It might feel like the last holiday shopping season just ended, but there's no rest for the weary because this year's is coming up fast. Retailers depend on a strong holiday shopping season to bolster their annual revenues, and success requires a smart, well-planned holiday marketing strategy.
Even though the true start of the holiday shopping season is still months away, retailers can't afford to wait. They need to start strategizing now so there's time to prepare for a multi-pronged, engaging retail strategy. The time to prep is now, and we've put together a quick guide to help you get started.
Review Last Year's Performance
Learn the lessons from last year. As Retail TouchPoints noted, every year brings new lessons at the industry level and for individual brands. If you ran any holiday marketing campaigns in 2016, you likely have strengths and weaknesses from that performance. Maybe social engagement was high while email referrals were low. Maybe you increased your in-store traffic but saw your average customer spend go down. Once you're able to identify the weaknesses from your previous strategy, you can take simple steps to improve this year's efforts.
Do you have poor email open rates? Explore ways you can build more personalized email content, including customized subject lines and user-specific coupons and ads. If in-store sales volume dipped, maybe you need to reconsider your promotional strategy. Consider mobile targeting with limited time offers that force consumers to come in-store to redeem. Brainstorm ways to shore up any poor performance, build upon the successes from last year, and don't be afraid to test new tactics.
Plan for Pre-holiday Shopping
According to Reuters, a growing number of customers start their holiday shopping before Black Friday, getting the jump as early as Halloween or even Labor Day. These customers are hoping to get a jump on other shoppers, and retailers should build holiday marketing strategies that accommodate these go-getters. Promotional efforts can take several forms, from personalized emails that advertise an exclusive early sale to pre-Black Friday coupons and other promotional content that motivates customers to buy now, rather than wait for Black Friday.
Since these campaigns come before the holiday shopping starts in full, you'll need to have these campaigns ready to go early — and they can't undermine your creation of other holiday campaigns.
Upgrade Your Omnichannel Experience
Omnichannel retail takes several forms, most notably in terms of operational changes: Ship-from-store and buy online, pickup in-store are valued by customers because of their flexibility. Instead of running from one store to the next, customers can go online, find a product at a particular store and reserve it for pickup later. If your company has this functionality, promote it heavily during the holiday season, including in the final days before a major holiday.
A lot is riding on your retail success during the holiday season, so start planning months in advance to optimize your performance.