But retailers and brands that execute with discipline, playing to their strengths and not chasing channels where they’re weak, can prosper. Much of the most important work in building customer loyalty must be done well before the holiday shopping frenzy begins.

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager, Baesman Insights & Marketing

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager, Baesman Insights & Marketing

Every holiday season, every brand wants to find the “new” way to win holiday marketing—a new channel that’s going to be the salvation of the brand, a new store format, or a new technology that’ll help outperform the competition. Brands think that if they just find that needle in the haystack, they can outperform the industry during a critical time.

But in the feverish search to reach customers, we often forget that there is no magic pill for holiday.  In fact, the season is often won or lost well before it gets into full swing in early November.

Your Brand Builds Holiday

Holiday is all about numbers in today’s current climate driven by brand visits, margin, order value, and items per order. In many ways, those core metrics sum up achievement or failure during the most important quarter of the year.

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But what gets lost in the numbers are the branding, sentiment, and loyalty that your brand has developed leading up to the season.

Brands are often so focused on prospecting during the holiday season that they forget to take care of their own customers first.

We spend so much time focusing on promotions that we forget great brands dictate price, not the reverse.  Apple dictates price and customers pay it because the brand has value to them.  It’s not technically a luxury brand, but Apple has built loyalty over the years to get to the point where it doesn’t need any promotions to sell product.

The lead-up to holiday should be put to building brand awareness, value, and sentiment for great products to help dictate price points later on.

Marketing Channel Health

One of the best predictors for achieving your holiday objectives is channel health. Are customer journeys streamlined and seamless across channels? Are emails optimized and are lifecycle triggers working properly? Is mobile perfected and is it growing in revenue share?

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Unless your channels are optimized, there’s going to be a disjointed experience and customers are going to abandon it. Customer attention span is usually at its lowest point during the holiday season, as consumers are bombarded with advertisements, texts, emails, and bright lights. It’s challenging to focus. Streamlined and efficient journeys to product, and then to checkout, will often dictate conversion rates.

Any site latency or misfired landing page, or even a bad linking strategy, can often have a major impact on revenue.  Make sure your marketing vehicles are running on all cylinders, all the issues are worked out, and you have a deliberate, easy customer journey mapped out to get customers where they want to go quickly and with as little pain as possible.

And that’s not just for e-commerce; stores have the same issues. Long lines, inventory management, omnichannel shopping optimization, and product placement are all huge factors in holiday success.

CRM and Loyalty

Nothing makes holiday marketing easier than having a loyal customer base at the foundation of your plans. Loyal customers give the season stability, reduce volatile swings, and provide a path forward to reaching goals.

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Unfortunately, many brands ostracize their loyal or high-value customers. Brands are often so focused on prospecting during the holiday season that they forget to take care of their own customers first.  Prospecting is a necessary evil and acquisition is needed to bring in new revenue, but it means nothing if your current customers fall from the brand. Loyal customers are more valuable, they’re more reliable, they take fewer dollars to engage, and they spend more than anyone else.

Take care of your high-value segments and they’ll take care of you throughout the season.

Be Ruthless with Budget

Budgeting is one of the biggest impediments to having a successful holiday season.  There are so many marketing channels and so many ways to engage customers. Each team is fighting for more budget so their channels will provide more ROI for the season, but all channels are clearly not equal and that mix is unique to each brand. As such, those overseeing budget need to be ruthless with it.

Only invest where you know you’ll see returns. During the holiday season, every channel is saturated. If you don’t have a strong network within a channel, focus elsewhere because you won’t win with so much competition. Emails are flooded, ad and search bids skyrocket, and texts blow up everyone’s phones.  Invest in what you are already good at executing; everything else will get washed away. Be cautious with those dollars and make sure to scale them appropriately to each channel.

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The Magic Holiday Pill

Holiday marketing isn’t glamorous; it’s routine. It’s making sure your marketing vehicles are efficient, your insights are clear, your learnings are deep, your brand is strong, and your customers are loyal. The magic pill is actually a combination of efficiency, priority, function, and focus. It’s not a magic solution; it’s getting your hands dirty. Great brands don’t guess—they know the outcome before the holidays roll around because they’ve already beat their competition by developing the right frameworks for success.

Baesman Insights & Marketing specializes in customer insights, marketing programs and loyalty services.