Because Halloween and the Boogie Man are right around the corner (scared yet?), I’m going to give you 9 things you should be preparing in advance for the next seasonal event. And I’ll relate as many of them as I can to the years scariest night (Halloween) – because I think I’m officially addicted to metaphors.
This type of marketing lasts all year, so you should already be preparing for your next big holiday. As an extreme example of preparation, some department stores have Christmas trees up in September.
Here are 9 ways you can prepare your marketing for every seasonal event:
1. The First Rule of Preparation is Planning
Even though these holiday events occur every year, marketing departments still forget – they’re busy like everyone else. Start by putting a big calendar on the wall with all relevant seasonal events (there’s nothing like a little peer pressure to get you started) and dedicate lead up times, with ideas of what will happen during them (which we’ll explore below).
Also add them into your digital calendars for an extra reminder.
2. Optimize Your Shopping Cart
Now is the time to fine-tune your shopping cart. As you can see from the diagram below, there’s a LOT of room for improvement.
Some ways you can improve the success of your shopping cart are:
- Provide free shipping
- Make cart items visible at all times
- Reduce the number of pages involved in the checkout process
- Have a wide variety of payment options
- Remind customers of their abandoned carts (send them an email)
- More tips and full descriptions of the benefits here.
Spending the time to do this in advance of a big shopping holiday event will not only reap benefits now, but it will make your online store more successful on an ongoing basis.
If you don’t know how to do this, get a usability expert in, or use an online tool like usertesting.com to make sure you get the improvements defined in time for your dev team to make necessary changes. Be warned, this is the number one thing people hate to monkey with on an ecommerce site. But you WILL reape significant rewards if you get it done.
3. Prepare an Email Marketing Campaign
Let’s pretend for a second that we’re preparing for Christmas. A good idea might be to ask your customers or site visitors to subscribe to a “12 days of Christmas” campaign. Each day for 12 days you offer some value (discount or special deal) to your customers. You might want to start with your loss leaders at super low prices to build some momentum, before shifting up to your star products.
Start by reminding customers about delivery dates (nobody wants a screaming kid who didn’t get their gift at Christmas). Using Amazon as a classic example, they say “If you want this item to reach you by Dec 23rd, you must order in the next 48 hours” – enhancing the urgency.
Then closer to the day, remind them again of the deadline.
Finally on the day itself, it’s too late for them to buy something (all the guilty late shoppers raise your hands), but you have an opportunity to clear inventory that would likely go to waste, by providing a crazy final offer of 80% off all remaining items. There are always bargain hunters who will buy something to store away for next year.
Keep yourself top of mind all the way to the big day to make sure it’s your email they’re opening.
On a final note, send your email links to landing pages that you have control of (hint: Unbounce let’s you do that), so you can A/B test them without the delays of IT (see #6 below).
Make sure you have all of your emails and landing pages written and designed well in advance so you can QA them – remember, once you click the send button, there’s no going back.
4. Prepare a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign
Spend your time doing research on long tail terms to keep your costs down. For example, for Halloween you could try bidding on “scary outfits for children” or “kids trick or treat clothing,” instead of “Halloween Costumes.”
You’ll get less traffic, but it will be nicely qualified and will give you a better chance of ranking more highly in the paid search results. It will also be cheaper, helping the margins on what you’re selling.
For your flagship products, send paid traffic to a targeted landing page where the focus is all about how great they are (add testimonials). Clearly in the B2C eCommerce world, you can’t produce a landing page for every product, but you can do it for your best products – and the lessons you’ll learn from A/B testing these pages can be fed back to your global templates to increase your conversions for all products.
By giving your star products extra attention, you’ll increase your conversions and combat B2C comparison shopping trends.
Start your keyword research early and see what your competitors are doing so that you can bid on terms they aren’t using. And get the landing pages for your star products made ASAP – as you’ll need to test them for Quality Score. Just make sure that you don’t run any paid traffic to your landing pages before the day of your campaign.
5. Prepare an eBook
Halloween is on the 31st EVERY year – hard to forget right? Especially if you have that big calendar on the wall. So maybe write an eBook of 31 Halloween costume ideas. You can use this as free content to email to people as a Halloween “Treat,” making you appear generous and smart.
Conduct a group brainstorm well in advance to give you enough time to get the eBook ready, and have it presented as a professionally designed PDF.
6. Prepare alternative Landing Page Designs for A/B Testing
Here’s a tip to learn more about your customers. Try two variations of the landing pages for your PPC & email campaigns: One themed with holiday relevant design elements (for Halloween it could be pumpkins and scary monsters) and leave your other page designed like your regular landing pages. Then run them against each other in an A/B test experiment to see whether people are “tricked” by your fancy design, or “treated” by your regular page.
If you do this far enough in advance, you’ll be able to send your remaining traffic to the best possible destination, and you’ll also know how to approach your page designs for the next seasonal event.
7. Prepare a Contest for Brand Exposure
An example for Halloween would be to ask your customers to send in photos of their best pumpkin carvings and give the winner a gift voucher that they can spend in your store. Social media is a good way to drive new traffic to a contest (as well as emailing your customers).
A really great way to entice your customers is to partner with a complimentary service – a good example for Valentines day would be if you owned a flower shop, you could work in a deal with a chocolate store or spa to create a more enticing giveaway.
Build a viral contest landing page that requires people to like you on Facebook, Tweet about the contest and supply their email address (required for them to be notified if they win). You can run this for weeks leading up to the holiday with the social shares building momentum and spreading the word. And with the emails you collect, send follow up messages and deals (that you should decide on ahead of time).
8. Remember to “Treat” Your VIP’s
Send a giant box of Halloween candy (or whatever is relevant at the time) to a group of your best customers and those who buy your higher ticket items, so they know you love them and appreciate their business. This will remind them about you and result in some extra business.
For lasting value, be sure to brand whatever you send them so they see your logo every day.
Remember to measure the ROI of this type of campaign.
Make sure it gets to them in time!
9. Go Google
Like the search giant, who changes their logo for special occasions, re-brand all of your social media pages (Twitter background, Facebook header, Google+ header etc) according to the holiday.
Keep an inventory of all customer touch-points so you are prepared to tackle them all at once.
Bonus Tip – Seasonal Events List
To get you started, here are some of the more common seasonal events you might want to target, starting today (sort of in order):
- New Years
- Valentine’s day
- Saint Patrick’s Day
- Spring Break
- 4th of July
- Back to School
- Rosh Hashanah
What are you doing to promote your products for Halloween? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.