Holiday 2018: A Brief Survival Guide for Retail Marketers
Retailers know if they're not thinking about holiday sales now, they're already late to the game. The good news is all hope is not lost. Those who haven’t gotten started with their seasonal plans need to start immediately — and be smart about it. Planning for the days between Black Friday and New Year’s is only getting crazier as the media landscape becomes more fragmented.
Even if you’re just getting started today, you can still win the season if you’re smart, strategic and creative. Fear not if you don’t have a strategy in place, because there are ways to grab those post-holiday shoppers too. These winning moves can help jump-start your holiday marketing.
- Start planning now, if you haven’t already. Begin by really thinking about your customer journey, and how your customers are finding you. Use data to understand how your customers shop. (If you’re unable to work with your own data, there are third-party partners who can help.) Not only will you engage your shoppers more effectively, you’ll discover the best ways to target new customers.
- Optimize for search, ASAP. Paid search is instantaneous, but organic search takes time. Keywords need to “marinate” before they start appearing at the top of results pages. Start building pages with your important holiday keywords, whether they’re “Orlando Vacation Package” or “Hatchimals” or “Acid Wash High-Waisted Jeans.” By building and optimizing those pages now using SEO best practices (like quality inbound links, meta keywords and descriptions), you’re building your chances for product to trend in the months leading up to — and beyond — the holiday season.
- Make mobile a priority. Mobile accounted for 30 percent of Cyber Monday revenue last year, so a mobile strategy is mission-critical. Whether you have a mobile app or mobile site in place, make sure it’s really easy to use. Shoppers expect your full product catalog, great prices, and fast and easy shipping options. Buy online, pickup in-store is an important feature: not only is it desirable to consumers, for retailers it opens the possibility of incremental purchases. Mobile also offers great geo-targeting options for marketers.
- Consider cause marketing, supporting charities that matter to your customers and staff. Brands like Bombas, Warby Parker and Subaru have benefited by giving back. The secret to their success? They just do it and as they do, they give consumers “ownership” of the donation. Yes, there’s a page on each company’s website about giving back. But there’s no great fanfare, no massive marketing push — just a quiet groundswell of consumer love and loyalty that comes from doing the right thing.
- Give email the attention it deserves. Email has never been more powerful. Sure, we all get a lot of (too much) email, but when consumers receive offers from brands they love and trust, they open them. In fact, in the holiday season some even welcome an email with the hope that it may include a special offer. The key, as it is with all communication, is personalization. Use your customer data to create messages tailored to recipients. Doing so will help drive measurable results.
- Print adds punch to the consumer journey. Magazine cover wraps, in-book ads, direct mail and catalogs provide an intimate and creative way to drive home messaging. Use data to tailor who you're saying what to, and you'll truly drive home messaging. Magazine cover wraps are the ideal way to showcase messaging in an uncluttered premium event. Make sure you include a clear call to action on your print creative and you will have given your brand the gift of a high-impact, data-fueled campaign. Keep in mind, print marketing requires a fair amount of lead time, so plan carefully!
With the holiday season fast approaching, here’s hoping these new ideas and tactics will spark excitement for the weeks and months ahead. So whether it’s early or late in the game for you, we’re wishing you a successful holiday 2018!
Janine Pollack is the director of integrated marketing at MNI Targeted Media Inc., a media planning and buying agency.