E-Commerce Seasonal Marketing

Seasonal Promotions are exploited by everyone, consumers, and businesses altogether. No business should miss the holiday bandwagon, especially in current environments where e-commerce boom makes it hard for brands to remain alive.

Seasons not only bring opportunities for earnings but can also expose your brand to a spectrum of the user base that was unaware of your existence. If the experience is decent, a one-time consumer might convert to the loyal subscriber.

Let’s address the elephant in the room! Most consumers will look for deals during seasons. However, just providing holiday discount won’t do the trick. There also are several other factors to consider while preparing your online store for Holiday Season.

Why Bother?

Most e-commerce today has its way by garnering new audience over Holidays. Seasonal planning is crucial and most of the big brands revolve their marketing strategy around seasons and holidays.

Here are the key points that strengthen the side of Seasonal Marketing:

Web traffic spikes during Seasons. Average user spends hundreds of dollars in the USA during holidays. It only makes sense to reap the benefits as they are available. The total sales during holidays have been rising steadily by a decent percentage over previous years. Currently, holiday seasons mark billions of dollars in worldwide e-commerce sales.

Also, for most families and individuals, holidays provide a reason to spend in excess. Users are going to purchase something anyway, although sometimes unnecessarily, so planning over holiday season might actually sell a product that keeps dusting away a whole year.

By embracing the holiday itself, and building a promotion around it, the brand can get connected with users. Long-term thinking and good marketing campaign on Holiday can do wonders for a brand.

Seasonal Promotions

Going seasonal is not an alien concept. The specifics such as When, Where and How to go Seasonal is where one might begin.

When: Not every Holiday will be relevant to your brand.
It makes no sense for Electronics to go on sale on 4th of July or Memorial Day. Similarly, hardware and tools’ business shouldn’t set up a sale for Christmas.
The When a part is also affected by demographics and local factors. One may alternatively play it safe by looking at what industry in same niche and location does that works.

The promotion itself needs to be carefully crafted. One needs to follow all generic guidelines, and also be creative to stand out a bit. Here, caution needs to be exercised as being sloppy can backfire and hurt your brand permanently.

Where and How: Promotions are aided with adverts, with usual marketing on Social platforms and through Emails.

A recent trend has seen that lesser and lesser percentage of people arrive at large e-commerce sites through social channels. Social channels can spread the word about a Deal getting offered, but these generally spread using word-of-mouth.

Adverts might prove to be effective for some, on the Social platform, if proper targeting is implemented. Here, a successful season for newer businesses requires special effort on getting the word out, as to why people need to visit your website.
Let’s get started with the basics.

Event Categories

Traditional Holidays:
These include generic seasonal events such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other cultural and religious holidays.

National and Local Holidays:
These are based on the location and demographics that the business is targeting. Such as 4th of July or Columbus Day in the USA, or Independence Day of respective countries, etc.

Non-traditional Holidays:
These include days introduced as a part of new trends or events. Check out this list of Hashtag Holidays to see some of them. These include days like Hamburger Day, Chocolate Day, Donut Day, etc

(http://downloads.sproutsocial.com/Sprout-Social-Hashtag-Holidays-2017.pdfNo one should miss these major dates:

  • 2017
      Thanksgiving: November 23
      Black Friday: November 24
      Cyber Monday: November 27
      Green Monday: December 11
  • There is a multitude of Holidays every year. Refer this page to view the list of important dates of 2018.

    Running Seasonal Promotions

    • Platforms
      • Social
        Email
        Search
        Print
    • Promotion Types
        Branding Awareness Campaign
        Product Sale
    • Words of Caution

Platforms

Social

Social platforms can do wonders for your brand if availed in a proper way. Most businesses go with a paid advert on Holidays. This boils down to running a successful social ad campaign. Alternatively one can also plan a custom campaign, without using paid advertising.

Social Ad campaigns can be run all over the year. Holidays make it better for higher audience availability and buying intent. The successful social campaign needs all the basics, plus some add-ons to give a season/holiday spin.

Targeting: Setting targeting according to product chosen to promote and audience.
Keeping up with Trends: Use relevant Tags, Season related Infographics, GIFs, Videos and try to link your brand with recent trends. Try to be unique and original. Standing out of the crowd is necessary when the whole industry will be running campaigns.
Hint Urgency: Try to gain attention by showing relevancy and urgency.
There are numerous other strategies while running a Social Marketing campaign, and so it can be researched and planned.

Email

While Emails are generally not considered as a key platform for holiday marketing, they certainly do work. Email marketing is tricky for small businesses with fewer subscribers, but with recurring users and a decent number of registered users, it’s harmless to run an email campaign.

Emails have the following advantages over other platforms:

Straightforward execution of marketing campaign.
Instant buying options inside the email itself.
Automation and deals personalized to the user or higher CTR.
There are again a million points to consider while running an email campaign in general, such as choosing a proper subject line, making email personalized to the user, prioritizing the call-to-action content in email, etc. One may refer relevant content related to Email marketing if necessary.

Search

Search engines are gigantic platforms and most users will alternatively search the product they need to buy and look for options themselves.

Search engines can be targeted for sales during holidays by publishing fresh content, publishing holiday relevant deals and having good SEO for organic free holiday traffic.

Also, one can use Paid Advertising, with specific products relevant to the season and offer discounts and incentives. Paid advertising brings a chunk of holiday season traffic and cannot be overlooked.

To get started on paid advertising, one may consider one of the popular ad networks such as Adwords, Bing Ads, etc. Google Adwords also has a link to Google Merchant Center, which can automate the task of creating product advert and running a campaign.

Print

Although not many regions use print advertising to boost online sales during holidays, the certain audience from some regions may still have enough readerships of print media like newspapers to make sense for businesses to run print Ads.

Most countries, including USA, India, and many others have big e-commerce companies running Newspaper ads before holiday season, highlighting offers and discounts. Print media may not work for small-medium businesses unless executed correctly.

Promotion Types

Brand Awareness Campaign

One of the most effective promotional campaign types, for long-term profits. Brands always stay on through time. Take Nokia, which was literally dead, rose just due to its brand value.

Seasons are the time when Businesses generate sales, as well as give out good experiences adding to brand value. Although saying this implies that product sales might do well for the brand awareness if the experience is decent, it works the other way round most of the time.

E-commerce can be tricky, especially for new and developing businesses. You might do all you can focus on product sales, and still have things not working out. There are dynamics such as trust, store-appeal, and familiarity. By focusing on branding using Videos, Infographics and other rich media in promotions, as well as doing backend work by contribution to industry and community through deep involvement, branding campaign can be kicked off.

Here, the trust factor is quite vital in driving final product sales. Branding can not only drive your sales up but can also improve your product sales campaign.

When it comes to holidays, you have the audience eager and buying-ready. Holidays and seasons also help create an appealing campaign around the event. It being a holiday season means the greater audience that is open to ideas and products. There is greater real-time audience on almost all digital platforms, TV and online alike. The campaign can be based on something the users are experiencing during the season, providing an easy connect. This teamed up with the right amount of Nostalgia and Creativity surely books huge seasonal sales.

Product Sales

Product sales are the default mode of promotion, be it physical or digital goods. They are quantifiable, meaning you know if the promotion is going the right way or not. Also other metrics such as ROI, profits and targets are based on Sales metric, so it is appealing to be thinking of hiking sales.

Now the general way of promoting product sales, by mixing holiday juice in your promotion and slipping the product part at the right time works. It is effective in both direct and indirect ways.

Other approaches to seasonal product sales include one without direct promotion. It is the most common approach used, offering the Crazy Deal. News about holiday deals can spread like wildfire, and although it might lessen profits, there are ample overall advantages.

Firstly consumers un-heard of your business will engage with it. You get a chance to showcase how you are better than the competition.

Secondly, the discount deal generally expires quickly, and what one is left with is a bunch of traffic that spreads across other products on the website. Also, the news/posts regarding the deal spread on social platforms without any directly paid promotion, and remain on the social platform long after the discount vanishes.

The second way and the standard way of product promotion during seasons is straightforward advertising to the targeted user based on various metrics on popular advertising platforms. Readiness to buy and higher traffic during the holidays makes the campaign more likely to succeed if executed in a proper way.

In a gross generalization, sales and branding should be balanced, discount offers should be executed smartly and retention must also be desired along with acquisition.

Words of Caution

There are a few things that can make you result in a loss.

Firstly, strike a balance between branding and product sales. If the promotion is more focused towards branding, one can end up with nothing on paper.

If one has a small business, with low or no sales happening, holiday deals might seem to be a good idea to drive traffic and sales. More often than not, as soon as the deal expires, the traffic vanishes and might not return year-round. Strategic planning for medium-term is a must.

Festivals and other holidays being a great time to connect with your audience are to be handled carefully. One should avoid PR blunders due to overlooking of how the seasonal promotion might hurt someone’s sentiment. Generally, this happens when audience characteristics are overlooked and a sloppy seasonal promotion is created. In the cases where these promotions are made to spark a controversy, it is always risky as controversies are uncontrollable. Always stay away from being too funny, use hashtags after giving proper thought and stay away from risky associations.

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