With U.S. retail holiday sales expected to exceed $1 trillion and e-commerce sales to rise 22%, a lot of brands look to keep their optimization efforts relatively status quo until the holidays are over. However, once the new year hits, it’s crucial for brands to have a plan in place to make the most of the post-holiday slump — one that doesn’t just involve scrambling to drive revenue.
Making Post-Holiday An Automated Process
Post-holidays, marketers are thinking about how they can soften the blow of a dip in sales. This usually involves more promotions (i.e., stock clear-out, customer appreciation, etc.) and spending whatever budget is left before the end of the fiscal year. While it’s true that some money should be invested to keep customers interested and your brand top of mind, there are a lot of tactics that can be done relatively hands-off. Think email automation to target the right customer segments with a relevant sales message, or remarketing campaigns to upsell to customers based on their holiday carts. By automating a lot of the sales tactics, your team can focus on what really matters: assessing your brand debt and strategizing new solutions.
“Brand debt” tends to mean content published on behalf of your brand that isn’t reflective of your brand voice (due to things like a large team, lack of brand voice guidelines, etc.). We liken brand debt, however, to anything that represents your brand and can cause harm to your reputation — whether that’s a poorly optimized website, a cluttered organic search engine results page (SERP), or responding to customer reviews in a way that hasn’t been properly vetted.
The inevitable influx of traffic and sales to a brand’s website during the holiday season acts as a light that shines through any cracks in the brand’s foundation. Post-holiday is the perfect time to regroup and restrategize. Here are three things we often come across with our clients:
1. Inaccurate Tracking Setup
Ideally, your tracking was tested and validated to ensure that everything was firing properly before the holiday period. If not, post-holiday is the time to do so to avoid further potential data loss.
Beyond simple data setup, a lot of brands struggle with knowing what they want to track. There are seemingly endless data points available to us, yet most don’t know what to do with them. With the influx of traffic and sales during the holidays, it can help identify what insights you are able to pull from your tracking setup and which ones are missing. What questions do you have of the data? Do you feel those questions are being answered?
One of the most popular discussions is around the checkout funnel. A lot of information can be gleaned from this stage in the customer journey, including which elements of the checkout people completed with ease and which ones caused customers to exit.
Look through your holiday data. Does it answer your questions? If not, the new year is a good time to reset priorities for your data-tracking processes.
2. Website Pains
Many brands struggle to make their websites work for them, whether that’s due to page speed, UX/UI optimization, functionality, etc. It can be tough to make optimizations pre-holiday because there are a lot of risks involved if your site breaks in the process.
Post-holiday is an ideal time to test, break and put back together your website to make sure that it looks and works the way you need it to. In this industry, we see a lot of brands that know they need a better site experience; they’re just not sure what about it isn’t working.
One thing to try is conversion rate optimization (CRO). This involves testing different UX/UI elements of your site (e.g., form length, button color and position) to see if an uplift in sales occurs. With one of our clients, for example, we changed the position of their lead gen form and saw more than 100% improvement in their conversion rate.
While websites are significant investments, keep in mind that they are living entities that should evolve over time to continue meeting the needs of your ever-changing consumers. Make sure that the user’s on-page experience is your top priority.
3. Stale Media Mix
Many brands tend to stick to the core set of tactics that they know will drive the right return on advertising spend (ROAS), and this is especially true during the holiday season. It can be tough to risk introducing new elements to your media mix when the potential for lost revenue can be so high.
For clients that are risk-averse during this time, one recommendation is a fresh start in the new year with a level playing field. Customers are in a different mindset and, therefore, will likely be more open to engaging with your brand in various ways, outside of how much of a bargain they can get.
Try new strategies, ad formats, channels and tactics in the new year. As content consumption and decision-making patterns evolve, so too should your tactical mix. This is especially true when you consider how often platforms like Google and Facebook are adding new betas or optimizing their current ad formats to enhance the user experience. If your team doesn’t capitalize on these trends, your competitors will.
Make sure that you reserve some budget for your always-on campaign, tried-and-tested tactics that are in continuous rotation so that you’re nurturing profitable channels. Put some of your budgets into this experimental pile, and test and iterate to see if you can get better results than you’re already getting with your core tactics.
The holiday period can be a stressful time for brands, but don’t let that leave your team complacent during the post-holiday slump. There’s a lot that you can do to keep evolving your brand and inch ever closer to best meet the needs and expectations of your customers.
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