5 tried-and-true tips for better holiday marketing

The eCommerce marketing tactics that make a difference

Amanda LeVine on November 20, 2015 • 6 minute read

Believe it or not, holiday time is upon us. And for ecommerce marketers, that means time to prep those green & red display banners, optimize holiday landing pages, and hope the site doesn’t crash. There’s a lot to be thinking about this time of year, so we’ve boiled it down to 5 helpful tips for getting the most out of this holiday season.

1. Get included in gift guides

The National Retail Federation expects this holiday season to be even bigger than last year, with consumers planning to spend an average of $805 on holiday merchandise. So don’t miss out on seasonal gift guides, a great opportunity to get your products in front of consumers.  Either create your own guide as great content you can publish to your followers, or try to get placed in roundup guides your target audience might read.  Fair warning: gift guides get created and published earlier than you’d expect, so time is of the essence with this one.

What matters: If you’re creating your own gift guide, think about ways you can group products together that might make shopping easier for your prospects.  For example, maybe you can create an “under $50” gift grouping or a “for new mothers” gift grouping. Of course, you’ll want to pick categories that are pertinent and appropriate for your business and customers, but think about leveraging your gift guide as an opportunity to position your products as solutions to the buyer’s problems. Shopify has published a great post on gift guides with more info on how to make them work for you.

2. Personalize, personalize, personalize

Whether it’s as simple as including your customer’s name in an email or as advanced as making recommendations based on their previous buying behavior, personalization both large and small can go a long way in encouraging a customer to come back to you.

Especially during the holidays when consumers are likely to be coming and going as they comparison shop or look for deals, tailoring your communication to each shopper becomes a necessity.  If you’re looking for inspiration, check out some of these creative examples of email personalization.

What matters: Use all the great data you have about your customers and their buying behavior to your advantage, and to give them the best experience possible.  But, be sure to use common sense to stay away from anything that might seem invasive or big brother-ish. Not quite sure how to navigate that? We’ve got some tips for making sure you don’t let data lead your customer insights astray.

3. Self-gifting

Self-gifting has been an emerging trend for the last few years, with more and more consumers opting to purchase for themselves during the holidays. Who doesn’t love the idea of “giving” to themselves a little more here and there? In fact, the National Retail Federation survey found that “55.8% of people plan to splurge on themselves and/or others for non-gift items this year.”

What matters: So even if you’re not selling classic gifts like toys, jewelry or electronics, there’s still ample opportunity to leverage the “shopping spirit” this time of year.  Perhaps it might make sense for you to run a promotion that encourages customers to buy something for themselves in addition to the gifts they’ve planned (e.g., “buy one for a friend get one 50% off for you!”), or maybe it’s just an opportunity to highlight items that aren’t traditionally gifted that you could use to drive additional volume this quarter.

4. Want to know why people aren’t buying? Ask them.

It’s never too late to optimize, especially during the holiday season. So if you want to understand what’s working and what’s not on your site, you may want to ask your customers for feedback directly.

Depending on what you’re looking to learn, think about whether you’d be better of with a post-purchase survey sent via email to ask customers to reflect on their experience buying with you, or if it might be more useful to do an in-session survey that asks about your website or products right in the moment.

There are some simple tools you can use for either approach, including Survey Monkey or Qualtrics for post purchase surveys, or something like Qualroo for in-session surveys.

What matters: Either way, be sure to have clear goals for what you want to learn and/or what problems you’re trying to solve. From there, make sure your questions are actionable so you don’t just end up with “interesting” information that doesn’t actually help you improve your business.

5. Know your metrics

Above all else, measure.  But with so many levers to pull and promotions to watch, knowing which metrics to keep an eye on is critical.  You’ll need to figure out exactly which metrics are right for you, but chances are you’ll want these three on your list:

  • Site Traffic – It’s no secret that more people coming to your website means more potential buyers. But don’t forget to also check out where those people are coming from. Did they read about you in an article? See your ad on facebook? Click through from an email you sent? Understanding which levers are most successfully driving traffic (and which aren’t) will enable you to double down on what’s working and cut your losses on what’s not.
  • Conversion Rate – Having lots of visitors is great, but only if those people actually buy something.  Be sure to watch your conversion rate to understand how the number of people who buy something compares to the total number of people who visited your site (or a specific page). You may even want to play around with A/B testing on certain, highly-trafficked pages to see if changing your CTA, button placement, or other things can increase the number of people who buy.
  • AOV (Average Order Value) – AOV is the average dollar amount of each sale on your site. It’s pretty easy to calculate, but can hold tremendous value for understanding your business.  Even if you’re not able to increase the number of visitors to your site, increasing AOV can make a big difference in revenue. To increase AOV, try offering free shipping with a minimum purchase, recommending products based on what someone has already added to their cart, or offering tiered discounts so the more someone spends the more they can save.

What matters: It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of data that’s available, so make sure you stay focused on the metrics that really matter. Otherwise, you may end up optimizing for the wrong things.

Despite your inevitable growing to do list, the good news is that the holiday season is an exciting time in ecommerce. So create a plan to get your ducks in a row, don’t be afraid to test and learn throughout the season, and most of all — don’t forget to celebrate your successes with some good old fashioned family time.

About the author
Amanda LeVine When she’s not leading marketing at Databox, you’ll find Amanda hunting for great discounts, doing Zumba, or watching the Bachelor. Driving growth for tech companies is in her blood, having previously held marketing roles at two Boston tech companies that went public.
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