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6 Ways to Get Ready for Christmas with Digital Marketing

Monday 4 September 2017 Data-Led MarketingDigital ConsultancySocial Marketing

Suzanne Jiggens-Johnson's picture
By Suzanne Jiggens-Johnson
The lead up to peak is vitally important for organisations, with global eCommerce revenue growing by 34% year-on-year during the 2016 holiday season, compared to 24% year-on-year in 2015. [Source: DemandWare, January 2017]. While the expectation for growth is higher than ever for 2017, all players are fighting to gain market share and there is never enough time to get everything done. This is now your last chance to get something done before the craziness begins in October. Blink, and it’s January. If I had a big target, what would I have in place? Here is my list of 6 success factors that you can implement quickly to support you in peak. 


Do you have a great plan?

Do you know where your revenue is coming from? Do you know what audiences you want to target, and how and when? Have you broken this down to channel level? Having your agencies aligned and motivated to this level of detail in a plan is powerful thing. It will allow you to allocate your resources effectively. 
Everyone’s budget is limited, but when you harness multiple channels together, focused on the right audience with the right messaging strategy, suddenly that limited budget gets more efficient – particularly in peak. The best thing about peak demand periods is response rates, conversion rates and efficiency metrics all improve. 
It appears that this should be a given, but ask yourself the question: is your plan robust enough to hit your target? Is it enough to beat your target? Great plans know that in detail. 

Experiments – your Plan B

Many digital marketing departments don’t have a test plan for their peak period. Why would you do that? After all, it’s peak; all activity should be focused on driving the maximum amount of sales, right? I disagree. I can demonstrate this with a story I have recounted many times… In the early days of Facebook, I had a client with a high media spend who had Facebook advertising on their plan but it wasn’t performing. Every week in trading, I would argue that we should pull it off the plan. My wise client was adamant that it should stay on the plan. The response was, “Serge, it has potential, let’s keep it on. Don’t be afraid to spend”. 
We were then introduced to the “reach block”, because this client was one of the early users of Facebook advertising. We tested it and it pulled like a freight train. By the end of the Christmas peak, we had bought so many reach blocks that it took a massive proportion of our media budget and resulted in smashed targets for Christmas – and the 12 months following. 
This type of experiment can be applied in media buying or CRM test plans alike. If you have those irons in the fire, you give yourself an opportunity to use them when you need them most. Conversely, if you have no Plan B in flight, it’s very hard to get it up and running when the pressure is on.


Agility – make sure you can action it all!

The team with the best plan wins. This happens most of the time. What if you are not on that team? What if your projections come up short? What if your competitor is getting far more traction in the market? The best thing you can do is change what you are doing, and that can be hard when you are in the midst of peak. 
Firstly, agile companies understand what is happening through precise measurement of their own and their competitors’ activity. They can make decisions quickly about what change they could be doing as an alternative. Then they are able to act. 
How do you act during the craziness of peak? I think there are two ways of doing this: 
(1) You have well-oiled operations where you can efficiently change course, move media money around, build more assets to support activity, build something or integrate something quickly, take on a new supplier quickly. This is setting your team up in such a way that barriers are taken down and they are used to making decisions. This admittedly takes time (but it’s not too late). 
The alternative: (2) You have a team standing by to implement changes that aren’t in the day to day. This could be allocated team members that are focused on jumping in when something new needs to happen. Like a project manager. If you don’t have the staff, this can also be a vendor. Every vendor, if capable, is ready to act on your behalf and help you hit that target.


Precision – setting up your eyes

The best digital marketing operations have every channel tracked well, the order funnel is mapped in a sophisticated way, audiences are defined with precision and are addressable. Reporting is great at a high level, but the insights become available when you drill into the detail. This approach flows through from your internal Business Intelligence, to your internal analytics, and then outwardly to your media metrics. 
If you don’t have this set up, there is still time to get this set up for peak. You can make great inroads by breaking the process down into data collection and data analysis. Data collection is all about tagging. Believe it or not, if your tagging is a mess, it’s not actually that hard to fix. You just need to set up a project and systematically work through your tagging. It’s faster than you think. Data analysis is all about reporting. Good reporting is a process. Again, easily achieved with a concerted project focusing on objectives, KPIs and decision-ready data presentation that is focused on what can be achieved for peak. 

Competitive intelligence – know your enemy

You can bet your bottom dollar that your competitors have a plan for the peak period. That plan will be plain to see the moment they launch. Marketing, and particularly digital marketing, is public. You can use that. 
How closely are you monitoring your competitors? In my experience, most marketing teams are focused on getting their plan executed and often overlook external factors affecting their activity. If marketing was war, you would keep your eye on what your opposition are doing and adapt to counteract their moves. If you didn’t, you’d probably be dead. 
Competitor monitoring can be simple and it can be detailed – your choice of depth is up to you. I’ve always liked to know everything competitors are up to so I can counteract or even leverage their efforts at every point. This is particularly important if they start getting traction. How can you move quickly to outmanoeuvre? See point 3 on “agility”.

Trading culture – building up the muscle

I’m not sure how many people really like trading meetings. I think they are probably the most important forum you can set up. In this meeting, you don’t simply review the numbers and whip around the table. This is an opportunity to track how you are performing against what was planned and to detail where shortfalls and successes are happening. You can also examine what your competitors are up to and if it is affecting your performance. 
Once you know all of that, you can start to make decisions: Are we on track? Can we scale our brilliance? Or should we change tack and can we do it quickly?
Organisations that trade well are well practiced at trading before the Christmas peak hits. I have a client that calls it ‘building up the muscle’. They have made reactive and proactive decisions based on data and intelligence before and are ready to make those decisions again. The forum for this is the trading meeting. You can build up the utility of your trading team meetings now and in doing so, you will be ready for peak. 

In summary

You have but a month or two to act – the end of the year is coming and those consumers will spend their money somewhere. In the coming months, success will favour those that are ready and these six success factors can set you on the right path! 


To find out more about how you can optimise your online strategy, read our latest post on the 3 pillars of digital marketing

For many eCommerce businesses, it’s that time of year again: the build up to the peak Christmas sales period.

6 Ways to Get Ready for Christmas with Digital Marketing


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