By Ajay Gupta, CEO of Stirista
Holiday marketing is a year-round sport.
The exceedingly profitable shopping rush for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holidays — spanning from early November to early January — is over for now. But it’s not like marketers aren’t still thinking about actionable next steps to glean from what happened last year and what trends are set to influence 2019 and beyond.
It’s never too early to begin the cycle of marketing strategies to capitalize on so-called high traffic time periods, those key trending cycles that drive lucrative retail sales. Marketers need to embrace the tried-and-true methods like taking advantage of social media, personalizing ads, and making sure to optimize mobile destinations for shoppers. But there is much more that needs to be done to precipitate the true potential of seasonable trends.
Here are four essential rules to shape your marketing strategies during high traffic periods.
Get Specific, but Do No Harm
High traffic marketing is a completely different beast than your day-to-day strategy. To truly understand your ROI, metrics should be tweaked to adequately gauge success based on the span of those time periods. Measuring the back to school rush versus a trending Twitter holiday will not be equivalent comparisons to your general monthly, quarterly or yearly analytics. There need to be specific, measurable goals put in place during these flashy time periods beyond what is effective outside typical objectives.
But you still need to dig deeper into the ideal audience of consumers during those time periods. Anticipating high traffic potential means targeting the right people. You obviously don’t want to try to reach someone out of particular targeting ranges. Gearing campaigns, for example, to celebrating Valentine’s Day toward a single person is certainly not the kind of engagement that marketers would want to keep people coming back for more.
Newly engaged customers need relevant high traffic messaging to ensure you do no harm to the marketer’s brand.
Maintain Data Quality
There is no one-size-fits-all segment across holiday shoppers, lifetime customers, or people just looking for big discounts. It may seem like much more to pile on, but it’s crucial that marketers separate these audiences within holiday windows to not only retain customers, but use these unique opportunities to entice new consumers as well. Find the niches and own them. But the question is, how?
To create a winning campaign that emphasizes a quality audience selection you must make sure that your audience data is up to date. Beyond that, marketers should ensure their customer data is high quality and reputable.
More data doesn’t necessarily mean better insights. If you ensure the quality of the data from the first step then you don’t have to worry about playing catch-up down the line. Gaining that quality data means establishing high standards as far in advance in the planning stages as possible. Marketers can run data sets through a series of steps to spot and remove outliers or bad sources and ensure key attributes are properly tabulated to drive the most insight.
Increasing the accuracy of your data increases the quality of your analytics and decreases the chances of superfluous or inaccurate results. Formulating good data means you’ll be able to take action on high-performing channels across high-converting customer bases to improve marketing ROI by at least 15 percent.
Your Customer’s Time is of the Essence
Good marketers know which seasons they shouldn’t count on and which ones they absolutely should be prepared for already. It’s a matter of proper time management, and as a marketer brings new clients on board, the scope of initiatives will inevitably expand.
Planning should probably take place up to six months in advance and involve truly digging in to take a look at the calendar year. All upcoming major holidays must be planned out for the audiences you want to make available, but it’s also a matter of capturing the zeitgeist and pouncing for your customers.
For the people that marketers want to reach, and in the programs that clients might be running, — whether it’s back to school, Cinco de Mayo, March Madness segments, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, what have you — there’s never a downtime.
Still, just as there can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to segmentation with audiences, the same goes for the actual high traffic periods themselves. There must some sort of judgment about which of these time periods to focus on versus which ones to pass over, but that judgment will largely be client-driven.
Embrace a Rolling Balance
So, you’ve run through your promos and drove campaigns that offered up unbeatable discounts on top of every other basic bell and whistle you could think of. But your strategy can’t stop there. Get ready to keep going and then do it all over again.
It’s not like you can just pull the plug on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday. The assumption is that once these key time periods are over, retailers and customers are exhausted and they’re done. Yet measuring and understanding how programs are interacting is a year-round sport. In fact, the most actionable learnings take place afterward so you can anticipate and tweak what’s needed for upcoming events.
Good marketers know they’ve got the bases covered and are doing more of what they know will work, but also are not afraid to take certain insight-driven chances. That way you can find the balance between really doing more of what works versus being risky and simply being, for example, a single talked-about advertiser that goes viral for a short period of time for flash-in-the-pan results.
About the Author
Ajay Gupta has served as CEO of Stirista since founding the company in 2010 at age 26. Without accepting external funding, Ajay has overseen the data-driven, marketing services company’s rapid year-to-year financial growth as it has progressed from 2 employees, working out of an apartment, to a 41-person team spanning three continents. Ajay holds a bachelor’s degree in financial economics and creative writing with a mathematics minor from St. Lawrence University, as well as an MFA in creative writing from Texas State University. He has been named a Marketing EDGE Rising Star and was part of the San Antonio Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list. Under his leadership, Stirista has won a DMA Silver ECHO award, a third-place DMN Award, and has been included on the Inc 5000 list.