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While preparing for our holiday themed webinar I’ll be speaking for next week (Santa Wants To Know… Has Your Marketing Been Good This Year? Sign up now or watch the recording on our Boost U page here.) I decided the amount of information I had to deliver was above and beyond what any one hour webinar could handle.  So, my marketing mind went to work to create an email series to send out to subscribers.  Brilliant!  But, what about the rest of humanity.  What about all our online searchers?  Our partners and resellers?  Well, don’t worry.

Voila, I bring to you the holiday marketing blog series by yours truly!  Each tip is complete with a deeper dive into the what, where, when, and how.  Be sure to click for more information.

Tip #1: Test Your Website

Two things happen during the holiday season that will completely sink your sales forecasting.  Either your website can’t handle the fluctuations in website traffic and your server goes down, times out, and becomes completely useless to online shoppers, or your mobile shoppers can’t easily find what they are looking for in just a few taps of the screen.

In either case, you have a split second (literally) and a maximum of three seconds to make an impression on your website.  After three seconds (which today, is really quite generous), your website visitors go bye-bye.  Within three seconds, they’ve probably found what they’re looking for somewhere else.  #ThanksGoogle

Click to learn more about how to test your website’s mobile usability.

Click to determine your website’s speed and traffic load-balancing capability.

Tip #2 Test Emails & Social Posts

Deloitte predicts that during the 2017 holiday season a total of 21% of all holiday sales will be made from a mobile device.  Today, 86% of consumers say they plan to research online prior to purchasing in stores during the holiday season, and up to 43% of consumers report they plan to do ALL of their shopping online.
With mobile traffic showing no signs of decreasing – you’ll also want to ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices to make the most out of the traffic coming your way.

Like tip number one, you’re going to be testing your emails and social media posts on various mobile devices.  Unlike tip number one, this isn’t as easy as rendering your website through Fetch As Google tools.

In order to accurately test your emails on mobile devices, you’ll have to rely on what rendering services your email software or content management system already provide for you.  For example, services like MailChimp, HubSpot, or Pardot have tools built into their system that allow you to render an email preview prior to scheduling.

This is an important step to determine whether your email can be seen correctly on more devices than you have in your kitchen junk drawer.  I promise.  I mean, who keeps an Android 4 sitting around the house for email testing alone?  (Besides me…)

Likewise, you’ll need to use a variety of mobile devices to make sure your social media posts are being seen correctly.  There’s nothing worse than Twitter cutting off your promotion, and trust me, Twitter mobile sizing is among the hardest to deal with because no matter what size you make your post, the mobile version has a buffer all the way around the edge of the post.

To effectively test your social media posts, use:

  • a variety of phones and tablets
  • the social media app (aka Twitter app, Facebook app, etc.)
  • the browser from your phone (as in www.twitter.com)

Tip #3 Create Mobile-Specific Advertisements

Whether you’re on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or another pay-per-click advertising sites, each of these sites allow you to create a campaign specific to mobile users only.  I encourage you to create a mobile advertising campaign specific to mobile versions of advertisements.

When creating a mobile-specific campaign, do not mix with your desktop campaigns.

Why? By creating two different ad sets or campaigns, you’ll be able to set the same start dates and budgets and more effectively test whether your desktop or mobile advertisements are more successful.

By doing this now, you’ll be able to optimize your advertisements and allocate the majority of your advertising budget toward what works for you by the time Black Friday arrives.  But, get started quick!  You only have a few short weeks at this point to test and optimize holiday marketing sets.

For help on how to start your first Facebook Advertising Campaign, visit www.Boostability.com/Boost-U for a recording of our webinar or visit www.Facebook.com/Boostability to watch our walk-through video.

Note: Do expect less clicks and higher cost-per click than you see on advertisements during any other time of year.  Competition is high during the holiday marketing months.

Tip #4 Create A Strong Holiday Email Campaign

In 2016, email marketing holiday campaigns showed a 240% increase in revenue for “just browsing” and abandoned cart email automations.  Investing more into your end-of-year email strategy can help to increase your overall revenue for 2017.

240% higher revenue from holiday email marketing campaigns

For e-commerce sites, you’ll want to make sure you have the essential email marketing strategies in place, such as:

  • The ‘We Miss You’ email
  • The abandoned cart email
  • The lurking shopper email (specific to a most-visited product)
  • The follow-up email

In almost all cases, emails convert more sales than any other online marketing medium throughout the holiday season.  During this time of year, you’re almost guaranteed to have your emails opened.  Take advantage of this rare moment in time!  Make sure your emails are creative and engaging, and that your subject line is engaging in particular.

Be aggressive with your emails, but not annoying or illegal.  Do not email any subscribers that have opted out of receiving emails from you in the past.  If you change email services or have a small business where you manually manage your email list, it is very important that you import all your unsubscribed leads as opt-out addresses.  You can be fined significantly for every email sent to a subscriber that has clicked an opt-out button and chosen to no longer be contacted by you.

Don’t be shy of the 1-2 punch email strategy system.  At least, that’s what I like to call it.  This is a simple email strategy for those just starting out.  First, send an initial email promotion.  After a certain amount of time (a minimum of 2 days and maximum of 7 usually) resend a similar email as a reminder to those that already opened the first email.  For those that never opened your first email, this will act as a second probe and give them a chance to get in on that promotion before it is too late.

Note: If you’re a superb email marketer, or have an email marketing professional managing your emails, go one step further and create a list of everyone that has utilized your promotion.  Use this as a suppression list to your runner-up email.

Trust me, there’s no faster way to lose a customer than to email them again and again.

If there’s only one thing you do for your emails this season, my suggestion is to focus on your email subject lines.  Be specific.  Do not make your subject lines too long.  Consider what an email client will show before your title is cut off (something to test in Tip #2).  A short, sweet subject line would be: 50% Off [what] Today Only!

Tip #5 This Is Why You SEO-ed

In 2016, businesses reported that they increased their investment in SEO efforts by 12.5% just for the holiday season.  Organic search plays a primary role in Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.  Online shoppers are looking for quick, easy-to-find solutions to product information, gift ideas, and online deals or promotions.

Some real-time optimization tips:

  • Decorate key pages on your website for the holidays such as updating homepage headers to a holiday theme.
  • Update your website for any specific holiday hours of operation
  • Update your website with any pop-up shops, address changes, or additional places of purchase during the holiday season.
  • Begin adding holiday-specific new content to your website or blog and continue from Oct 1 through January 1.  Some content ideas include: a list of gift ideas, suggested last minute purchases, infographics, and fun videos.

Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t a one-and-done marketing strategy.  Your competition is always there and therefore your competition for the top of search results will be an ongoing task.

However, when it comes to the holiday season, your on-site search strategy needs to undergo a full audit and a holiday-specific boost around the time of August. Make sure every page of your website is optimized toward one, specific product or service.  Your meta title, description, page content, links, and more should all be centered around a single, unique focus keyword.

This is also your chance to draft creative SEO strategies for holiday-specific pages (landing pages, renewed homepage, new products, etc.).  Contact your on-site developer or search engine strategist to make sure this happens annually.  If you think you don’t have one… well, then, you don’t know us very well.  Contact us at Boostability.com/BoostSEO.

Tip #6 Be Personal

People are over five times more likely to complete an order if the recommendation is personalized to them, according to a new infographic from Olapic and Movable Ink.

Throughout the holidays you will have a million new opportunities to be personal.  Since you have all the answers to get ahead of the game now and you’ll be able to relax during the core of the holiday season, you’ll also have time to kick back and chat (literally) with your customers.

Take it one step further and hire a team of holiday temp employees to live chat customer support, answer your customer support emails, and provide customer support on your social media accounts.

However, being personable doesn’t just mean customer service.  You have an opportunity to build an intense email marketing, and remarketing, advertising campaign that will allow you to be more personal with your customers.  For example, if your customer buys XYZ product, and you are aware that most people buying that product are also interested in a short list of similar products, follow-up!

Have the purchase trigger an email within a day or two, suggesting similar products.  Accompany that email with targeted advertisements.  Use AdRoll, Perfect Audience, Facebook, or Twitter to show certain advertisements based on an event or success URL location.

To read more about remarketing campaigns, click here.

Tip #7 Be Reliable

I can’t stress this tip enough.  One of the most annoying factors to your followers and to fellow-marketers like myself is when you’re simply not there when a customer expects an answer quickly.  When a customer asks a question, they immediately move on to trying to find the answer themselves.  If you do not answer the question in a timely manner and in the way the customer expects you to answer them, they will quickly make the purchase elsewhere.

To be reliable:

  • Post to social media on a regular schedule
  • Deliver promotional emails and social media posts in a timely manner
  • Don’t over promise on how quickly you can turn around and ship a product
  • Provide honest product availability details
  • Answer chats, emails, and social media questions within 15 minutes during regular work hours
  • Consider round-the-clock customer service support during this time of year
  • Answer people in the same way they’ve asked the question

That last point is a very important one.  If someone emails you, don’t call them immediately and expect them to answer.  Email them back.  Then call!  If you don’t get through, email again, “Couldn’t reach you.  Feel free to email me, call me, fax me, chat me…” list every possible way someone can reach out to you personally.

Likewise, if someone sends you a question on Twitter.  Answer them on Twitter.  If you have their information in your CRM (customer relationship management) system, consider this an advantage to additional ways of reaching out to them such as email or by phone.  Always start with the same medium where your customer contacts you.

Tip #8 Reconsider How You’re Social

This is important.  The holiday season is fast-paced and unlike the rest of the year when it comes to converting sales.  For example, over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, only 1.8% of sales made can be attributed to social media posts.  Why?  Everyone is in a hurry.  First, they check their email for deals.  Then, they search for deals online. In fact, over 43% of sales made throughout this important sales weekend are made entirely from a combination of email and organic search (2015).

Be like American Express.  In fact, be like most major companies today and realize that social media is your main customer service tool.  Companies like American Express have rid themselves of contact forms and customer service email addresses entirely, providing service via Twitter and phone only.

Here are some important facts that pertain to more than just the holiday season:

By end of 2015, a reported 20% of online consumers reported that they had used social media as a customer service tool – reaching out to businesses for answers to complex questions.  By end of 2016, 67% of holiday consumers reported that they had utilized social media as a customer service tool.

Tip #9 Be Here, Now

A rule of thumb is to have 80% of posts be in real-time or “natural” posts, and have only 20% to be posts directly promoting your business.  During this time of year, lean hard on that 80% rule and be as strategic as possible with your product promotions.

Be transparent.  Now that you’ve reconsidered social media, you know that first and foremost it is a great tool for customer service.  While people may not click through from your promotion to your website, that doesn’t mean your promotion is useless.

Social media posts drive a significant amount of organic search traffic and direct traffic to your website.  Just like your own social media habits, people that remember you and your brand will type “www.Boostability.com” straight into their browser or search “Boostability services” on Google because of what they remember seeing online.  THIS is why your social media is an important foundational tool to all other marketing platforms.

To create a lasting impression, be authentic.  Be you.  That doesn’t mean be you-you.  Your company has a “you” too.  Make sure you have a voice for your brand as well as a personality.  Write your brand a story and BE that “person” when representing your brand.

To be more memorable consider showing some behind the scenes efforts in preparing for the holidays, prepping for shipping product, and decorations around the office.

Tip #10 Relax

See.  I told you these tips lead to relaxation.  Now that you’re ahead of the game and have everything under control, relax.  In fact, don’t even plan a vacation.  Just go on one.  No more planning allowed!

Enjoy your holidays.

This post was originally published in October 2016.  All content, including statistics, have been updated to reflect the new 2017 holiday season.

About The Author

Caz Bevan

Caz is the Director of Marketing for Boostability and has deep experience blending business goals and marketing tactics into comprehensive company strategies. Her creative innovation and expertise has helped shape customer experiences and drive continual engagement for a variety of companies and products including Sony Music Entertainment and SpeedTV. Connect with Caz: @CazBevan | Linkedin


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