Leveraging Momentum From The Holidays Into Year-Round Success

Edited by Kaitlin Kamp

Your holiday campaigns have run their course and performed exceptionally, but now that the holiday season is over, what are your next steps? Are you using the data gathered in the months that follow, or are you pushing the data aside until the next holiday season? Instead of focusing your efforts on the holidays and then slowing down, it’s important to look at the big picture and prepare for the entire year. With the abundance of data collected during holiday campaigns, there’s a massive opportunity to test strategies, build audiences, and use the data gathered to enhance strategy and improve campaigns going forward.

It’s not uncommon for marketers to perceive holiday testing as risky or misleading; some believe the results will be skewed because consumers shop differently during the holidays. Think with Google notes, holiday shopping goes well beyond the typical promotion days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. In fact, only 18% of shoppers do all of their shopping during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend, and by that period, shoppers have collectively already completed 42% of their holiday shopping. It’s important to have a strategy to reach customers whenever they need you – not just during the holidays. If Black Friday & Cyber Monday grab just a portion of your sales, then there’s no reason to hold back on testing during the holidays for future insights. Testing different strategies will help gather data and insights that can be used throughout the year.

Wider Funnel points out that some companies are reluctant to test during the holiday season because of the perceived risk of sending high-cost traffic to variations that might underperform. However, without testing, you’ll never understand what exactly drives your customers during the holiday season. There is also the perceived operational risk of introducing tests during a seasonal code freeze when development teams lock down site changes. However, there are several landing page optimization tools that allow you to test different creative, CTAs, and more, without touching your site’s code.

A common misconception about holiday purchasing behavior is that marketers aren’t learning anything about their target audience, as people are buying for others during the holidays and are often one-time purchasers. This theory doesn’t necessarily hold up when you consider self-gifting. Self-gifters admit to spending 20% of their holiday shopping budget on themselves. Also, it’s inaccurate to assume buyers are only one-time purchasers. It’s been proven that 39% of all repeat purchasers make a second purchase during the holiday season. Additionally, 42% will make a second purchase in the following 10-months. Only 6% of repeat purchasers wait until the next holiday season to make their next purchase.

Image Source: RJ Metrics

According to Google, 46% of shoppers bought from a retailer they had not previously in 2017. As new shoppers are exposed to your brand, you gain the opportunity to gain insights about a whole new audience, which you can target during the off-season. RJ metrics mentions that the average ecommerce business acquires 23.8% of its new customers during the holiday season. Your holiday shoppers aren’t only holiday shoppers, they’re customers with unique purchasing behavior that’s valuable year-round.

A/B Testing

With the seasonal spike in traffic, there is a huge opportunity to A/B test. Testing landing pages is an easy and important strategy for the holidays and Google Optimize gives us an easy (and free) way to test different creative concepts, sales promotions, CTAs, content, etc. to help increase conversion rates. Use the information gained from Google Optimize and apply the changes to landing pages post-holidays. When using Google Optimize, it’s important to note that this will not work on holiday-specific content or CTAs, since those promotions will obviously not be running year-round.

Experimenting with creative assets is another strategy to test during the holidays. Valerie Decker, Digital Marketing Specialist at Gorilla Group, recommends getting creative with emails, especially when it comes to A/B testing. She recommends experimenting with gifs, carousel images, and personalization. Then, identify what worked best and use that information to influence subsequent drip campaigns. Testing creative can work in social media and paid search campaigns as well.

Image Source: Campaign Monitor

Another channel-agnostic strategy is testing call-to-action messaging to determine what captures searchers’ attention in an ad. Testing the searcher’s sensitivity to urgency is a great strategy for the holidays that you can use when promoting other sales and promotions. For instance, some customers may respond better to high-urgency limited stock CTAs, while some customers may respond better to low urgency CTAs suggesting they “find the right gift for the whole family today.” Once you gather this data and find out what creative, product, call-to-action, or landing page strategy resonates best with a given audience, you can utilize that information year-round to improve conversion rates and, ultimately, profits.

Audience Insights

Building audiences and gaining insights during the holidays is another important strategy that can be leveraged year-round. Kaleigh Meyers, Social Media Strategist at Gorilla Group, recommends running video views campaigns. Facebook video view campaigns gather more information compared to the other Facebook campaign types and are relatively less expensive. Video views campaigns capture all of the user information for anyone who watches more than 10 seconds of a given video on their newsfeed. In the following months, you can create a lookalike audience based on users who have similar traits to those who viewed a specific video. You’re can also segment audiences based on the amount of time they watched the video and separately target those who watched 10 seconds versus others who watched 30 seconds.

After the holidays, it’s important to review analytics to discover new information about existing audiences, as well as possible new audiences. Compare data to a non-holiday timeframe to analyze demographics, interests, etc. The findings from the holidays can help create a strategy to reach people during different times of the year. If you sell products that men normally purchase, but that women have become the primary purchasers during the holidays, use this during occasions where women shop for men, like Father’s Day.

Holidays are also the perfect time to build your remarketing audience lists because the Google Display Network must have a minimum of 100 active visitors or users and the Google Search Network must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days. If you’re expanding your remarketing audiences and have been having difficulty reaching Google’s required thresholds, holidays provide a great opportunity because traffic is often higher. Remarketing will be very important in the off-season because you want to make sure you are retaining those customers.

Final Thoughts

The holidays have untapped potential to gain more information about your customers. You can gather an immense amount of data from these audiences and find out what strategies and tactics resonate best by A/B testing, collecting, and interpreting data. By identifying and implementing a strategy to apply those insights across multiple channels during the off-season, you’re setting your business up for a successful 2019.