Holiday Planning 2020 – It’s Not Too Late To Build Out Your Sales Calendar

The holiday season is coming (ahh!), and this year we expect shoppers to do a much larger percentage of their gift purchases online due to the continuing pandemic. 

Sure they could wear a mask, stand in line all night outside Best Buy, and hope the cold, exhaustion, and exposure to others don’t get them sick. Or you could let them shop in their pajamas while sipping coffee from the comfort of their couch. Offer them promotions they can’t pass up online, and save us all the nightmare of Black Friday becoming a super spreader event. 

You are going to need a much more robust holiday sale and ad schedule than you’ve probably ever done before.  Seriously, for this year you need to at least double the size and scope of whatever online sales and paid media campaigns you’ve previously done. 

New customers can be expensive to acquire during the holidays. So you’ll want to create a mix of deals and ads that appeal to new customers but also specifically work to target repeat customers with more personalized and specific offers based on their previous purchase behavior. 

Customer behavior has changed 

Unsurprisingly, customer behavior today, is not what it was a year ago, thanks to COVID-19. For one, 70% of people are putting more towards savings. Which means they’re generally going to be more thoughtful about their purchases. Every dollar and every present needs to count. 

Customers know that today shopping also means voting with your dollars, it supports the company and their mission. 71% of people want to purchase from a brand they trust (time to run a brand awareness campaign people) and  43% of people want to buy products from companies whose values match their own. So don’t bury your company mission or philanthropic efforts, put them upfront where everyone can see them, and let supporters come on board. You might even want to run a Donation promotion (more on that later).

If you weren’t planning on running any discounts or sending out electronic coupons this holiday season, we advise you to think again, getting one speeds up 60% of shopper’s purchase decisions. And don’t forget cart add ons, 43% of shoppers will add an unplanned purchase to treat themselves. People are stressed out, and it’s the little daily things that can bring us some joy while stuck at home. My current candle stockpile directly reflects this. 

Timeline

Time to start generating some interest! Just like planning a shopping route in the mall, based on deals, online shoppers need to know what you’re offering ahead of time so they can plan their purchases and priorities. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to create campaigns for your biggest sales weekend of the year. 

We recommend you start running Black Friday/Cyber Monday ads as early as Nov 9th. This means starting work on that creative and campaign set up within the next couple of weeks. 

Marking down items likely means you need to increase your volume to make up the difference and still pull in a healthy margin. It’s hard to gather a crowd (so to speak) if no one knows what to gather for until the morning of. So start running promotion ads early, dazzle your loyal customers with offers you know they’ll love, and entice new customers with interesting ad creative and a variety of promotions. 

Budget

We recommend doubling your monthly ad spend in order to fully meet the increased online demand during the holiday season. Or more.  If the search volume isn’t there you won’t be spending that money anyways without the clicks. But if you’re limited by budget for search volume those customers are likely to be pushed towards your competitors. 

Sales Suggestions

There are so many different types of promotions you can run. Here are a few we think you should consider this holiday season. And there are so many ways to make these deals Win-Win for the customer and your business.

  • Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sales: Set up some special deals that will only apply to each of these days. Creating different deals for Friday and Monday will ensure a steadier stream of traffic throughout the shopping weekend. 
  • Flash Sale: Something that only applies to a single day, or a few hours with minimal pre-notice. You can send out an email blast the night before or the day of. But these need to be a pretty solid offer, something that is enticing enough people can justify immediate, unplanned purchases like 50% off a  whole product line.   
  • Rolling sales: Where the discount on a specific item grows over time. For example, the first week of December your adult footie pajamas are 20% off, the second week they’re  30% off, the 3rd week their 40% off, you get the idea. These types of sales can also help make sure you aren’t holding onto seasonal stock that’s hard to move after the holidays. 
  • BOGOs: Buy One Get One free or half off or whatever. You can even do groupings like buy 2 get 1. 
  • Cashback: when customers spend $100 they get $20 towards their next purchase. Want to see how pros do this, Gap Cash is the gold standard. This helps ensure repeat purchases.
  • Free gift with purchase: Spend 100% get a free branded T-shirt.  Or whatever. Use your imagination here. Or get rid of the product you’ve been sitting on by making it your free gift. 
  • Influencer sales: If you’ve already got an influencer doing marketing for you, set up a special promotion through them that only their followers can access. 
  • Donate % of sales to a nonprofit: If you’re a values-based company, put your money where your mouth is. Donate a percentage of your sales (on specific days, or all month long) to a nonprofit organization near and dear to your heart. Be clear about who’s going to get the donations and why. 
  • Any sense of urgency: this week only, only 50 left in stock etc. It’s an oldie but a goody still. 
  • Repeat Purchase: Send customers additional deals and offers after they’ve purchased to bring them back in again. If you can tailor these specifically to their previous purchase even better!
  • Gift Cards: Another classic choice. Offer a discount on gift cards, buy a $100 gift card, and get 10% off. 

Don’t just make up random stuff

These sales need to be thought out carefully. Consider your profit margins, your inventory levels, and previous customer purchase interest and history, as well as what your competitors are doing.

Once you know what to put on sale, for how much, and when you’re going to run promotions for it,  start getting creative with your ad campaigns. Put together a variety of ad variants to test for performance and use a wide range of creative and ad copy to appeal to potential new customers, and your longtime brand advocates. 

Above all things, read the room. Seriously, people are hurting in a lot of different ways, and fear and anxiety are high. Your ads should be informative and thoughtful. Now is really not the time for what you think is a clever pun about the pandemic or whatever.  Focus on how your products can bring joy to your audience or make their lives easier and double down on those feelings. 

At a  loss for how to put together a holiday sales strategy and run paid media campaigns to match? No worries, drop us a line

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