Have you noticed that the holidays get earlier and earlier every year? Well not really, but marketers kick off the holidays so early it feels that way.
When I started my career in retail, Black Friday was the first day of the holiday season. We came in early and swapped out the displays so when the doors opened at 10:00 a.m. there was tinsel everywhere.
Now Black Friday starts at 12:01 a.m. in many stores, but the holiday displays are in place by the first of November and Halloween candy is bundled with back to school supplies. As a small business owner, how do you keep up with the accelerated pace of the holidays?
The economy is healthy and most analysts are predicting a robust holiday season. If you want to carve out your piece of the holiday pie, you need to start with a plan based on realistic and measurable goals. With those goals as your foundation, it is easy to set an appropriate budget. You have to spend enough to get noticed but not so much you don’t actually turn a profit on your sales.
Learn from your history
The best place to start? Look at last year’s data. Where did the majority of your holiday traffic come from? Was it email marketing, social media, paid search or organic traffic? This data will be easy to find if you have installed Google Analytics on your website. You can dive into the data on a weekly or even daily basis to see how and when different channels contribute to your overall sales.
If the holidays represent a significant portion of your revenue you need to put your best foot forward. If you have a WordPress website, then making a few tweaks will be relatively easy. Ask friends, family, employees and complete strangers to test your website. You need to know if they can easily navigate your pages, find special offers, submit forms, place orders and find contact information for your business. Holiday visitors are ready to buy, make sure it is easy for them to do so.
If you are going to run Google or Facebook ads or simply make special offers from your email newsletter, you will need to have custom landing pages in place to convert interested prospects to customers. Don’t wait until you are ready to launch the campaign. Plan out your offers ahead of time and build the landing pages. You can even consider creating multiple versions of the pages to conduct a split test early in the season so you have the best possible page ready during the peak season. Rather than scrambling to get them done at the last minute, build them out now.
You are going to need blog posts, images, social media share graphics and newsletters. Start by creating a calendar with topics. Then start chipping away at it and you can have everything ready ahead of time. Edit Flow is a really nice free plugin for WordPress which can simplify content scheduling especially if you have several team members contributing to your blog.
You will also want to consider increasing your posting frequency on almost every platform during the holiday season. There is so much noise, you have to do more just to get noticed.
Once you have your content ready, it will be easier to set up your email campaigns. Consider adjusting your offers and funnels to take advantage of the short and very competitive holiday season. For example, if you typically connect with a prospect every 10 days with an offer, during the holiday season you will want to be a little more aggressive. This may mean sending an email every five days because your prospects are in buying mode.
Take time to map out a plan to entice and convert your email traffic. Write all of your auto-responder and drip emails ahead of time. Throwing random emails out there at the last minute is sure to result in less than your best results.
Whether you use automated social media tools like Hootsuite or Buffer or simply schedule the posts directly from your Facebook feed, now is the time to schedule content. Sure you will still need to log in to interact with your community, but automating some of your content will allow you to remain visible, no matter how busy you are.
Invest in a few holiday-specific images that are designed to grab attention in a very crowded space. This is one time of year you can throw more direct offers out there.
You have your work cut out for you. The holidays are getting closer every day but the more you do this month, the more prepared you will be in December. Want to learn a bit more? Check out our webinar on Holiday Email Marketing Tips.