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Maximize Campaigns This Holiday Season

Posted on 9.11.2008

by Frans Keylard, Widemile Conversion Marketing

Online retailers can expect up to 20% of their total sales during a typical holiday season in December. The ability to market effectively to consumers becomes critical during this time. However, if retailers fail to test and optimize their holiday campaigns they can be losing 30% or more potential revenue! Obviously, there is lots of room for assumptions and error during the creation of a holiday campaign, and because of this, we’ve assembled 5 tips to help you maximize your holiday campaign this season:

Seasons Matter
1.    Stay relevant and create seasonal offers for your inventory items.
2.    Match your offer or product to how people envision using it and tweak the benefits to fit with their perceived seasonal lifestyle.
3.    Be timely and send out offers when the target audience is most likely to be looking for your product in its seasonal context.
4.    Provide enough incentive to order early.

Know Your Audience
1.    Don’t overlook existing clients or returning clients. Reach out to existing customers and create attractive offers with a high perceived value.
2.    Provide stronger offers to those who started, but never completed an order (gather email addresses as soon as possible). Try to convert these potential customers into actual customers.

Using Paid Keywords and Organic Search
1.    Paid Search Engine Marketing (SEM) keywords are the quickest and most precise way to drive seasonal traffic (mostly new potential customers) to a specific page. These SEM campaigns typically cost more than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), so make sure you have strong success criteria and avoid overspending on generic keywords.
2.    SEO takes months of preparation due to search engine ranking behavior, and it’s harder to guarantee that seasonal SEO will be successful when the actual time comes, so don’t rely solely on SEO for traffic. Once established, SEO benefits are potentially long-lasting and can greatly complement your SEM and Email strategies.
3.    Companies with mature SEO/SEM typically have a 45%/55% traffic balance for the non-seasonal timeframe, but might strongly increase SEM spend to change this balance during the holidays to better compete Companies with less established SEO will typically always start with SEM-heavy strategies while SEO effectiveness is still improving.
4.    For next year, if you want great organic results start optimizing for SEO using observed keywords for SEO (and SEM) in preparation for the next holiday season and continue testing and improving conversion rates year after year!

Favor Offers Over Branding
1.    During the holidays the emphasis should be on offers and product first, and company branding second. Look at it from your customers’ perspective, they need to shop for the holidays and need to get a lot done quickly.
2.    Test seasonal lifestyle imagery against product imagery to validate audience preferences. Don’t assume the imagery used during the rest of the year is the most optimal during holiday shopping seasons. People might not be buying for themselves and may need to envision other people enjoying a gift.
3.    Use the seasonal look and feel whenever possible to place a contextual narrative around the offer.

Build Seasonal Landing Pages
1.    A good seasonal message and imagery might boost conversion rates. A recent case study for a Cooking Recipe purveyor showed a sustained 30% holiday season boost from showing a seasonal recipe versus the strongest summer recipe.
2.    Match seasonal SEM ad group verbiage and offers to your landing pages to ensure consistency.
3.    Design Emails and Landing Pages so they work better together in terms of content and design.
4.    Ensure that keywords emphasizing your best offers and incentives are placed in prominent spots on the page.
5.    Test and reuse the winning Landing Pages, Emails, and Ad Word campaigns next year. This is not throwaway work and will provide strong and proven baselines for future testing!

And the last tip: Whenever possible, always test each idea using split or multivariate testing to make sure you have optimized content and layout. The difference in conversion rates between optimized and non-optimized pages can make a major difference.

About  Frans Keylard:
Frans Keylard is the Director of Optimization at Widemile Inc. an emerging leader in multivariate testing and web optimization Frans has been designing and testing Web interfaces and pages since 1991. Frans’ recent positions at TeamOn, Microsoft, MSN, and now at Widemile have established him as one of the foremost authorities on Search Marketing, Website usability, and Webpage optimization.

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