For those of us working in retail, or those of us who provide services to retail businesses, we know the day after tomorrow is when we can official start promoting the Holiday Season. True, we will still get flack for "skipping Thanksgiving," or for beating the first snowfall (maybe!) to the punch, but after Halloween, it's finally fair game. Holiday movies start playing on TV, and new holiday albums came out today is the US, which will start to affect the iTunes charts this weekend.
The USA is one of the few countries that celebrates Halloween in such a big way, and that day now represents the dividing date between "Fall" advertising and Holiday advertising. Not too long ago, that dividing date was Thanksgiving.
Of course, I'm only referring to the USA. Other countries that don't celebrate or commercialize Halloween in the way do, or don't have a Thanksgiving date in November, have a more subtle seasonal transition into the Holiday Season.
A few days ago I was reviewing all my prep notes for this upcoming Holiday Season and I have a list of thoughts and random statistics that I've been collecting since July. Each of these can be taken as individual thoughts for you to use over the next 55 days.
1. Don't push deals this year. Customers are getting tired of them. Want proof? JCK reported that Cocosa was shutting down and you can clearly see the decline of Groupon here. So quit using any "deals" as a headline or attempt to attract customers.
2. Speaking of deals to attract customers; don't use the same slogans or headlines that you used in 2011 or 2012. Put your thinking cap on and come up with some new ads. Remember to use the "emotional" appeal in your ads, for example, "bridal" is a jewelry trade word, but your customers will search for "wedding ring" because that associates to their emotional thoughts.
3. Black Friday is coming and that day should be dedicated to something totally unusual. Don't make the mistake that so many business owners do... NEVER advertise the same deals on Black Friday that you have already done earlier in 2013. Also, you should ONLY advertise deals that are super special. This is the biggest shopping day of the year and your customers want your best deals all day long.
4. Let's talk targeting and dates. The best days to announce your Black Friday events begin 11 days before Thanksgiving and end 2 days before Thanksgiving. Those dates were measured last year by Monetate and reported in August 2013 on monetate.com. This year those dates translate to November 17, 2013 through November 26, 2013. Do your best to plan your full page Black Friday announcements for that period.
5. Remember that Hanukkah starts on November 27th this year. How will this affect your November sales? We'll only know after it has passed. The sales figures for last year were $16.3 billion in November and $24.4 billion in December 2012. Check out comScore's report on this from last year. Because of the holiday timing, my educated trend-watching guess is that November 2013 will have a larger growth percentage over 2012 than December will.
What does this mean for your ads? For those of you always toeing the line to create "generic" holiday ads that relate to Hanukkah and Christmas, because of the definitive split be the two holidays, you actually could have Hanukkah specific ads in November and Christmas specific ads in December.
6. According to Monetate.com the #1 driving source for website traffic during the 2012 Holiday Season was simple organic search results. Are you prepared? Add a few new blogs to your website over the next 14 days and make sure to CHANGE YOUR HOME PAGE every few days throughout the entire season. Trust me on this; I have new data that proves Google wants to see changes to your home page all the time. I'll report on this in a future Daily Nugget.
7. According to Monetate.com the #2 driving source for website traffic during the 2012 Holiday Season was email marketing. So how is your list building effort coming along? What, no email list? Well, then put out a clipboard on your counters and start collecting them today.
If you're not doing this yet then I have to let you in on a little trade secret... Social media was supposed to be the "new" way to connect you to your customers all the time. The problem is that there's too much "social noise" now and your important messages are not getting through to them. Instead of wasting your time trying to churn massive social engagements you can send out emails to your collected list of addresses. Social is still important, but the click-throughs from your announcements to your website are small.
8. Here's some email strategies for you... Make sure your email announcement is visible throughout your website as they browse. This could be a simple header banner on all your pages. Create a fully detailed landing page that matches your email, but has more information than the email. Did you include product photos in the email? Make sure the landing page has alternative views of those same products. Keep in mind that clicks from emails to websites always indicate that the person wants more, and different information. Don't bore them with the same photos, step up your marketing and give them MORE of what they want, rather than the SAME thing.
9. Just a few more important dates: Those with e-commerce websites need to clearly show all the shipping deadline dates starting Cyber Monday, that's December 2nd this year. Feel free to include this on all your pages throughout the season--because that's user friendly. Then around December 16th through the 23rd you should push those last minute gift cards in your emails, on social networks, and all over your website.
So there you have it; a few tips to help energize the next two months of sales.