December 3, 2020

How to Ace Christmas Marketing - According to the Professionals

by Lavender Nguyen

For many brands, Christmas is the most crucial sales period, with between 50% and 80% of total sales often generated in these last few weeks of the year. That also means every year, brands can create strategic Christmas marketing campaigns to increase their holiday turnover and boost brand awareness.

However, Christmas 2020 will be a bit different from previous years. Due to Covid-19, consumers’ behaviors have changed, and any new habits formed at this time are likely to shape trends for the 2020 season and beyond.

How can brands overcome these new challenges and boost sales during Christmas this year?

If you’re looking for answers to this question, we’ve got you covered.

In today’s guide, we’ll give you useful advice from marketing experts to help you create an effective Christmas marketing strategy for 2020. We’ll also include practical tips just in case you need some inspiration or want to try something new.

Excited? Let’s jump in.

1. Understand consumers’ changing behaviors

When it comes to Christmas marketing, we often look at what we did last year, jot down what worked, and use those insights to develop marketing campaigns for the upcoming holiday season.

Doing that isn’t wrong. But before you make any decisions for Christmas 2020, there is something important you must look at first: the way consumers are shopping online.

The pandemic has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Consumer behaviors are no exception.

Facebook’s latest survey found that changes in shopping behaviors are popular, especially among Gen X and Boomers, with 80% shopping online since Covid-19 happened. Almost half of the respondents expressed that they would be inclined to shop online more frequently even after the outbreak is over.

In another survey, Pinterest found that consumers are craving the comforts of the holidays. “They want this season to feel more festive than ever before, and they’re asking for brands to help them get there.”

Because of those changes, Steven Lord, Marketing Manager at Digital Next Australia suggests, businesses “use historical data with caution.”

"Data is one of the critical tools in your commercial artillery, but it’s going to be a lot more useful alongside other insights - cultural trends, ethnography, demography, and behavioral studies, to name a few.

Historical data will tell you that Black Friday and Christmas are going to go gangbusters. But insights will tell you that consumers have been spending big all year, are facing financial uncertainty, and that one-off spending occasions are not receiving much traction - globally.

So, invite your data insights and business intelligence team to the meeting, but don’t forget to bring a sociologist too."

Keep yourself updated with industry reports, consumer surveys, and holiday trends to better understand your potential customers’ mindset. That’s the very first step you should get done before crafting your 2020 Christmas marketing plan.

2. Start as early as possible

If you haven’t thought about your plans for Christmas 2020, you should act right now! Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.

"When you reach people first where they make their plans, they’ll reach for you first when they make their purchases." Pinterest Holiday 2020 Guide

When it comes to holiday marketing, here is a rule of thumb: Plan early. The sooner you think about your Christmas campaign strategy, the better advantage you have. Specifically, you’ll have more time to:

  • Analyze your historical performance, target audience, industry trends, etc.

  • Brainstorm ideas with your team and run tests to discover what works best.

  • Keep up with changes in the market and make instant adjustments.

  • Prepare everything you need to have the most profitable Christmas sales ever.

To ensure you have enough time and resources to perform those tasks, you should start planning your holiday marketing as soon as possible.

3. Optimize your website for conversions

Decorating your website for Christmas could be a crucial part of your Christmas marketing strategy. Why? Because decorations with colors act as visual cues, evoking a warm and fuzzy feeling for visitors when they land a website - and that is what people crave this year. Give it to them and they’ll be more inclined to stay with you and buy their holiday gifts in your store.

For example, you can make your homepage all about Christmas, as Argos does:

Or bring the spirit of Christmas into your product description. For example, take a look at Jurlique’s offer:

This product description works very well because it sparks shoppers’ imaginations through storytelling. Instead of writing a generic description of a trip to a farm, Jurlique drew a picture of a peaceful trip to a beautiful farm for the whole family at Christmas.

Another tip is to create collections dedicated to Christmas like RAZ Imports:

Or, learn from Arbonne to create your own gift guides. Remember, not all shoppers know what they want. Some need guidance to navigate the online experience, regardless of generation.

You can also add a Christmas tab to the menu header so shoppers can see it right away when they land on your store. This makes it easier and quicker to navigate and find what they’re looking for. Here is an excellent example from Belleek.

You can also apply a Christmas theme for your pop-up to welcome visitors. Belleek does this very well:

Remember to make online shopping feel like real-life shopping. Provide clear information about payments, delivery/returns policies, etc. In doing so, you can make shoppers feel more comfortable and confident when shopping in your store.

4. Create a real reason to buy with deals and offers

This year, price-sensitive shoppers will hunt for mega sales. According to Global Web Index’s survey, nearly 1 in 3 respondents say they’ll wait for products to be on promotion, discount, or sale before purchasing.

"Mega Sales day shoppers tend to be younger and are very comfortable going from discovery to purchase on mobile. They are shopping for gifts for others, as well as for themselves. On average, 20% of global Mega Sales day shoppers surveyed are high earners or heavy spenders."—2020 Facebook Holiday Package

When creating your Christmas marketing plans, ensure you offer shoppers incentives to shop from you. For many, this happens by providing a discount, promo code, free gifts, or anything valuable to potential customers.

For example, Alexis Drake invites shoppers to pre-order their holiday collection from now to Nov 15 to get better prices. The brand even creates a separate web page and shows the offer on a smart bar at the top of the pages to promote the collection.

Another way to incentivize shoppers is to create bundles. For example, if organic cotton bathrobes are your bestsellers, bundle them up with smaller ticket items like body scrub and face masks. Scentsy does a good job of applying this technique:

That’s compelling!

“Get creative and don’t just offer a % discount, for example, include new features for those who are upgrading, extra seats, bundle offers.”—Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals

5. Engage with customers through SMS marketing

SMS marketing is sending promotional or transactional messages for marketing purposes using text messages (SMS). You can use these messages to deliver time-sensitive offers and updates to people who have agreed to receive these messages from your business.

“It's going to be very important to keep customers in the loop with updated trading times, contact details, shipping delays, last-minute deals and real-time inventory counters.

SMS can relay information fast with ultimate cut-through. Reports consistently show that 90% of texts are read within 90 seconds.

There are also a variety of other ways you can use texting to enhance your Christmas campaigns such as with promotional marketing, reminders and confirmations, referral campaigns, competitions and giveaways and so much more.”—Rachael Hooper, Senior Product Marketing Manager at MessageMedia.

Data shows that more than 98% of people open text messages. Therefore, a last-minute reminder for a sale or new inventory alert will get people to act fast. This is an excellent strategy during Christmas when people need gifts or specific products in a short period.

Having said that, here are a couple of things you should keep in mind when implementing SMS marketing:

  • Ensure you have permission from your contacts to send them SMS messages.

  • Be mindful of the timing of your messages. It’s ineffective to send your prospects a sales reminder at 2 AM. Also, some countries even have laws about when you can send marketing text messages. For example, France doesn’t allow SMS marketing on Sundays, any nights after 10 PM, or public holidays.

  • Include your brand’s name in your messages so people can recognize you. This also ensures your messages are trustworthy, not spam.

  • Combine SMS with other digital marketing strategies to get the best outcome. Think this way: most of your customers are sending SMS and emails while being on social media. So, you should be on all of these channels.

7. Personalized retargeting emails

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing channels. And with just a few simple steps, your emails can feel a lot more personal.

In case you don’t know, today’s shoppers expect a personalized shopping experience. According to Epsilon’s 2018 report, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

More than half of consumers feel it’s important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand.

That’s why personalized marketing can help your campaigns and deliver the results you’ve long been striving for.

Cuddle+kind kicked up their personalization game by including the subscriber’s name in the body copy of the email. Phrases like “a part of the family” and “before anyone else” lend themselves to a sense of exclusivity—making the recipient feel special.

Follow these tips to personalize your emails before sending them to customers:

  • Using the recipient’s first name is the easiest and simplest way to personalize an email.

  • If a shopper has left some products in their cart, send a friendly reminder.

  • Send an email with the products a shopper looked at without purchasing.

  • Use automated behavioral triggers for your email campaigns. A trigger campaign can be based on content or product interest. It can also be a follow-up email from a live chat conversation. If you want it to be completely automated, you can send an email asking for feedback.

8. Make sure social media is in your plan

Christmas is a time to get creative with your social media campaigns.

With 3.81 billion monthly social media active users worldwide, you have a huge opportunity to convert more customers and drive sales throughout the 2020 holiday season.

But to get there, you need to learn how to do Christmas marketing right. Here are some ideas for you to get started:

  • Encourage followers to share their Christmas stories or photos and use your brand hashtags in exchange for free gifts or discounts.

  • Run giveaways/contests and ads on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Don’t be afraid to make fun videos and share on new channels like TikTok. As long as the content helps you reach your audience and satisfy them, you can be creative in whatever way you want.

  • Create an Advent calendar and share it on Instagram. You can use it to make a daily competition, like asking followers to like or comment on your post.

Case in point from @timberloveco:

Some people use social media trolls to increase engagement. But be careful when doing that during Christmas because it can harm your message and your brand reputation.

9. Run PPC advertising campaigns

Pay per click advertising (PPC ad) on Google is effective. 49% of surveyed shoppers said they use Google to find new items or products. This makes Google Ads an ideal way to reach shoppers at just the right time when they’re actively searching for gift ideas and products.

Besides, when you advertise with Google, you reach people across platforms, including Google search engine results pages, YouTube, Gmail, and Maps. You’re only charged when someone takes your desired actions like clicks to your website.

Sounds amazing, right?

But around Christmas, you need to put in an extra effort into your campaign to ensure you’re ranking for the right keywords.

“Spend a few extra bucks on promoting your offer with paid ads - it will make sense if you target the right audiences.”—Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals

To have a successful PPC Christmas campaign, you should:

  • Understand what you want to achieve, who you want to reach, which products you want to promote, and how do you do that.

  • Research keywords thoroughly. Review your previous campaigns to see which keywords work. Also, check out your competitors’ and find out which keywords they’re ranking for.

  • Create a well-designed Christmas ad. Ensure to add a little Christmas glam to your copy, so you get a higher position on search engine page results.

  • Optimize your website, so it’s accessible and easy to navigate across devices.

10. Apply marketing psychology principles

Marketing psychology anticipates shoppers’ behaviors by understanding human beings’ cognitive biases. As consumers, we’re all irrational, and our decision making is mostly driven by those innate biases.

You can apply marketing psychology principles to optimize ad campaigns, email marketing, and website copy to drive purchase behavior. For example, Grace and Lace creates some sense of urgency in their email by using the powerful word “Last Chance.”

Here are 3 important marketing psychology principles you should use:

  • Social proof: Consumers tend to adopt the beliefs or actions of a group of people they like or trust. You can take advantage of social proof by showing reviews, ratings, testimonials, etc. to build trust with shoppers.

  • Scarcity: The more rare the opportunity, the more valuable it is. Apply this psychology principle by showing a countdown stock on product pages.

  • Urgency: Let customers know a deal is about to end by using a countdown timer. This will give them a little push to take action immediately. You can apply this principle in many places like pop-ups, web pages, emails, or ads.

Are you ready for Christmas marketing 2020?

Christmas 2020 will be a bit different from previous years due to Covid-19. But one thing will stay the same: people love to give gifts to their loved ones, and they still look for great deals.

Take inspiration from the 10 tips above while crafting your Christmas marketing campaign and find out what works best for you. And don't just stop at Christmas. Take all your seasonal marketing to the next level to drive results.

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