how you will be making their holiday shopping easier during this particularly unique holiday season, and ensure you provide access to special coupons or discounts in your emails.
Key takeaway: Email has always been one of the best marketing tactics. Utilize it this year to drive quick results and track your performance, so you can adapt and shift if needed.
Without your customers, where would you be? Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, you've likely realized just how important your customer base is to your bottom line. In uncertain times like these, they're the ones who keep you afloat. Let them know how much you value and appreciate them, so they understand their impact on your brand. This can be done through special offers, a personalized shopping experience and even just a hand-written thank-you note for their support. This will help keep your brand at the top of the mind so they choose your company over others.
Key takeaway: Showing your customers how much you appreciate them will empower them to invest more in your business and feel more connected to you as a brand.
Appealing to customers emotions
Now is your time to get real. What did you learn in 2020, and what do you want to share with your audience? Tell your story through email, social media posts, video or other platforms/strategies so you can better relate with your audience. Talk about how your business was impacted by COVID, and how you've adapted to these changes.
Additionally, think about how you can properly support your customers through this difficult time. We are all facing doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes, what consumers need isn't a special sale or ad pushing the latest and greatest products; they need a brand they can connect with and trust to get them through the hard times. That's why small businesses are so special — let your brand shine.
Key takeaway: Using emotional marketing will help make a lasting impact on your audience, helping them see the human in your brand.
Start your marketing early this year, as many businesses have already begun offering holiday sales as early as October. To keep up with competitors, you'll want to quickly ramp up your holiday marketing efforts to reach as many consumers as possible. Putting this off can cost you tons of sales and loyal customers. Run campaigns throughout November and December to continue reminding your audience of your products/services and any sales or discounts you're offering.
Key takeaway: If you haven’t already launched your marketing campaigns, get on it as soon as possible to reach the most consumers and keep in line with your competition.
Additional reporting by Saige Driver. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.