When should holiday marketing begin?
To me, holiday marketing should never stop. If that’s not feasible, finalize a holiday marketing plan as early as possible. It should address inventory, packaging, and preparing the website and physical location(s). It should also include plans for customer acquisition and retention, with calendars, promotions, and creatives.
Here is my holiday marketing to-do list for fashion and lifestyle merchants.
Website Marketing, Optimization
Create or update holiday landing pages. An online merchant should have holiday-related pages all year. The more you update them, the higher they show in search results year after year.
Generate holiday-related content.
- Downloadable guides and ebooks. For example, holiday wardrobe ideas, recipes, and decoration tips. Consider information that shoppers would otherwise pay for, but you provide for free, such as how to become your own stylist or fitness trainer. The key is to publish content that consumers want and need.
- Holiday-themed how-to videos.
- Holiday-related customer testimonials.
- Holiday gift guides. Promote under-performing products, showcase bestsellers, or even test new arrivals. If you mix all those products with holiday-themed merchandise, you could meet holiday profit goals and also gain an understanding for the next year.
What should a gift guide look like? In my experience, use graphics, infographics (the most shareable type of content and helpful for search engine optimization), lookbooks, and PDFs.
Use holiday-themed designs. During the holidays, your website should provide the look and feel that triggers nostalgic, childhood emotions. This is one reason why consumers buy from one site and not the other.
Inventory Mix, Packaging
Stock your store throughout the year with upcoming holidays in mind. Here is an inventory checklist.
Holiday product lines. These are items that you sell exclusively during the holidays. They can be themed or exclusive for the season. Your shoppers must know that when holidays are over — those lines will be gone for good or at least until next year. This creates a sense of scarcity and urgency.
Stocking items. This is a separate shopping category for fashion and lifestyle consumers. Emphasize merchandise that is attractive, useful, and unique.
Gift sets. Instead of upselling and cross-selling with discounts, combine your products into sets. It will create value and increase the average order size.
Gift baskets. Try gift baskets during the holidays. Survey customers throughout the year to determine what kind of baskets would be the most appealing. Then create products accordingly.
Bestsellers enhanced with holiday accents. Pick several of your bestsellers and give them a holiday makeover.
Gifts. Do not underestimate the power of gifts. Thoughtfully chosen items will make your shoppers feel appreciated and will encourage them to return. Do not view gifts as an expense. Build the cost into other products.
Holiday packaging and gift wraps. Holiday packaging makes shopping special. Gift-wrap not only sets a holiday mood but also gives your customers one less thing to worry about.
Shipping, Returns, Service
Buy online, return in store. As simple as it sounds, many stores don’t do this. As a result, shoppers choose the convenience of big-box retailers.
Shipping policy. Your holiday shipping policy should be visible on your home page, shipping section, and distributed via emails and social media.
Return, exchange policy. I always recommend free returns and free first exchange. Include return and exchange info on the home page, supporting pages, FAQs, and all marketing communications.
Extended customer service hours. If you can’t afford 24/7 holiday customer service, extend your hours as long as possible.
Acquisition efforts should continue year-round. Customer retention, however, should be a priority during the holiday season. Consumers buy from merchants they know and trust.
- Promote holiday gift guides, videos, and posts with proven influencers. Do not try new influencers during the holiday season.
- Pay-per-click holiday campaigns can be effective.
- Holiday driven SEO should be an ongoing effort to rank higher every year.
- Google Shopping is a must during the holiday season.
- Affiliate-marketing affiliates will expect holiday campaigns.
Email campaigns are the best holiday retention strategy. In my experience, several tactics work.
- Abandoned cart recovery emails should have product images as well as holiday specials, such as free shipping, gift wrapping, and anything else to save the sale.
- All transactional emails should have a holiday look and feel.
- Promotional emails should describe product benefits.
- Retargeting is a must. Visitors who are retargeted with display ads are more likely to convert.
Try these ideas at your physical location.
- Storefront and interior decorations and music.
- Holiday inspired snacks and drinks.
- Gift wrap with every purchase.
- Holiday-themed shopping bags.
- Co-promotions with other local business.