While COVID-19 pandemic seems to have passed its peak, things are by no means “back to normal.” Supply chains are still disrupted, consumer wallets are still hurting, and unemployment is still high. It’s going to take a good while for the economy to get back on its feet, so you need to plan online holiday marketing strategies well in advance.
Holiday Sales Planning 2020
With so much holiday revenue coming in online, it’s vital for online businesses to put their best holiday marketing foot forward, and that includes considering which marketing channels to use to increase your sales.
1. Social Media Paid Marketing
According to received wisdom, CPMs have been rising constantly, dragging down ROAS on paid social. This was true, and there’s still an understandable spike in CPM before the holidays, which only emphasizes the need to plan your holiday marketing ecommerce strategy ahead of time.
But recently, something changed. In January-July 2019, CPM on Facebook dropped to $8.34, from $11.09 in January-July 2018. CPM on other channels took a similar dive. This is mainly due to two new paid social formats which drive more conversions: Instagram Stories, and Snapchat ads.
The native feel, full-screen creative, and swipe-up that takes the user direct to the site drove rapid adoption and high engagement for Instagram Stories, far surpassing Instagram posts. ROAS on Instagram Stories tripled since January, and 57% of marketers find them effective or very effective.
At the same time, Snapchat boomed to reach 90% of 13-24 year-olds in the US, more than Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger combined. It has over 190 million active daily users, but it’s still largely overlooked for marketing purposes.
Despite the potential of these two channels, don’t ignore your existing successful social media strategies. You know what works for your audience, so while you experiment with new possibilities, you shouldn’t rip up last year’s playbook.
2. Branded Utility
Branded utility refers to delivering value to consumers to create a relationship with them before you begin selling. It shifts marketing up a level by making it useful as well as entertaining.
Branded utility can take many forms:
- Transactional, like coupons
- Non-transactional, like a fitness tracking app
- Digital, such as a chatbot helping travelers book their flights
- Non-digital, like a garage fixing flats for free
IBM’s physical ads are a great example of branded utility. They gave people somewhere to sit and shelter and made their lives easier, without selling a thing. IKEA’s nap delivery similarly improved people’s lives without making sales by helping them to gain more sleep in their free time. The van is equipped with bad and drove by a personal driver. All they’re asking in return is a picture with the following hashtag – #UpgradetoIKEA. Both brands forged a connection with consumers and even provoked gratitude.
For branded utility to work it has to solve a real pain point. You’ll get nowhere if your campaign feels gimmicky, so you’ll need careful thought to find a pain point and an effective way to solve it. However, the IBM campaign shows that the pain point doesn’t have to be directly related to your product.
3. Email Marketing
Emails haven’t been replaced by messenger apps; 293.6 billion emails are still sent every day, and that’s predicted to rise to 347 billion by 2023. Most of your holiday sales come from existing customers — 48% of 2018’s BFCM sales were generated by existing customers — which is useful because they are probably on your email list already.
Email marketing is still effective when it’s done right. Design plays an important role, so it can help to invest in layout, fonts, and color choices. Wisestamp signature generator helps you include an eye-catching and appealing CTA to your business without intruding on the email content. Some marketers recommend A/B testing to find the right subject lines, email lengths, etc. although others feel that it’s a waste of time.
The content itself matters too. Consumers are looking for human, personalized communications that nurture their connection with your brand, although they also appreciate discounts. Demand for customized content and offers makes audience segmentation vital. Segmentation also helps you avoid oversending, because you can usually increase the number of emails you send in the runup to a holiday, as long as you don’t overdo it.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is great for your SEO, because it uses your keywords in context, and that pushes your website higher up the SERP and helps drive more organic traffic, but it also goes way beyond it.
Content marketing engages, entertains, and interests your customers, opening up a conversation that could lead to a long-term friendship. Content that delivers value cements customers’ loyalty to your brand.
“SEO and content marketing will continue to drive visibility in 2020 but what good is being found if content is not credible or compelling? To win the content marketing game, brands need to focus more on optimized, personalized and influencer activated content experiences.” says Lee Odden, CEO of Top Rank Marketing.
Content marketing isn’t a monolith. It includes a whole swathe of media formats, including infographics, social media posts, case studies, and more.
Blogs used to be the preferred content media format, but they were recently overtaken by video. The choice is yours.
Like email marketing, content marketing needs to be adapted to and targeted for different audience segments, so choose and track metrics that define success for you. These can include conversions, sales, time on page, SERP ranking, etc. Effective content creates a positive cycle: you learn more about your customers as you see which content they prefer, and that in turn helps you create more targeted and effective content.
The Right Holiday Online Marketing Channels Drive Your Success
Holiday sales are crucial for small businesses, and that’s more true than ever this year, after COVID-19 left Q1 a washout and Q2 not much better. Planning holiday marketing strategies well in advance across numerous channels, and using the best practices for each one, can help your SMB get ahead and attract consumers for holiday sales.
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