We all have things we avoid around the holidays: annoying family members and acquaintances that reappear every time you go home, seasonal house cleaning, Auntie Emma’s fruitcake… Leading up to the holidays, however, it is even more important to avoid mistakes at work. Because the holidays are such a busy time, marketing and sales processes often get hectic and overwhelming for small businesses. It’s essential to keep everything organized and efficient, and there are lots of potential mistakes that you need to watch out for.
1. Missing the Boat
If you don’t start planning early enough, your holiday marketing campaigns won’t go out on time. When customers receive holiday marketing messages too late, they have usually already made their purchases elsewhere. You lose revenue and your business looks like it’s not on the ball. You should begin planning for the winter holiday season in September. When you actually start sending depends on your business and your customers. Review how your holiday campaigns performed in previous years and research what other similar businesses are doing, then decide when to send out each campaign.
Follow a strict time schedule. If you start holiday marketing too early, it won’t be successful either. Customers generally aren’t in the mood to think about the holiday season in September. Also, if you continue sending holiday marketing messages after the season is over, people will be sick of this type of message and get annoyed. So make sure your campaigns end when they’re supposed to. New Year’s is generally the last date at which holiday-related marketing messages go out. One exception would be a message advertising a huge after-holidays sale.
2. Flooding Customers with Emails
Yes, the holiday season is the busiest time for purchasing. No, this does not mean that you should start spamming your customers with dozens of emails each week leading up to the holidays. When you drastically change your sending schedule around the holidays, it often causes customers to unsubscribe. This can also hurt your revenue. I have personally unsubscribed from a major clothing retailer’s emails because in one week in November, I received ten holiday-related emails. Very annoying and certainly not effective!
The bottom line: you can and will ramp up your marketing around the holidays, but don’t become a spammer. Rather than sending out a lot more emails, focus on creating strong emails that focus on the most important things you want customers to know. If you want to pack a lot of information into each email, include links. That way, the customers who want to learn more and browse will click the links voluntarily. The customers who are not interested won’t get spammed with 50 more emails.
3. Not Being Organized
This is a huge mistake, and one that will quickly turn a potentially great holiday marketing campaign sour. Create a defined role for everyone on your marketing team so you know who is in charge of what parts of your campaigns. Create a strong goal: what specific metrics do you want to achieve this holiday season? Create a timeline and a strategy for each campaign.
Using an automated marketing solution is a highly effective way to manage all your campaigns and customer data. You create and schedule messages and they are sent out right on time so you don’t forget. Customers are followed up with automatically, and it’s simple to identify who your hot leads are because their behavior is tracked.
All customer data collected is automatically stored and organized into each customer’s unique personal profile. This enables you to create highly personalized campaigns that lead to more conversions, more purchases, higher revenue and stronger loyalty. An automated solution also provides detailed real-time reports on how your holiday campaigns are performing. This enables you to optimize future messages based on how customers are responding.
4. Not Tracking Your Holiday Campaign Results
What’s the point of sending out holiday campaigns each year if you don’t know how they are performing? There really is no excuse for not reviewing your marketing reports. If you’re using an automated marketing solution, you will get lots of these reports. Analyze how customers are responding. This will enable you to quickly change things if your campaigns are not working well, and it will also help you create even better campaigns the next time the holidays roll around.
Testing goes along with tracking your results. You should be A/B testing various subject lines, send times and so on to see which ones get the highest open rates and click-through rates. Store the results so they will be available for you when the marketing team wants to review them next year.
5. Sending Poor Holiday Greeting Cards
Many businesses send out holiday cards to their customers, and it can be a very nice gesture that helps build customer loyalty and engagement… if it’s done right. If it’s done wrong, it just looks impersonal and fake. A holiday card is not a place for advertisement! It is a way to create a more personal connection with your customers and show them you care.
Clean out your email list before the holidays to get rid of any old contacts who haven’t opened their emails in over a year. You don’t want to waste time and money (or worse, get reported as a spammer) sending to people who are no longer active or interested.
As for the design of the card, keep it consistent with your own unique brand. If your marketing is funny, go with a tasteful joke or pun. If you’re a more professional business, keep it clean and simple. The card should stand out from your regular marketing messages, but should still be a strong representation of your brand.
Simplify Your Holiday Marketing
Want to do your holiday marketing campaigns without going crazy this year? Take advantage of marketing automation. An all-in-one automated marketing solution keeps everything organized and enables you to build more personally targeted campaigns for each customer.