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Plan Now for a Strong Holiday Shopping Season

Altaf Shaikh | April 6, 2017 

The smartest thing a retailer can do to ensure a profitable holiday sales campaign is to start planning – early! Up to one-third of your retail business’ annual sales revenue will be generated during the Christmas holiday shopping season – a season that starts earlier and earlier every year. This year, expect consumers to look for even earlier promotions to avoid the hassle of crowded stores and the frustration of bogged down cyber networks.

Deploying a strong marketing campaign for the biggest shopping season of the year requires careful planning. This may include redefining your SEO strategy, creating a holiday marketing plan, identifying your target customer, and ensuring engagement throughout the entire customer journey. A good place to start is Salesforce’s Guide to Holiday Readiness.

Get your Website and Emails Mobile Ready

Phones account for all the growth in traffic to retail sites. According to Commerce Cloud’s Q4 2016 Shopping Index, phones accounted for 52% of traffic to retail sites, and 30% of orders. Retailers need to make sure their website and emails are optimized for mobile platforms and can handle large, prolonged spikes in traffic.

Update Your Marketing Strategy

Your marketing strategy should combine your business goals for the holiday sales campaign with the actionable items required to achieve that goal. This is a good time to gather research data for new product launches and create ideas for targeted holiday gift guides to include on websites and in outbound email campaigns.

Holiday marketing efforts should inform your customers about the products your business has to offer and develop brand differentiation. Use product features and package deals that will steer customers towards multiple purchases.

Tune Your Website Search Results

Check your website’s search performance by testing last year’s most used search terms to determine if the correct items are being returned. Also, add misspellings to your site’s dictionary and make sure the ‘no results’ page lands the shopper on a targeted holiday gift guide or a similar redirect.

Effective customer search analytics can enable your business to predict trends and prepare for increased demand. Real-time monitoring of site searches can also pinpoint potential customers and enable your sales team to optimize pricing and promotions.

Revise Your SEO to Increase Visibility

Remain vigilant with your SEO goals and tactics by taking advantage of last year’s most successful keywords, along with a review of any 404 error messages. Search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Regularly analyze and scale-up SEO techniques that bring good results. Include any previously untapped keywords and be sure to index any holiday-specific queries.

Other tactics to boost SEO marketing include having complete, high-quality product descriptions and inclusion of customer reviews or star ratings. Creating a ‘sneak peek’ or ‘coming soon’ page to promote an upcoming gift guide is a great way to increase your SEO ranking. Any SEO marketing campaign must use keywords strategically and include original content.

Adding Last Minute Deals

There are many strategies to create a sense of urgency and add last minute deals to attract late shoppers and the ‘forgotten gift’ shoppers. Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s Ultimate Holiday Readiness Checklist includes several options for capturing the last-minute shopper.

Use automation to switch out content based on dates available. This will relieve the hassles of maintaining product presentations throughout the holiday season.

Create an Annual Holiday Calendar

Keep major holiday dates in view throughout the year. Here are some upcoming major holidays that U.S. retailers can start preparing for now:

  • Cinco de Mayo – May 4, 2017
  • Mothers’ Day – May 14, 2017
  • Memorial Day – May 29, 2017
  • Fathers’ Day – June 18, 2017
  • Independence Day – July 4, 2017
  • Back to School – varies by state (August/September)
  • Labor Day – September 4, 2017
  • Halloween – October 31, 2017
  • Veterans Day – November 11, 2017
  • Thanksgiving Day – November 23, 2017
  • Black Friday – November 24, 2017
  • Cyber Monday – November 27, 2017
  • Hanukkah – December 12-20, 2017
  • Christmas – December 25, 2017
  • Kwanzaa – December 26, 2017 – January 1, 2018
  • New Year’s Eve – December 31, 2017

Keep these in mind as you plan your marketing calendar!

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Altaf Shaikh

Altaf Shaikh | Founder, CEO

Altaf Shaikh is ListEngage’s Founder and CEO. Altaf has been in software development and digital marketing for more than 25 years. He started ListEngage in 2003 to help businesses transform their email and digital marketing. ListEngage has supported the Salesforce Marketing Cloud since 2003 when it was ExactTarget. As a dedicated Salesforce Partner, ListEngage has served 900+ customers and earned multiple awards, such as: 2013 ExactTarget Global Services Award, the Inc. 5000 three consecutive years, and the Boston Business Journal's FAST 50 two years in a row. Contact Altaf at