Holiday marketing? No, not yet. Summer is still winding down. It is too early to worry about holiday marketing. Actually, this is the ideal time to map out your holiday strategy. While things are a little slow, you can look at the calendar objectively. Plan promotions, schedule emails and social media posts, and even revise your website so you can focus on your customers when the season is in full swing.

That’s why we are dedicating this entire week to getting you #HolidayReady. There will be blog posts, worksheets, podcasts, and webinars. All our content this week will focus on different aspects of your holiday marketing plan. Today we will take a quick look at ways to use email to fuel your holiday marketing. 

Use Email to Learn What Your Customers Want

Sure, you have been in business for years, and you have a pretty good idea what customers want. But every year tastes change. The explosion of online buying has dramatically shifted consumer behavior and expectations. So don’t leave things to chance. Send a short survey to your customers in October. These early results will allow you to make adjustments in your holiday staffing, promotions, and inventory levels. Here are just a few of the questions you might want to ask. Obviously you will adjust the questions to fit your business: 

  • When will you start your holiday shopping this season?
  • Do you expect to spend more or less than last year?
  • Will you be purchasing gift cards?
  • How important is “free shipping”?
  • Will you be taking advantage of gift wrap services?

Plan Holiday Email Campaigns for Each Shopper Type

As you are mapping out your holiday plans, be sure to consider the different types of shopper and how your message shifts for each group: The Early Birds, Prime Time, and Last Minute Shoppers.

How to attract the Early Birds

These organized customers shop early to beat the crowds, have the best selection, and have time to compare pricing to find the best deal.  These early birds are also a powerful indicator of what will be hot this season. Selling out of an item during an early preseason sale in October will still give you time to reorder and have more in stock for Prime Time.  Missing these early customers means you don’t have time to reorder on what is sure to be your hottest item. That’s why you see the big merchants running early season sales.  It helps them narrow down their inventory to pick the real winners. 

Reach out to your most loyal customers with special early bird holiday deals. Also, find the folks in your customer list who haven’t been in since last year, and make a special offer to them. Remember, you want to get to these folks early, so plan your preseason campaigns for early October.

Your offers need to create a sense of urgency. Buy now, or miss out. Here are a few examples:  

  • Time sensitive pricing – Save 25% if you shop before Halloween
  • Offer a gift with purchase, while supplies last
  • Host a preview party just for loyal customers, or offer early and late hours, just for October. 

Don’t limit your promotion to just email. This is a great time to try out Facebook ads to promote a preview party. Be sure to have a convenient way for new customers to sign up for your email list; that way, you can send the more updates and offers throughout the season. 

How to cash in on Prime Time

For many retail firms, 60% or more of their revenue comes in the last two months of the year. When you are in the thick of the holiday rush, there isn’t time to stop and work on your email campaign. Create your emails now, and schedule them to arrive just when holiday shopping is at it’s peak.

With so much to do this time of year, look for ways to make it easier for your customers.  

  • Send a campaign titled the “Holiday Gift Guide.” Feature items they can order for every member of their family. Bundle with free or discounted shipping, and you will have a winning campaign.
  • Pick just one item to feature. If you have had a solid preseason promotion, it is easy to pick a winner. When consumers are being bombarded with too much information and too many choices, a simple campaign that says, “This is the gift mom really wants,” can be incredibly effective. 

How to cash in on Last Minute Shoppers

No matter how hard you work to get customers to buy early, you know there will be some folks who wait till the very last minute. It is impossible to know exactly what you will still have in stock one week before the holiday, but you know there will be something. Design your last minute shopping email with a place holder image until you know what your featured product will be.

Design a series of countdown emails letting people know how late you will be open the week before the holiday, and the last day to shop online to be sure that their gift will arrive in time. 

More holiday tips.  

Be sure to check back all week for more holiday marketing tips. and join us on September 18th at 1:00 for a webinar: The Best Holiday Season

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