May 31, 2012

3 Easy Steps For 2012 Holiday Planning

by Steven DuBois, Bronto Marketing Strategist

GiftSpring is almost over and summer is right around the corner. It seems like just yesterday we were finishing our post-holiday campaigns. As we pick our head up off the desk, note that there are only 4 weeks left in Q2 and it's time to start planning for Q4.

Let’s review 3 essential, and easy, tactics to get ready for the 2012 Holiday Season.

1. Review

Gather insights - What worked/What didn’t work?

Remember the analysis that you complied for all of 2011? More importantly, the holiday summary of Q4 2011? Pull out those results and get organized because you're going to leverage these findings for the holiday season.

If you didn’t compile those results in Q1 of this year, then go back to your data and start to look at things like:

  • Overall Q4 holiday season performance
  • Buyers in Q4 versus buyers in Q1, Q2, & Q3
  • Returns
  • Profit Margins
  • Emails that consistently perform

If you are not sure what metrics to look at, make sure you read Email Metrics 101: Establish Your Baselines and Helpful Formulas for Email Marketing Analysis.

Take inventory – Do you know what you are sending, when you are sending it and how it performs?

Create an email inventory checklist of every triggered message you have. This list will help you stay organized, so when your creative department asks what they need to be working on, you can say “I need the following revamped with this year’s holiday theme!”

This list will also help you plan to fill in the gaps. Do you have holes in your welcome series? Should you add a review email to your post purchase series? What are you missing out on all together?

2. Set your Goals

If you haven’t already, set your goals for Q3 and Q4 now.  An easy place to start is to look at what your goals were last year. Will you aim to meet the same goals or beat them by 10, 20, or 30%? Then take a look at the following:

Metrics

  • How much revenue are you looking to generate?
  • What is your target unsubscribe rate?
  • What growth rate do you need to hit in order to meet or exceed your revenue targets?

Timing and setting expectations

  • How many different campaigns are you looking to send?
  • How many users are you looking to reach?
  • Do you need all emails for Black Friday completed by the first week of November?

Do these align with your overall company goals? If not, what adjustments do you need to make?

3. What is your plan of attack

  1. Create an outlined schedule that includes the dates, holidays, events, and everything you know that is going on. Then start to mark down all your goal dates of when you expect to have certain marketing campaigns written and the creative done by. Last, mark down your ideas of what you would like to do and/or test.
  2. Test new ideas before the crunch time. It is never a good idea to do a site release when you know there are historical traffic spikes. This is why a lot of companies put a freeze during certain times of the year when the site cannot be touched.
    Does your company have a freeze time? Find out when and mark it on your calendar. If you are looking to test new things like a popup box that will collect more opt-ins, or if the word “sign-up” works better than subscribe, then testing this before crunch time is essential.
  3. Think outside the box... what about Xmas in July? You may get overwhelmed to even think of the Q4 stress but do not over look the last 4 weeks of Q2 (Graduations, Fathers Day, Summer) and Q3 (4th of July, BBQs, Back to School). There are plenty of opportunities to capitalize before Q4.  When was the last time you ran a Friends and Family campaign, Flash Sale, or something out of the box? Squeeze something different into your mix and the results just may surprise you.

I know some of you wish you could forget about the holidays but it is never too early to start building a solid plan. Take these 3 steps and take them one at a time. Do your homework early to avoid a stressful holiday season.

If you're looking for more holiday planning resources, check out ”12 Tips for a Successful Holiday Season”.  We've also dedicated a national event to helping retailers plan for the upcoming season.  Check out the Revenue Revolution Tour which offers helpful tips and resources for your holiday planning.

Steven DuBois
Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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Steven DuBois, Bronto Marketing Strategist

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