With the summertime (supposedly) in full swing, the last thing anyone wants to do is start thinking about the upcoming festive season. However, for online retailers, Christmas really does come early and identifying a strategy now can make the difference between success or failure at the most important time in the retail calendar.
To highlight this point event further, last year Ometria found that customers acquired at Christmas time are 59% more likely to purchase again the next year, when compared to those who were acquired at other points in the year. Christmas is therefore a great time to acquire loyal customers, not just one-off seasonal purchasers.
Every year, we feature our top tips to start planning for the Christmas season and although we still stand by what we suggested in 2014, we’ve expanded on a few of the points and provided some new tips to help you get prepared…
Speak to your customers!
Our Managing Director, Rosie Freshwater, is a huge advocate of running surveys to gain insight about your customers and establish their shopping behaviour. Create a simple survey using a service like Survey Monkey and offer your customers an incentive for filling it in such as a giveaway or discount. Ask them if they are likely to shop with you for Christmas gifts this year and if so, what categories, price points and people they will be shopping for. This will give you a good steer on where to spend your marketing budget.
We also suggest asking your customers how you can give them the perfect shopping experience this Christmas. Ask questions around preferred delivery options, customer service channels and gift wrapping, as well as the types of gifts they will be looking to buy and who they will be buying for. Use this insight to get your Christmas promotions on point.
In a nutshell, it’s crucial to understand and profile your customers and then build your marketing strategy around them.
Get your website up to speed
As well as the survey questions above, ask your customers what they think about your website and invest some user testing sessions to identity any issues on your website. Services like WhatUsersDo are great help identity any issues in your customer journey and the user experience of your website. By doing this now, you’ll allow yourself ample time to make any necessary changes to your site.
Start a program of CRO testing, so you can be sure that your landing pages are converting well when it comes to the key Christmas period. Consider the page layouts, your basket, usability of checkout and test what are good merchandising and upsell opportunities on your key pages.
We also recommend running an optimisation review and a natural and paid search gap analysis as soon as possible. This will ensure that any well performing paid search terms are included on your site. Be sure to sense check the terms you are promoting to ensure these are still potentially good traffic drivers.
Start planning your specific Christmas landing pages now to ensure that you have strong landing pages for any campaigns you are running as well any Black Friday/ Cyber Monday promotions. While on the topic of Black Friday – make sure you have a watertight plan, as many retailers were caught out by its popularity last year and it’s predicated to be even bigger in 2015. Start planning everything from your product strategy and promotions to fulfilment and delivery.
Social media and content
When preparing any paid social campaigns, think about the platforms you are running campaigns on and what your audience looks like on each platform e.g. is your Facebook following mainly women while your Twitter followers are men? Use this insight to create campaigns that are appropriate for each channel. Look at your campaigns from last Christmas and see what you can learn from them – what worked and what didn’t?
Imagery and video content is REALLY important – it’s what grabs the reader’s attention, whether that’s a blog post or a Facebook update. Therefore, any creatives shouldn’t be an afterthought when creating Christmas content. Make sure you have the resource to create awesome images that reflect your brand and will engage your audience.
Also, ensure your social team are working very closely customer service department if they sit in separate teams. Typically, Christmas will be a busy time for them, but it’s likely there will be an increase in enquires and complaints coming through from the social too. Agree who is responsible for dealing with queries and and customer enquiries or problems are dealt with in a quick and efficient manner.
Make sure you have visibility of every promotion you will be running over the Christmas period and how they will be promoted, so you can plan your campaigns around them. Look back at which promotions have worked best in the past, such as flash sales, free delivery or discounts, and focus on these in your Christmas promotions.
Plan your paid search budgets to anticipate shifts in search volume for big shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take a look at your data from last year to see which days were the most popular and plan accordingly.
Upload all new advert creatives well in advance of their launch to ensure they are reviewed and approved before your campaign starts – this includes both text and image ads. Don’t let Google hold up getting your campaigns started!
Lastly, make sure your product feeds are fully optimised for Google Shopping which is a key channel for Christmas shopping when consumers are looking for specific products. By not having visibility in Google shopping, you’ll be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic.
As you can see there is certainly lots to be thinking about and this blog post has only just scratched the service. The key to having a successful Christmas is to start now, plan well ahead, and be organised! If you’d like to talk to us about your Christmas strategy, then do get in touch, there’s only 152 days to go…