G.P.S. Holiday Shopping Planning for Marketers

I know, I know… it’s only the end of June. Why the heck am I talking about holiday shoppers already???

Because one of the best, most calming, relaxing, soothing things your business can do to capitalize on peak holiday marketing opportunities is to PLAN EARLY.

Don’t let Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or holiday mayhem ruin your holiday spirit

The ironic alternative, my friends, is to wait until you have no time, feel overwhelmed and pressured, resent stupid holiday marketing and ultimately throw any good ideas into a notebook for “next year.”

So… put on some sunscreen, grab a lawn chair and a big floppy hat, and let’s plan for winter, shall we?

The following tips (and stats) are pulled from a beautiful handbook assembled by the smart folks at Google. You can download the whole thing here.

While this Playbook is focused on retailers, I believe it is important for all business owners to consider and think through holiday spending trends! 

Why are we doing this? Because 2018 stats revealed some pretty intense trends

G.P.S. Loves GoogleOk… so what do we do with this information? Read this with a light heart. Take some notes, maybe get inspired. Just ask yourself if there are any positive take-aways that apply to your business.

Keep it simple, and remember G.P.S. is here for you to answer any questions 🙂

Set your holiday game plan in May-June

It’s never too soon to start planning!

Searches for “gifts for” and “gifts from” start accelerating the final week of October.

Whether customers end up buying in stores or online, 67% of holiday shopping was planned before purchase.

IDEA: plan some blog posts and use words like “gifts for” and “gifts from” in the title and throughout the copy, with legit gift ideas and suggestions. Help your customers by answering this question for them, filling in the blank with YOUR amazing products and services.

Stay ahead of important dates

Use tools like Google Trends to tune in to when your customers are starting to do their research. Top shopping days occurred throughout the season rather than in concentrated peaks. Build your presence before holiday traffic spikes to capture early consumer demand and maximize profitability.

PRO TIP: Do you offer shipping? Consider offering special deals on shipping, and advertise this generous offer early.

IDEA: Look over all the holidays below and select all that might be relevant with your products and services. Sell flowers? Get ready to jam pre-Valentine’s Day. Are you a CPA? Start prepping your customers early for tax season.

Identify trends and set flexible budgets to capture potential demand

67% of holiday shoppers confess they still have shopping to do heading into the last week before Christmas.

86% of people still shopping after Christmas week searched digitally about holiday-related shopping.

IDEA: Create some fun discount offers to prompt last-minute shopping. Offer post-holiday sales. Follow the trends and jump on board with something that makes sense for your business.

Build your holiday digital tools by end of August

42% of holiday shoppers wished that retailers did a better job sharing inventory online.

81% of holiday shoppers who used Google were looking for brand and product information.

IDEA: When I read these stats, I ask myself how I can improve my communication for my customers. If there’s inventory, make it clear if there’s any risk of being out of stock, or late to deliver. Provide super clear access to FAQ. Consider some longer emails to send to your customers making sure you’ve addressed any and all concerns.

Use this time to increase customer loyalty by showering them with holiday spirit and love! Be the opposite of holiday mayhem because you’ve planned ahead.

Consider how to use video to inspire, educate, and convert shoppers

More than 90% of shoppers say they’ve discovered new products and brands via YouTube.

More than 40% of global shoppers say they’ve purchased products they discovered on YouTube.

IDEA: Any fun holiday themes you can throw into a video? Adding snow filters is usually pretty easy, for example. Adding a soundtrack of sleigh bells, or making a silly candid video for Instagram Stories is an option. Play buttons are hard to resist, any time of year!

Another idea is to simply change the THUMBNAIL on existing videos in YouTube. Thumbnails are seen before the title, don’t cha know…

Consider an ads budget for Google Search, if applicable

For certain categories, engagement from shoppers seen by ads in top results on mobile increased by three times.

Consider tools like abandoned cart offers (I like Carts Guru for WooCommerce), up-selling offers, rewards programs and other strategies to convince new customers to become repeat customers.

Now, I mention this only if spending some money on Google Ads makes sense for your business. You know if it does or not. If so, ask your Google Ads Manager to help determine any holiday peak seasons, and make sure to be super duper clear on price per click. I suggest having a budget cap set so you absolutely do NOT go over budget!

Establish a strong customer service plan

If you know me at all, you know I am passionate about customer service. Nothing dampens the holiday spirit than a horrible shopping experience. If you are expecting some increased traffic, it is vital that you plan ahead.

  • Check your website’s health.
  • Check your website information, links and menu.
  • Confirm your staff’s availability to reply to direct messages on social, comments on blogs and contact form submissions.
  • Have a plan for off-hours customer service during holiday rush
  • Have an emergency plan – perhaps have a developer on speed dial, or just have a plan to check in regularly.
  • Know who to call if a problem arises in any area.
  • Make sure to be extra friendly and patient!
  • Go out of your way to add an extra “something” to every conversation. #joyfactor
  • Send an actual thank you note in the MAIL (what’s that??) or include a personal thank you note with their order. If large quantities are an issue, just write “Thank you” and sign it on the shipping receipt. If timing is an issue, wait until after the holidays. Nothing is sweeter than getting a thank you note!!
  • Add an extra sample to their order, or a coupon for a future order

You’ll think of it, and it will make you smile to know you are adding joy to the world.


By planning for the holidays early, you actually protect the spirit of what the holidays are actually supposed to represent. By paying attention to trends, tools and resources around you, you can provide an extra special experience for your customers, and benefit by some increased sales at the same time.

Happy Holidays!

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