If you listen closely, you might just hear the sound of hooves up on the roof, which can signify only one thing: the holidays aren’t just here, they’re almost over. And many consumers are making a mad dash to finish their shopping.
That means there are still opportunities to get the most value possible out of these last few weeks of holiday campaigns.
We asked our in-house marketing experts of holidays past, present, and future what you should do to finish strong and make sure you’re not missing a single conversion before the season dashes away for good.
Keep improving campaigns in your power channels based on new data
As you get closer to holiday deadlines, whether they’re shipping limits or promotion-focused, make sure you’re hitting the most important points in your direct response campaigns that will push your customers to purchase.
Look to your data to identify trends across different audience segments and look for which levers you can pull to drive the most conversions. That process of continuous evaluation and adjustment should fuel an agile approach to messaging and creative, even in these final days.
While December is not usually the time brands look to try out new marketing tactics, there are safe tests you can still run while traffic is at an all-time high.
“The last stretch of the holiday season is a valuable time to run some tests that will help you understand what creative messages resonate most from a CTR and CVR perspective and identify areas of opportunity within your checkout funnel.”
That doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel; many of your existing assets can be updated to speak more specifically to late shoppers. Look to update older holiday content that has already accrued equity on organic search to keep pushing out more content up until the last minute so it can still make an impact.
Don’t forget about your retargeting pools. Those high-value, engaged segments are already primed and familiar with your brand. You should make the most of that relationship by giving those audiences reasons to buy now through retargeting campaigns and via email and SMS, including access to exclusive sales or promotions.
Be upfront about inventory and shipping expectations—and stay flexible
Be extra careful not to post about products that you no longer have in stock, are low on inventory, or only available on back order; monitor shopping feeds to ensure they’re up-to-date and not populating campaigns with the wrong products. Consumers can be forgiving, but they have limited patience for ads featuring something they can’t purchase.
Don’t overpromise on delivery expectations you can’t fulfill; that’s a clear path to making people angry and turning them away from your brand for good. Communicate consistently and precisely around potential fulfillment and shipping challenges as you draw nearer to shipping deadlines across ad campaigns and product pages.
“When push comes to shove, time is less of a priority for your customers than information. Be straightforward and realistic about dates and limitations, and keep them updated before, during, and after purchase.”
The later it gets, the more flexibility consumers need. If you have brick-and-mortar locations, make sure you’ve got local campaigns queued up and ready. Turn the dial up on ads featuring any local fulfillment options like BOPIS, BOPUC, or local delivery you’re offering as the clock runs out on the holiday season. This is especially critical for young, urban demographics who are more likely to wait until the last minute to shop.
If you don’t have brick-and-mortar stores or local fulfillment capabilities, think about shifting focus to gift cards once you’ve passed the shipping cutoff.
Build campaigns that will set your business up for success in the new year
It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t forget that your job doesn’t end when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day. The tail-end of the holidays is also a great time to lay the groundwork for continued connection with new and returning customers.
“Consider allocating budget, ideally incremental budget, to campaigns focused on loyalty and retention, especially on channels like SMS and email. You want to continue the conversation with customers and bring them back to purchase post-holiday.”
Account Director Emma Beckstrom notes that “it’s expensive to advertise before the shipping cutoff, and gets cheaper during the holidays.” For brands that provide products that people typically buy for themselves like health, wellness, practical, or personal purchases, market to non-gifters at EOM and early January—when people are also spending holiday gift money and cash cards.
But return customers aren’t the only last-minute value you can generate that could set your business up for success in 2023.
Weyers points out that you should “leverage this time period to build 1P audience data that will pay dividends in the new year.” Consider launching December campaigns that offer incentives, like a lower free shipping threshold, in exchange for creating an account to keep building out your first-party data stockpile.