Christmas is an important time for almost every business. It can either lead to a huge increase in sales, or a quiet spell, as people focus their attention elsewhere.
No matter what the festive period means for your business, it’s vital you have a Christmas marketing plan in place in order to make the most of the opportunities on offer, or to help you ride out the lean spell it brings.
GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain provider and small business representative, has a number of tips on how businesses should prepare for Christmas. GoDaddy has a unique standpoint on this because they work with small businesses every day, helping them make the most of their websites through local search in the form of Google My Business, digital marketing and SEO optimisation.
1) Understand what your customers will be looking for at Christmas
The first step in drawing up a Christmas marketing plan is to understand how your potential customers are likely to behave in the run-up to and during the Christmas period. After all, these are the people you’re hoping will buy from you.
If you already have customer personas to help you with your marketing, you’ll need to refine them for your Christmas planning. If you don’t have customer personas, then you should start by creating them. These will help you with all your future marketing.
Once you have your customer personas drawn up, it’s time to think about how each persona will behave in the festive period. What will their spending priorities be? Will they do their gift shopping early or late? Will they be more or less interested in your products and services?
2) Understand your business’s position at Christmas
You’ll already have begun looking at this issue as part of the last section. You’ll also have some instinctive knowledge of the issue. For example, if you specialise in Christmas decorations you can expect a big increase in orders, whereas if you’re a loft conversion company you know you’ll probably be at the back of most people’s minds.
However, it always pays to dig into any data you have. The most useful data will be Google Analytics (GA) data from previous Christmases. If you’ve got GA fully set up, you’ll not only be able to see how many people visited your website and when, but also how many sales you made and which channels help generate these sales.
Or, if business tends to be quieter in the run-up to Christmas, you’ll be able to see when this trend starts.
If you don’t have GA set up, then get it installed on your website as soon as you can. It won’t be able to help you with this year’s Christmas marketing plan, but the sooner it’s on there the sooner it will start collecting data. Google offers a useful guide to installing Google Analytics.
3) Start drawing up a basic outline of your marketing plan
By now you should have all the information needed to draw up a brief outline of a Christmas marketing plan.
Namely, you should know:
What potential customers are looking for over the Christmas period.
How your business can meet these needs, or how your products/services fail to meet these needs.
Which channels drive your Christmas sales, or when your lean spell starts.
With this information, you should be able to draw up a basic statement of intent. For example, if you’re a Christmas decoration business you might say: “Our customers will be looking for high-quality, handcrafted Christmas decorations. We can provide a range of tasteful glass baubles. In the past channels that have driven most sales are Facebook and Pinterest.”
Alternatively, if you’re a business that expects things to slow down, a loft conversion company for example, you might say: “Our usual customers will want to focus their spending on gifts and will not want their home lives disrupted over the Christmas period. As an expensive project requiring significant building work, demand for loft conversions will fall. Our quiet period begins late November and lasts until late January.”
Once you have a basic statement, you can begin to expand it into a fully-fledged marketing plan.
4) Flesh out your marketing plan
First things first. Your basic statement covers your customers as a whole, but you’ll have a few, if not several, different customer personas.
So, the first step in fleshing out your marketing plan is to expand your basic statement into a detailed, specific statement for each of your customers.
For each persona, you should know what they’ll want from you, how you’ll target them and when.
You’ll also need to set goals. These goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-limited (SMART).
For example, saying “we will increase sales with our Christmas marketing campaign” is not a good goal to set. It’s not specific, you can’t really measure it (as we haven’t said what period the increase will be measured against) and as such it won’t let you understand how well your campaign did.
A better goal would be: “During the period from December 1st to January 15th we will aim to increase website sales by 15% compared to the same period last year”. By using SMART goals, you’ll be able to accurately judge if you met your targets.
Remember, the goal of increasing sales is still a valid one even if Christmas isn’t a busy period for you.
5) Decide which tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals
You know who you’ll be targeting, which channels you’ll be targeting them through and what your goals are. But what specific methods do you plan to use to actually make these things happen?
There are two main options to you and you might even use both in combination.
The first is to incentivise purchases. You could, for example, offer a price discount, a special gift, or free delivery. So, we could go 3 for 2 on our handmade Christmas baubles, or offer 15% off a loft conversion which commences work in January.
The second is to increase the number of people who are exposed to your business. This should be a long-term aim for your business through search engine optimisation and organic social media growth, but in the short term you can use social media ads and search ads to boost the number of people being directed to your Christmas special offers.
If you’ve got an existing email marketing list, then a well-timed Christmas promo email is always a great way to drive extra sales. Whichever online tactics you use, ensure they’re properly tracked through GA so you can measure the results.
Don’t be afraid to make use of new forms of traffic generation when it comes to your Christmas marketing campaigns, doing so may help you beat your targets.
By working your tactics into your Christmas marketing plan, you’ll now have a strategy that explains who you’ll be targeting and why, how you’ll be targeting them and the goals you hope to achieve.
6) Identify and produce the assets you’ll need to execute your Christmas marketing strategy
You may have the theory of your marketing plan finished, but there’s one practical step you need to take before it’s ready to be implemented. You need to pinpoint what assets you’ll need to deliver your planned campaign.
What do we mean by assets? It’s things like images and text that will form an integral part of your campaign. This is likely to include product photos and descriptions, ad copy, email design elements, web design elements, and so on.
You don’t have to produce all this yourself, but you will have to understand what you need and commission so it’s finished in time for your campaign to launch. The sooner the better.
7) Measure the results to inform future campaigns
Once you’ve followed the steps above, you should have a ready-to-implement Christmas marketing plan. Putting it into action should be relatively straightforward. But don’t forget how important it is to monitor the results of your plan so you can see how it shapes up against the goals you set.
You can then use that information to pinpoint what worked and what didn’t work so well. Doing so will help you improve marketing strategies you create in the future, no matter the time of year.
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