We may have recently had the hottest day of the year so far but for us marketers it is important we are always working in the future and preparing for the seasons ahead, therefore it is no better time than to start thinking about Christmas!
Over recent years the Christmas consumer sales landscape has changed with the huge uptake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday meaning many consumers save all their shopping for this time and therefore December sales take a nosedive that has never been seen before. For many online businesses this can alleviate some of the last minute shipping issues that were previously encountered with late online sales and pressure on the postal and delivery networks - but it does require a well thought out plan to maximise it fully.
Even retail giants like John Lewis reported in December 2016 that sales were down 2.1% year on year a week before the 10th December.
So how do we plan for Christmas whilst the sun is shinning outside?!
It is important that the business understands where all the dates fall over the Christmas period so that projections can be made, for example this year Christmas is on a Monday therefore depending on Sunday shopping times this may have an effect on the Christmas Eve trade and also means there will be no Christmas Eve online deliveries in the standard post.
What happened last year? What do you want to happen this year? I am sure the answer is to increase sales, but how? In what area; is it specific products or services and how will this be possible? Why will 2017 be different to 2016?
This is a great opportunity to review the results of the previous year's activity to see what really did work well, and what not so well. Remembering all marketing channels become more crowded than ever in the lead up to Christmas, the costs will be higher and the chance of impact based on the level of noise can be lower. I personally know that my email inbox is constantly being topped up with Christmas/sales related emails and I become a lot more likely to just delete on subject line than I would at any other time of the year, meaning the email subject line and personalisation of the content is key.
I personally think it is really important to not blast Christmas campaigns to everyone on the database and instead to really look at ways to segment and get the message right based on what you know about your audience and if possible their previous behaviours.
Again, a great opportunity to review your previous campaigns and to take a critical view on what worked and why. If you have any new creatives either within or working with your business then ask for their opinions whilst there is time to shape the campaigns. Getting the creative right is absolutely imperative in all channels to grab your audience’s attention and to stand out from the marketing noise we are all surrounded by!
How well have you tracked your campaigns previously and can this be improved? Are you sitting there thinking ‘I wish I knew XX about last year’s campaign’? If so, now is the time to investigate how you can improve this for your 2017 campaigns.
Christmas is an expensive time to market so it is important to consider this and to ask your advertising partners for their honest take on budgets to generate results. For example if you have a low AdWords spend normally and can’t afford to increase this for the Christmas season then it may be better to spend that elsewhere, rather than having such few impressions in a crowded space.
You need to be optimising now! And now may not even be soon enough depending on competition. We all know SEO takes time therefore having your key Christmas landing pages up on the website now with content that Google can index will be hugely beneficial in the race for top positions over the holiday season.
All in all - I am telling you what as marketers we should be doing 365 days a year - which is planning ahead and can be something that we easily fall behind on based on time and work pressures. For the Christmas season though, if this is a peak time for your business, then you should start acting early to give your business the best opportunity of answering your Christmas wish list!