There are only 22 days left until Thanksgiving. Only 23 days left until Black Friday. A mere 21 days left until Hanukkah. Just 26 days until Cyber Monday.
And only 49 days until Christmas.
Take a deep breath, and try not to panic.
If you have not yet put together your company’s online holiday marketing strategy, there’s still time – but you’ll need to move quickly. In order to help you make the most of this season, we’ve compiled a list of the top 36 online holiday marketing tips that you just can’t afford to miss.
1. Take the time to plan. How many email apologies did you receive last year? Unfortunately, it’s all too common for companies to send out a hasty email, and then have to backtrack, apologizing to customers for the incorrect information. It will take time to carefully plan out your holiday marketing strategy, but the time spent will be well worth it when everything goes smoothly.
2. Deck the halls… of your website. You put up a tree in your stores or your office – why not decorate your website, as well? Add a holiday theme to your site, redesigning it to make it look more festive.
3. Don’t forget the details. Little things can make a big difference. Temporarily change the navigation on your site to include holiday-themed links, to encourage visitors to take a look at your special offers. And don’t forget to promote these new links in your marketing emails.
4. Add new options to your site. Allow shoppers to browse items by price, so they can easily see the choices within their budget. Or add “Shop for” sections to your site, listing items appropriate for different family members and friends.
5. Create a main holiday landing page. All of your emails, social media campaigns, and even in-store holiday marketing materials should point customers here. This page can be the hub for all your holiday deals and specials.
6. Load test your site before the rush. If your holiday marketing efforts are successful, that’s great…unless your site crashes from all the unexpected traffic. Make sure your site will be able to handle whatever comes its way.
7. Be very clear about shipping deadlines. In every email, and on your site, start telling people now what the shipping deadlines are for the holidays. In addition to being practical, it’ll create a sense of urgency that just might lead people to buy sooner rather than later.
8. Display customer service contact information prominently. Your customer service will be more important to customers now than during any other time of year. People will want to know how they can get in touch with you if something goes wrong so that it can be fixed before it’s gift-giving time.
9. Coordinate your efforts between all marketing departments. Each department should know what every other department is doing – and when. That way, customers won’t get confusing, mismatched holiday emails or texts, or several messages that all say essentially the same thing.
10. Cross those T’s and dot those I’s. When it comes to your holiday email marketing efforts, make absolutely sure that you have permission from every single recipient before you click send. Be sure you’re including an “unsubscribe” link in your emails, as well, just in case.
11. Be upfront with your customers. Of course, you’ll be increasing your email frequency during the holiday season. But so will everyone else. And sometimes all those extra emails can drive customers to unsubscribe, or worse, to mark your emails as spam. Let your customers know that you’ll be sending more emails than usual – and tell them how long the change will last, too. That way, they’ll know it’s only temporary, and be less likely to take drastic action.
12. Take an inventory of all your automatically scheduled messaging. Check to see which emails, texts, and social media posts you already have scheduled to go out on a regular basis, and then prune as needed. You don’t want to overwhelm people by posting or sending them multiple holiday-themed items along with several regular messages, too!
13. Re-mail emails. If some people have not opened a certain email from your company yet, don’t give up and go back to the drawing board. Try resending the same email with a different subject line.
14. Offer a daily or weekly deal. To make your multiple holiday emails seem more purposeful – and even give customers a reason to look forward to getting a new one each day or each week – try offering a daily or weekly deal, counting down to Christmas.
15. Offer a progressive deal. You can also send an email offering a progressive deal to customers. The way this works is that recipients must open the email in order to be sent the next day’s deal. This keeps customers engaging with your messages.
16. Hold a flash sale. A flash sale is one that is announced suddenly and only lasts for a very limited time, such as a few hours. Try sending an email announcing the sale a little before it starts, and then another once it begins.
17. Make sure you have a clear call to action when it comes to social media. Simply having a generic Facebook or Twitter button near a sale offer or a product won’t do – customers won’t know whether the button will share something, like your page, or do something else entirely. Be sure that any link to social media is crystal clear about what you want customers to do with it.
18. Encourage holiday conversations on social media. But don’t force them. Ask customers to share reviews of products or gift ideas. Let them post pictures on your pages. Get them talking, and then keep fueling the conversation by joining in yourself, as well.
19. Send mobile-friendly coupons. Who doesn’t appreciate every little bit of convenience they can get during the hectic holiday season? Sending coupons via text or email that can be scanned on a phone at check-out will make things much easier on your customers.
20. Develop a new mobile app. You can include games, the ability to “check in” when you’re in a store, and even special deals only offered to app users.
21. Remind your biggest spenders from last year of their purchases. Send an email refreshing their memory – they just might decide to repeat their performance.
22. Send customers a holiday ecard. With all the promotional emails being sent out, it’s refreshing to find one that doesn’t ask customers to buy and doesn’t announce a sale, but instead, simply wishes them a happy holiday season.
23. Plan your email subject lines carefully. Your customers will be bombarded with emails this holiday season. Make yours stand out by crafting your subject lines to be just right.
24. Consider removing some people from your email list, just for the holidays. Just the inactive people who never open your emails. Why? So that you’re less likely to run the risk of their marking your emails as spam, and to increase your open rate.
25. Keep your holiday emails relevant. Don’t send every email to everyone on your list. Segment your mailing list, and send tightly focused offers to each different group.
26. Create a gift guide. This can be on your site or in an email. The easier you make it for people to find and buy the right gifts for their family and friends, the more business you’re bound to get.
27. Try a friends and family campaign. Ask customers to share specials or products with their friends and family in exchange for an additional discount.
28. Don’t confine yourself to just a couple days of mega sales. Why keep it at Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when you can branch out to Cyber Week? Create deals that get people coming back for longer periods of time.
29. Instead of focusing on one-way messages to customers, try interactive messaging. Solicit their comments and stories. Make it fun for customers to get involved.
30. Use your blog to the fullest. Blog about those holiday specials, but don’t stop there. Let people know why your company is better than the competitors. Describe your holiday-related good deeds. Wish everyone a happy season. Use your blog to its full potential.
31. Create a countdown ticker to holidays. Nothing creates urgency better than a countdown ticker on the top of your site letting people know down to the second when their time is up. Make one for Black Friday, one for Christmas, and one for any other sale you have going on.
32. Send shipping-focused emails, social media posts, and texts. The U.S. Postal Service may fight their way through rain and sleet and snow, but even they can’t add more days into the calendar. Letting customers know about holiday shipping deadlines is a surefire way to get them to order.
33. Use urgency in email subject lines and social media posts. Using phrases such as “there’s still time” and “it’s not too late” will get people moving, as well.
34. Let last-minute shoppers know about your store hours and locations. Last minute shoppers have to shop in person, so make sure you focus on where you are and when you’ll be open for them when the time is growing short.
35. Promote eGift cards for ultra-last minute shoppers. The brilliance of eGift cards is that they can be purchased on Christmas Day, and still get to the recipient on time! Be sure to let those last minute shoppers know you offer them.
36. Finally, make all your online holiday marketing activities measurable. This way, you can either repeat them or tweak them next year.
Have any stories to share about your own company’s holiday marketing efforts? Or maybe you have a few ideas to add to our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!