We know how it goes. You struggle to scrape together that holiday marketing budget every year. But somehow, it never gets any bigger. Or maybe you’re just starting up and you have no holiday marketing budget at all. We’ve all been there. Many of us are there right now.
Photo: Hack by flickr member Thomas Hawk
One of the myriad things we love about the Internet is how, with a little inspiration and lots of elbow grease, marketers can do a lot with just their brains, a laptop, and an internet connection. Sure, having some advertising and marketing dollars is a beautiful thing. But throwing cash at the problem doesn’t beat creativity… especially if you have no cash to spend in the first place.
Below, we’ve compiled our favorite ways to bootstrap your holiday marketing efforts.
Send more emails
Email optimizer Litmus observed that online retailers send 50% more emails during the holiday season. While it has been shown that sending more rather than fewer emails boosts revenue throughout the year, consumers have become more tolerant of marketing content during the busy shopping season. To really make your efforts worthwhile, do not send a daily, generic email to your entire list. Instead, deliver increasingly targeted messages intended to convert hot leads into buyers.
According to Adobe, 40% of an ecommerce retailer’s income is derived from repeat customers. Adobe also notes that repeat customers account for an even higher percentage of revenue during the holiday season. That’s pretty impressive. While many of your email subscribers may not be your customers yet, they have all previously engaged with your brand. Familiarity will always serve you better than a cold call.
So put on your copywriting hat and start dreaming up some extra juicy marketing emails. It’s not too late…
Make the most of social media
It makes us sad to see how many retailers underutilize social media. Do we have to remind you that it’s free to share social content? Sure, brands’ organic exposure on Facebook continues to decline year over year. But that’s nothing a little ingenuity can’t fix. Pro tip: Marketing Land recently observed that brands are experiencing more reach when they post videos on Facebook.
You have nothing to lose by posting daily, or even twice daily during the holiday season. Create some original content. Tell some stories. Make some product videos with puppies and kittens in them… whatever it takes to get noticed, liked and shared. If you have any marketing budget, observe which organic posts are getting most traction and spend $20 or $30 to boost them for a day.
Use images strategically
You don’t need a professional photographer to create some great images for Instagram and other social networks. Find the best photographer on your team (maybe that’s you) and shoot product images on the fly, based on what’s hot, what’s selling, and which photos are getting the best response. Or better yet, crowd source your content by soliciting and sharing photos your customers take of your products in action. Done well, homespun and user-generated content builds momentum at a time when so much marketing content is formulaic.
Focus on the customers you already have
We’ve already mentioned metrics that prove the value of your returning customers. You have everything to gain by giving your current and past customers some love. Send them special promotions and coupons for free shipping. Offer secret sales and sneak previews. Send dedicated marketing emails crafted to thank loyal customers and draw them in. Every customer you bring back is worth more to you than a customer you convert for the very first time.
Create engaging hero images and landing pages
It’s not too late to think creatively about the content on your website. Upgrade your hero images and on-site banners to promote popular products and drive conversions. Refresh them throughout the holiday season in response to trends and bestsellers. Work with your landing pages: tweak and optimize them based on proven best practices to improve their performance. It may seem like a last-minute hustle, but if the internet has taught us one thing over the years, it’s that those who hustle get the sale.
The key: stay present, keep producing content
So many people put their holiday marketing campaigns on autopilot. They plan and create content in the summer or fall, and churn it out throughout the season across various advertising networks. That gets tired pretty quickly. If you have a tiny (or no) marketing budget for the holidays, success means staying engaged and present, and generating content for your brand every single day. Keep it real. Your customers are watching and they will reward you for it. Then you can reward yourself by taking a well-deserved vacation in January.