12+ Marketing Best Practices For Your Online Store This Holiday Season
In Chapter 1 of this guide, we had a look at some of the most profitable holidays for online stores to focus on, as well as some of the basic steps any online store should take to prepare and plan for the holidays.
In Chapter 2 we’ll be looking at some of the best holiday marketing ideas and tips to help you turbo boost your sales during the festive period. We’ll guide you through the best strategies for email campaigns, social media impact strategies, advertising campaigns, and creating compelling content this holiday season, each in its own dedicated section. But before we get to all that, let’s ensure we get the basics right…
Check out our master guide on Online Holiday Sales HERE
I. The Basic Foundations of your Holiday Marketing Ideas
The basics of a successful holiday marketing campaign are those little things you need to do or understand which will help inform the rest of your campaign. Without them, all of your great marketing ideas or ingenious campaigns will basically be for nought.
The basis for a good holiday marketing idea starts with knowing and understanding your customer. In eCommerce this means one thing: understanding your traffic.
Tip 1: Understand Your Traffic
The only real way to measure your campaign’s effectiveness is to know where your visitors come from and what they do once they arrive at your store.
Sounds obvious, right? Well, the amount of times this step is overlooked when it comes to creating that killer holiday campaign is unbelievable.
Before you draw up that meticulously planned events calendar, you should spend some time on Google Analytics, getting to grips with your visitors’ wants and needs. This will help you deal with all those intimidating terms like segmentation, personalisation, and retargeting.
Two of the most basic GA terms you should familiarise yourself with are Source and Medium.
Both of these terms refer to the specific channels visitors use to navigate towards your website, which will give you a great leg-up when you’re devising your holiday marketing ideas.
- The Source: The specific website or service that brought a visitor to your site. This can be an email, a tweet, a Facebook post or a search engine result.
- The Medium: The category that the Source falls into. The Medium can be divided into categories like social media, organic searches and pay-per-click campaigns to name but a few.
Both the Source and the Medium will help you understand where your traffic comes from, but not what they did once they reached your site. For those insights, you’ll need to immerse yourself a little deeper into Google Analytics, delving into a special report called a Multi Channel Funnel Report.
The Multi Channel Funnel report, if your goals have been clearly set up and defined, will show you not only the source and medium of a visitor, but also a bunch of other insights like whether or not a visitor converted, a visitor’s path, or the sequence of interactions that nudged them towards the conversion and transaction.
This is a brilliant tool that can grant major insights into your visitors’ behaviour and be the fuel in the fire behind your holiday marketing ideas. As soon as you understand your traffic, you can look at increasing that traffic with some customer acquisition.
II. Acquiring Customers through Holiday Marketing Ideas
Acquiring new customers is the basis of any good business, but the cost of acquiring those new customers, especially during highly competitive spending seasons like holidays, is something that store owners don’t usually take into account.
One of the biggest challenges with marketing during the holidays is that companies are forced to contend with rising ad spend, all while the average order value stays the same.
This means that the prudent online store owner with the right holiday marketing idea will focus on acquiring new customers well before the holidays they want to target, and then spend their resources on retargeting customers during those holiday periods.
Click here if you want to skip ahead to our in-depth look at the perfect retargeting campaign.
Tip 2: Buy Traffic as Early as Possible
This tip is a balancing act between spending money early, with little return on ad spend, and making the most of all the interest you’ve fostered when the holiday season comes.
Try running engagement ads during the weeks leading up to the holiday to help create a customer base that is aware of your brand and products. Then, as the crunch time of the holiday approaches you can use retargeting ads to remind those prospective buyers of your great brand and products.
Finally, to help make up for all the time and money that went into those early engagement ads, you should look to increase your average order value (AOV).
Two of the most effective holiday marketing ideas in this sense are:
- To offer free shipping (for a total amount purchased)
- To create discount tiers (offering 30% discount for x amount purchased, 40% for 2x amount purchased and so forth)
This strategy will mean that you grow your client base during a relatively calm purchasing window and avoid having to spend money and energy on ads during times that don’t yield a high return on investment (ROI).
When it comes to ROI there’s one form of marketing that can’t be beaten: the humble art of a well-written email.
III. Holiday Marketing Ideas – Email Campaigns
If your business has not yet tapped into the power of a well-written and composed email, it’s about time. According to Shopify, email marketing was responsible for 26% of sales during the 2019 holiday season, raking in an astonishing $170.6 billion.
But, as with everything regarding holiday marketing ideas, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about your email campaign.
Tip 3: Start Early
This isn’t just sound advice for your holiday email marketing campaign, but for all of your holiday marketing ideas: the earlier you start, the better.
If you want to target the Black Friday period, it would be advisable for you to have all your ducks in a row by the middle of August. This means that you will have built your email subscription list, identified your customer profiles and looked into their wants and needs for the upcoming buying period.
If you are unsure about how to go about setting up an effective email list and strategy, check out this great guide from Mailchimp. Once you’re confident that you’ve acquired a decent and well-maintained subscriber list, you can move onto the next step…
Tip 4: Segment your Audience
Segmentation is when you divide your email into different categories, so that you can address different audiences in different ways. This is the best way to ensure that your email doesn’t come across as just another bland electronic flyer that the consumer disregards without a second thought.
To successfully achieve this, we recommend you draw up a couple of categories, informed by your foray into Google Analytics. These categories will depend on your brand and product, but if you are unsure, it’s a good idea to start with the following:
- Loyalty: How loyal or active are these customers? Have they visited the website and made a purchase, or do they generally browse and bounce? Do they visit your store all-year-round, or only during the holidays? Knowing this will help you craft your email specifically towards those shoppers, while also avoiding targeting shoppers to buy something they’ve already bought.
- Interests: You should be able to identify the customer’s interest from what they looked at and purchased on your site. This knowledge will allow you to separate your shoppers according to these categories and aim the most appropriate of your holiday marketing ideas in their direction.
- Bargain Hunters: If you have visitors who only convert when there’s a sale, discount, or coupon on offer, you will be able to engage them with price and time-sensitive deals.
Naturally, it’s entirely up to you to decide how to divide and categorize your customers to maximize your email campaign’s effectiveness.
And when it comes to effectiveness there’s one strategy in which a well-worded email is without comparison, that of retargeting and converting those annoying abandoned carts.
Tip 5: Revisit your Holiday Email Marketing
Holidays don’t just stop at the chime of midnight. Their annual appearance means that you’ll need to constantly revisit and revamp your email marketing campaign to make sure it’s as effective as it can be.
To this end, we’ve created a checklist that helps you to analyse what went well in your last campaign and what you can do to ensure that your holiday marketing ideas continue pulling in customers for years to come:
- Was your landing page effective at getting leads? The landing page that generates the leads for your email campaign is a crucial first step. Was it laid out in the best possible way to foster interest and harvest emails for the upcoming holiday?
Check out chapter 3 of this guide for great info and templates of holiday landing pages.
- Did you start my email marketing campaign early enough? Was the time in between your initial landing page and the start of the sale enough to garner interest? If you see a flurry of engagement on your landing page, it’s quite possible that you released it too late, which indicates you should definitely give it a few more days or weeks next time round.
- Did your email segmentation work? Did all of your customers get the email that was appropriate for them? If your email links were left largely unclicked, it’s a good indicator that the products or services were addressed to the wrong demographic of customer, or at the wrong time during their progression through the sales funnel.
- Did emails help with cart abandonment? A good email marketing campaign can save a lot of abandoned carts. Did the ones that you send to your customers after they had abandoned their cart give them any incentive to come back to the checkout?
- Did emails improve the AOV? Did the discounts and shipping deals you included in your emails help to drive up the average order value of your store? You can check the analytics to see if the AOV-driving links in your emails led to bigger sales on your store.
- Were retargeting emails sent in a timely manner? How long after a customer bounces from your store do they get an email trying to reel them back in? The ideal time frame is one hour, so how long do you leave it?
Remember, a seamless email campaign is often the holy grail of great marketing ideas for the holidays. Get this part right and you’ll enjoy a highly festive windfall from your store.
For more holiday email marketing inspiration and tips on how to do it right, be sure to check out this article from the guys at Get Response.
IV. Holiday Marketing Ideas – Social Media
Social media may not provide the same ROI as email, but as more and more shoppers turn online during the holidays, social media takes on a more distinguished role as an advertising platform.
Some of the best marketing ideas for the holidays are manifested in the news feeds of regular social users, who are influenced more than ever by the ads they see amongst their friends’ posts.
The right social media campaign takes time to establish, making it a great long-term strategy. Its inception to its fruition can take many years, but it will give you a solid advertising base from which to roll out holiday ads every single year.
Tip 6: Know your Platform
If you’ve done your buyer persona research, you’ll have a good idea of where your audience hangs out most online. Not only does this help you reach them, it also helps you form the right holiday marketing idea and create the right kind of content for the platform they use.
Check out 5 different social platforms below and what you should be doing on each one. The examples we’ve included are all simple pieces of content that you could easily refashion into your own marketing idea for the holidays.
- Most popular ad content: Video
- A great example of Facebook advertising: Lume Deodorant
Facebook has rather rapidly become the king of holiday advertising. There are many types of ads for you to create, including video ads, carousel picture ads, canvas ads and Dynamic Product Ads, all of which will be shown to the right audience via a clever piece of AI called the Facebook Pixel.
Want to know more? Check out our Complete Guide to Facebook Ads for Your Shopify store.
- Most popular ad content: Video stories
- A great example of Instagram advertising: Starbucks
Instagram’s average users are younger than many other social media audiences, meaning you’ll want to focus your attention here if you’re targeting teens and 20-somethings. The most popular content consumed on the platform is video stories, which are short-form and very simple – perfect for a budding store.
- Most popular ad content: Short-form video
- A great example of Tiktok advertising: Chipotle
It’ll come as no surprise that TikTok’s users are the youngest of all social media users. The entirety of its content is basically the same as Instagram’s ‘stories’ function, which gives you a great chance to create cheap, regular content in the run up to the holidays. It also means the potential for user-generated content is astronomical.
- Most popular ad content: Long-form video
- A great example of YouTube advertising: LSTN Headphones
YouTube really lets ad creators get creative. Some of the most memorable products have been launched because of YouTube, all through entertaining content that shows a product in a unique way. Vlogs, influencers and simple how-to videos can make the difference for your holiday sales.
- Most popular ad content: Image with text
- A great example Twitter advertising: ThistleCo
Twitter’s audience generally likes to read copy alongside an image. They’re usually of an older persuasion than Instagram and Tiktok users, but still prefer adverts that are concise and visual.
Tip 7: Use your Social Media Presence to Gather Insights.
In the months leading up to the holiday shopping season, you can use your store’s social media account to connect with your already established customers. You can learn a lot about their habits through your social channels.
Running a Twitter poll to identify what shoppers hate and love during these periods has proven a great holiday marketing idea for companies in the past, as has creating live Facebook events to engage with customers on a personal level.
These are both examples of social listening. Social listening is a hugely fruitful method that monitors how your business and its products are being discussed online. Through direct customer comments, mentions, user-generated content (UGC) and discussions surrounding your targeted keywords, social listening can gather some gold dust insights and help turn them into actionable goals.
Of course, improving the entire image of your brand is not something that is going to happen in one holiday season, but it’s certainly one of the best long-term marketing ideas for the holidays.
Find out more about the sway of credibility and the power of social listening here.
Tip 8: Audit your Past Social Media Campaigns
Aside from listening directly to your customers, make sure you take the time for some internal reflection. What did you do right in the holiday seasons prior to this one?
Singling out the good and the bad from your past campaigns is essential if you want to move forward with productive holiday marketing ideas. If you had your Google Analytics set up last time, this will provide valuable data about what to cut and what to stick with.
How many clicks did that Facebook link get? How much engagement did that TikTok video see? Why did no one upload UGC to Instagram during my last promotion? These are all questions that have definitive answers lying amongst the numbers and graphs.
More than reveal the quality of your past posts, Google Analytics can also shed light on the best time to post in the future. Finding at what times the peaks of engagement happen on different channels means that you’ll know exactly what time to release social ads for your followers.
Tip 9: Scope out the Competition
When we say competition, we don’t only mean those companies selling the same types of products or services as you. The fact is that, during the feeding frenzy that is the holiday shopping period, almost every other store is your competition because you’re all vying for the same audience.
Tools like Spyfu.com help you easily know what your competitors are doing
It’s all about cutting through the noise. Don’t be afraid to go check out what that massive company with a dedicated marketing team is doing to stand out from the crowd.
Also, be sure to look laterally at companies your size and in your sector. When did they start their social media campaigns? Where do they advertise? What’s their engagement like?
Who knows? It might just get your creative juices flowing as you come up with your own brilliant social marketing holiday idea.
Tip 10: Create One Cohesive Theme per Holiday
In the ideal world, your customers will look at one social post or social ad from your company and know it is your brand without even looking at the content.
It’s all about creating a stable brand identity, which, in the holiday season, you can foster by designing one cohesive theme per targeted holiday campaign and sticking with it.
The message and content delivered can be different, but the fonts, colour, and design should stay the same throughout. These elements should chime with the design of your store to create a gelled experience with an attractive, central theme.
To achieve this on a Shopify store, you should employ the help of a page builder. PageFly is Shopify’s number 1 page builder and a platform that can help you create a central store theme oozing with identity. Try out our simple drag-and-drop system and our enormous template library, perfect for launching your holiday marketing ideas, for free, completely!
You’ll find more about actionable info about establishing brand identity for the holiday season here.
V. Holiday Marketing Ideas – Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising
PPC ads are like a massive, instantaneous hit of SEO straight to your store. They’re the ads that you see at the top of the pile on Google, or the ones that appear in your newsfeed on Facebook.
As a store owner using PPC, you will pay a certain amount of money for every click on a link that your ad features. The cost per click depends on the size of your audience and how competitive your target keyword is, so be aware that costs for a PPC campaign can run up pretty high.
Still, In terms of holiday marketing ideas, PPC ads can be monumental.
Tip 11: Choose the Right Keyword
You should have a vague idea by this point what products you want to sell, so you need to target your PPC ads at people searching for those kinds of products.
If you’re in the dog bed business, you’ll know that people in the lead up to the end of October are searching for Halloween dog beds. So, there’s your keyword right there. Having your landing page as the first result for the keyword ‘Halloween dog beds’ is going to drive some serious traffic to your store.
Try to find the niche that your product fits into. You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with a business that has an astronomical ad budget; do your keyword research, find the keywords with lower competition and target your PPC ads around them.
Tip 12: Ramp up the Discounts
Nothing gets people clicking on a PPC ad like a discount.
Be loud and visual about the discounts you offer for people who click on your PPC ad. You’ll have to approach this in 2 different ways, depending on whether you’re using Google Ads or Facebook Ads:
- Google Ads: There is no space for a picture on a Google ad, so be sure to include a %-off discount and a FOMO-inducing ‘offer ends 20th December’ in your title and meta description.
- Facebook Ads: Facebook ads are much more visual, so be sure to include a clear, eye-catching image that relays your discount and shipping policies. There’s also plenty of space for text, so use it to incentivise your audience into visiting your store.
Tip 13: Utilise Video
As we mentioned before, pretty much all of social media users prefer to consume video. Using video in your ads is a proven way to engage audiences and can be a wonderful eCommerce marketing idea for the holidays if implemented correctly.
A study by Quintly found that Facebook native videos; that’s videos that play directly on a PPC ad on a user’s Facebook newsfeed; reach up to 86% more of your audience than if that same video is uploaded to YouTube and linked through a PPC ad. Videos are also 447% more shareable on Facebook and attract 8 times the amount of comments.
These videos don’t have to be sleek, high-budget product trailers, they simply have to show your product in its best light and include some mention of the holiday discount you’re providing. You can even shoot them on your phone!
Check out Oberlo’s advice for really simple but effective videos that you can use for your store:
There are no golden holiday marketing ideas that are going to shoot your store from potential obscurity to worldwide recognition over the course of one holiday season.
For the best results, try out as many of our 12 tips for ecommerce holiday marketing as possible; you’re sure to find a handful that does wonders for your store’s seasonal sales.
Also, don’t forget to try out PageFly to make sure that your ads are bringing your traffic to a professional-looking store. Once you’ve captured them, PageFly can help you convert them with precise tools, hugely customisable elements and beautiful templates.
Try out Shopify’s best-rated page builder by starting your Free Plan with PageFly.
That’s it for now! Join us in the next and final chapter of our online holiday sales guide, where we’ll be looking at the importance of holiday landing pages and getting you started with 25 gorgeously seasonal templates.