To help you learn from their lessons, here are four missteps that marketers often make during the holiday season. Avoid these errors and you’re more likely to celebrate the coming year.
- Banking on deep discounts to boost sales - Don’t assume that low prices are the route to buyers’ hearts and wallets. Cheap products are not nearly as attractive to consumers as getting value for the dollar. In addition, if you cut prices too deeply, especially early in the season, you’re teaching year-round customers to wait for bargains. Instead, put appropriate prices on your wares and make sure you’re not merely increasing volume, but actually turning a profit on each sale
- Being too casual about e-mail marketing - Provide real solutions for customers' gift-buying dilemmas at the time your customer is thinking about buying. Offer tangible recommendations and promotions tailored to your customers' interests and buying histories. With those goals in mind, you probably need a series of timed e-mails (or, at least more than one). Don’t begin your e-mail campaign with a discount offer (see Mistake 1, above), but do billboard the fact that you will be sending special prices and discounted promotions in a week or two. That gives you a better chance of getting recipients to open later e-mails. Make the subject lines and messaging more urgent as the season heats up.
Each message should have some call to action to attract the buyer to click onto your site. You might offer special content, gift-buying advice, a loyalty club to join with a late-December payoff, a contest, or a special greeting card.
- Overlooking customer follow-up - By monitoring customer online e-mail and queries,and in-store requests, you can quickly take the temperature of your holiday sales. You can, for example, identify which of your products or promotions are hot, and then instantly adjust inventory or marketing accordingly. Set up a system to track all queries, assign follow-up and discuss insights. This systematic connectivity with customers may provide you and your store with the primary consumer research to enable high performance sales this season and it will definitely resonate with your customers in the long term.
- Ignoring the last-minute shopper - Every year, it seems, more and more gift-buyers wait until it’s practically too late to purchase their presents. This feet-dragging crowd is probably a mixed bag of bargain hunters, procrastinators, distracted relatives, and overworked executives. In other words, just about everybody out there. Technology, of course, has helped fuel this trend. Just-in-time shopping and delivery is now possible almost everywhere. As a result, shoppers are buying gifts later and later in the season.
Capitalize on this trend by sending out a late-breaking e-mail that lets tardy buyers off the hook. Send it as late in the season as you can while still being able to fulfill orders. Make your subject line forgiving, saying something like: "It’s Not Too Late to Find Great Gifts." Offer targeted gift suggestions that will make it seem as if they put a great deal of time and thought into their choices. You’ll get credit (and repeat buyers) for making them look good.