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Nov

15

2017

Experts Share Their Top 8 Holiday Email Marketing Tips for 2017

Ready or not, the holidays are right around the corner. And that means it’s time for email marketers to start planning one of their biggest email campaigns of the year.

To help you prep for all the holiday madness to come, the team at EmailMonks asked a group of seasoned email experts and industry insiders to share their insights on Holiday Email Marketing Tips and Trends for 2017.Click here to download our free beginner's guide to email marketing.

Check out their advice for holiday email trends below, and get inspired to tackle your company’s holiday campaign with style.

The Top 8 Holiday Email Marketing Tips of 2017

1) Start planning way before you think you should.

According to the State of Email Production Report, a mere 20% marketers plan for the peak email season more than 3 months in advance. You’d ask, is it really necessary to start planning for the holidays so early? Well — yes.

Planning well in advance goes a long way, giving you enough time to ensure your email really stands out. “Do get started on your holiday email marketing strategy and planning early,” advises Christopher Donald, the President of Operations & Managing Partner at InboxArmy. “Create planning, creative, production, and deployment calendars to better execute your campaigns. Don’t wait until the last minute to decide what to do.”

2) Focus on the customer, not an aggressive sales agenda.

Marketers send more emails than usual during the holiday season, but it’s important to remember that there’s a real person at the other end of your email communication. The holidays are a busy, hectic time for everyone (not just marketers!) and they probably won’t appreciate having their inbox flooded with hard-sell emails. Respect their time, and adopt a helpful, customer-centric approach.

Kara Trivunovic, VP/GM Client Services, Global Industry Evangelist at Epsilon, believes you need to find out what the subscriber expects from you during the holidays rather than driving your agenda of selling.

It’s the holiday season, after all, you can’t just pen down some sales oriented copy and call it a day. Tap into your subscribers’ emotions, and focus the copy on how you can help them spread joy through the gifts they can buy from you. Even a simple holiday greeting can go a long way in building trust with your customers.

This email from Mutual of Omaha is just about warm wishes.

3) Interactivity and fallback go hand in hand.

Visual, interactive elements like GIFs, cinemagraphs, and gamification will add interest and flair to your holiday messages this year. Interactivity in emails is an engagement tactic that will help to drive attention and generate excitement during this holiday season, according to EmailMonks Director Jaymin Bhuptani.

Innovate content with the help of a drop-down Menu, Accordion, Slider, Flip Effect or maybe gamification in your email. However, with limited email client compatibility, it is essential that you provide fallback support, says Lauren Gentile, VP Creative, Digital solutions at Epsilon. And yes, test, test, and test some more before you send out the emails.

Check out this fun gamification email by Taco Bell:

4) Segment and rule.

According to a Mailjet study, 27% subscribers over 55 years of age believe that the emails they receive are targeted towards millennials. Segmenting your lists to ensure the content appeals to the recipient is essential all year long, but it becomes even more important during the holidays, when emotions run high.

If you’ve been keeping track of information like what your subscribers browse for on your website and what they’ve purchased from you, segmenting will not seem like a Herculean task. The better you know your subscribers’ preferences the better you can segment them and send targeted emails during the holidays, which will ultimately lead to better, more qualified conversions.

“Data is obviously key all year round, but when it comes to the holiday season, focusing your efforts on key customer groups could be more fruitful and a better use of resources,” explains Tink Taylor, the Founder & President of Dotmailer.

5) Get personal.

According to Shanon Strahl, Senior Digital Marketing Leader at Shaw + Scott, personalization will play a pivotal role in the success of your email campaign this holiday season. Dynamic content created on the basis of subscribers’ likes and needs is bound to create a great impression of your brand in the minds of the subscriber and also generate a better ROI for you.

Check out this awesome personalized email from Lyft.

 

C:UsersPrajakti PathakDesktopWORKSeptember 17Hubspot Holiday GBPersonalized email.png

 

Customize your offers and deals according to the behavioral data you have at hand, or if you don’t have any, ask them what they like or what they would like to see in your holiday emails.

Update the content of your triggered emails. What if someone is signing up to receive your emails around the holiday season? You wouldn’t want to send them your regular welcome template, would you? Don’t let your new subscriber miss out on the holiday fever and holiday-specific promotions.

6) Take the responsive route (it’s not just an ‘option’ anymore!).

Imagine a subscriber opens your email on a smartphone or iPad and sees a broken design. This is certainly not the user experience you are wanting to provide, especially not during the peak holiday season! What if the subscriber unsubscribes?

Dennis Dayman, Chief Privacy Officer at ReturnPath, is of the opinion that since 54% emails are now opened on mobile devices, there’s no option but to create a responsive design. If you’ve never designed a responsive email before and don’t have a developer at your disposal, these tips can help you keep it streamlined and simple:

  1. Single column layout
  2. Minimalist design
  3. User-friendly navigation and CTA buttons
  4. Compact images with proper alt-text

7) Get real with real-time content.

The use of real-time content is increasing, powered by the robust technology to support its integration into emails. “Real-time content can let your emails reflect changes in inventory, among other benefits, which is a major concern for holiday shopping,” explains Ryan Phelan, Vice President, Marketing Insights at Adestra. “Having more control over the message means we can make email a more realistic experience instead of the moment-in-time experience it is now.”

Adding a dynamic countdown timer is a great way to create urgency in emails, and there’s no better time to use them than the holidays. Use a timer to promote your sales, shipping deadlines, etc.

Take a look at this countdown timer in Joybird’s email. Doesn’t it create urgency?

 

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8) Break the boundaries of email and go social.

Your subscribers are looking for gifts for their loved ones (and maybe even themselves too!). But as any holiday shopper knows, you need to browse around for the perfect gift. Offer your subscribers multiple ways to connect and stay in touch, reminding them of your product at every stage of the shopping season.

“Combine social media with email marketing and you’re onto a winner! However, don’t hijack any trending hashtags without robust prior planning and outcome analysis,” advises Sam Hurley, Founder, OPTIM-EYEZ.

This email from Pandora Plus has the social buttons in place so that subscribers, if interested, can connect with them on the platform of their choice.

 

C:UsersPrajakti PathakDesktopWORKSeptember 17Hubspot Holiday GBPandora.gif
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Mar

18

2017

Erin Go Bragh: How St. Patrick's Day Celebrations Were Shaped by Marketing

Published by in category Canonical, Holiday Marketing | Comments are closed

StPatricksDayMarketing-compressor.jpg

In Boston, just across the river from HubSpot’s headquarters, St. Patrick’s Day is kind of a big deal. There’s a parade. There’s a special breakfast for the who’s-who of local government. There are green bagels. And there’s a lot of beer.

We like to think of that as a very traditionally Bostonian way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. And we’re not alone — in Chicago, for example, they dye the river green. But we’ve got news. That word, “tradition”? We hate to break it to you, but today’s celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day are, well, far from traditional. 

And like so many other holidays, the modern perspective and observance of St. Patrick’s Day was shaped in some part by — you guessed it — marketing. But what did it used to look like, and how did it get to where it is today? Manage and plan your social media content with the help of this free calendar  template.

Grab your four-leaf clover, because you’re in luck. (Sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves.) We’re taking you on a trip back in time to figure out just where St. Patrick’s Day began.

How St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Were Shaped by Marketing

Who Was Saint Patrick, and Why Do We Celebrate Him?

snakes-out-of-england-H.jpegSource: History.com

The Man

To really trace the roots of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s important to understand its name. Yes, it’s named for a person — Saint Patrick himself — who actually wasn’t even of Irish descent. According to History.com, he was actually born in 390 A.D., in Britain to a Christian deacon father. It’s rumored that he assumed that role for its tax incentives, and not for religious reasons. In fact, some speculate that Saint Patrick wasn’t raised with much religion at all.

Interestingly enough, it was being kidnapped in his teen years and held captive by Irish raiders that began Saint Patrick’s journey to, well, sainthood. Much of that captivity was spent in isolation from other people, which allegedly caused Patrick to turn to spiritual thoughts for guidance and comfort. After six years as a prisoner, he escaped back to Britain, and eventually studied to become a priest.

After he was ordained, he was sent on a mission back to Ireland to begin spreading and converting the population to Christianity. And according to National Geographic, it didn’t go so well — “he was constantly beaten by thugs, harassed by the Irish royalty, and admonished by his British superiors,” and he was “largely forgotten” after his death in 461 A.D., which is estimated to have taken place on March 17, the day observed as St. Patrick’s Day.

The Myth

But later, people started to create folklore around Saint Patrick. It’s not clear when these legends came to fruition, but you might be familiar with some of them — tales of him banishing all snakes from Ireland, for example, which are the stories that eventually led to him being “honored as the patron saint of Ireland” — hence the name, Saint Patrick.

Still, the celebrations of him within that particular nation remained pretty low-key until the 20th century, prior to which March 17th was mostly observed with a mention of it by priests, and a feast enjoyed by families. Plus, there remains conflicting information about his life and the exact dates of its major events.

In fact, the celebrations really began right here — in Boston.

What the Earliest Celebrations Looked Like

Coming to America

According to Time, the inaugural celebration of St. Patrick’s Day took place in 1737, in the form of “a group of elite Irish men” in Boston gathering for a dinner dedicated to “the Irish saint,” who one might assume was Patrick himself. Less than 30 years later, parades began in New York, with Irish-American members of the U.S. military marching to honor Saint Patrick “with Fifes and Drums.”

stpatricksdayparadeunionsquare.pngSource: Ephemeral New York

Both of these events have led many to speculate that how we view St. Patrick’s Day today was largely an American invention, as many of the traditions we still continue to honor — including the New York City parade, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 251 years — were started by Irish-American immigrants. And as Irish immigration increased exponentially during the 1800s, the celebrations grew in kind, in large part to combat stereotypes that this incoming population was “drunken, violent, criminalized, and diseased.”

Irish-Americans wanted a way to illustrate that they were wholesome people — that they paid tribute to their natively religious roots with an observation of the patron saint, but that they also embraced life in America, by creating these traditions on new land. And that population was the most concentrated in Boston, Chicago, and New York — which might be why we today see the grandest celebrations in those cities. That began when Irish-Americans continued to face opposition by others, despite the aforementioned best efforts. The parades got bigger and occupied less localized venues, sending the message, “we’re ‘not going anywhere.'”

Meanwhile, in Ireland …

Eventually, around the 1920s, Ireland began to observe St. Patrick’s Day celebrations beyond church mentions and family meals. Not entirely unlike New York, it started with military parades in Dublin, but they weren’t exactly festive — “the day was rather somber,” writes Mike Cronin, with “mass in the morning [and] the military parade at noon.” And, until the 1960s, there was no drinking — before then, bars in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day.

But in that country, at least, the holiday saw a real turning point in 1996, with the very first instance of the St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin: A four-to-five-day festival (which began as just one day) of music, parades, and other revelry. This year’s edition of the festival just kicked off yesterday and, today, brands across numerous nations — Ireland and the U.S. alike — are capitalizing on the celebration.

GPO_1_Resized.laptop_1040_529_-600x306.jpegSource: St. Patrick’s Festival

We’ll get to that in a bit. First, let’s look at how some other St. Patrick’s Day traditions got started.

Why Green?

It all began with a song, “The Wearing of the Green.” It dates back to 1798, when it was said to be written as a tribute to Irish Rebellion fighters, and has been repurposed many times since. The phrase in this post’s title, too, has ties to Irish fighters — “Erin Go Bragh,” which is traditionally spelled “Éirinn go Brách,” means “Ireland forever,” or Ireland “till doomsday.”

The most notable version of “The Wearing of the Green” is thought to be the one written and performed by Dion Boucicault in 1864 for the play Arragh na Pogue, or The Wicklow Wedding. And while there’s some controversy surrounding this theory, many believe that’s where the tradition of wearing (and consuming) all things green on St. Patrick’s Day is rooted — though it’s an act of gross misinterpretation, since the lyrics were actually meant to encourage the wearing of a green shamrock, a symbol of the Holy Trinity. In reality, the original color association with St. Patrick’s Day was blue.

the-wearing-of-the-green.jpgSource: Free Printable Greeting Cards

But what of that shamrock, yet another item that’s come to be so strongly associated with contemporary interpretations of St. Patrick’s Day? Well, that goes back, in part, to “The Wearing of the Green” lyrics. Have a look:

She’s the most distressful country that ever yet was seen

For they’re hanging men and women there for Wearing of the Green.”

Those lyrics actually allude to the fact that, during the Irish Rebellion, wearing a shamrock was an offense punishable by death — and doing so came to be seen as a brave act of rebellion and loyalty to one’s Irish roots.

It could be why, today, wearing green on March 17th — often adorned with shamrock shapes — is loosely seen as an act of pride for all things Irish. In fact, you may have heard the phrase, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day,” which has been largely perpetuated by high-profile Irish brands, like Guinness.

That’s one particularly outstanding example of how St. Patrick’s Day is now highly commercial — it’s not just American brands that are leveraging it for marketing purposes. And believe it or not, there are many indicators that it began with this accidental tradition of “the wearing of the green.”

When It Started to Get Commercial

It’s the Shamrocks, Again

There were several pivotal moments in the history of St. Patrick’s Day that could be pointed to as the beginning of its commercialization — events like the first St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, or the first parade in the U.S. Indeed, it seems that the commercialization did begin stateside in 1952, when Irish ambassador John Joseph Hearne delivered a box of shamrocks intended for then-President Harry Truman. It’s since become an annual tradition.

But it wasn’t just the start of tradition. What used to be a symbol of Irish pride and rebellion was now being gifted to U.S. officials from Irish ones. It signaled the same efforts that Irish immigrants were trying to make when their small, localized St. Patrick’s Day celebrations first began: Honoring native traditions, while also embracing the U.S. by sharing them. It was an effort to establish and strengthen “pro-Western credentials with Washington” — a city where, at the time, there was little observance of St. Patrick’s Day — said Michael Kennedy, executive editor of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy in an interview with CNN.

In a way, it could be said that Americans embraced this Irish tradition in return — but not without putting its own commercial spin on things. The same year as that unintentionally monumental shamrock delivery, Pan American Airlines promoted its first direct flight from Shannon, Ireland to New York by flying 100,000 native shamrocks to be handed out to those marching in the New York parade.

Troy March 1952.pngSource: Newspapers.com

In other words, at that point, the shamrock had made its way to the U.S., and businesses and consumers alike couldn’t get enough of it. “The marketing of ‘real’ shamrock was…part of the commercialization of St. Patrick’s Day,” writes Cronin in his book The Wearing of the Green. “More frequently, the image or symbol of the shamrock was employed artistically — adorning souvenirs, advertisements, decorations, greeting cards and clothing.”

Most of all, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S. now extended far beyond the Irish-American population. With the shamrock’s permeation into popular culture, non-Irish individuals also began to take part in the holiday’s observance, adapting it as their own until it got to where it is today — green rivers, green beer, and a lot of shiny green accessories. As we said, and as is often claimed: “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.”

Today’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration

So, what are your plans for St. Patrick’s Day? Does it involve any of the aforementioned revelry and/or accompanying green adornments? Will you be feasting on corned beef and cabbage — a dish largely unconsumed in Ireland? Now you know how we got here.

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve donned my own glittery, shamrock-shaped earrings, or worn beads a shade of metallic green while partaking in a March 17th pub crawl. But now I’m aware that none of this has to do with the person for whom the holiday is named: Saint Patrick. And as a marketer, I can’t be too angry about it — after all, many holidays in the U.S. have evolved in a similarly commercial fashion. Just last month, we discussed how that took place with Valentine’s Day, which was also originally established in observance of a saint.

But we will ask that, as you go forth and consume a green milkshake today, to at least be aware of the history that made it possible. Erin Go Bragh — and as the saying goes, may you have a world of wishes at your command.

How does your brand observe St. Patrick’s Day? Let us know in the comments.

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Dec

1

2016

15 Cheerful Examples of Holiday Homepage Designs

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A lot of eyes are going to be on your website in the upcoming weeks. A National Retail Foundation survey found that more than 56% of holiday shoppers will purchase gifts online. What’s more, almost 80% of shoppers are heading to the internet to research gifts, even if they end up actually purchasing the item in-store.

Those numbers are only going up. The smartest marketers will prepare for this not only by prepping their website for higher-than-normal traffic and optimizing it for mobile devices, but also by giving their website design a dose of holiday cheer. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

It all starts with the homepage: The first page many people will see when they come to your website. How have other companies redesigned their homepages for the holidays? Let’s take a look.

Note: Businesses change their homepages on a regular basis. The examples below may not be current.

15 Holiday Homepage Designs to Get You in the Spirit

1) Free People

When your business has a loud personality like American bohemian retail company Free People does, making a big first impression on your homepage can be a great thing. Free People’s redesign is all-encompassing, starting with a large, high-definition image of models wearing some of its latest festive holiday apparel.

We especially love the whimsical, fun font it used in the headline, “The Gift Shop 2016.” For certain brands, decorative fonts like these can be a great seasonal touch to the style of your homepage. (Get tips for using fonts in your web design in our free do-it-yourself design guide.)

FreePeople_holiday.png

2) PayPal

Who ever said online money transfer websites can’t have fun at the holidays?

PayPal’s holiday homepage works because it still looks like PayPal — just a little more festive. It’s still easy to navigate but adds seasonal flair with a clever spin on a lyric from “Jingle Bells” as its holiday slogan. The whitespace encourages visitors to focus on the happy models in the image, putting human faces to an industry that’s businesslike and technical.

paypal holiday.png

3) Sephora

Like PayPal, Sephora didn’t make many changes to the overall look and feel of its website. What it did do was feature a holiday edition of its highest-rated products and editors’ picks, specially curated for different gift recipients, price ranges, categories, and so on.

By putting editors’ picks front and center, Sephora is reminding customers how much the company values customers’ success. Plus, we love the sprinklings of gemstones throughout the page — it’s a cute, festive way to separate modules on the page.

Sephora holiday homepage.png

4) Baudville

While seasonal website redesign is often dominated by B2C companies, a few B2B businesses have been known to dress up websites a bit too. Baudville, an employee recognition solution, is one.

While some web designers like to add a ton of new elements to their holiday designs, Baudville shows you don’t have to. Something as simple as adding a holiday gift shop slide to your homepage photo banner can be enough to warmly welcome users to your site during this time of year.

baudville_holiday.png

5) La Colombe

La Colombe’s holiday homepage design features soft, wintry hues and festive lighting. Visitors are greeted with high-definition photography of people enjoying La Colombe coffee products around a shared table. This webpage is another example of a business staying true-to-brand with an added holiday touch.

La Colombe _ Holiday.png

6) L.L. Bean

For a U.S. outdoor retail company like L.L. Bean, the holidays mean winter … which means cold. (For most of us, unfortunately.) It keeps the holidays out of the seasonal redesign completely: The featured photo on the homepage is a model wearing apparel in front of pine trees covered in show, which is in keeping with the brand’s outdoorsy theme.

L.L. Bean shares a list of holiday gift ideas featuring some of its most popular and beloved products. The seasonal homepage slogan — “Gifts That Last Beyond the Present” — reminds visitors of L.L. Bean’s amazing satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re more attracted to a winter-themed seasonal redesign, consider using winter-themed stock photos for your homepage. You might also consider cooling down the color scheme of your whole site for the holiday season. This means using cooler tones like blues, purples, and greens to give it a more “wintry” feel. (You can read more about cool color schemes in this blog post about color theory.)

llbean holiday.png

7) The Container Store

This homepage is a fantastic move for the holidays because it is chock-full of goodies for visitors. Every module on this homepage has something helpful to offer customers — stocking stuffers, gift ideas, luggage for holiday travel, party favors, and DIY projects.

The various CTAs on the homepage are clear and tell visitors everything they need to know about what’s on the rest of the site. The geometric shapes organize all of the content cleanly, so despite the fact that the homepage has several different offers on it, it’s not cluttered.

Container Store_holiday.png

8) Xfinity

Between sporting events, holiday movies, and making your family binge-watch your new favorite TV series, with holidays comes lots of screen time. This homepage reminds visitors to be prepared for fun with their families.

The primary CTA isn’t just “Deals to save you money!” or “Deals to get you to buy from our website!” Instead, this homepage advertises its “Ready for the Holidays Sale” alongside images of families having fun spending time together, some with screens.

Thanks to this positioning, the message feels less like a way to make money, and more like an nod to holiday family time that includes a lot of togetherness, and probably some TV in between.

xfinity holiday.png

9) J. Crew

J. Crew’s holiday homepage goes above and beyond expectations for a clothing store. The whitespace on the page is simple and lets the clothing and accessories stand out on the page to prospective shoppers while keeping the website true to brand.

Its homepage advertises “Present-Topia,” a Gift Guide that breaks down J. Crew products by age, gender, and price for ease of shopping. The black callout box advertises a sale it’s running that includes seasonal clothing. J. Crew also published curated looks that visitors can browse or directly shop from to make the shopping experience easier and more visual. This homepage redesign prioritizes the user experience while still keeping the site beautiful and on-brand.

jcrew holiday.png

10) Microsoft

We like Microsoft’s minimalist holiday homepage because it stays true to brand and uses whitespace to showcase the new products it’s promoting this season. The simple red banner draws attention to their holiday shopping CTA and reminds people to think about products their friends and families might want. Then, there’s another CTA reading “Shop Now” that drives home the need to click around and start shopping.

microsoft holiday.png

11) Fitbit

The dark background of Fitbit’s homepage lets the festive gold color scheme and the products shine. The photography styling positions Fitbits as a gift similar to jewelry in beautiful boxes, rather than a piece of sporting equipment, to make Fitbit products appeal to a wider variety of shoppers and not just athletes.

fitbit holiday final.png

The primary CTA is to “Shop The Gift Guide,” which leads visitors through all of the products with descriptions that suggest who they might purchase it for, making it easy for shoppers to imagine their family and friends using the product.

Additionally, the site has a neat feature where visitors can hint to someone that they themselves want to get a Fitbit as a gift.

fitbit gift guide.png

12) John Lewis

British retailer John Lewis didn’t give its homepage a holiday makeover, but by tailoring each module to the season, it makes it hard for site visitors to navigate away before looking at the brand’s products and projects ideas.

The main module above the fold features festive holiday decorations with a suggestion to look into the kitchen and home goods to prepare for big family meals. Just below, John Lewis features helpful information about delivery dates for ordering holiday gifts and the bonus that it offers free shipping.

We also love the “Be Inspired” section featuring travel and style ideas that don’t advertise John Lewis products outright but instead, provide helpful content in the true inbound marketing way.

johnlewisholiday.png

13) HP

We can’t guarantee that HP’s holiday homepage video won’t make you cry, but we can say that it’s a unique and heartfelt spin on traditional holiday marketing. HP’s homepage is another example of a site keeping the page minimally decorated with only their featured video, “Reinvent Giving,” above the fold.

The touching video features a brother using HP technology to come up with the perfect gift for his brother, who is hard of hearing — a guitar set that displays flashing lights when played so his brother can see himself playing music, even if he can’t hear it. Emotion in advertising is effective, especially around the holiday season — everyone has a friend or family member they want to find the perfect gift for.

hp holiday.png

14) Madewell

The image and header on Madewell’s homepage are very much in line with the company’s typical branding: a model wearing a gorgeous dress in front of a neutral background, accompanied by a holiday spin on their name in festive, embellished font.

This is both attractive to first-time visitors who are greeted with simple imagery and user experience, as well as returning users, who expect a design like this but still appreciate the added holiday touches. The #giftwell hashtag prompts visitors to start a conversation about their shopping experiences on social media, which fosters a sense of brand loyalty.

Madewell_Holiday.png

15) Warby Parker

Warby Parker stuck to the basics of beautifully simple design in its seasonal homepage redesign. “Winter 2016” is the simple headline, which showcases a man dressed in winter apparel, set with a whole lot of negative space to draw attention to the details of his outfit — and namely, his glasses.

While the primary CTA is still its usual “Shop Now,” you’ll notice a secondary CTA as you scroll that introduces “We Like It, We Love It: Warby Parker Editions.” This social proof compels visitors to click, leading them to a curated list of fun holiday gift ideas, such as dog toys and books, including one the brand published called “50 Ways to Lose Your Glasses.” This section is unique because Warby Parker is selling items different from what it usually sells to help valued customers fulfill their holiday shopping lists, which is a neat way to foster brand loyalty.

warbyholidayhomepagefinal.png

Finally, Warby Parker’s responsive design gives mobile users a pleasant holiday shopping experience. According to Google, 53% of people who shopped online in 2014 used smartphones or tablets, and mobile searches about products while shoppers are still in the store have increased 30%.

The numbers are expected to rise this year, especially now that more people are searching Google on their smartphones than on desktop, so be sure your website is mobile-friendly in time for the holidays.

warbyparker-1.png

(To see more examples of ways ecommerce businesses have redesigned their websites for the holidays, check out this library of examples on Crayon.co.)

Oh, and one more thing: As you plan your own website design strategy for the holidays, be sure to plan and prepare your site for higher-than-normal traffic. The last thing you want is for your site to go down during a time when you hope to be doing great business.

What great homepage redesigns have you see this holiday season? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

Nov

15

2016

150 Years of the Best Holiday Marketing Campaigns [Infographic]

150 Years of Holiday Marketing Campaigns.jpg

Despite changing demographics and consumer behaviors, the holiday season remains one of the more influential times of year to launch a campaign and seal it into holiday memory for years to come.

To do that, though, your brand needs to come up with something seriously innovative, engaging, and interesting — something that’ll resonate with your customers. This usually means lights, emotions, and celebrating family and friends.

Of course, there’s no harm is looking to the past to see which other brands and campaigns have made their way to the holiday retail hall of fame. Here, we look back on 150 years of inspirational ads and campaigns that many consumers say the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without.

What can your brand do this year to stand out?

best-holiday-retail-campaigns-750x3125 (1).jpg



free ebook: holiday marketing campaign ideas

Nov

15

2016

150 Years of the Best Holiday Marketing Campaigns [Infographic]

150 Years of Holiday Marketing Campaigns.jpg

Despite changing demographics and consumer behaviors, the holiday season remains one of the more influential times of year to launch a campaign and seal it into holiday memory for years to come.

To do that, though, your brand needs to come up with something seriously innovative, engaging, and interesting — something that’ll resonate with your customers. This usually means lights, emotions, and celebrating family and friends.

Of course, there’s no harm is looking to the past to see which other brands and campaigns have made their way to the holiday retail hall of fame. Here, we look back on 150 years of inspirational ads and campaigns that many consumers say the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without.

What can your brand do this year to stand out?

best-holiday-retail-campaigns-750x3125 (1).jpg



free ebook: holiday marketing campaign ideas

Nov

4

2016

26 Clever Ideas for Marketing Over the Holidays [Free Guide]

Holiday Marketing Campaigns.jpg

No matter what sector you’re in, the holiday season is a time when marketers can drive new sales, attract new customers, and create valuable promotional deals. 

With all of that opportunity comes the need for extra marketing efforts around the holidays. But it’s not enough just to execute deals like every other brand out there — holiday sales also bring holiday noise, so it’s essential that your marketing efforts to stand out from the crowd. 

Small Business Saturday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general online holiday shopping are predicted to increase up to 19% from last year — now is the time to think about amping up your marketing efforts to generate more revenue. 

Luckily, HubSpot and Square put their heads together to come up with 26 solid ideas for holiday marketing. With these free tips, you’ll be on your way to doubling your holiday revenue year-over-year in no time. Tips from the ebook include: 

  • 26 unique tactics for holiday campaigns.
  • Moving the needle for sales during the holidays and ensuring ROI on your campaigns.
  • Analyzing, optimizing, and tweaking content you already have to make a bigger impact over the holiday season.
  • Examples and resources for great holiday offers.
  • Utilizing your audience and customers to generate more business near the end of the year.
  • Much more about smart marketing over the holidays, and beyond.

Want to learn more? Download your copy of Holiday Marketing Campaign Ideas A-Z today.

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Sep

23

2016

The Guide to Ecommerce Holiday Success [Part One]

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Pumpkin spice is reappearing on menus and fantasy football is now the hottest hallway topic – fall is finally here. With the change in the leaves comes the inevitable countdown to Cyber Monday for ecommerce marketers.

In 2015, one out of every six dollars spent over the holiday season was spent online. To capture your share of that revenue, you need to plan early (and often). To help you get started, we’ve put together a three-part guide to help you succeed this holiday season. The first part, 1. Before the Season, kicks off the series by helping you reflect on 2015 and start putting together a plan for 2016.

The guide covers:

  • How to learn from 2015
  • How to develop key goals and metrics
  • Guidance to build a holiday marketing plan
  • Holiday campaign inspiration
  • Systems to audit before the holiday rush

Download The Guide to Ecommerce Holiday Success: 1. Before the Season to get started on holiday 2016 (and stay tuned for parts two and three of the guide).

Get the guide to start planning for holiday season success for your ecommerce company.

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Dec

30

2015

5 Sales Tax Tips to Carry You Through to the New Year

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The sheer volume of sales you experience during the holiday season could put you in a very different situation during tax season next year. There are several considerations you’ll have to keep in mind, such as an increase in revenue, locations where you or other staff members work, and potential exemptions. These tips won’t make up for advice from an accountant, but these are some things to keep in mind when dealing with sales tax.

Know Where You’re Selling

There are so many different taxes you’ll be responsible for this holiday season, from federal all the way down to city and even specific districts. If you don’t know where your customers are buying, you might miss one of the sales tax responsibilities on your list. It is up to you to know the specific districts where your buyers live, and that means you can’t just go on ZIP codes. Postal routes are changed all the time, but that doesn’t mean your districts change, too. Those ZIP codes don’t even specify certain cities, so you can’t rely on them in any way.

Know What You’re Selling

Did you know some products might carry different tax regulations than others? For instance, if you sell foods, some might be taxed in certain states while not at all taxed in others. Then, in some states, some of those foods will be taxable while others are tax-exempt. Do you have any idea which products within your ecommerce company require a sales tax in the various locations where they’re available for purchase?

Know If Prepayment Is Required

Some districts actually require prepayment, especially if large tax amounts occur often. This may also mean you’ll be on a different filing schedule than regular returns. Because you might be located in more than one jurisdiction, you’ll have to keep prepayment schedules and regular schedules straight or suffer the audits.

Know Your Nexus

This is the trickiest of all the tips, because you may not have any idea where your nexus is. Did you know it’s possible to have more than one? That’s why so many ecommerce companies end up in trouble. For the most part, you’re subject to the laws where your ecommerce company resides. However, you could have more than one nexus if you’ve opened a new office, if a large part of your staff resides in another area, and even if your products are manufactured in another area. 

Know Your Automation Options

Now, keeping up with all of these things is a full-time job, unless you have some way to automate the process. There are some ecommerce platforms that take care of the process for you. These automated programs will take into account where the business is being done, where the buyer lives, and all the requirements of the various districts and locations that apply. This greatly reduces the stress, work, and record keeping that you’ll need to do, while also minimizing your risk of an audit.

Now, have you considered your tax situation for the coming year? It’s not too late to get your taxes in order for the holiday season so that your books are balanced in 2016.

Learn to grow your ecommerce business with these guides.

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Dec

27

2015

From Kit Kat to Coca-Cola: The 10 Best Holiday Ads of 2015

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This post originally appeared on Agency Post. To read more content like this, subscribe to Agency Post.

With the stress of shopping off our backs until next year, we’re taking time to reflect on the success of some of this holiday season’s top advertisements.

This year, these brands mastered the art of crafting ads that evoked good cheer, the holiday spirit, and even some seasonal disgust.

While many of the best ads came from the U.K., where the holiday advertising season is their own version of the Super Bowl, others were more focused on making us laugh at the silliness of the season.

Check out some of our favorite festive ads of the year below.

The 10 Best Holiday Ads of 2015

1) Harvey Nichols | Avoid #GiftFace

Do you have to mentally prepare yourself when opening that present from a certain relative each year? Harvey Nichols wants you to avoid “gift face,” and shows off just how painful the unwrapping of presents can be.  

2) John Lewis | Man on the Moon

John Lewis doesn’t disappoint this year in an ad about loneliness and how important simple acts of kindness are around the holidays. 

3) Aldi | Now This Is Christmas

The realities of the holiday season are typically ignored in advertising, but this commercial makes it a point to remind us that Christmas can be an extreme sport. 

4) Kit Kat | Christmas Break 

This blank ad gives viewers back their sanity during the holidays. 

5) Temptations | Sorry for the Holidays

 Our enthusiasm for the holidays can be overwhelming, especially for our fluffier friends. 

6) The Spanish Lottery | The Greatest Prize Is Sharing

The main character, a security guard, brings joy to his co-workers by using the factory’s mannequins for playful displays and game, and they repay him by sharing their lottery winnings.

 

7) Sainsbury’s | Mog’s Christmas Calamity

Mog, a popular children’s book character in the U.K., gets into mischief and almost ruins Christmas. 

8) Norton | Bah-Humbug

This series of three videos, which are running online alongside native content, follow Santa and his son Kris Jr. dealing with a computer virus — a “bah-humbug” — that destroyed the naughty or nice list. 

9) Coca-Cola | A Bridge for Santa

A father works to make his son’s Christmas wish come true. 

10) BBC One | Sprout Boy

This charming piece follows a sprout, looking for a group of friends to share the holidays with. 

What were your favorite ads of the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Dec

24

2015

24 Iconic Santa Claus Advertisements From the Past 100 Years

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When you think of Santa Claus, we’re willing to bet that words like “jolly,” “bearded,” and “rosy-cheeked” come to mind. After all, that’s the image of Santa many of us — regardless of age — have grown to know and love, right?

The mall Santa that our parents forced us to take an annual photo with (despite the trauma it caused). The Santa we watched Tim Allen transform into in the first installment of The Santa Clause trilogy. And the Santa we’ve seen used in countless holiday advertisements — from Coca-Cola to Kodak. 

Below, we’ve put together a festive timeline of Santa-inspired print and video ads, dating back to the early 1900s. Check ’em out to see how different companies over the past century have used Santa Claus to sell more products.

24 Jolly Advertisements Starring Santa Claus Throughout History

1900 – 1950 Advertisements

1) 1915: White Rock

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Image Credit: White Rocking

This joyful depiction of Santa Claus carrying a sleigh full of White Rock water and various toys appeared in the 1915 issue of the San Francisco Examiner.

2) 1919: Murad Turkish Cigarettes

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Image Credit: Vintage Product Ads

This sinister-looking Santa Claus is shown smoking a cigarette in this vintage advertisement … but it’s not just any cigarette. According to the ad copy, Murad’s Turkish Cigarettes are what all the “grown-ups” are choosing for Christmas. 

3) 1935: Whitman’s Chocolates

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

Another classic depiction. This chocolate advertisement shows a simple, familiar Santa — with a festive piece of holly attached to his otherwise uniform hat.

4) 1938: Essolube

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Image Credit: Etsy

This French motor oil advertisement from Essolube shows Santa Claus delivering a sack of oil to eager automobile owners. The ad copy translates to “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for Your Car.”

5) 1940: Bell Telephone System

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

In this holiday advertisement from Bell Telephone Systems, a phone-shaped Santa Claus is shown “ringing in the holidays.” It’s not directly selling a product, though — the ad aims to send Bell Telephone System’s warm wishes to its customers.

6) 1948: Time Magazine Subscription

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

In this late 1940s advertisement, Santa is shown piloting an airplane to deliver magazine subscriptions to all. The plane is embellished with various headlines, and the ad copy highlights their “special Christmas rates.”

7) 1949: Prince Albert Smoking Tobacco

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

Santa is smoking again. This vintage ad includes a twinkle-eyed, rosy-cheeked image of Old Saint Nick promoting the gift that “says ‘Merry Christmas’ with every puff”: Camel Cigarettes. 

1951 – 2000 Advertisements

8) 1954: Coca-Cola

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved Coca-Cola’s warm, jolly portrayal of Santa Claus. This classic Coca-Cola ad features Santa Claus enjoying a “gift for his thirst” while he takes a break and puts down his sack of toys. 

9) 1956: Jell-O

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Image Credit: Etsy

This fun advertisement for Jell-O shows Santa enjoying a few bites of the good stuff left out for him by the soundly sleeping child underneath the table. 

10) 1969: Hoover

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Image Credit: Vintage Ads

You can almost hear the laughter in this classic, black-and-white display of Santa Claus showing off his Hoover appliances.

11) 1972: Kodak Pocket Instamatic Cameras

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Image Credit: Etsy

“Say cheese, Santa!”

This cheerful advertisement shows Santa Claus gearing up to take a photo using the new Kodak Pocket camera — the perfect gift for “anyone that has a pocket,” according to the ad copy. 

12) 1977: Smith Corona

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

In this late 1970s advertisement, Santa is seen showing off the Smith-Corona typewriter. (The perfect piece of technology for him to make his list — and check it twice.)

13) 1977: Quaker Sugar Cookies

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Image Credit: Vintage Ad Browser

In this 1977 ad for old-fashioned holiday cookies, Santa Claus is shown spending some quality, fireside time with the Quaker Oats man himself. If you look closely, you’ll also notice a curious child trying to sneak a peek from behind the chair. 

14) 1983: Seagram’s Crown Royal

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Image Credit: Vintage Ad Browser

This advertisement challenges viewers to look Santa in the eye and tell him they really deserve Crown Royal this year. It’s hard not to smile at the dubious look on Mr. Claus’ face. 

15) 1993: Got Milk?

Santa proves that you can’t have cookies without milk in this classic 1993 commercial.

16) 1993: BluBlocker Sunglasses

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

Now here’s one we haven’t seen before: Santa in sunglasses. This clever advertisement positions Santa’s job in a different light — Old Saint Nick and his reindeers are “famous aviators.”

17) 1996: M&M’s

This 90s commercial from M&M is a timeless classic. We love the mutual look of surprise and shock on both Santa and the M&M’s faces when they bump into one another late at night. 

18) 1997: Hewlett Packard

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Image Credit: Bamboo Trading

This HP advertisement shows Santa Paws … I mean Claus posing with a fury friend. Snowball, the featured dog, seems to be eager to join Santa as one of his reindeer. 

2001 – 2015 Advertisements

19) 2001: Decathlon

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Image Credit: Coloribus

It’s hard not to laugh at this crew of Santa Claus staff members getting all suited up in their locker room. The chimney entrance game plan on the board is especially amusing. 

20) 2007: Niko Motion Detectors

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Image Credit: This Is Not Advertising

Santa? A criminal? This advertisement pokes fun at Santa’s “breaking and entering” skills while highlighting the security of the company’s burglar-proof movement detectors. 

21) 2011: Pepsi

This Pepsi commercial pokes fun at Santa Claus’ well-known Coca-Cola advertisements by showing him sneaking a Pepsi on vacation in his red and white Hawaiian shirt.

22) 2011: iPhone

Santa shows off his tech-savvy side as he communicates with Siri in this amusing commercial for the iPhone 4S.

23) 2013: Chevrolet

Even when cleverly disguised as a car salesman, it’s easy to pick Santa out in a crowd. This ad pokes fun at the interaction this potential car buyer has when he realizes that he just might be buying a car from Santa himself. 

24) 2015: Reddi-Wip 

This quick-witted Reddi-Wip commercial shows a dad spraying on a whipped cream beard to disguise himself after being caught in the act by his son. Turns out his son is not buying it, as the real Santa Claus is standing right behind him. 

What’s your favorite advertisement? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Dec

23

2015

5 Ecommerce Companies Using Content Wisely this Holiday Season

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Content marketing is so much more than a business blog, but many forget that little fact when trying to boost their business. When the holidays roll around, there are only so many blogs you can write, right? This is when you really need the reminder that content actually means anything your customers will consume, including social media, videos, images, and even sounds.

Some of these ecommerce shops show you what content marketing is all about. Take a look at some of the hottest digital marketing this season has to offer.

Coach

This holiday video features the products in a festive light, yes, but there’s also a cute little guest that no one with a heart can ignore. The introduction of a mascot and a video that shows the little guy in all his scrunchy-faced glory is just about the smartest move this luxury brand could make. Who could possibly stop watching? And grabbing and keeping consumers’ attention is what content marketing is all about.

Target

Target’s Pinterest feed hits the exact tone necessary for the holiday season.

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Gift guides are a great idea for prompting purchases, but buyers can’t always buy right away. Putting the online catalog on Pinterest helps users save ideas for later, like after the paycheck arrives. With all their gift ideas in one place, buyers are more likely to remember the gifts they’d planned to buy.

Burberry

An online gift guide is a great way to help new visitors to your site find things their loved ones will cherish.

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Burberry does an absolutely stellar job with their stunning catalog. It’s filled with gorgeous shots of their most popular products, all in a very festive layout that makes shoppers excited about picking the perfect gift. Something like the exquisitely decorated shopping malls of the ’80s that once inspired a holiday purchasing furor.

Wayfair

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Similar to a gift guide, Wayfair’s online magazine shows off their products in festive situation. The company keeps the online magazine all year long, however, and fills it with decorating advice, information about new products, and tips for finding the best deals. It’s a little more special at Christmas because it does serve to provide information about holiday decorations and gifts, and they really do know how to make the most of it.

Overstock.com

Email counts as marketing content, doesn’t it? Check out this email from Overstock.com, which was opened just a little too late.

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The urgency a recipient felt when opening the email immediately upon receipt must have been incredible, and it strongly plays on buyer’s feelings of FOMO. That countdown showing the potential buyer a deadline on amazing deals surely prompted quite a few sales. 

What amazing holiday content have you seen this year? What makes you excited for the season and more likely to open your wallet to buy?

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Dec

21

2015

How to Turn First-Time Holiday Buyers into Loyal Customers

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year—when all of your current customers are joined by brand new buyers hoping to find something for the ones they love. This is the beauty of the holiday season, but only if you managed to make those brand new customers stick around in the New Year. If you’re settling for a bump in sales in November and December, then you’re really missing out on the true gift.

So, how can you make that one-time buyer your new best friend? Let’s take a look.

Listen

It’s busy this time of year, and you’ve got a lot on your mind. In between updating your website, creating your sales, hiring new staff, and carrying packages to the post office, you might forget the most important piece: the customer. Remember that people often buy for loved ones rather than themselves for the holidays. That means the people shelling out their hard-earned dough probably have no idea what your company is all about.

They’re going to have lots of questions, and they won’t be afraid to ask. They will, however, take their business elsewhere if you’re not responsive. Be ready to catch emails, social media posts, phone calls, and even questions in the comment section of your blog. Give thoughtful answers that focus on the need rather than an answer you think will sell a product. Transparency and honesty go a long way toward starting a relationship. 

Inform

Sometimes people are too busy to ask—or maybe they don’t even know which questions should come first. If you take a proactive position of informing and educating, you can get them the answers they don’t even know they need yet. Start with the questions most people ask when they encounter your company or products.

You can also show various ways for your product to be used, share tutorials, advise on upgrades and accessories, and—maybe most important during this time of year—provide information for returns and refunds. 

Take That Extra Step

If you know the products ordered are gifts, consider helping the buyer along with the wrapping stage. By tossing the items in a box and sealing it, you take some of the magic out of the holiday season. You may even take some of the magic out of your own company.

If you take a few extra steps by folding garments neatly, including decorative packing materials, and maybe even gift wrapping the box, you show that first-time buyer that you really do care about each dollar they spent.

Prep for Returns

You never want to see a purchase come back for any reason, but sometimes it just happens. Maybe the buyer got a wrong size. Maybe the recipient changed his mind. Whatever the reason for a return may be, you want to be as engaging and helpful as possible. If you’ve already made your return policy clear, then you’ve already won half the battle.

When you get the request, listen to the reason. Maybe you can make suggestions that fix the problem. Do they need a different size? Can you send them a tutorial on assembling the product? Was there something wrong with the product? If you can provide a solution that makes everyone happy, the buyer will remember that. If you can’t, happily refund the money and thank them for their purchase. Keep in mind that buyers who’ve been happy with your company so far might just accept that refund in the form of gift cards.

Keep in Touch 

Once the purchase has been made, be sure to follow up with the buyer after the holiday season. Did the recipient love the gift? Are there other questions you can answer for the buyer? Can you share some other items that might make the gift even better?

Remembering that the first-time customers only found you because of a gift for their loved ones, make suggestions that the buyer may find interesting. With the data you’ve already collected by this point, you can segment your emails in new and exciting ways to reach them. And hey, maybe they’ll never need your products for themselves, but if you impress them enough, they may return later for other gifts.

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Dec

18

2015

6 Holiday Offers For Your Ecommerce Company That Don’t Include Discounts

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When it comes to discounts and coupons during the holiday season, it seems like everyone is doing it. If retail giants are knocking a big percentage off their prices, a small ecommerce company like yours must do the same to keep up, right?

The problem with discounts and dollar savings is that your new lower prices might confuse buyers. See, if they get a great deal on your products now, they won’t want to pay the higher regular prices when they return. The value of your products will be firmly set at the lower amount. And that’s no good, is it? So, what can you do to keep up with the big box giants without offering discounts? Believe it or not, the options are endless.

Offer Choices

One reason a buyer may head over to a bigger ecommerce store is the sheer amount of choices. The smaller companies just can’t offer as many, can they? And choices don’t just end at the products you offer, either. You should definitely give them more to choose from, but then give them better payment options, shipping selections, and even customer service outlets.

Offer Easy Payment

Let’s talk about the payment options for a minute. Do you still accept only credit cards for your sales? If so, you’re probably losing a lot of customers at the checkout page. The more you can streamline payment, the more your buyers will complete the sales.

There are a few reasons for the incomplete sales at this point. The first is simply that people have become accustomed to instant gratification. If they can go to Amazon and click one button to make a purchase, then that’s what they’ll do. Then, of course, there are the mobile shoppers who really don’t want to enter their credit card info over and over on tiny screens with tiny buttons. As the number of mobile shoppers flies through the roof this holiday season, you can’t afford to miss out on those buyers.

Offer Free Shipping

Whether your offer for shipping lasts only through the holidays or sticks around all year, this is one of the biggest offers you can make to your buyer. See, they’re not just leaving your checkout page because you don’t offer enough payment options. They’re also running scared when they see the total price with shipping added. Maybe you can’t afford to ship everything for free, and that’s okay. By offering an option for free shipping with the purchase of a certain dollar amount, you might just increase your average order value, too.

Offer Multichannel Experiences

How can your buyers make purchases? How can they reach you? How do they receive information about your company and your holiday offers? The more avenues you offer into your business, the more people you’ll attract. Buyers should be able to reach you, to interact with your brand, and to make purchases whenever and wherever they choose. Social media, apps, email, phone, your blog, and most importantly your website—these are all channels through which your buyers will want to reach you.

Offer Information and Education

Many of the people shopping with your company during the holiday season are just there to buy something for loved ones. They don’t have any intention of coming back. Does that mean you should let them be? No way! Make sure they’re armed with all the information they need to make smart choices. Whether you do that through blogs, tutorial videos, or gift guides.

Offer Stunning Service

Through it all, what will really set you apart from the big box stores offering massive holiday sales is your service. You can afford to make the season bright for every last person who buys from you. That means you must have someone available at all times, ready to answer questions through phone calls, social media, and email. Your returns and exchanges should be hassle-free and delivered with a smile. Above all, keep the promises you make, listen to your customers, and be completely honest.

Now you’re ready to face the holiday season, and you won’t have to give a single discount to compete with the big box retailers.

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Dec

16

2015

4 Tips for Competing with Mega Stores This Holiday Season

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Would you believe that 15% of midsize businesses won’t spend any additional marketing money this holiday season? When you consider that many of the efforts made will place them up against some of the biggest names in ecommerce, it’s easy to see why they’d rather just go along with business as usual. To compete with the big guys, you’d have to have a mega budget for promotions. Or, you could try some of these tips and stay in the game.

Free Shipping

The all-time, number one reason for abandoned carts is the cost of shipping. If you’re offering great deals on all the products in your store, you may just get those customers in the door. What happens when they add everything to their shopping cart, click through to pay, and see that the cost of shipping nearly doubles their spend? 

If you guess that they leave your site and go check Amazon to take advantage of the free shipping that comes with a Prime membership, you guessed right. Now, offering free shipping is a big commitment. It’s going to cost you. Consider offering shipping over a certain dollar threshold if you can’t afford to give it away.

Abandoned Cart Offers

If someone still abandons their shopping cart even after you’ve offered free shipping, you’ve really got a problem on your hands. What can you do when they walk away anyway? Well, if you’ve got a program in place to go after those cart abandoners, then you can still reel them back in.

See, many shoppers have every intention of buying… eventually. You may just need to give them a subtle reminder that their cart is waiting. An email letting them know they forgot to finish the purchase is a good first step. Make sure to include a picture of the item to really pique their interest. Add urgency by highlighting the limited supply or an upcoming shipping deadlines. If those buyers still don’t come back, then you may consider offering a special deal on those particular items just to get the buyer to make the purchase. In most cases, the initial reminder is all you need.

Loyalty Rewards

During the holiday season, people will buy left and right. What if you offered them the chance to accrue points for prizes or discounts? An easy-to-register rewards program could mean they’ll come back to you for their next purchase just to see their points balance increase.

Now, the important phrase here is “easy-to-register.” If you require massive amounts of information before the customer can enroll, then you’ll lose them all. If they’ve already entered their payment information, then you should have all the data you need. Don’t make them do it all over again, and you’ll see a spike in enrollment.

Discounts by Percentage or by Dollar

Whether you offer a percent off or a dollar amount off of purchases, the outcome is almost always the same: a purchase. During your regular marketing routine, you may wait until buyers are further along in the buying journey to offer a discount of any kind. During the holidays, however, there’s no time to waste. You have to show your hand right away.

Before you get too excited about offering discounts on your products, you have to consider a few things. First, if the customers who take advantage of the savings have never shopped with you before, will they equate the discount with the quality of your products? Worse, will they expect a discount every time they shop with you in the future? That’s why discounts should be a last resort, but when you’re competing with the big guys, you sometimes have to give in.

You can keep up with the big stores without spending piles of money, but you have to commit to the promotion. There are ways to compete without spending much at all, such as fine-tuning your SEO, creating and promoting plenty of content, and taking over social media platforms. When you do these things to hook a buyer, though, you may need something to reel them in.

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Dec

15

2015

Retarget Lost Customers During the Holiday Season to Drive Sales

This holiday season, you’re probably focused on reaching new customers and reeling them in with dazzling specials. Reaching out to holiday shoppers who need your help making good decisions on purchases for others is a great way to boost your bottom line, but what about all those shoppers who went before? What about the buyers you reached out to last holiday season but then never heard from again?

You can only bring in so many brand new buyers with each gift-giving season. If those consumers don’t stick around after the season’s end, how can you keep making money throughout the year? Well, with this holiday season, it’s time to start focusing on the lost customers. Wooing them back might just be easier than you think.

Go After Cart Abandoners

You probably already know that about 70% of your visitors will abandon their carts, at least on the first visit. Of that 70%, three-quarters of those visitors definitely want to come back later and finish the purchase. It’s just that life gets in the way, and suddenly it’s a year later and they never did buy that amazing gift for their special someone. 

Well, now’s the time to bring them back. If you’re not already going after abandoned carts with an aggressive email campaign, start today. If you do already chase down potential customers, great! Now consider going back to last year’s almost-loyal customers and reminding them that they once loved your products, if only for a moment.

Retargeting Ads

These can be a little tricky, especially if you get too creepy with your messaging. Consumers aren’t crazy about feeling like they’re being watched, and you don’t want this holiday season to feel more like Halloween.

There are a few ways to retarget people who might just be interested in buying from you this season. The first would be ads that serve visitors to your site. Next, you want to target those who’ve searched online shops just like yours. Then there are those who engage with shops like yours on social media. Finally, you can target those who’ve seen your ads on other sites, whether or not they clicked those ads.

You can use the information you’ve gathered about this almost-customer to make sure they end up in the right place after clicking, too. If they’ve already searched products on your site, make sure the ad leads back to one of the items they loved. If they spend time searching prices for products like yours, make sure they get information about prices after clicking on your ad.

Again, it’s a difficult balance between delight and downright creepy, so you want to be smooth about it. Adding in a discount or other special offer can go a long way toward smoothing creeped-out feathers, so consider the lengths you’ll go to when convincing a buyer to click an ad. Then add some good copy, a strong CTA, and you’re set to bring back those long-lost customers.

Now you’re ready to reel in those past customers, whether they made a purchase before or not. Once you get them back, make keeping them a major priority. Imagine your bottom line if you could count on past customers, current customers, and new customers to make purchases at the same time. That’s what this holiday season could be for you.

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Dec

11

2015

47 Compelling Stats to Inform Your Holiday Marketing Strategy [SlideShare]

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This year, the holiday shopping season looks promising for both B2C and B2B retailers. According to predictions from eMarketer, U.S. sales are expected to increase 5.7% year-over-year, reaching $885.70 billion. For ecommerce retailers, the year-over-year increase jumps to 13.9%, totaling $79.5 billion.

What does this mean for you? Shoppers will likely have omnichannel expectations for your brand.
Whether they shop in store, on their mobile, or even a mix of both, consumers will reward retailers who help them through the chaos of the season. This means being everywhere your customers are, while providing a seamless experience between each shopping channel. 

Curious about the best ways to attract new business during the holidays? Check out the latest trends in holiday shopping and tips to apply them to your marketing plans in our SlideShare below: 47 Stats for Remarkable Holiday Marketing in 2015

(Want to be sure your holiday marketing plans stack up to the stats? For a complete checklist, download this free holiday trends guide.)

How have recent trends influenced your holdiay marketing strategy? Share your success stories in the comments below.

free 2015 holiday marketing trend tracker

Dec

11

2015

Magnify Your Millennial Exposure This Holiday Season

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The holiday season.

A phrase which once elicited thoughts of decking the halls, glowing candles and lights, snow-blanketed pines, and a meal with family and friends as we patiently awaited the arrival of the bearded gift-bringer, now brings up one word before all those other phrases. 

Sales.

Walmart 2014 sales were $343 million, Target’s totaled $72.6 million and Amazon’s reached $49 million. Their combined marketing budgets are larger than the GDP of 23.5 percent of all countries in the world.

So, how do you get the attention of consumers bombarded with major corporate advertising from dawn till dusk?

First Things First … Who Are ‘Millennials’ Anyway?

At 75 million strong, accounting for more than 25 percent of the current U.S. population and managing $2.45 trillion in buying power, the likelihood your customers are Millennials is relatively high. With this in mind, the following three facts are crucial in developing your brand outreach and sales this holiday season:

1) A whopping four out of five Millennials shop directly from their mobile devices.

2) A recent survey found Millennials don’t trust typical advertising.

3) Millennials will not wait for longer than five seconds for a page to load.

What Can I Do to Maximize Exposure and Sales to Millennial Consumers?

Above all else, you need to deliver your relevant message through their preferred channel (mobile), by having a mobile-optimized site. Is your site built with Flash? More than 42 percent of mobile users aren’t going to see your site because Flash isn’t compatible with iPhones.

In addition, 90 percent of Millennials say that positive online reviews influence their buying decision. We are no longer in a world where brands tell us who they are. We are skeptical and know that it’s easy enough to just “Google it” to find out what other people think. There is no hiding what’s really going on anymore, and brands lacking strong customer service or quality goods and services will quickly fall susceptible to the scrutiny of their customers. So be honest, because consumers are making a list, and they’re checking it more than twice. They’ll easily find out who is naughty or nice.

Hark! The Twitter Hashtags Sing!

Eighty-nine percent of consumers say interaction with a brand on social media has an impact on their purchase. However, this doesn’t mean brands should post on social media just for the sake of posting. Your approach to social interaction needs to embrace what makes your brand unique, all while being sure to cater to your audience by responding to questions and concerns, and promoting the expansion of your fanbase.

So, do you hear what I hear?

Show anyone browsing your company on social media proof of your trust through pictures and reviews from past customers. It’s one thing to say you’re the best at X, it’s another to show firsthand accounts as proof that #yourbrandrocks.

A Support and Information Carol

“Online reviews? Bah, humbug,” exclaimed Scrooge as he chose to ignore his audience yet again. Like Scrooge, however, you have the ability to make amends if you’re not already collecting reviews or aren’t using them to their maximum potential.

Building credibility by including authentic user-generated content is a proven approach to giving those interested in doing business with your company the validation they may need to go from browsing to purchasing. Having authentic customer quotes peppered throughout your site at key points, such as landing pages, home pages and purchase pages, helps your potential buyer to believe in you. Just like a child on Christmas, some evidence Santa came keeps the belief alive. (Seriously, though, how does he eat so many cookies?)

Working with third-party review sites also gives the ever-hungry Google search algorithm the digital fodder it needs to give your site an SEO boost and get your name further associated with your business vertical.

It’s easier for you to create personal relationships with your customers than the retail giants. Yes, Amazon is convenient for a lot of things, but not everything is available through Amazon. Moreover, Amazon and similar sites lack a human element. Being disappointed your order can no longer be fulfilled is a serious bummer, like getting a bunny suit instead of a Red Ryder BB gun for Hannukah. It makes it all the worse when you receive a robotic email to let you know.

Smaller companies have the ability to foster relationships with their customers through personal messaging and sympathy. You don’t need to wait for customer issues to arise either. Try a personal post-purchase touch of sending a “Thank you” note, or asking for feedback. A smile goes a long way.

Learn to grow your ecommerce business with these guides.

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Dec

9

2015

Is Ecommerce to Blame for Black Friday’s Slow Demise?

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With Black Friday totals down from last year, according to a survey by Nielsen, and total sales for the day slipping more and more each year, is it safe to say that the biggest shopping day of the year is losing its luster?

Sure, Black Friday sales topped out at around $10.4 billion, but that’s down almost 10% from last year’s $11.6 billion. There are quite a few possibilities for the decline, with many shouting that opening on Thanksgiving will harm Black Friday sales. However, Thanksgiving sales were also down by 10%. One of the reasons for that might be the number of stores that decided not to participate in Thanksgiving sales this year, but it still couldn’t account for such a large drop in sales.

Enter Cyber Monday

Reports for Cyber Monday show a total of $3 billion in sales, which is up almost 16% from last year. Quite a few different factors were involved in this unprecedented rise. First, Cyber Monday sales were offered just after the Black Friday buying frenzy, with some of the first deals available Saturday. Brick-and-mortar stores with an online presence even offered their Black Friday deals online before they were available in the stores.

There were also delivery methods that made online shopping easier than ever. Amazon Prime provides two-day shipping, but they’ve topped themselves with Amazon Prime Now. Buyers can order online and receive their purchase in an hour or two. That kind of instant gratification is what most store shoppers are looking for. If they can enjoy the immediate ownership without leaving their homes, why would they go to a store?

Target partnered with Curbside, which allows buyers to order online and pick up at the store. Even better, they don’t have to get out of the car. Shoppers who prefer spending while wearing PJs can get a lot of mileage out of that kind of service. Since it’s available to more than just Target, we can expect to see more pick-up orders in the future. 

The Mobile Shopper

One of the big reasons for the uptick in online sales is the overall ease with which buyers can browse and purchase on mobile devices. Thanksgiving sales reached $639 million from mobile devices. This may be the result of sheer boredom after everyone in the family fell into a turkey coma. The next day, Black Friday, sales hit $905 million from phones and tablets.

Of the more than $3 billion in online sales during Cyber Monday, 26% were from mobile devices. That’s a record-breaking $799 million in sales from phones and tablets. Whether those sales came from ecommerce sites, social media buttons, or mobile apps, the message is still the same: companies without mobile friendly shopping options are missing out. 

While ecommerce and mcommerce certainly didn’t outstrip store sales this year, it is clear that online shopping is growing while in-store shopping has declined. Is this the beginning of the end of Black Friday, or will retailers find a way to incorporate multichannel marketing and sales for a streamlined experience? We think that’s the way to go. 

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

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Dec

8

2015

6 Content Ideas to Keep Ecommerce Shoppers in the Holiday Spirit

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You’ve been prepping your ecommerce site for a banner holiday season for months now. You’ve adding sparkly graphics, and changed up clever copy, but you may be forgetting one major thing: your content. See, many of the consumers who find your website this holiday season may not be regular customers. They’re probably shopping for someone else. How will they know they’ve found the perfect products if you don’t have content in place to help them?

FAQs

What could any new customer possibly need to know about your products? The answers you give here aren’t directed toward your usual buyer, so keep that in mind. You need to give answers to someone who may have zero experience with your products or brand.

Stepping outside the comfort zone of your buyer personas is hard, especially after you’ve worked so hard to find that space to begin with. But if you’re not diligent in answering the questions a “newbie” might have, you might just miss the sale.

Gift Guides

Once those buyers know what they need, show them how the products can be used. Gift guides are a great way to introduce new ideas to uninitiated buyers. For instance, maybe a mom is looking for something edgy and fun for her daughter, but isn’t sure which of your products fits. A gift guide spells out exactly who loves your products, shows the best options for everyone on the gift list, and quells buyer’s fears.

Tutorials

Now, suppose your products require some assembly. How would someone who’s not acquainted with your brand go about putting your products together before presenting the gift? Even those who are aware of your brand and want the items you sell very badly may need some help figuring out best uses. Tutorials are the perfect way to keep previous buyers coming back for more information.

You not only have a chance to answer questions and create some serious customer delight, but you can also hint toward the purchase of other products, especially if they can meet your buyers’ pain in any way. Accessories, items that enhance other products, or just additional purchases because you sell cool stuff—these are all great things to introduce in your tutorials.

Product Reviews

No new customer is just going to take your word for it. If you provide only the testimonials you want others to see, then buyers will go somewhere else to get the info they need. That means moving away from your ecommerce site, maybe never to return again.

If, however, you cut out the third-party review sites and includie reviews right there on your own site, you keep buyers around. They appreciate your honesty, and in some cases will reward you handsomely for being so transparent.

Videos

Some buyers prefer to learn by watching instead of reading. That’s just all there is to it. With videos, you have a chance to convey the very same emotions while also introducing a vivid world where your products live. Take the time to produce some quality videos that reach out to the buyers you might not normally see. Use these videos to share all the above content and more.

Remember that your introductory information doesn’t have to be in depth. Sometimes a little humor can capture attention and get those consumers hooked. A video is the perfect way to give a brief introduction that leaves everyone wanting more.

Social Engagement

Don’t forget to listen within your social channels for things said about your brand or products. When you post social ads, graphics, or links, stick around to see who responds. You may get lots of questions or comments that need immediate answers. How you handle your social engagement is just as important—if not more—than the long-form content you’ve been planning. Remember, 140 characters of content is still content, and you can use every last one of those characters to educate and delight your buyers.

A content calendar is a great way to get your holiday content organized and scheduled for release. We do have some templates, or you can come up with something that works just for you. However you plan, just be sure that you do keep your content at the forefront of your mind.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

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Nov

29

2015

The Best Times to Send Business Emails This Holiday Season [New Data]

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This post originally appeared on HubSpot’s Sales Blog. To read more content like this, subscribe to Sales.

We’ve finally found an effective email strategy. Our open and clickthrough rates are optimized — or so we thought.

Until one December morning when our metrics plummet. It must be a mistake.

Or, it’s the holiday season. Each year from November to January, email behavior changes and email strategies lose their effectiveness.

To combat this, we decided to look at 4,513,689 emails to analyze exactly how the holidays impact our one-to-one emails. The presentation below reveals all our never-before-shared insights. 

Let’s explore.

How have the holidays impacted your email activity? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.