4 Ideas for Retail Holiday Marketing Success

As shoppers begin building their wish list for the holidays, retailers are in the midst of getting their own lists in order. With new inventory arriving, elevated budgets and larger efforts to increase sales, the holidays can bring quite a bit of excitement and chaos. In order to create a clear path to success this season, you want to make sure you capture the right audience at the right time with the right message.

Here are four marketing tips to maximize sales this holiday season:

1. Start early:

As a small retailer in a constant state of catching up, the advice of “starting early” is laughable. But, if you dedicate even a small portion of your time now to planning for the upcoming holiday season, what is now laughable can actually save your sales.

Begin with your historical data to get a sense of how your 2014 holiday season performed and what you can learn from it. Are there products you should focus your marketing efforts on? Were you responsive to customers on social media? Did you have any big hiccups that could be avoided this time? Creating a document of what you learned can be very helpful in gaining momentum on marketing and inventory planning for the upcoming holiday season.

To start, answer these questions:
1. What are your primary goals for this upcoming holiday season?
2. What were your best and worst selling items last year? Are there patterns?
3. What marketing tactics did you implement last year? What can you learn from them?
4. How are your competitors marketing their products?
5. Who is your target audience? Create a profile that consists of age, gender, demographic, etc.
6. How does your target audience purchase items?
7. What do your customers think about your business and what are some of your differentiators?
8. How can you leverage quantitative (historical sales) and qualitative (customer feedback) data to make better decisions this year?

2. Explore new marketplaces:
Do you know where your target customer shops? What marketing and sales channels did you explore last year and where did you find success? Is it time to expand to Amazon and other marketplaces?

Retailers who sell through a shopping cart and also have a single marketplace make 38% more revenue than those with no marketplaces. Those who have two marketplaces make 120% more revenue. Expanding to multiple channels and meeting the demands of where customers want to shop is a great way to increase sales this holiday season.

3. Test new marketing channels:
According to MarketingLand, email marketing and online search (free and paid) were the dominant marketing channels for the 2014 holiday season:

"Google is still the gatekeeper to online shopping, and search is still the primary way people find the product they want. During the 2014 holiday shopping season, 38.5% of online transactions originated in a search query (either free or paid). Organic (free) search drove 21% of orders, and paid search drove 17.5%.

Email marketing was the third largest channel, driving 17.7% of online orders."

If you haven’t already, research what keywords are optimal for your business. Create website content that will drive more SEO traffic to your site and engage those who are looking for something specific you provide. Once you’ve completed the foundation pieces, explore paid advertisements and target them toward your specific audience (re: the target audience profile). You can base your advertisements on time of day, location, and more.

Not into managing a full paid advertisement campaign? No pressure! Another way to continue engaging current and new customers is through email marketing.

Here are a few ways you can use email marketing to increase sales:
1. Provide special offers for flash sales.
2. Incentivize customers to share your business with their friends in order to get a free item or discount.
3. Promote similar products to ones they previously purchased.
4. Increase buzz by giving customers a sneak peek of items you plan on launching during the holidays.
5. Share your social profiles and encourage them to follow along, post and comment.
6. Bring back people who have abandoned their shopping cart with additional discounts.

4. Don’t underestimate the power of the new year:
Sales in the first six days of January 2014 were greater than the sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday combined from the previous year. Even though sales tend to peak during the big Thanksgiving weekend and trickle throughout December, don’t slow down too much once January hits. Many shoppers are still in shopping mode well into the new year and if you back off your marketing efforts too much, you may miss more sales opportunities!

When there’s a disproportionate amount of shopping during the holiday season, retail marketers need to figure out ways to capture that captive audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to boost sales and set your business up for a successful new year!

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