By Michael Northcott Friday, 09 November 2012

MT Expert: Get ready for the virtual Christmas rush

We know it's only November, but Christmas is a busy time and you need to be on your toes if you're to maximise revenues during this key period.

Marketers need to make sure the right products are being pushed at the right time – as well as correctly reflecting availability. To help get this right, we’ve been analysing data from the Christmas period last year to help marketers prepare their campaigns, and cope with demand on key dates. 

We’ve been looking at spend, click-through rates, impressions, revenue and mobile click share trends across Q4 2011, and on the strength of this data, we reckon the most important things to consider are:

1. Prepare your campaign in advance. It sounds obvious point to make, but once the Christmas season begins, marketers are often consumed by factors such as data analysis, granular reporting, and continuously striving to get the most out of their campaigns. This leaves little time to launch new campaigns with targeted keywords and relevant images that are carefully tuned to key promotions.

2. Stand apart from competitors. The market is flooded with masses of homogenous stuff, so online marketing efforts need to clearly promote special offers. Free delivery, discounts and vouchers are among the most influential promotions for shoppers. To reach value-shoppers, highlight special offers like ‘25% off’, ‘£10 voucher’ or ‘Free delivery’ within creative text. Introduce shipping cut-off dates and time-sensitive offers to create a sense of urgency and get more punters on board.

3. Develop a mobile shopping interface. More shoppers use their mobile phones and tablets to find deals and compare prices on the go during the Christmas shopping period, so mobile is essential. The first step to this is to create separate mobile and desktop-targeted campaigns. This is crucial as advertising space on mobile devices is limited, so you can’t just assume that what works well on a desktop will be as effective on a mobile. 

4. Test your promotions as early as possible. As the Christmas period will be so busy, test promotions ahead of the Christmas rush. To do this, carefully establish an understanding of value throughout the year and condition shoppers to recognise the sales strategies and cycles. Allow shoppers to recognise when a special offer represents a ‘buy now’ opportunity. For example, is ‘25% off’ and ‘Free shipping’ a monthly promotion or something that is only offered once a year? Educating shoppers creates more predictability and control during December.

5. Adjust budgets on a daily basis. This will make sure you’re catering for the influx of shoppers you need to target. With online traffic volumes increasing year-over-year, the related costs will increase from October through December. As a result, daily campaign budgets should be adjusted to accommodate the expected increase in spend. 


Jon Myers is commercial director EMEA at Marin Software.

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