How to Dominate the 2013 Holiday Shopping Season
Every year it seems like retailers roll out the Christmas decorations just a little bit earlier. Kmart started airing holiday ads this September. Why? Kmart wins big on layaway plans, and it figured out that customers need to start thinking about that now to have items paid for in time. Kmart knows its customers and is hitting the nail on the head.
This strategy didn't go unnoticed. People crawled out of the woodwork to complain about it, and it was a national news story across the morning shows. Although the season is supposed to hit high gear AFTER Halloween, very few people think to ask why holiday marketing campaigns are coming earlier and earlier every year. And that's an important question. Why would a retailer set up Christmas displays in October? Or September? Maybe even August? Surely it isn't just because they're imbued with holiday joy.
The answer is because timing is a key aspect of holiday success. Smart retailers try to figure out exactly when their specific sales seasons start. For some, that could be the traditional launch of the holiday shopping season — Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Is that definitely true for every retailer? Are you sure?
Timing matters. The core of marketing is messaging, and when you say something is as important as what you say and where you say it. It's a bit of a balancing act. If you mess up the when, what or where, it throws the entire campaign off. Due to the finite length of holiday shopping seasons, you have to get it right as quickly as possible. There may not be a second chance before the opportunity is blown.
Let the Past Guide You
In digital marketing, like in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The best executed campaigns arise from diligent planning. The best resource you have is last year's data. Research past traffic patterns, product sales and conversion rates. Once you identify trends, take advantage of them. If you see sales of an item spiked at a specific time, use that knowledge to guide merchandising strategy. When you know something is selling like hot cakes, give it front-page placement on your website.
This is an excellent time to use your powers of deduction to implement related tactics. Look back and see when "gifty" items started selling well. This is the time to deploy holiday-specific landing pages and gift cards. It may make perfect sense or it may not, but don't discount the data. That's exactly why certain retailers start marketing for the holidays in September; they realized through past sales numbers that's when their customers are beginning to shop for the season.
Rethink Your Segments
You probably have a pretty good idea of who your target market is. That's great most of the time, but holiday seasons throw monkey wrenches into what you think you know about your customers. Holidays are about giving gifts, and that means a lot of sales will come from one-time buyers. These are people shopping for your loyal base, and they're generally much different from your usual customers.