How-To Hit Your Holiday Numbers: 6 Steps for Retailers to Stay Agile During the Holiday Shopping Frenzy

By Matt Killough

You’ve spent months preparing for the holiday shopping frenzy. You were in the December mindset way back when everyone else was planning their mid-summer barbeque. And now that November has finally arrived, it’s time for action. Are you ready?

 

Prepare for the Unexpected This Holiday Shopping Season

Picture this: Your marketing team has set up a holiday shopping war room to track sales hourly so you can see how you’re pacing toward your goals. It’s a great step to stay on top of the holiday rush, but what happens if you start falling behind on your numbers for certain products or promotions? You must be able to jump into action with a plan to course correct.

As much as you can do to prepare ahead of time for the holiday shopping season — and we all know that’s a lot — to truly set yourself for success, you also need to be ready to react to changing needs at the drop of a dime.

 

6 Steps to Stay Agile During the Holiday Shopping Frenzy

If you want to hit your holiday numbers, reacting to shopper behaviors in real-time is critical. So how can you keep your marketing team agile this holiday season? It’s all about taking some steps now, before the holiday shopping madness really kicks in later this month, to give yourself some flexibility down the line. Here’s what it takes:

 

1) Learn from the past

As you’re barrelling toward the busiest months of the year, take a few minutes to look back on last year’s holiday season to identify what worked and what didn’t. This review will help you double down on successes and avoid making the same mistakes twice. Additionally, it can help you prepare ahead of time for any surprises that might repeat themselves.

 

2) Build for anything

What happened last year can help inform a lot this time around, but you still need to be prepared for anything. The best way to accomplish that goal is to build a few flexible email templates that you can use to promote different products as needed. These templates should be extremely simple (think a call to action, four product blocks and a footer), that way you can swap out elements and use them to promote anything you need at a moment’s notice. With these kind of templates in hand, you should be able to clear new emails from build to send in about an hour.

 

3) Keep an open line with your merchandising team

Next, make sure you stay in close contact with your merchandising team so that you always have a pulse on which products need to get pushed heavily. Along the same lines, it’s important to review the merchandising insights from your email campaigns (e.g. which products are typically bundled together, which categories are most popular during the holidays, etc.) so that both your marketing and merchandising teams understand how those products perform with customers.

 

4) Buddy up your email and paid media teams

It also pays to buddy up your email and paid media teams so that both groups can use the same (or similar) audiences across channels. Collaborating in this way will ensure you get consistent messaging in front of your holiday shoppers wherever they are. As a bonus, it will also help lighten the workload a bit for both teams, since each group won’t have to take separate steps to build audiences and determine the best offers for those customers.

 

5) Create gift guides — and keep them updated

Take some time to create curated gift guides to help your customers shop. These guides can feature certain types of products or recommendations for different types of people (e.g. the best gifts for dad). Most importantly, make sure you don’t just set it and forget it with these gift guides. To keep your guides fresh, regularly update the products you feature as the holiday season unfolds by adding in trending products or products that need a little extra support.

 

6) Spread the holiday cheer everywhere

Finally, be sure to remind your customers to shop with you for the holidays everywhere you can by swapping out evergreen banners in your regular triggered emails with holiday-related banners. It might seem like a lot of promotion (after all, who really forgets that it’s holiday time?), but even the smallest of reminders can make a big difference.

 

Here Come the Holidays

Looking for even more advice on how to prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping frenzy? Check out our holiday playbook, featuring six simple plays your marketing team can run today.

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