It might seem crazy to focus on holiday marketing in January, but this is actually the perfect time. Planning now helps you avoid the BFCM chaos that consumes so much of your competition. Read on, my friend …
Before you fully recover from the holiday chaos and mayhem, before you kick into losing those 10 pounds from eggnog and pumpkin, before you write your overdue thank you notes for fruitcake and before you throw away the clutter of holiday cards that make you feel guilty for not sending yours out on time, there are huge valuable lessons to learn about your business that can make a tremendous impact on the year ahead.
Here are seven holiday marketing tips to do right now which might just inspire the deck the halls out of you, and give you some New Year perspective to focus on for 2019. Are you ready?
1. Review your customers’ behavior from last year (objectively)
There are a lot of things that we can do to review what worked and what didn’t work. The key to remember is that there is no such thing as a bad statistic or metric. Every single measure, every single piece of information is helpful. So we’re going to look at this objectively and we’re going to learn from absolutely everything that happened this past year, with holiday marketing and beyond. Remember that statistics are always right. What I love about data is that numbers always tell you the truth. And it’s our job just to accept their truth and learn from it.
Here are a few questions to ask as part of your review:
Did your customers communicate more or less during certain times of the year?
Look at the full-year of your communication. Were there times during the year when your customers reached out to you more and were there times where you just didn’t hear anything from them? Most likely that will repeat itself in this next year, so you can project when in 2019 you can expect to hear from your customers, more or less. And you can plan your own communication strategy around that.
Were their channels of communication that were more or less successful for you?
Did you hear from customers more from email or Facebook comments or Instagram, or if you have a brick and mortar store, was it more face-to-face communication or phone? Take note of what worked best. If you have an advertising budget, you would want to invest in the more successful methods of communication.
Of your customers and general audience, who communicated consistently? Are these people that you can consider super fans?
Would you be able to convert them into an affiliate or an ambassador for your brand? Is this a group of super fans that you can put into their own Facebook Group, or at least an email list. And leading into the next year, what fun things can you do for these super fans that will incentivize them to promote your brand even more?
Can you figure out your website’s conversion rate?
Yep, this means being comfortable looking at Google Analytics and studying the flow of traffic on your website throughout the year. To look at your conversion rate, you want to study the entire past year and look at how much traffic did you have? Now, of that number, how many sales (or whatever your metric of success is) did you complete? When you determine the percentage of traffic that actually became a sale, we want to at least match that number if not surpass it this next year. That gives you a baseline from which to evaluate the success of future campaigns.
Analytics are your friend. They are great and help you to be able to grade yourself and know how well you’re doing. Ready to move on to number two?
2. Learn from Google Trends (a free but priceless tool)
Google Trends is maybe the best-kept secret in the land of Google. It’s a free tool where they share all of their data with us, so you’re able to actually see what people searched on throughout this past year. You can plug in and compare keywords, key phrases, concepts, ideas, anything related to your industry and you can see if they were relevant search queries and how they compare with one another? This can be really finessed so you can compare one key phrase against another.
For example, I was able to see that the word “WordPress” compared to the word “website” has two very different values today. Now, the thing about Google Trends is that it’s real-time data, so it provides you current information. While “website” is still a more frequent search word, “WordPress” has skyrocketed in value compared to years past, showing me an increased interest over the past 12 months. That’s great for me to know.
Based on studying Google Trends, I can improve the quality of my keywords I use on my website and throughout social media. That in turn, can be used for planning your blog post and your media plan in the year 2019. By studying Google Trends you can improve the quality of your content as it relates to SEO and Google for the next year. That’s really cool.
3. Identify any problems and pain points that occurred in the past year
Were there possibly some unhappy customers? Did they leave any negative feedback or reviews? Have any difficulty with staff or vendors? Experience any technical difficulty with any of your systems? Were there are breakdowns in communication? Did you maybe lapse in social engagement for a period of time? Did you feel burnt out or just didn’t want to come to work for a period of time? Really take stock of what didn’t work. In the privacy of our own space, be honest with where you can make improvements and what it would take to improve? Is it a matter of setting aside a budget or time to clean something up and make it better? This is essential to consider when looking at the next year and planning ahead.
Did you have a successful 2018 holiday marketing plan?
When it comes to holiday marketing, what can you learn from the past year? Did you have a plan? Was it executed smoothly? If not, do you know why not? Carefully observe what worked and didn’t work about the previous year, and what you’d love to improve for this upcoming year.
4. Create a holiday marketing “tickler” file to help you plan for 2019
Now that we’ve looked at all of this stuff from our past, we can really start planning ahead for the next year. Let’s start with what inspired us in 2018. In Getting Things Done, David Allen calls this a tickler file and I’m just taking it and expanding it a little bit further. I call it my holiday marketing tickler file. Over the course of a year I collect and gather examples of holiday marketing that I receive, both corporate and personal, that inspire me. These can be physical gifts or emails or ad campaigns or something on social that I just think is absolutely amazing.
The thing about looking at this right at the beginning of the year is this enables you to have the time you need to make inspiration a reality. Determine now what would you need (both in time and money) to produce that cool idea you have. Go for it! Put it on your media calendar for the 2019 holiday season! Try and get everything produced by September of 2019 and I promise you, you will stay sane (as this gives you tons of wiggle room to adjust for problems). You won’t be running around like a mad crazy person; rather, you’ll get the chance to inspire others, possibly landing in their holiday marketing tickler file.
Which leads me to Number Five.
5. Plan and secure your holiday marketing budget early
Successful businesses plan in the first quarter. They transition into Execution Phase in the second and third quarter so that by the time the holidays actually come in Q4 you can calmly focus on quality execution, engagement and customer service. You can have ample time to meet cuts if you don’t meet earlier projections and that will save you wasted expenses that aren’t justified.
6. Align with new influencers and partners now
Creating partnerships takes time to develop, strategically negotiate terms and make sure there’s an agreement in place. Believe it or not, this really is the perfect time to get onto another company’s radar for 2019 holiday marketing. Reach out, introduce yourself, suggest some fun ways to collaborate for the 2019 holiday season. They will be impressed by your proactive marketing strategy!
7. Don’t forget mobile!
What ways can you improve the mobile holiday experience for 2019? Think about the actual user-experience for each holiday marketing campaign, which might be different for other devices, and learn how to segment out the mobile traffic on Google Analytics so that you can keep your eye on this metric. There are some very cool tools provided by Google, like how to Test Your Mobile Website Speed, which you’ll love.
I know that this is a lot of information, but I’m suggesting a few new habits to incorporate into your January which will make you to look like a marketing rock star, and will help prevent feeling less insane by the fourth quarter of this coming up year.
Gather ideas early and get 2019 off to a strong start and improve your holiday marketing by planning ahead and learning from the past. You’ll ensure this holiday season will be better than ever.