If you’re a B2C company, odds are your marketing department’s been preparing for the 2012 holiday season for months already, trying to figure out the best ways to reach potential customers and to increase sales in an economy that’s still stagnant. You’ve figured out your email marketing, direct mail and advertising. The powers that be have determined what items will go on sale when, and declared that doors WILL open at 2 a.m. on Black Friday (or, in some cases, will open at midnight or earlier Thanksgiving day).
With so many advertisements pummeling consumers on a daily basis (I think I’ve received at least ten emails in the past two days already talking about buying for Christmas, and Zales has been doing pre-Black Friday email only sales for the past month or so), how do you stand out and make sure customers are buying YOUR product rather than your competition’s?
Having a robust email list that’s properly segmented is one way to help garner attention and boost sales. A properly segmented list means that the right people are seeing the right message, thus increasing your chances of getting a sale from that particular email. Focusing on the right items and message–beyond segmentation–is also important. Yes, parents want to know that Lalaloopsy dolls will be on sale for ten bucks on Black Friday (actually, if anyone sees that price let me know–we have a niece who wants one for Christmas), but not everyone is in the market to purchase toys. An avid cyclist would love to know that REI will have all cycling clothes half off, but a rock climber wouldn’t necessarily care. Focusing on value, though, is a good tactic in our current economy. And if you have a layaway program, an email campaign would be a great place to mention that. Coupons, exclusive offers and steep email only discounts are all good ways to help drive sales.
If you’re also running a direct mail campaign, there are ways to integrate a print piece into your online marketing. A QR code is a super simple way to do that. Smack one on your well done direct mail piece and have it go to a landing page for a contest to win a free item, such as boots, a $500 gift card, an HDTV, PS3, etc. Not only will you get people to land on your website, but you’ll also get their email addresses as a result, which you can then load into your email database for further promotions and newsletters. Be sure, though, to include the URL to the landing page for those who don’t have a smart phone or a QR code reader–no matter what, you’ll still only give away one prize, but the number of email addresses you collect could go up considerably.
So what if someone clicks through on your email campaign or scans in the QR code but doesn’t buy anything? That’s where a good retargeting campaign can come in handy. Basically, retargeting is a form of paid media where a visitor’s IP address is cookied, and as they surf the web ads for your store or product will appear on the websites they’re surfing. I get retargeted all the time by Zappos and Overstock.com, and have received retargeted emails from Home Depot. I also just started being retargeted by Cabela’s after signing up for their newsletter yesterday. A 2010 study by comScore found that retargeting generated a 1046 percent lift in trademark search behavior, and retailers who retarget site visitors can see an ROI ranging from 2% to 35% (and probably higher). Evidence is showing that while a lot of shoppers window shop online and abandon their shopping carts, retargeting is an effective method of drawing them back to your website and encouraging them to complete the transaction. Other forms of paid media can also be effective, depending on your particular space and the competitiveness of it.
While most retailers focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t neglect customers the rest of the time from November 1 to December 25. Anyone who’s ever worked in retail knows that the Saturday before Christmas is actually the busiest day of the holiday shopping season. There are also those customers who shop throughout the year, or who start their shopping before Black Friday. There are those who avoid stores on Black Friday at all costs, and those who wait until 9 p.m. on December 24th to buy gifts for all 23 of their family members. Spraying and praying is not effective, but making sure to address ALL–or at least as many–of your customers as possible will help you to garner the most sales during an incredibly competitive shopping season.
Good luck, many sales, and if you happen to need some elves to help you with your holiday marketing, we’re pretty handy with reindeer and Jack in the Box (es? Jacks in the Boxes? Jacks in the Box? what is the plural of that?).
Happy holiday sales!