Running an ecommerce store over a brick and mortar retail operation is far easier when you want to take advantage of seasonal marketing and advertising. Many online businesses run solely on the trends that come with special events and holidays, and marketing them can be so much fun.
What is seasonal marketing?
It is more than just changing your website background or adding in some interesting discounts, it is about creating relevant content, perfect timing and executing it all perfectly to get your customers excited enough to spend their hard earned cash with you.
Following the herd with the same old, same old promotions on social media or changing your landing page is not as engaging or exciting enough these days to really impact a seasonal promotion.
There is a whole new world of possibilities that can be taken advantage of in order to make it relevant to you and your customers and hopefully encourage some new buyers to your marketplace.
Seasonal marketing can include any annual event
These are the most commonly celebrated holidays like Christmas, New Years Day or Easter.
They can also include days that are regular, but not official holidays as such like Valentines Day, Halloween, Mothers or Fathers Day.
These may include days that are more observed than celebrated. Earth Day is starting to gain traction based on the awareness of global issues, Black Friday has become the official shopping holiday period, although this is moving into more days, weeks and even a month of specials, so it may be losing it’s traction.
Annual or Cultural Events
Events that happen every year including Back to School or Spring Day can also be considered for promotional campaigns, as long as they remain relevant to your category.
Is it right for your business?
Not every seasonal event or day is right for your business. For example, a service based business may not get the advantage on participating on a Black Friday Special, as their mark up’s don’t validate the theme of the promotion. Black Friday originated in the USA, as the day after Thanksgiving and was used to describe the heavy traffic and shopping that would occur after Thanksgiving.
Marketers of large retail stores then took this and converted it into an opportunity to move old stock before they bought in the new stock in time for Christmas. These deep discounts were renown for being in excess of 50% off. As consumers realised that they could wait for these sales, they held back spend in the preceding months, especially on electronic goods, in anticipation for the big sale.
Unfortunately, these types of sales can also negatively affect the Christmas rush, as customers pre-loaded their shopping on Black Friday with cheaper gift ideas.
Service based businesses have no value in offering 50% or more discounts for their services, as this may result in them running at a loss for the promotion and anything less as a promotional idea is snubbed as not being good enough. So sometimes, it is better to just stay away from the deal in its entirety.
How to plan a seasonal marketing campaign
Timing is everything
First and foremost, you need to ensure you have planned to do this and not be caught off guard and try do a rush campaign just because everyone else is doing it.
A badly planned, managed and executed campaign can be more damaging to your brand than staying out of it.
Starting to plan your Christmas campaign in November is just asking for trouble. You need to start your seasonal campaign planning at least 3-4 months in advance. This allows you to have a comprehensive marketing plan, high quality content and enough time to roll out the campaign for maximum effect.
Create unique, relevant and quality content
Nothing is more lacklustre than creative or content that was rehashed from last year. If you had to remove your logo and the image and content is generic enough for a competitor to add theirs and use it, then you need to go back to the creative drawing board.
What makes your company, brand, service or product different from your competitors? This is what you can focus on to ensure you have the relevant information in your creative execution.
Helpful content is always well received. Teach them something new, add valuable advice or show them how using your product or service will make their lives easier.
For example, brands that gift their customers weekly recipes leading up to Thanksgiving or Christmas is a great way to build a database and communicate with your customers, as long as your product or service makes sense to do so. Travel companies can offer tips on how to pack efficiently for a holiday, or a paint company can promote DIY ideas for the holidays.
Don’t try be something you are not, if it feels forced, rather step away.
Generating engagement with your consumers is always a good way to see how they view your brand. You can encourage them to post photo’s or video’s surrounding your campaign on your various social media platforms. Just be aware of making the participation too complicated If they have to work too hard to join in, they will most likely just keep scrolling by.
Free Samples and Limited Time offers
Adding samples or testers to your campaigns can build on your existing customer base. These do not have to be only limited to retail outlets, as you can offer vouchers or free samples and have them delivered to the customers. Doing joint venture promotions on special occasions like sampling your biscuits with their favourite local coffee shop can broaden your reach to markets and consumers that have not tasted your goods yet. Just because you only sell online, does not mean you only have to sample online.
Limiting the purchase period works wonders with consumers. The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) craze is a real thing, and having countdown clocks or limited stock offers does create a sense of urgency.
If you are creating a limited edition for Halloween for example, ensure that there is only enough for those sales. Having excess stock post the event is an anti-climax for them and the campaign loses its appeal the next time around.
Social media posts and ads
Consumer needs change depending on the season. Your creative should change as well.
Running creative campaigns that have the theme of the event or season that is funny or smart will be shared with your customers social network. This is great for organic reach and will expand your campaign past the marketing budget.
If you are running seasonal search campaigns, remember to add in the relevant keywords to your campaigns and also remember to switch them off afterwards. A suggestion would be to create campaigns just for that event with linked keywords, adverts and specific start and end dates, so you are not THAT company still running Christmas ads into the New Year.
Scheduling and Execution of the campaign
It is always beneficial to get ahead of the competitors for fear of being a “me too” brand. In the event of creative looking similar, it is always better to be the first one to market, so hopefully anyone else would change theirs.
Don’t forget about your target audience. View your analytics on what are the best times to communicate with them and when they tend to make purchases.
Your WooCommerce Analytics Dashboard should also give you an indication on when your customers are searching for and buying your products online.
Analyse and evaluate
It is important to recap on your year and evaluate what campaigns did well and which ones flopped. This is not just a creative review, but you need to link it to the sales of the business, profit and loss and if you are going to repeat the promotion again next year.
It is often tough to rip off the band aid and reveal what did not work in a campaign, but this is crucial to avoid making these mistakes over and over, the true definition of insanity.
Review what everyone liked, get feedback from customers, connect the online analytics to your sales and be honest about what will be repeated and what will be binned.
Having these learnings available for the marketing teams in the business can really assist if for some reason someone who was on the team leaves and a new person needs to replace them to run the campaign the next year. Having clear and concise notes on what to copy should be easy to understand. So often, marketing teams are too scared to admit that something failed, but this is not great for any business. The important bit is not to repeat the failures, so in that respect, the failures need to be highlighted for future teams.
Finally, remember that your customers have more choice shopping on and offline, they want to be entertained and excited. Seasonal campaigns offer brands the opportunity to be a little less serious and a little more fun, give it a try.