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GUEST COMMENT Ten key marketing tips to increase Christmas sales

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With nearly 20% of annual retail sales in some way connected to the Christmas period, UK brands and retailers which don’t make every attempt to optimise their marketing outreach during and before the Christmas period are at risk of losing sales to more aggressive players. Here are our top tips for making sure your marketing campaign doesn’t let your brand down this Christmas.

1. Create a sense of urgency via count-downs

For example, if a discount is ending soon or inventory on an item is running low, dynamically serve copy to reflect urgency on popular items (i.e. “Only 7 left!”). A few popular UK brands that have applied a sale countdown tactic in their advertising are Argos and Amazon.

2. Put your first-party data to work

Leverage your CRM list, mobile data, email segments, offline data and more to maximise your best shoppers, both as repeat customers to retarget and for seeding a model for new customers. Seek strategic partners who can help you augment and enrich you own data and find prospects similar to existing and loyal customers. For example, in this LiveRamp webinar a Sephora marketing director discussed onboarding their first-party data to track the offline impact of their digital marketing efforts.

3. Appeal to self-gifters

Our Connexity survey shows that more shoppers actually purchase gifts for themselves on and around Black Friday and don’t switch into gift-giving mode until Cyber Week. Leading up to Cyber Weekend, experiment with offers that encourage shoppers to treat themselves (like Ann Taylor did here).

4. Don’t over-concentrate your budget on a few days

It’s short-sighted to spend 90% of your Christmas budget on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Not only does the cost of advertising rise dramatically on these key shopping days, our trended shopping data reveals that although search volume and clicks go up during the Cyber Weekend a significant percentage of shoppers don’t actually convert until the following week. A strategic ecommerce marketer will spread their budget through Cyber Week and leading up to Christmas in order to capture higher-intent shoppers who are ready to pull the trigger on the gifts they researched the previous week.

5. Dynamically offer free shipping on items with a high profit margin and low shipping costs

The latest Connexity data revealed that the vast majority of shoppers are seeking free shipping above all other discounts. To capitalise on this incentive, create a formula for calculating items with a high enough retail value and a low enough shipping expense that you can offer free shipping on those items for a limited time. If free shipping is difficult for you to budget, consider offering it only for minimum purchase orders to incentivise shoppers who plan to buy multiple gifts at your store.

6. Refocus audience data on bottom-of-funnel shoppers

Going broad with your audience during the year is a great way to widen your reach, promote your brand and generate awareness. However, during Christmas many shoppers will finally pull the trigger on their considered purchases; it’s important to go after audiences with a demonstrated intent to buy (i.e. they looked at a specific product, like golf clubs), rather than a related behaviour (i.e. they have read articles about popular golf clubs). As Christmas shoppers get lower in the purchase funnel, so should your targeting efforts.

7. Take advantage of industry specialisation

Especially with so much revenue at stake during the Christmas period, it’s important to partner with companies that offer best-of-class services in your vertical. Rather than activating against standard, widely available segments, an auto brand could leverage data from Polk, a finance company could use data from Experian, and an e-Commerce brand could leverage data sources from sites like Shopzilla and PriceGrabber. Gaining access to new and highly relevant third party data sources helps you expand your first party data to land more in-market customers.

8. Plan for a marathon of continuous optimisation

Remember that as the Christmas period progresses, you will see more activity and data. The longer A/B tests run, pixels are up and shoppers convert, the more you learn about what’s working. Take advantage of your own growing intelligence as the Christmas progresses and optimise your own performance as you go. Tip: use priority scoring to more accurately evaluate which products to surface based on a variety of factors, such as item availability, margins, discounts and likelihood to convert—this scoring should get better as the season progresses.

9. Don’t let viewability crowd out other KPIs

Especially over Christmas, you won’t always need to optimise against viewability as a primary metric. Pick your metrics based on what sells the product: marketers sometimes assume above-the-fold viewability is essential for high performance, but certain products may sell from alternative placement at the right price point. Viewability is only one of many driving factors; incentives and product may be more important than ad placement, so don’t rule out opportunities based solely on viewability.

10. Get a leg up on 2016

Marketers should start to prepare for next year’s key seasons and events as soon as this one wraps up. Focus on building out your databases, establishing new data partnerships, and applying the lessons learned from this year to get ahead of next year’s rush. Consider your media mix: what elements of your Christmas strategy could perform better, and why? Where did you need more (or better) partnerships, resources, preparation, talent, technology or budget? Prioritise getting those in place early in 2016 so you can prepare for greater success during next year’s peak buying periods for your brand.

Christmas is a hugely important period for brands and retailers, with events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday being key shopping days for consumers to make a start on their Christmas shopping. It is essential for brands and retailers to follow a timely and targeted marketing campaign in order to attract shoppers. By following these top ten marketing tips, UK brands and retailers will be able to optimise their marketing outreach throughout Christmas instead of losing out to the competition.

Craig Teich is executive vice president of global sales at Connexity

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