The summer is still hot in many places, but for retailers across the U.S., the winter holiday season has already begun. Keep reading to discover how to start preparing your store for the holiday season right now.
1. FOR RETAILERS, THE HOLIDAYS START IN OCTOBER… OR SEPTEMBER… OR JUNE
A recent survey from Shopify delved into the holiday strategies of 50 retail industry leaders. Their most important piece of advice was to start early and plan ahead as much as possible.
Over 43% of respondents started planning in Q3. The most common month to start planning was September for a quarter of respondents, while October was a close second at 19.6%. Which months rounded out the top five? June (15%), July (9%), and August (7%).
If you're gearing up for holiday season 2019, the time to start is truly now. Based on your historical data, start mapping out sales, your key promotional days, inventory needs, and staff scheduling. Learn from what has actually worked in the past, and what hasn't. If you didn't capture data last year, make sure to make that a priority this year.
Also, before the real work begins, create some processes and template answers your team can use to answer common questions like:
- What will be the last day of purchase for Christmas delivery?
- What are your return policies?
- How can customers use promo codes or coupons, online and in store?
2. FIND NEW CUSTOMERS WITH PAID SOCIAL MEDIA ADS
Among Shopify respondents, 72.5% said paid Facebook ads were "very effective" for finding new customers. Over 58% noted that Instagram ads were "very effective." These two channels led the pack when it came to increasing discovery with new potential customers.
How can you make the best use of your marketing dollars?
- Start ads early, focusing on engagement, in the weeks leading up to Black Friday
- As the holidays get closer, retarget those engaged users with new click-through ads about your sales and promotions
- Get creative with ad placement, trying out Instagram Story ads or sites better suited to your products, like Pinterest or YouTube
- If you have a physical store, target ads to users near your location
- Drive ads about your flash sales and discounts, as three out of four customers report that "sales and promotions are very or extremely important to them" and 75% of industry leaders say site-wide discounts are "very effective"
3. MEET CUSTOMERS WHERE THEY ARE WITH PAID SEARCH ADS
On any day, Google receives over 63,000 searches. A typical person conducts at least three searches a day (though some conduct far, far more especially near the holidays).
With that many searches, we can guarantee that potential customers are already looking for the products you offer online. Find them there—on the first page of Google—with a paid search ad that's well produced and targeted to the right user. Learn more about targeting ads for Google searches here.
4. REACH EXISTING CUSTOMERS WITH EMAIL
If pay-to-play on social is the leading strategy for finding new customers, email is certainly the best way to reach your existing ones. Eclipsing even Facebook ads, 80% of Shopify's survey respondents noted that segmented email offers were "very effective."
You have the list but don't know how to segment it? Find some easy beginner options here or learn about MailChimp's segmenting tools here. Most importantly, thoughtfully design your email campaigns so they resonate with your different types of customers and add value based on their known shopping habits.
5. DON’T FORGET YOUR WEBSITE
Whether potential customers are landing on your website from a social ad or targeted email, your website should look and operate perfectly to keep them there.
Bring users to a custom, easy-to-use landing page after they click on a social ad. Make your sale or promotion highly visible. Add language about any incentives like fast shipping and free delivery. Above all, point them towards a prominent "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" button.
Likewise, your standard website should get a revamp during the holidays. Add a banner or pop-up with flash sale announcements and delivery deadlines. Add blog posts that feature unique products you sell or create gift guides that showcase items at various price points for every shopper.
The holiday season is a time of joy, sharing, and connection. When it comes to finding new customers or re-engaging old ones, the same themes persist. Share more on social. Spread joy with fun ads and website designs. Finally, connect with customers to make their holiday shopping experience more special and convenient.