Gear up for a successful 2021 holiday season with the right marketing channels

woman sitting at her desk working

After a record-breaking 2020, the annual holiday season isn’t slowing down, with online sales projected to reach $259 billion in the US between November and December of 2021 alone.1

But nailing the right holiday marketing strategy to reach your customers is a little more complicated this year. Due to Facebook’s recent changes in its attribution timeline, it’s no longer the best solution—and email is notoriously noisy during the holidays.

So, on which channels should you focus your marketing efforts to maximize your engagement—and ultimately, your revenues?

How to use your marketing channels to reach customers during the holidays

Ramp up your text marketing strategy

SMS is a critical channel to focus your marketing efforts and get customers closer to making a purchase. But during the holidays, it’s easy to over-communicate with your customers to the point that you turn them away.

Some customers may be interested in hearing from you every day and learning about every event that you have going on, while others may only want to know about your big sales. With opt-in messaging, you give your customers the choice of getting daily messages or just receiving select notices about major promotions.

Here’s an example of a text message Pottery Barn sent a customer in December 2020 notifying them about one of their bigger promotional events:

Pottery Barn SMS notification to a customer

Take advantage of your customers’ excitement to learn about the products they can add to their holiday gift list while motivating them to make additional purchases. For example, when you text a shipping notification, suggest a related product for your customers to purchase.

If you’ve segmented your customers effectively, you can use that insight to promote products to those sections of your customers that would be receptive to the texts—and more likely to purchase the products.

Humanize email marketing

To generate sales and keep a higher customer retention, it’s important to develop meaningful connections. Focus on relating to your customers on a human level in your marketing campaigns. Start building relationships with your customers early—because once the holiday shopping season takes off, it will be difficult to reach them.

Humanizing your marketing campaigns will help you foster deeper and more long-term customer loyalty. In your email marketing, take into account who your customer is—what are their likes? Have they demonstrated any previous interest in your products? Personalize emails with your customer’s name—this will demonstrate that you value who they are as an individual. Another strategy is to feature a product that a customer may have purchased in the past, reminding them it’s time to stock up.

Here’s an example of correspondence sent in October 2020 from Sephora to a loyal customer. They personalized the email with the customer’s name and offered customized product recommendations in an effort to drive deeper engagement prior to the holiday season.

Email from Sephora to a customer

It may seem counterintuitive, but it can ultimately be more lucrative to limit the number of promotions you send your customers during the holiday season and instead focus on appealing to your customers’ emotions. For example, your opt-out messaging may include “Click here to opt out of Black Friday emails, but stay on our list. Enjoy this time with your family.”

Some companies honored their customers’ inboxes during the 2020 holiday season by offering opt-outs of their email holiday promotions, according to the Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) panel who spoke at Shogun’s Xperience Commerce 2021.2 This way, they demonstrated they cared about cultivating long-term customer trust and loyalty—and not just generating revenue.

Use personalized direct mail

Companies often overlook sending direct mail to customers because it’s typically more expensive than email marketing campaigns. Sending personalized direct mail during the holidays will help you connect with your customers more effectively, motivating them to engage with and act upon your mailers by returning to your site to make purchases.

Add each customer’s name to the direct mail you are sending. This personalized touch will make your customers feel special and valued.

A simple thank you can often go a long way toward leaving a lasting impression. You can emotionally appeal to your customers by sending holiday thank-you letters. Or send a message that shows sincere gratitude and appreciation, like, “Happy Holidays from our family to yours. We appreciate your business.” This builds trust and may increase the likelihood that they will want to purchase from you again.

Get featured in gift guides

What better way of getting your products in front of people than by getting your holiday offerings featured in a gift guide. A consumer insights survey from Klaviyo revealed that prior to the 2020 holiday season, 45% percent of consumers were planning to check out gift guides to find items for their loved ones.

The key, of course, is to get your products into the right gift guides—so go after publications that reach your target audience. The prospect of contacting publications about getting featured in their gift guide may seem intimidating but, it doesn’t hurt to ask—especially if your product makes sense in a certain gift guide.

There are a few ways to get featured in gift guides. The easiest—if not most economical—way is to pay to be in a sponsored gift guide. Or, you can use a platform like HARO that connects journalists with sources to use for their stories. Often, and especially around the holidays, reporters will submit queries for gift guides, offering you a fantastic opportunity to pitch your company and your products to them and see if you get accepted.

Another idea is to do a Google search of past holiday gift guides from your preferred publication and email the journalist listed on the byline. But start early—journalists begin to compile gift guides in August or September. 

Gift guide query on HARO

Tips to run effective holiday marketing campaigns

Now that you have a better idea of which marketing channels to use, let’s explore winning strategies to implement. 

Incentivize your customers with early VIP access to deals

Making customers feel special will help you cultivate stronger brand loyalty with them. One way to develop this is to give them exclusive early access to deals and promotions.

Here are some tips on how to communicate with loyal customers during the holiday season:

  • Give your best customers early access to special discounts. Showing your most-valued customers offers and discounts before anyone else will help motivate repeat purchases. Below is a text message Murad sent VIP customers in September 2021, offering them early access to purchase their holiday gift sets:

Murad’s text message to a VIP customer

  • Encourage customers to sign up for early access to Black Friday and other holiday notifications on either your email or SMS channel. Below is a text message the Loft sent subscribers from September 2021, with a notification about early access to their limited cyber fall sale:

Loft's text notification about early access to a limited cyber fall sale

  • Preview your holiday merchandise. Tempt customers with a sneak peek of your holiday offerings so they can plan their purchases and fill up their gift lists. For example, for each week leading up to the holidays, use a different marketing channel to notify customers about your promotions. Using multiple touchpoints like direct mail, text, and email helps to reinforce your customers’ desire to take advantage of your deals.

Create holiday landing pages

Your holiday landing pages are vital to your overall marketing campaign—they are the final touchpoint for your customers. Festive landing pages are invaluable for showcasing your holiday offerings and motivating customers to shop. Create your holiday-themed landing pages early. This will not only help advance your sales but also give enough time for the SERPs to crawl your site, so it ultimately drives more customers to your business.

Here are some ideas for your holiday landing pages:

  • Make holiday-themed landing pages that feature your holiday product offerings for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond. The image below is from Nordstrom’s holiday landing page from October 2020, depicting models wearing their seasonal clothing collections.

Nordstrom holiday landing page October 2020

  • Develop promotional landing pages with limited-time deals to create urgency that motivates your customers to immediately start buying. Include the days and times products will be on sale to incentivize your customers to return to your site to take advantage of the deals.
  • Inspire your customers to find the perfect gifts for loved ones with a landing page that features categories organized by personas, such as “top gifts for dad” or “top gifts for techies.”

Drive effective holiday engagement to enhance your customer network

90% of people are now shopping online. So start early and plan ahead to forge solid customer relationships that will pay off later in the holiday season, helping to maximize your conversions and revenues.

Investing in human connections with your customers during one of the most critical times of the year is key to cultivating long-term customer loyalty and satisfaction, during the holiday season and beyond.

Now that you know which marketing channels and strategies are integral to successful holiday marketing, find out how to amplify SMS in your holiday campaigns this season.

 

Sources:

1“Extra holiday insight thanks to data from over 1 billion global shoppers.” Salesforce.com

2“Xperience Commerce ’21.” Getshogun.com

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