The Christmas period is a hugely busy time for many businesses, especially those involved in the retail industry. Therefore, a Christmas campaign is perhaps one of the most essential elements of your annual ecommerce strategy. It is believed that consumers spend at least 25% more time online throughout the festive months than the rest of the year; so marketers face increasing levels of competition from other brands looking to capitalise on the market.

With all this in mind, you shouldn’t leave your festive marketing plans until the last minute; otherwise the Grinch may just steal your Christmas. Read on to find out what steps should be in place to ensure a successful Christmas period.

Take the Important Steps

Beginning your Christmas plans early is not a guarantee for success; you have to do more than just plan ahead. As important as scheduling may be, if you do not get the essentials right then you are simply preparing to fail. There are a number of certain steps and simple elements you should ensure are in place before starting any Christmas marketing plan:

Seasonal Design Changes
Customers expect to see Christmas designs both offline and online when they shop. Avoiding this step will leave you behind all of your competitors who will have their design plans complete from early. It’s all about functionality and style – customers want to see Christmas related images and your site must remain easy to use and engaging.

Creating a Christmas category with its own specific design is a great way of achieving this. You can’t differ too much from your original design though as this may confuse customers.

Content Changes
After design changes it is also important that your content reflects the festive season too. It really helps if you have a comprehensive calendar of content ready to be published between 3-6 months before Christmas. The content should be of a very high quality and should offer something of worth to your readers – perhaps a ‘Top 10 Gift Ideas for Dads’ type of post is what you are looking for here.

You will want to build up a strong online following in the weeks leading up to Christmas so your business will stick in the minds of consumers.

Christmas, in reality, is all about shopping. Religion and good will to all men may be the sentiment behind Christmas, but spending money on others is what we all do around this time. The one thing that all shoppers love and look out for during this period is discounted rates. Let’s face it, we all love a bargain!

Therefore, it is vital you plan ahead and put together a calendar of special offers for your customers to exploit. Your discounts should not be created willy-nilly; they should be directed at select groups of shoppers and made prominent on your website. There’s no point in having discounts if your customers do not know about them!

Christmas Marketing Functionality

Now you have all the essentials scheduled and in place, it’s time to move on to the nitty-gritty part of your overall Christmas marketing plan – the functionality. Having pretty pictures of sleigh bells and snow might make your site look the part, but will it perform as well as you want it to? Christmas Marketing functionality undoubtedly covers a wide range of areas so let us take you through a simple online marketing checklist:

Category Selections
One of the easiest methods of directing a user and improving their user experience is to create category pages for your products/services. Doing this will allow you to group your seasonal products under the right description. It’s important that you don’t just lump them all together in one big mess; instead put your Christmas themed products under one category and your New Year’s products under another etc. You can even break things down even further – for example, products for men and products for women etc.

Product Pages
As important as your categories are, it is just as vital (if not more) to set your product pages out appropriately too. There are countless ways of which you can improve your chances of product page conversions, from design changes to streamlining your back-end functionality. Christmas is often a rushed time for many consumers, so making your products easy to identify and access is imperative to good UX and improved conversion rates.

Out of Stock Options
Stock levels over the Christmas period will fluctuate more so than the rest of the year in most businesses. For this reason, you may occasionally find yourself running out of certain products. It is essential that you have a back-up plan in place for this situation; letting customers now when the product will be back in stock and giving them the option to sign up for an e-mail alert when it does.

Broken Links
Nothing ruins an online shopping journey more than a broken link. In terms of UX/UI design, this is a complete no-no! This is an instant turn off to a consumer of any sort. It says to the customer that your site is not being handled properly and that you don’t really care about getting their business. It also shows a sign that you may not offer such a good service should they purchase a product from you. Consequently, it is massively important that you regularly check all of the links on your site and ensure they all do what they are supposed to.

The Checkout Process
Remember, convincing a customer to buy a product from you is only half the battle. This does not mean the job is done just because the consumer is willing to take one or more of your products. The last half of the process is to ensure the journey from product to purchase is streamlined and straightforward.

The Importance of Social Media

Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at the extreme importance of social media and the impact it can make during the Christmas period. Social media is already a vital segment of any digital marketing plan at any time of the year; so you can only imagine how this multiplies over Christmas.

The best part about this is, interaction over social media channels throughout the festive period actually becomes a lot easier. More and more people are off work and the general consensus is that people are much more open to sharing things and commenting on posts during this time.Don’t worry if some of your followers are using multiple channels; you are not spamming them if the content is relevant and interesting.

You can use your social media platforms to outreach to customers, talking about your particular products and services. This is a great time to mention your discounts and promotions as consumers will be on the lookout for things like this. Don’t forget though, it is just as important that your social media channels go through the same design/content changes as your site does (as mentioned previously).

Always Look Ahead and Behind

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to perfect your Christmas marketing plan is to look ahead and look behind. What did you learn this year that you can apply to your marketing strategy next year, but a lot earlier? Also, what did you learn from last year that you can improve upon this Christmas? Executing a successful campaign is one thing. Using that success to improve your chances for next year is another.

Did you give yourself enough time? Which new ideas worked well and which ones did not? What will you try this time that you didn’t last year? All of these questions will ensure you stay ahead of the game and remain in complete control over the Christmas period. Don’t let the Grinch steal all of your Christmas happiness and success this year, get your marketing plan perfected and performing spectacularly!

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