Christmas, it comes round every year like clockwork, yet in the world of ecommerce it sometimes feels like it’s a surprise when it happens! Consumers leaving it (or maybe saving it) to the last minute to buy presents; complaining about delayed delivery (even though they knew weeks in advance that they needed to buy things); stock levels not being able to cope with demand; and advertisers being ill-prepared for surges in interest in their products and site traffic levels.
At Adido we like to ensure our clients & their campaigns are well prepared for the festive season, and in the world of ecommerce this is where planning, monitoring and analysing can get intense.
Key retail dates
First things first, here are some key dates to be ready for:
24th November – “Black Friday” – this is the fastest growing retail search day and often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. It’s the day after Thanksgiving Day in the US, and usually the day that Apple has one of its only two sales days of the year. Many other retailers also offer Black Friday deals, some even offer a week of promotions, like Amazon.
27th November – “Cyber Monday” – a term coined by the marketing industry to encourage people to shop online, it is the first Monday after Thanksgiving and it has become renowned for being the busiest retail search day of the year. Again many retailers offer promotions during this time to improve conversion rates, but generally sales are high during this period regardless.
11th December – “Green Monday” – another online retail industry term similar to Cyber Monday. However this term was first used by eBay to describe its best sales day in December and it’s usually the busiest online shopping day before Christmas.
Christmas Day – biggest mobile search day – don’t neglect your mobile users on this day, as consumers interrupt (or accompany) their festivities by buying what they really want for Christmas on their mobiles!
Boxing Day – busiest retail day on & offline – synonymous with the “Boxing Day sales” both on & offline sales promotions coax people into grabbing a bargain.
The holiday shopping frenzy will start earlier this year – key shopping days stretch across November & December.
Mobile usage continues to grow – starting from 2015 mobile has been confirming and strengthening its position as a primary shopping channel, providing users an unprecedented level of convenience. Christmas 2015 saw a 12% YoY increase in online sales, but this growth, as well as general online sales growth in 2015 has been driven by the rise of mobile: m-commerce grew by 42% during the year 2015 and 45% of sales were made via a mobile device in the third quarter of the year (IMRG Capgemini, 2016).
Always connected consumers are open to being influenced by retailers - 57% of holiday shoppers don’t have a product or brand in mind when they begin their holiday shopping (Google, 2014). Now is the time to get in front of them and persuade.
Marketing campaigns will harness the power of social to sell – we’ve already seen John Lewis & M&S battle it out for the best Christmas TV ad, but their marketing goes far beyond the ad and now reaches out to the emotive social audience with the use of integrated campaigns like #Followthefairies or #ManOnTheMoon.
PPC Christmas tips
- Monitor bids and budgets to capture all relevant traffic & seasonal spikes
- Upload ads early to prevent delays in approval process
- Use ad customisers to link your ads with your inventory – highlight sale countdown, and last shipping dates, keep deals and pricing up to date, detail the range you are offering and last but not least, push a sense of urgency – ‘hurry, ends today!’ has quite a powerful psychological impact in the shopping world
- Customise ad extensions to highlight what inventory you have in stock and at which location, and add structured snippets to highlight the wide selection of products you offer
- Boost your mobile adverts with location, opening times, phone and inventory information to boost footfall in your stores for those on the move
- Boost mobile bids during the season to enhance direct mobile sales but also be more present in the research stage
- Push your bids and budgets in the account to ensure maximum impression share and optimum position
- Hook up your account with smart scripts that can adjust bids and pause/ enable keywords based on your inventory data and other seasonal events
- Update your Google merchant feed to include seasonal products
- Split out your campaigns by seasonality, boost the Christmas campaign priority levels and bids to capture as much impression share as possible
- Start remarketing lists to collect enough data in time for the festivities
- Remarket to previous visitors and customers to boost post-Christmas sales
- Implement dynamic remarketing to ensure you serve the most relevant ad to every previous interest
Brand content and SEO tips
- Add a Christmas logo to your website & brand collateral – if nothing else it shows that your website is current, and up to date.
- Update your meta descriptions to be seasonal - entice the click in search results by standing out and being relevant – you need to do this sooner rather than later though as it could take Google a while to update. But don’t forget to change back once the holiday season is over!
- Share the love with a viral campaign – this is a time of year to have fun, and maybe offer a special discount code or two. Join in the conversation and create content which is festive, entertaining and shows the fun side of your brand.
- Email past buyers – last minute shoppers are often repeat offenders so gather a list of those who purchased last minute last year, and surprise them with a tailored email campaign which will help them again this year!
You’ve done the hard work, but don’t disappoint at fulfilment stage
Christmas returns policy – combat purchasing worries by offering longer return periods. Make sure the message is clear and prominent on your website.
Quick delivery – last minute shoppers definitely need fast delivery, so perhaps look at extra delivery options to ensure that the purchase arrives before Christmas! Likewise, review which products are likely to be popular and ensure you have enough of them in-stock.
Contingency plan – you never know what could happen this year. Postal strike / a big freeze etc… you could turn a threat into an opportunity and since social goodwill spreads like wildfire now, this could be a great opportunity for you.
Hopefully you’ll have read this blog with enough time to spare this Christmas period to implement some of these suggestions. It’s going to be a busy one so we hope that it’s a successful one too!