2014 Online Holiday Marketing Checklist

The first week of November has come to a close, and Thanksgiving is right around corner. For many families, this means stuffing themselves full with turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes. For ecommerce store owners, it also marks the busiest and most lucrative time of year.

We all know that Black Friday is a huge boon for traditional and online retailers alike, and 2014 is shaping up to be no different. However, according to Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast, Thanksgiving Day will also see record online sales, while Cyber Monday will continue to be the single largest online sales day of the year. And this only November!

In December, the week before and the week after Christmas Day represent some huge opportunities for ecommerce retailers as well. Last year, 17% of Christmas shoppers did all of their shopping online, with 50% completing over half of their holiday shopping online. The days after Christmas also present a huge opportunity with the influx of returns, exchanges, and gift card purchases.

So what should you do with all of this information? Well, ticking off some of the items on the list below is a great place to start. Here’s our 2014 Holiday marketing checklist for ecommerce retailers.

  • Identify and target buyers, not browsers
    The holidays are the time to focus on those customers who are ready to buy. Ad space for online retailers is at a premium during the holidays, so plan to put your brand in front of buyers rather than browsers by targeting specific types of keywords, adjusting your ad messaging, and buying ad space on high-converting websites.
  • Check your inventory
    One message you DON’T want your online customers to see this holiday season? “Product currently out of stock.” Head off any issues or barriers to your website visitors making a purchase by ensuring you have plenty of products in stock and available.
  • Review your Q4 marketing budget
    Great, you have plenty of product on hand and ready to be shipped! But do you have enough marketing budget left for the big holiday push? Hopefully you’ve left some room in your Q4 budget to accommodate the increase in online shopping traffic. If not, find some – you’ll likely make up the difference and then some revenue from holiday purchases.
  • Set your holiday marketing goals
    Once you’ve got your holiday marketing budget established, you need to determine some goals you’d like your ecommerce business to reach. In addition to revenue numbers, think about reach, frequency, site engagement, and customer service goals as well. Use these goals to adjust your strategy throughout the holiday season and determine your success.
  • Get your sales and promos ready
    Yes, people buy online because of convenience. But they also buy online because they expect to get a better deal than they would in a brick-and-mortar store. In fact, over 70% of shoppers believe they’ll get better deals online than in stores, particularly during the holidays. Your pricing strategy and promotional offerings need to reflect this expectation in a way that drives sales but also makes you money.
  • Create a marketing calendar
    Plan out your email newsletters, social media interactions, content creation, and more with a detailed marketing calendar. Just having a visual representation of your strategy can help keep you focused and drive your holiday marketing forward.
  • Customize your messaging
    It should go without saying, but don’t try to use the same ad creative and copy during the holidays that you’ve been using the rest of the year. Instead, customize the look and feel to match the season, include copy that highlights sales and promotions, and switch up your creative often. Don’t burnout potential customers with overexposure to the same old ads.
  • Reward customer loyalty
    If you market your ecommerce business right, you’re likely to gain a lot of new customers during the holidays. That doesn’t mean you should ignore those who’ve bought from you in the past. Offer special deals and discounts to past customers to encourage repeat business. You’ll be targeting people you know are likely to buy your products, which is a huge advantage to have.
  • Retarget to lost traffic
    Tiss the season to retarget! The fact is, online shoppers are going to browse for the best prices on the products they want. Don’t let potential customers buy from someone else without a fight! Make retargeting a key part of your holiday marketing strategy and give yourself a second chance at earning the sale.
  • Don’t ignore shipping
    When it comes to online product shipping this holiday season, there are two things to keep in mind: 1) It needs to be fast and reliable, and 2) It needs to be 100% free. Shipping might seem like a small detail, but it can have a big impact when it comes to shopper’s buying decisions. When free shipping is included, shoppers spend 30% more per order.

If you use these checklist items to guide your online marketing strategy, you’ll be sure to have most of the basics covered and be in a good position to succeed this holiday season.

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