Marketing & Advertising

2016 Holiday Marketing Checklist for Online Retailers

The 2016 Christmas shopping season will begin in earnest in just the next month. Now is the time to make certain that you have your ecommerce marketing plan ready.

While there are many things you can do to promote your ecommerce business before and during the holiday season, here a few critical items to check off of your list.

Set a Holiday Goal

In the United States, holiday ecommerce sales in 2016 may approach $90 billion, which would be roughly a 13 percent increase over 2015 ecommerce sales for the period. That increase and all of those billions of dollars represent opportunity.

The question, then, is what does that opportunity mean for your ecommerce business? What do you expect from your operations? How much profit will your company generate?

If you do not set goals for your ecommerce business, you will have no way to tell if your ecommerce marketing actually worked. This is the first checkbox to address. Define holiday ecommerce success now.

Establish a Holiday Marketing Budget

Once you know your business’s holiday goal, set a marketing budget. How much will you invest in marketing and promotion this Christmas season to help achieve your goal?

This is an important question. Invest too little, and you may not get your store’s share of the gift buying. Invest too much, and you may not turn a profit in spite of a significant boost in unit sales.

For example, an online retailer in the northwestern United States recently ran a $2,000 promotion for horse warmer — not a typical holiday gift item. The promotion more than tripled the sales volume, but the items were sold at a discount. When all was said and done, profit from the horse warmers increased just $11. It was not worth all of the effort and risk.

Use the data collected from your marketing campaigns throughout the entire year to help set your holiday marketing budget.

Create Free-shipping Offers

Your store’s free-shipping offers are an important part of your holiday marketing plan. Depending on the survey, something like 47 to 54 percent of all online orders include some form of free shipping.

What’s more, there is strong evidence that shoppers will spend more to get free shipping, perhaps, even 30 percent more.

Will your store offer free shipping on every order? Will you require a minimum purchase? Answer these questions now and have your site ready.

Plan Peak-day Promotions

While sales will grow throughout the holiday season, there are at least five landmark days for Christmas sales.

  • Thanksgiving Day: November 24, 2016
  • Black Friday: November 25, 2016
  • Cyber Monday: November 28, 2016
  • Green Monday: December 12, 2016
  • Free Shipping Day: December 16, 2016

Each of these days represents a high volume of ecommerce sales. As an example, trend tracking firm comScore reported that desktop ecommerce sales on Thanksgiving Day 2015 were more than $1 billion in the United States. Black Friday and Cyber Monday desktop ecommerce sales were $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively, last year, again according to comScore. Green Monday 2015 had $1.4 billion in desktop ecommerce sales, while Free Shipping Day generated more than $845 million in desktop ecommerce sales.

With so many potential sales at stake, plan now for these peak selling dates. Have ready email campaigns, pay-per-click ads, or other promotional efforts.

Prepare PPC Ads, Keywords

Pay-per-click advertising is a mainstay for holiday ecommerce marketing. Don’t wait until that last minute to start placing PPC ads. Have a prepared schedule, with ads ready to go and keywords prepared.

Google helps advertisers optimize or plan campaigns. Try to get a call with one of Google’s advisors ahead of the holiday rush.

Consider Rich Media Ads

Ecommerce competition will be fierce during the 2016 Christmas shopping season, especially for PPC advertising. While you should buy PPC ads on search engines, in spite of the competition, consider looking for rich media advertising opportunities too.

As an example, Pandora reaches about 25 percent of the U.S. population. You can advertise using audio or video and, also, via display ads that potential customers can click.

Hulu, the video streaming service, is another excellent advertising vehicle, since its users cannot skip ads. An investment in a good video commercial on Hulu can be a powerful way to drive ecommerce sales and profits.

YouTube is another rich media advertising bargain.

All of these advertising platforms can help your ecommerce store get attention during the otherwise crowded holiday season.

Start Content Marketing

Now is the time to start publishing 2016 Christmas shopping guides and other helpful content. Ensure that search engines have plenty of time to index your content before shoppers begin Googling for buying guides or product information.

Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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