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Holiday Prep: How to Get Ahead with Advanced Planning

With each new year, holiday shopping becomes more complex, more competitive, and in many ways, more cutthroat as retailers go toe-to-toe in an endless pursuit of customers. The best enterprises get a head start on competitors by planning ahead. They make lead generation and online advertising a priority long before the holiday season comes around. Their entire focus is to optimize their advertising campaigns so that their holiday season is a successful one.

Your focus moving forward must be to plan your strategy in advance. Increased competition means the holiday season starts earlier every single year. Have a plan and ensure you’re ready to hit the ground running. So, given the importance of planning ahead, what must your company do right now to make sure you’re ready to rock this November and December?

Define Your Season Shopper

You know your buyer personas. You know what they like, dislike, what their preferences are, what brands they attach themselves to, and most importantly, how they go about shopping during the holidays. Use that information to your advantage. Who are your core customers? What is their makeup? When do they start planning their purchases? Use your knowledge of your buyer personas and your existing customer data to identify buying trends. That information can then be used to segment your audience even further which will allow you to put together a more focused digital marketing strategy

Review Historical Indicators

Historical indicators often lead to leading indicators. It’s essential that you understand your business cycles and fluctuations in demand during previous holiday seasons. Was there a specific time leading up to the holidays where you saw a sudden and drastic increase in website traffic? Did your click-through-rates (CTR) and conversion rates improve or decline during a given period? Were some online advertisements more popular than others, and if so, why?

Identifying season trends means understanding any seismic shift in buying activity year-over-year. It means understanding the success or failure of past digital marketing strategies. It means knowing what you did well and what you must improve upon. You have the data. Just take the time to review what worked and what didn’t. 

Enact the Plan

This is where you enact your plan. Take what worked in the past and duplicate success. Identify what didn’t work and put a specific plan together to improve results. Use a content marketing and advertising calendar to synchronize your online advertisements with engaging content. Focus on your buyer personas and other segmentation strategies that allow you to target specific customers. 

Get Creative

Don’t just appeal to the lowest common denominator. Yes, your pricing needs to be competitive. Discounts, rebates, promotions and inventory liquidations will always play a strategic role in search engine marketing during the holidays. However, it’s not just about the holidays itself, but really about capturing new business leading up to holidays and immediately thereafter. 

Think outside the box. Use your historical data and your in-depth understanding of emerging trends to come up with customer engagement strategies that will secure business long after the holidays are over. How many customers did you win during the holiday season and how many came back and why? Remember, it’s not just enough to win a new customer. You want them around for the long haul.

Planning ahead is critical to staying one step ahead of competitors. Make sure your website is ready for the influx of traffic. Use A/B split testing to optimize different landing pages so that you have the best one ready when traffic increases. Having a plan is an absolute must if you’re looking to capitalize on the upcoming holidays season so don’t leave it to the last minute.  

If you're looking for strategies to enact this holiday season, then this is a must read: CRO Holiday Guide: Is Your Site Ready?

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