The clock is ticking and the end of the year is fast-approaching. This means retailers only have a few more precious weeks to hit their yearly revenue targets. Contingency planning is more important than ever during the holiday shopping season, so we’ve put together five ideas to consider from a digital marketing perspective as you build a holiday season contingency plan.

  1. Consider promotion extensions

Retailers are stretching out their holiday promotions more every year. Prepare to be able to extend any sale by a day or two. We advise that you prepare necessary creative and ad copy so that if you do extend a sale, you can use “Surprise Extension” or “Last Chance” language. This is a great way to work in the concepts of introducing scarcity, limited inventory, limited time availability, etc. Creating this sense of urgency will help improve conversion.

  1. Leverage channel exclusives

Many retailers are sensitive about being overly promotional this time of year. You’ve likely just offered as deep of discounts as you possibly could for Thanksgiving week, and come December you may be looking to push more full price sales. Channel exclusives are a perfect way to offer portions of your customer base a compelling discount without being overly promotional. We recommend leveraging the affiliate channel for this purpose. You can promote a sale just to a specific affiliate partner or to your whole affiliate audience. With the high conversion rates we see from many affiliates, this is sure to be a potential win revenue-wise without sacrificing too much in terms of your average order value.

  1. Implement a remail strategy

Your target audience is experiencing a high level of email volume this time of year. This opens the door for a great opportunity to set-up remail campaigns to non-openers. Remails allow you to reach some of your most valuable customers through a well-established medium. People don’t open emails for a variety of reasons – device type, subject line, day of week, time of day. So, remailing people who didn’t open a certain email campaign gives you another opportunity to reach them at a time or on a device that is more convenient for them. Also, consider remailing to clickers that didn’t purchase from any given campaign.

  1. Evaluate your competition

Take a hard look at the competitive landscape. If you’re a brand, that means not only with your competitors but also with your resellers. A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are my Shipping + Return offers competitive?
  • Are my competitors offering steep discounts?
  • Are my resellers offering steep discounts?
  • Am I monitoring my competitor’s offers, emails, and ad copy?
  • Am I competitive with my pricing?
    • This is especially relevant with Google Shopping campaigns as Google Shopping ads provide shoppers the perfect opportunity to price-compare across various websites

Prepare to make adjustments to your strategy as needed based on any of the above factors.

  1. Re-engage lapsed customers

Over holiday you are likely offering your strongest promotions of the year. There is no better time to re-engage lapsed customers (we recommend segmenting this group based on anyone who hasn’t been active for 3-6 months). Be sure that you are emailing all of your holiday promotions to all customers (engaged and unengaged) and sweeten the deal for the unengaged: offer them an exclusive offer in an attempt to win them back as part of a drip series in which they have several opportunities to engage. While you do want this audience to receive your other offers during this time, you also want to make sure the content you’re delivering to them is highly relevant and personalized. Consider leveraging the Customer Match feature in Google AdWords and align Paid Search Ad Copy showcasing the re-engagement offer that can be targeted only at the audience with an unengaged email. Your un-engaged customers may just not be interacting with email, so leveraging your email list within other channels (like Paid Search) provides another opportunity to reach them via a channel they may be more likely to engage with.

It goes mostly unsaid, but retailers also need to consider other factors as they build a contingency plan. Such as site maintenance plans (what is your plan if your site goes down? Have you performed load testing to test site performance during increased traffic times?), shipping and logistics factors, usability factors by device type, inventory availability, etc. It’s also paramount that you trust the data coming in from your analytics tools. If your data is incorrect, you aren’t able to make informed decisions about the actions you need to take to improve performance. For more on that, see this post.

This crazy time of year is almost over, you got this! But, in the meantime, if you have questions drop us a line. And cheers to your holiday success.