Paul Chambers is the CEO and co-founder of SUBTAthe first and only trade association serving the subscription trade economy.
If you’re wondering how early to plan for the holidays, know that certain consumers may be ahead of you. In reality, minimum 30% of them have been making plans for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and/or Christmas since January of this year.
From this day forward, proactiveness should be at the forefront of all your endeavors as we enter the holiday season. But first you need a game plan. Based on my experience running a business and helping other entrepreneurs scale their subscription businesses, I suggest getting started:
Define your promotions and discounts.
Assuming your ecommerce business didn’t launch last week, you should have data to identify your top selling items. That’s a great starting point. However, around the holiday season, customers expect more options such as discounts, bundles, buy one, buy one, new features, limited or exclusive drops – the list goes on. So, how can you improve your offerings around your big-ticket items?
If you sell tangible products, one solution is a “subscribe and save” discount. What you are telling the customer is that your product is so nice that they want more and they can save on their purchases while getting their order easily with one click on a regular basis. This offering is great for brands that offer products with a relatively low life expectancy.
Another added value to your holiday promotion is free shipping. I say “easy” because it doesn’t require much back-end work, and almost 95% of consumers have come to expect it.
Identify your outreach strategy.
It’s time to get creative and tailor the right message to generate sales. You should target your posts to two – at a minimum – groups of individuals:
• Your existing/returning customers (or subscribers).
• Your target audience that hasn’t converted yet.
The first group is often overlooked as many business owners tend to increase their recruitment rates, despite the fact that it is often said that acquiring a customer can cost five times more than retaining a new one. If a customer is already familiar with your brand and likes your product, they are more likely to make another purchase than you are bringing in a new customer.
Most if not all of these people should be on your email list. Be sure to capture their phone numbers as well to increase your text message reach. Also, don’t be afraid to hyper-segment your audience. The more personal and recognizable your email is to a customer, the more engagement you will see with your email list.
By paying attention to the channels they come through and looking at your cohorts, you can further shape your messages. If someone comes from an organic item, they might be in the research stage, while if someone comes from a review site, they might be more ready to buy.
Many traditional ecommerce brands offer memberships to customers, which I suggest implementing. Consider charging an annual fee in exchange for faster, more reliable, and free shipping. It’s a great way to build short and long term customer loyalty.
Now let’s focus on your target audience. You may not have their emails, but you can still reach them on multiple platforms, especially social media. However, you are not the only one who wants these people’s attention.
In a recent installment of the SUBTA Lecture Series, Nik Sharma from Sharma Brands explained that he considers the time around Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be the “Super Bowl of ecommerce.” Everyone around the world wants to place an ad that day if possible. To put it in perspective, retailers have spent 69% more on retail media ads on Thanksgiving and 168% more on Black Friday compared to the first 24 days of November in 2021, according to research from Skai, which analyzed customers who manage digital ads through the company’s own platforms.
It’s all about being creative and understanding your audience. At my company we strive to be fun, friendly and familiar faces. Our content is tailored to this. Your social media content shouldn’t be about shoving your product in people’s faces; it’s all about telling a story.
This holiday season, focus on quality and consistency. Don’t try to go viral; you have no control over it. Stay true to your message and brand identity because that’s what resonates with your community.
Determine your timeline.
Building a timeline for holiday promotions is all about understanding your (existing) audience. Ideally, you would have had some sales and promotions early in Q4 to retain and nurture your brand loyalists.
The biggest discounts should also be scheduled between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. Be sure to give your audience enough notice when the sale goes live so they have it in mind before they search all over the web for deals.
Start promoting your upcoming deals right away and share them with your community in addition to the media as this can help you promote your brand to a wider audience.
The week of Thanksgiving should be the time when you focus on your email outreach to existing/returning customers. You don’t want them to forget about the deal if you promote it too early, but you do want to give them enough notice so they can feel valued.
Now that you’re armed with the perfect game plan for this holiday season, here’s one last tip: don’t overcomplicate things. Efficiency and proactivity are your allies.