Digital Experience

14 Holiday Marketing Campaign Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these holiday marketing blunders to stay ahead of the competition during this year's critical retail sales period.

Are you planning to engage in holiday marketing this year?

Online shopping accounts for a growing portion of retail sales, accounting for 18 percent globally, and this figure is expected to rise.

Whether you’re selling online or using digital marketing to drive in-store sales, avoid these 14-holiday marketing blunders that can cost you online visibility, customers, and revenue.

1. Using Your Regular Website Rather Than Landing Pages

Direct customers to the most relevant pages on your website while emphasizing your offer. But how exactly?

Make good use of targeted landing pages to attract customers with holiday-specific offers.

No one has the time or resources to redesign a large portion of their website, but using landing pages keeps content fresh, timely, and relevant while keeping design and development costs low.

Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Keep the design consistent with the rest of the site.
  • In addition to the landing page, include holiday offers on the homepage or banner.
  • Include links or navigation back to the main site in the event that users do not find their desired offer or service.

2. Postponing a review of your sales funnel and checkout process until the last minute

Are you certain that your customer service is the best it can be? Are you willing to stake your holiday growth objectives on it?

When it comes to holiday marketing, it’s critical to go through the sales process from start to finish as if you were a new customer (as many likely will be).

Look for gaps in the conversion process or areas where checkout friction could be reduced. For example, is it simple to find what you’re looking for using your site’s search or main navigation?

Check that all aspects of the checkout process are fast and efficient on both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. You’ll want to finish this before your holiday promotional period so that any changes or updates can be made and tested before going live.

If SEO is a top priority for your launch, plan ahead of time so that your pages appear in search results when customers look for them (ideally 6-8 months in advance, but it’s not too late to start now).

3. Failure to Optimize Your Mobile Site

Being mobile-friendly is essential for marketing, especially during peak shopping seasons.

For many consumers, holiday shopping is done on the go, and eCommerce sales are expected to be at least 50% mobile-driven in 2021 for the first time. Good mobile experiences will almost certainly increase site conversion rates.

We’re also all aware that Google prioritizes rankings for mobile-friendly websites. In short, ensure that your mobile experience is as good as your desktop experience for customers.

4. Ignoring Voice Search Optimization Opportunities

Voice search may not be the industry-shattering event that was predicted, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. This is especially true in key entertainment categories, such as recipes, which are a popular category during any holiday season.

It is still necessary to consider how to optimize your website or product pages for Alexa, Siri, and Google Home.

Answer questions about product usage and FAQs that could become featured snippets by using the appropriate structured data and fully answering user queries in a natural way that can be cribbed for voice results.

5. Failure to Prepare Your Website for a Surge in Traffic

Your website must load before potential customers lose interest. Make sure your servers can withstand higher-than-normal levels of web traffic when your sale or promotion goes live.

Ideally, the increased traffic should have little to no effect on the customers who use your site by:

  • Investigate the possibility of a “failover” site, which is a backed-up server site that can handle traffic if you can’t reach your host if your site goes down.
  • Confirming that your payment processor is capable of handling a high volume of orders in a short period of time.
  • Checking in with your merchant services ahead of the holiday to learn how the system works under these conditions and what backup options they have, as well as what other integration methods they offer to help distribute some of the checkout burden.

6. Assuming that all of your clients observe the same major holidays

This blunder is typically aimed at the end-of-the-year holidays. In short, don’t limit yourself to major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Because not all of your customers will be celebrating these holidays, tailor your messaging accordingly.

Furthermore, if you have an international audience, you should conduct a larger gut check year-round for well-intended mass emails sent around US holidays. (For example, Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom is in March, whereas it is in May in the United States.)

Between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and New Year’s, competition in the eCommerce market is at an all-time high.

Consider the impact that smaller, more specific holidays may have on your brand. For the vast majority of businesses, World Gin Day probably doesn’t make sense to celebrate, unless you’re a gin-based distillery. In that case, you can lean into a “holiday” that almost no one else is talking about and position your brand and offer in a fun and unique way.

Small Business Saturday, Green Monday, Giving Tuesday, and Free Shipping Day are all good opportunities to market around non-religious or federal holidays.

Read The Top 10 Forms of Digital Marketing That Any Company Can Utilize.

7. Embracing “Guilty Marketing”

Maybe you’ll sell more products, but is the long-term cost to your brand worth it? Nobody wants to purchase a product that makes them feel bad.

In general, you should emphasize the positive aspects of your products or services rather than making customers feel guilty for purchasing them. There’s also the possibility of higher post-holiday returns if customers were only enticed by a lower price or a guilt-laden message.

Instead, concentrate on your unique selling proposition, why your product is unique, and how it improves the customer’s life. Focus on how they can improve their situation rather than how they got to this point.

Finally, the solution to a customer problem is your brand. Instead of feeling guilty, lean on this.

8. Inadequate Inventory/Stock

Your customers adore your products, and the holidays provide an additional incentive for them to purchase. Don’t jeopardize sales by underestimating inventory.

A common source of customer annoyance is the inability to obtain highly advertised products. Based on previous sales, forecast demand and replenish your stock/inventory levels accordingly ahead of time.

Running out of stock is unavoidable, but do everything you can to avoid it on your most popular items and communicate low inventory to customers.

9. Customer Service Personnel Shortage

Customers expect to be able to solve problems quickly, particularly through website chat functions and social media. Trying to stay ahead of the customer experience stampede?

Begin with the following suggestions:

  • Make FAQ pages easily accessible from the cart/checkout and all landing pages. These should answer basic questions about shipping and checkout procedures, reducing the need for staff to respond to questions in real time.
  • Consider using a live chat feature during peak promotional periods to quickly answer customer questions instead of relying on the direct phone or email support. (You can also pre-program FAQ responses into your live chat program to provide ongoing customer service when your team is unavailable!)
  • Keep an eye on social media engagement for any questions that may have been left unanswered. Prospective customers may ask questions in the form of a Facebook or Instagram comment rather than directly messaging the brand. Make a point of doing a daily sweep to avoid leaving customers (and sales) waiting.

10. Failure to Be Open About Delivery Dates

The quickest way to annoy customers is to promise a delivery date, especially one that guarantees delivery on holiday weekends, and then fails to deliver on time.

Be upfront with customers about expected shipping and delivery dates, even if they are unfavorable, especially around the holidays when items are ordered for a deadline.

It’s better to set and meet expectations than to leave them irritated because their gift didn’t arrive on time.

Create a real-time shipping estimation at checkout if possible, so that customers can check their shipping date based on their location and type of shipment.

Let customers know ahead of time when the last date for guaranteed delivery is, and when it will be too late to order with certainty that it will arrive on time, especially around busy giftable holidays like Christmas.

11. Missing Out on Opportunities to Upsell or Cross-Sell Your Products

Brands can use both upselling (encouraging customers to purchase a more expensive item than their original choice) and cross-selling (encouraging customers to buy an additional item in a related category).

This raises the average order value and exposes customers to a broader range of the brand’s offerings. A more comprehensive product experience increases the likelihood that a satisfied customer will return for future purchases.

According to recent survey data, first-time buyers are only 27% likely to return to your business, but this rises to 54% after the second or third purchase.

12. Failure to set up retargeting ads

Customers who are already familiar with your brand and products are the easiest to sell to. Those who have already visited your website and expressed an interest, in particular.

In fact, abandoned carts account for 69.57 percent of eCommerce site visits on average.

Retargeting ads can assist in recovering some of that lost traffic and, as a result, sales.

Even during the holidays, not all shoppers buy right away. Many people compare prices among competitors, which often results in abandoned carts or visits that do not result in a purchase.

Retargeting ads help to keep your brand and products at the forefront of your customers’ minds and encourage them to make a purchase.

13. Spending Your Digital Advertising Budget Too Soon

It can be tempting to spend more money on advertising up front to get ahead of competitors.

The catch is that customers may not be in the market to buy yet, and you will have depleted your budget before you need it to compete.

It’s a fine line to walk when customers are comparing products versus when they’re ready to make a purchase.

To help spread out your budget, account for higher costs as the holiday approaches, and consider user purchase timelines and what might drive them.

Ad click costs are likely to rise as more retailers bid on those keywords and compete for consumer attention on paid social channels. Throughout your campaign, keep an eye on your ads and consider targeting long-tail keywords that may be high converts but low cost.

Don’t be afraid to abandon underperforming campaigns to make room for those that are outpacing and converting ahead of schedule.

14. Promotions that are generic and impersonal

A generic offer feels incomplete and lazy in an age when consumers expect tailored offers and are aware that marketers are collecting their data for this very purpose. Not sure where to begin?

Consider the following suggestions:

  • Consider what your competitors are doing and how you can differentiate yourself from them.
  • Refresh your advertising on a regular basis, especially for the same products, to avoid marketing becoming stale and impersonal to your customers.
  • Personalize as much as possible. Email marketing is a good place to start because you can use the data you’ve collected from your customers, such as their names or any demographic information, in the email.
  • Based on previous purchases, make shopping recommendations.
  • Finally, holiday marketing is a pillar for many brands and helps to drive sales. Many customers are aware that they should look for exciting offers and deep discounts, so simply lowering prices and announcing sales is no longer sufficient.

By following these holiday marketing mistakes to avoid tips, you’ll be able to help your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace and avoid mistakes that turn customers away.

Learn more from Digital Experience and read A Beginner’s Guide to Amazon’s Affiliate Program.

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