In this article, we’ll recap our Smashing Holiday Sales Records: 11 Ingenious Tactics webinar and discuss how you can drive massive sales over the holidays. We’ll also be focusing on helping you leverage your owned media and maximizing those high-performing channels.
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding owned media, so let’s discuss the differences between paid media, earned media and owned media:
- Paid Media: These are assets that you have to pay for, as long as they are running. Good examples are Google ads, Facebook ads, and anything PPC.
- Earned Media: These are your rewards for being a great brand. Social shares and reviews are good examples of earned media.
- Owned Media: These are assets like your customer database and your website. They are effectively inherently yours. If you were to sell your business, you could sell these with it as they belong to you. What makes owned media so valuable is that:
- You control it.
- No one else can take it or use it without your permission.
- You don’t have to pay yourself to run your own ads using this data and these channels.
- It’s first-party data, which means that it stays in play even with the impending demise of third-party cookie data.
Now how do you increase Q4 sales? By leveraging your owned media and using these holiday sales tactics.
11 Ingenious Owned-Media Tactics for Record Holiday Sales
1. Make a Holiday Timeline
Plan out your holiday timeline for creating sales and holiday coupons, updating holiday content (gift guides, categories, etc.), and checking inventory levels. Always start by working backward. In this case, work back from January 31 to account for returns and gift-card redemptions.
2. Run Tests and Quality Checking of Campaigns and Assets
Keep track of things that need to be set up, created, tested, and checked over the holiday season. get in the habit of routinely checking your website speed, Amazon Inventory Health Score, and Google Analytics. Periodically spot test by doing small test orders and fulfillments.
3. Create Seasonal Sale Pages
Google recommends creating a landing page for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Here are some best practices straight from Google:
- Create a dedicated promotional event page.
- Include the event description in the page title, such as “Black Friday 2021 Deals.”
- Include an image that is related to the sale. For example, show products on sale or include banner text highlighting special offers or discounts. The aspect ratio of the image should be in the range of 4:3 to 3:4.
- Add text describing the event in the page contents. Submit the page to Google for indexing as items are added.
- Add these pages to your footer or sale flyout (if applicable) as early as mid-late September.
4. Create Coupon Pages
Every year around the holidays, we see a spike in search interest for coupons and promo codes with shoppers looking to get the best deals on their gifts. Make sure to meet this need by creating coupon pages!
Even if you don’t offer coupons at a certain time, the presence of a coupon page on your domain can allow you additional presence in SERPs for branded terms. Use this as an opportunity to encourage email and SMS signups for users to get a welcome offer. Both email and SMS info live in your database, which is owned media.
Here are some best practices:
- Title Tag: [Brand Name] Coupons & Promo Codes
- Page Location: Linked from the footer is fine.
- Content Length: 150-250 words describing coupon frequency and how users can get the best deals (a good opportunity to link to sale pages and Cyber5 pages).
- Page Contents: Include any current coupon codes, email/SMS signup forms, links to sale pages, or top categories.
5. Holiday-Specific Pages
For any holiday collections, pages that peak in Q4, or seasonal blog posts, get content updated on the page in October. Here are a few tips:
- Keep It Timely: Mention the current year in your copy, then update it in January with the new year.
- Use Collection Pages: Insert a holiday-specific paragraph speaking to holiday, gifting, etc. that can be removed after the season.
- Blog Posts: Make sure the published date reflects the latest update for maximum freshness and credibility. This should move the post up on your website and hopefully in the rankings.
6. Top Holiday Products
For products that peak during the holiday, consider updating the content on these pages. And make sure that product pages, in general, follow best practices. Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines define a high-quality shopping page as one that has:
- The manufacturer’s product specs as well as original product information.
- High count of user reviews.
- Detailed shipping and returns information. Read how adding key shipping info helped InStockChairs increase its site conversion rate by 18.1% and also lift on-site revenue by 23.6%.
- Multiple product images.
7. Signup Forms
Signup forms with offers can create an excellent first impression and an effective collection point. Ensure that the offer and the information you’re asking for are in alignment with the holiday or Cyber5 efforts: Some tips:
- Optimize and streamline email/SMS signup forms for a massive increase in traffic during the holiday season.
- Target your VIP email profiles to sign up for SMS.
- Push traffic to signups via other channels (e.g., Instagram swipe-up).
- Update the look of your signup forms with themes and product imagery to match the holiday season.
- A/B test incentives such as free shipping vs. $X off and use these offers (and the tests) during high-volume months for increased SMS signups and to learn what offers appeal to shoppers.
- Set up signup forms that trigger an automation flow or segment those for a campaign series utilizing “12 Days of Deals.”
8. Create an Email/SMS Campaign Strategy
Sending campaigns during the holiday months can be very profitable, but you need to beat your competitors. Dazzle your subscribers with tailored messaging and offers that excite them but also protect your margin. Here are some top tips:
- Set up signup forms and segment those for an email campaign series utilizing “12 Days of Deals.”
- Segment anyone that’s active on-site, has viewed a product, or started checkout during Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and send tailored campaigns that match their activity and interests.
- Send holiday campaigns to those who purchased during the same time frame last year.
- Try to incorporate a free-shipping flash sale and select a day that will allow the order to arrive on time.
- Review past purchase behavior to understand what products will likely perform well this year
9. Strengthen Your Email/SMS Automation Strategy
Free up your bandwidth and allow automated emails and text messages to do the heavy lifting! Automation enables eCommerce stores to capture customers no matter where they are currently in the funnel. Top tips:
- Update your welcome series to gather information (profile property) on what shoppers are interested in during the holiday season.
- Create post-purchase review automation to collect reviews, referrals, and user-generated content early on.
- If you’re launching a product, pair your exclusive product release signup form with automation that has all your product releases through the holiday season.
- Triggering based on cart value can have a huge impact when protecting margins and ensuring those big purchases convert.
- Keep an eye on deliverability metrics to ensure that chances of emails going to spam are minimal. These metrics include open rates, click rates, bounce rates, unsubscribe rates, and spam complaint rates.
10. Have an Email/SMS Promotion Strategy
Having a one-sale discount strategy for the holidays just doesn’t cut it anymore. Utilizing the full range of tools like those offered by Klaviyo or Attentive can drive Q4 revenue. Also, keep the following in mind:
- Target previous holiday buyers (seasonal buyers) and heavy-planners early, and target last-minute shoppers later.
- Sell higher-priced items to bigger spenders early on.
- Utilize “12 Days of Christmas” or “8 Days of Hanukkah” or “X Days of Winter” deals, sending a new deal for a new product or category during that time frame.
- Give your VIP subscribers exclusive early access sales. This will make them feel valued, and in turn, they will respond by buying more and more frequently.
- Follow up. It is a busy time of year so messages can easily be lost or forgotten.
- Post-holiday sales tend to be a big moneymaker, especially if gift cards are in play.
11. Leverage Your Copy and Creative
Ramp up your creativity to reflect what will be relevant to your audience during this time. Stress that this is a busy season and speak to the fear of missing out, especially around shipping deadlines.
Also, deliver content based on subscriber preferences and behavior as much as possible. Personalization drives sales. Try to understand if shoppers are buying for themselves or looking to purchase gifts for others.
Go the extra mile with GIFs and video to increase click rates (although this might incur additional costs). Try to use general wintery themes and non-specific holiday language as well. You don’t want to make anyone feel excluded.
Marketers and business owners should pay close attention to owned media, as it encompasses assets that can be maximized and enriched without the cost of paid media.
Always remember that the digital landscape is continually changing. There are a lot of things that are beyond our control, especially when it comes to other people’s data and privacy. GDPR in 2016 started changing privacy rules, followed by CCPA in 2018. Currently, ad platforms, operating systems, and browsers are updating to reflect changes concerning privacy.
While improvements surrounding government and channel rules on privacy and media are beneficial for users, they can place businesses and advertisers on shaky ground. But, as with anything in the marketing world, we must learn to adapt and maximize the assets at our disposal.
This is why it’s very important to pay attention to owned media marketing, especially now. It’s safe to say that despite the constant changes surrounding privacy, your assets will remain under your control even when paid or earned media don’t perform like they used to.
Catch the full webinar replay and download the slides for “Smashing Holiday Sales Records: 11 Ingenious Tactics.” Or, if you’re ready to dominate digital marketing to sell more, reach out to us for your free eCommerce growth analysis.