The following is a guest contributed post from Edwin Choi, the current VP of Marketing for CellularOutfitter.
The holidays can offer incredible opportunity for ecommerce companies, if promotions are planned strategically and in advance. It’s critical to have a team that is well equipped and running as efficiently as possible to prepare for the buzz of the season. It’s also important to have some tips and best practices in your back pocket to help propel productivity and ensure utmost profitability during this season of opportunity.
Know the Benefit of an Online Sale
The difference with ecommerce sales is that you can have multiple channels going at all
hours of the day. Make sure you prepare a plan that covers 12:00am – 11:59pm on all of your channels. You also have the benefit of cross-channel campaigns that are 100% trackable to ensure that common customer journeys, such as paid media to retargeting to email, are all coherent and consistent.
Understand the Marketplace – Pre & Post Holidays
To set yourself up for success, it’s important to understand the difference within the online marketplace during and after the holiday season. Anyone in ecommerce, or digital marketing, knows the online marketplace drastically changes during the holiday season. A flood of new advertisers come into each of the channels and drive up the cost of marketing, as well as the competition. There is a cacophony of marketing promotions and offers, so it will take more than just a promotion to stand out from your competition.
After the holiday season, the dust settles and marketing costs and competition return back to normal. However, during the holidays (and all year round) ecommerce companies like CellularOutfitter, are constantly acquiring more and more new customers. As such, the primary focus in January 2017 is to retain the newly acquired customers and maximize their customer lifetime value.
Understand Your Audience & Make Sure your Message is Cohesive
Start with dividing your audience into a few large cohorts. A popular way to divide your audience is to separate it into new and existing audience cohorts. New customers will likely respond to less aggressive discounts than existing customers and they will have a higher customer acquisition cost. For existing customers, they will most likely have a much lower acquisition cost which means that you can grant more aggressive offers. You can also utilize their existing behavioral data in order to make the best decisions for your business. Example: if a cohort typically responds to 25% offers, try offering them 30% off.
Leverage your Past Data
If you have data from previous sales (which you should) and you are able to benchmark past year performances, make sure you leverage it! What worked? Did your audience groups respond as you expected to deals? Did certain pages and/or products perform better than others? Why? Understanding these and other similar questions is key. Also make sure to take into account any significant change in the marketplace – a new competitor, new regulations/changes, which may impact this year’s data.
Ensure a Cohesive Promotion Strategy
Many brands such as CellularOutfitter offer tiered discount structure based on their Business Intelligence data. They are offering discounts, but only at amounts that help drive up the Gross Margin Percent and AOV (Average Order Value) for their customer base so their lifetime values are higher. They then promote this across all channels to maximize the amount of impressions garnered.
Find the Challenge Before it Arrives
Ecommerce websites should always be wary of inventory amounts – have a backorder or a
Plan B in place in the event that demand far exceeds supply. Also, beware of simply applying discounts. This can permanently lower your customer’s lifetime value. Be creative with the type of promotions you give out – buy one get one free, bundles, etc. are typically the better option. Don’t forget to check for any bugs or issues on the site which would adversely impact the user experience and potentially cause users to abandon their cart.
Measure Success & Learn From This Year’s Results
Take a look at the number of new customers acquired. Also, identify the number of existing customers that reactivated, overall revenue, gross margin, AOV and if you surpassed last year’s sales.
Holiday sales are exciting but can also be devastating without proper structure and preparation.
After you have a suitable benchmark, make sure you adhere to these 4 holiday best practices:
- QA your site and all of its functionality before making the sale live
- Ensure that you have alert systems set up for any possible downtime or broken functionality
- Prep a cohesive, cross-channel marketing plan that ensures that all channels are communicating the same messaging
- Have a congruent experience between your marketing channels and your landing experience. Example: relevant pop-ups and site-wide messaging
Take these tips into consideration when jumping into this holiday season so it’s inevitable your sales reach new heights!
Edwin Choi- Bio
Edwin Choi, the current VP of Marketing for CellularOutfitter spends his time ingesting as much content as possible and experimenting with websites and SEO projects. At CellularOutfitter, he established a data-driven, testing-oriented marketing team that more than quintupled company revenues and continues to push the envelope in digital marketing.