In the blink of an eye, peak season is well underway for e-commerce merchants. The months seem to fly by quicker than we can cross them off a calendar, and sometimes this leaves us feeling a little behind. With less than two months to go before Christmas, the main gift giving event in the second half of the year, it’s about time we pushed some last-minute ideas for holiday marketing. Whether you’ve been dreaming of Mistletoe and gift-wrap since August, or you feel like you’ve only just recovered from last year’s holiday season, read on to get some last-minute marketing ideas to help end your quarter 4 on a high.
This may seem the most boring of the list, although it probably is the most important. If you haven’t already, you need to strategize your marketing plan for the holiday. Having a strategy of what, when and why you plan to market can only be of benefit. If you’re partial to a bit of improv, this may feel a little stifling. However, creating a marketing plan which helps you to understand (or even just visualise) the purpose behind each decision is an easy way to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Throwing unplanned ideas into action at short notice can often have unimpressive results, making you a little more sceptical for your next marketing feat. Some ideas may fail, which would otherwise bloom if given the due attention in advance and allowed to continue.
With the potential high revenue over the build-up to the holidays, now probably isn’t the time to throw a load of new ideas at the wall to see what sticks. Lean into what you already have working for your e-commerce and recreate this in a bigger fashion.
Holiday Sales Ideas
At an already expensive time of year, a holiday sale may be a good tactic. Marker this around events such as Black Friday when people have their wallets at the ready, expecting to spend. When running a sale, it’s important to do the numbers to ensure that this makes sense for your revenue – something which should be considered and investigated in your marketing strategy discussions.
Holiday sales shouldn’t just be driven by the cost of what you sell, but also by the items themselves. Seasonal stock should already have been gathered by now if you expect to sell items specifically for the holidays. If you’re looking at keeping your usual items as your main products to sell without the addition of holiday-specific products, you need to reframe how you market your evergreen items into a holiday necessity.
Marketing should always be engaging, and nobody should feel marketed to. Influence your customers buying decisions with festive fun and encourage them to make a purchase. People buy into reasons more than they buy into products. Nearly every kitchen has at least one mug in the cupboard, so why would people buy more? People want to have a mug which carries the perfect feel for a winter warmer, a mug which looks so good that makes their pumpkin spice latte taste that little bit sweeter – a mug which has a photo of their favourite people on as a reminder of how loved they are. Tap into people’s reasonings for making a purchase rather than telling them how good the mug is at holding a drink. Sentimentality sells, especially around the holidays.
A particularly important way to market evergreen products (items which you sell year-round) would be to dress them up for the festivities. Get creative with your copy, seasonal with your homepage slides, and sprinkle some elfish magic into your email marketing. Build anticipation with your holiday marketing, ramping up as you get closer to your last shipping date before the big gift giving occasion. Increase your marketing output for your organic channels such as social media and emails. You want to get your content out in front of as many eyes as possible to help shift that extra volume ahead of the end of your new year stats begin and end the year strong.
Influencer marketing is still having a great moment for social media, so you may be able to squeeze in a quick influencer campaign between now and Christmas (you likely won’t have enough time to get this planned before Thanksgiving and Black Friday). Having an influencer campaign in your arsenal could help to round the year off nicely, but that’s not to say that the influencer does all the work. When engaging in influencer marketing it is absolutely vital to research your ideal influencer to the nth degree to ensure that their audience aligns with your target market, and that they hold no red flags for public opinion which may cause damage to your brand if you join forces. Especially for holiday marketing, it is important that the endorsement from your influencer feels genuine.
Before you even contact who you would like to work with for an influencer campaign, you need to draw up a plan which covers the following: your budget, your ideal audience, the call to action, your requirements (in-feed image, series of story posts, video content? Be specific!), dates for the campaign to run, review of the influencer marketing guidelines which you need to follow as these vary greatly depending on both yours, and their location.
Always remember that influencers generally have their own rates; fees for influencers within the same market will often vary greatly due to their account reach, engagement stats and number of followers. Enlisting the support of an influencer doesn’t need to break the bank – influencers are classed by their audience size of macro, micro and nano influencers. You’ll most likely want to target micro-influencers and nano-influencers. Often when influencers have a smaller audience, their engagement and reach percentage is higher, meaning more people will see and interact with your ad than if you were to advertise with an influencer who has a huge audience (and huge price tag to match).
If you have somebody in mind but they aren’t sure on the partnership – don’t stress! There are so many influencers who would love to work with your brand. Don’t burn bridges, you could always work together in the future when you have more time to discuss an agreement. Although these kinds of campaigns can be turned around quickly, it is important not to rush them as they could easily become costly for little return. Working with influencer agencies may help speed things up a little and offer a level of security in your agreement, for a further expense.
Free gift with purchase
Have you ever heard of Lagniappe? It’s not a word very commonly used, so we’ll understand if you haven’t. Lagniappe is the act of a merchant including a gift with purchases. This could be a huge selling point for your brand and easily set you apart from competitors selling similar products.
You could hand select your gift and order in batches for how many sales you have forecast. Review your predicted sales for the quarter to include the promise of a gift within your marketing. This is the season of gift giving, after all! Drum up additional excitement within your marketing by advertising ‘mystery gifts’ or specifying what your buyer will receive. Maybe include a value to really show them how big of a treat they’re receiving.
In lieu of a physical gift, you could always attach a voucher for a discount percentage on their next order. This is a great effort to incite return custom. Make sure to include an expiry date for this voucher. Add in any terms and conditions which you may require to protect yourself, such as the inability to use alongside other offers. When adding in a use-by date, make this reasonably long to give the buyer enough time to make use of the gift. Perhaps date towards the end of February, to make a Valentine’s Day purchase more likely…?
The terms of the gift are of course to your discretion. Free gifts should only be included in orders over a determined value to ensure this makes fiscal sense for you. You could limit how many orders you promise this to if working to a tighter budget. Splash across your email marketing that the “next 50 orders receive a free gift worth £19.99!” – whatever numbers work best for you. Adding in a cap will also help prevent this from getting out of hand if you’re expecting many orders!
Ensure that your gift is relative to your brand. You don’t want to appear as trying to shift out-of-season stock to free up storage. Although the promise of a gift is an incentive, this will only work if the gift is something the purchaser wants. If offering a physical gift, review your orders for the lower value items which people add to their basket for some inspiration.
For personalised items, you could always include a free upsell for their photobook. Include more pages FOC for instant gift gratification. Alternatively, send a voucher code to produce their own free personalised desk calendar. Voucher gifts such as these encourage return custom and multi-item orders. The promise of a gift could push your holiday sales – just ensure that you market this well and offer value to your customer’s purchases.
Holiday market trends
Whether you swim upstream or downstream (so to speak), trends play a huge part in influencing our purchases. By being last-minute with your holiday marketing research, you’ve already been privy to a peek at how other companies are launching their holiday marketing. Draw influence from other businesses within your space along with companies who you aspire to be like. Selling photobooks from a small printing lab, but love looking at Marks & Spencer’s holiday ads? Consider how you can draw inspiration from this (note: inspiration is the goal here, not mirroring!) and apply to your own business endeavours.
Each year has certain key design styles along with a variation of typical colours associated for each season. Some years may have more of a retro Christmas approach, and the following year may be a little bolder and more modern. Take note of what makes you feel inspired and transpose these into your own marketing. If you’re truly inspired by your marketing output, chances are your target market will be too. Of course, the numbers talk, so user testing and review of previous campaigns could be to your advantage when considering a possible change of style.
The holidays are a great time to experiment a little with your marketing output, breaking the box of your usual format and exciting your potential customers to come and shop with you. No matter how you choose to design your marketing efforts, ensure that you don’t lose sight of your actual branding so that what you’re putting out into the world is still you.
What’s your best holiday e-commerce marketing strategy?
As fun as it is to experiment, experience really does count for a lot. Review your previous marketing campaigns through the years and see what has worked well for you before, updating them slightly to better match your market and current brand voice.
If you don’t have many holiday seasons yet under your business belt, don’t worry. You can always look at which campaigns worked around Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter… any significant events within your business’ shopping schedule can provide key drivers for new marketing efforts. If you’re little short on time and attempting to pull off last-minute miracles, it would likely be best for you to recycle a previous marketing strategy with seasonal polishes.
This is another example of when a marketing strategy will be of benefit. It’s incredibly useful to see your intentions, budgets and channels as your campaigns run to see that you are remaining on course for your target. Look back on this during future event planning to review what has worked well, or not so well, for you before.
Sometimes we feel we have a great idea but the whole thing lands in a flop. Don’t necessarily mark these down as a ‘never to do again’ result. A different holiday may call for a different approach. If you’ve willed something to work in the past which didn’t quite cut it, take some time to review what could have gone wrong and how this can be rephrased for this season of shopping. Don’t forget, A/B testing content is always on your side!
Preparing your e-commerce store for peak season is so important. Hopefully you’ve been working up to the holidays for a couple of months now and getting your web-store in shape for the festive season. If not, worry not! Have a look through our information on preparing for e-commerce peak season to get the ball rolling a little further. Perhaps also mark in your diary for next year when to start preparing in advance!
If you’d like to sell personalised gifts but don’t yet have the set up, get in touch to see how we could help to boost your revenue through photo personalisation.
With photo personalisation, the product opportunities are endless – providing you with profitable vertical markets where you could make some brilliant business moves.