For many businesses, the fourth quarter of the year is the most important one. It can even make or break a businesses’ year in some cases. Whether you run an online store or not, these three steps should serve as a great way to prepare yourself for it all.
If you haven’t already, subscribe to your competitors’ email lists. As time goes on, this will allow you to stay aware, and even study their promotions from past years. Which dates did they use? What discounts did they run? How strong was their design? This homework in competitive bench marking will tell you if your stuff is as strong as theirs. If you’ve already done this, take a good hard look at what they did last year.
If you don’t have their marketing emails from last year handy, fear not. Instead of giving up, check their social media pages. They’ve likely sent out the same (or similar) content there also.
Whether you’re successful with this or not, don’t be afraid to take a big step back for more ideas. A customer of ours in the high end shoe retail space only has so many direct competitors to research. But they know their shoppers also shop at Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel, and so they occasionally check those two for reference material as well.
You’ve now taken a good look at your competitors’ promotions from last year. This could serve as an idea springboard for the promotions you’ll be running.
Now is a good time to pull out your marketing calendar to jot down your basic promotion date ideas. As in football, the quarterback can decide to change the play just before hiking the ball. But that shouldn’t prevent him from knowing his playbook and coming up with a strong play in the first place.
Start with the basics. Enter Black Friday and Cyber Monday into your calendar, and then build off of them. Which days do you want those two promotions to start (and end)? Again, note what the competition did last year. And did they run a New Year’s Sale? How about a Winter Clearance? Were their marketing emails sent daily? Or just 2-3 times per promotion?
If you happen to be selling physical goods, when are your shipping cut-off dates? Be sure to communicate them and keep them easy to find to set proper expectations with your customers.
You know what your promotions will be, and roughly when they’ll begin and end. Let’s consider the language used in your messaging, and where you’ll do your promoting.
With tone, create a sense of urgency with the messaging used. For example: “ENDS TODAY: Sale XYZ…” is a great reason to blast another marketing email out. It will provide some serious motivation for your shoppers. “ONLY 3 LEFT IN STOCK! Widget XYZ…” is another good one. Use balance, however, as going overboard here may quickly lead to frustration with customers.
Sound exclusive, and be as personable as possible. Make the customer feel special. Personalizing your messages will increase your conversion rate, so use it if you have it.
Use of holiday imagery in your website or email headers is a great way to engage potential customers. Now is also the time to think about gift card pages and custom shopping landing pages. Have you thought of creating a Gift Guide landing page?
Be sure to leverage your social media channels. How did your competition do this last year? And do you want to blend in with them, or do you aim to stand out?
Coming up with a solid Q4 marketing strategy is easier said than done. You may realize that there’s even more to do, like decisions on paid advertising for example. But after these steps, you should be off to a great start.
Don’t have the marketing muscle you need? Reach out today for help on getting your holiday season prep work started.