It’s a given customers will be spending money during the holidays, but what can retailers and other businesses do to maximize their sales and market their brands to see increases in revenue?
First, they’ll need to consider their digital marketing strategy to garner sales from online shopping – last year, small businesses saw a 26.6% jump in online sales over the holidays.
This year, shoppers are expected to spend upwards of $1,000 on gifts, travel and entertainment, the number varying depending on the source. What they spend will primarily grow from inflation increases, since they’ll be more budget conscious as they face rising prices for groceries and other necessities. The growth, adjusted for inflation, is expected to be 1-3%, below the 10-year average.
Holiday shopping will still be a big deal this year. Since it starts before Halloween, preparing for the season’s sales is never too late. Make sure you have the inventory you need, gift wrapping items, promotional materials, a marketing strategy and an understanding of holiday trends and of your customer’s desires and needs.
Here are some key tips for developing a marketing strategy, which will help increase sales and boost brand engagement during the holidays and connect you with existing and new customers.
1. Run a holiday-themed giveaway
Shoppers are looking to purchase gifts, but they still like the idea of buying something for themselves. You can incentivize them to shop at your online or retail store and engage with your brand by offering free products, samples and gift cards.
Some ideas include a free gift card with a gift card purchase, gift cards at a discount, a free product with certain items or amount of spending, or free shipping. For online sales, encourage customers to engage in social shares with a product discount, such as $1 off for tweeting something about the website or store. Make sure the giveaway or promotion is easy to share with friends and family, which will help increase brand awareness.
2. Add holiday-specific website content
Create a festive mood on your website on your landing and other pages, encouraging visitors to stay longer if they’re already thinking about the holidays. Don’t just focus on ads and special offers, but add holiday content to headers, footers and elsewhere on your pages. Also, create separate landing pages for your products and services, providing a clear picture of your special offers and a direct call to action, leading to better holiday conversion rates.
Make sure the pages include only essential details, without too much text, and that can be easily scanned. Also, make sure the call to action is strategically placed on the page. And include gift guides with gift ideas for friends, family and others, which not only attracts more customers, but can boost your search engine optimization (SEO).
Ideas can include the best Christmas gifts to give your boyfriend or girlfriend and Black Friday deals you won’t want to miss. Be sure to include your own products or services in the list.
3. Create a holiday-inspired hashtag
Use a holiday hashtag on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter to promote your sales and promotions, while also increasing interest and helping with engagement. Keep the hashtag simple and easy to recognize and understand, while connecting it to your brand. But be sure to avoid generic phrases like #HappyHolidays, since they will not direct traffic as easily to you.
Once you have a hashtag, use it consistently across all platforms. Encourage your customers to include it with shares of photos and videos of themselves using your product or service, and keep their posts in one place for others to access.
4. Develop a holiday app
Develop a free downloadable app that helps customers with their holiday shopping and task lists, so they keep your brand in mind whenever they need to refer to the app or want to share it with friends and family.
Another idea is an interactive app geared to children so that they can write out and send their gift lists to their parents or an interactive card that can be sent to friends and family.
5. Run a holiday-themed email marketing campaign
Offer customers an exclusive offer through a festive email that promotes a holiday discount, an extra award or a sale on a seasonal product or service. Ideas include discounts on early bird purchases for a limited period of time, special prices for online orders and exclusive discount codes for in-store purchases.
Keep the email simple and to the point, avoid large chunks of text, and use colorful designs and photos. Ideas include discounts for early birds purchasing gifts for a limited period of time, special prices for online orders and exclusive discount codes for in-store purchases.
Remind customers about the last possible date for packages to be delivered on time, or send them “last-minute gift ideas” if they don’t have to use the mail to deliver their gifts. Also send a list of gift ideas, encouraging them to choose your store or site.
Other ideas include saying thank you and giving back as a way to improve customer engagement and brand awareness. To say thank you, create a customer appreciation campaign, thanking your customers for visiting your site or store with stamps or points, tiered rewards for increased levels of activity, and surprise discounts or offers. Or send a thank you email or card to motivate them to return to your business.
To give back, participate in a holiday charity by donating to a cause, dedicating a portion of your sales to a nonprofit, or hosting an online or in-person event to raise funds for a local nonprofit. This shows your business cares about the places it does business.
An effective holiday marketing campaign can start with these tips, plus other holiday marketing tips from the BBB.
By thinking ahead, you will find that you’re bringing in new customers, increasing engagement with existing customers and continuing to build loyalty and trust with your brand.
Shelley Polansky is president/CEO of BBB Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming.