Daniel Burstein

Holiday Marketing: 3 last-minute ideas to boost conversion

November 22nd, 2011

The holiday shopping season is upon us – the proverbial golden goose for consumer marketers. I’m sure you’ve planned thoroughly throughout the year, and just have to focus on how to execute, execute, execute in these last remaining days before December 25 rolls around.

But, it’s too late to make impactful changes to your plans, right?


Well, I’ve been listening to one of those “challenge the model” books on tape (you know, the ones that tell you, “Burn the status quo! The only rules that exist are the ones we impose on ourselves!”). So, I’m understandably pretty worked up. All the same, I say we take on this beast. Let’s try to make a few last-minute shifts and move that needle.

If you can spare a minute away from your daily transactional data, let’s brainstorm a few last-minute ideas to help you get an extra bump in sales this holiday season (and I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section, as well). After all, anything’s possible. As long as you commit.

Leverage the sale after the sale with constant status updates

After you’ve gotten the digits (a credit card number, that is) your job isn’t quite over. Frankly, it’s not over until the gift recipient has a huge smile on his or her face, and tells 10 friends about your store. Of course, your role in marketing is limited as to how thoroughly you can impact this result. But you can communicate with people who have already purchased, and be sure to keep them happy.

One excellent way to do this is with the post-sale email, according to the MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report.

Click to enlarge


As you can see in this chart, completing post-sale transactions is one of the most effective jobs for email. While your hands are tied at this late date as to how robust you can make these emails (hopefully you’re already including shipment, payment, and FAQ info), one thing you can do is twist the appropriate arms, and insert a simple link to a landing page that regularly updates holiday status.

I’m thinking of a retail version of the status pages you typically see on IT service sites.

Your customers are already focused on their personal statuses, but you can give them the bigger picture and show them the hottest holiday trends. And remember, you don’t need a professional copywriter for these statuses; you just want some quick, off-the-cuff soundbytes.

A few ideas for updates (which can be used on Twitter and Facebook, as well) include:

  • Delivery updates (“100% of internationally shipped packages are delivered on time or early”)
  • Popular items (“Recipients on the west coast can expect a lot of Ketchupio del Monaco this year”)
  • Promotions (“A record number of people have used our ‘More than Free’ shipping promo this year. Free shipping, free wrapping, free greeting card. Three hours left. Promo code ‘MORE THAN FREE’”)

Create your own Google Doodle (for a cause)

For this to work, you need to have a nonprofit component to one of your products. For example, “with every purchase of Ketchupio del Monaco made on your site, 5% of the purchase price goes to the Italian monastery where they make the product.”

Just like Google, you can use your logo, or any other normally static image that regularly appears on your homepage, to advertise the tie-in.

(I know the brand police are going to kill me for this one).

This is, essentially, what Infolinks did with its in-text ads for Movember, an ingenious promotion used to raise funds for prostate cancer research. The company simply added a green hue and the Movember mustache icon to its traditional template.

“We wanted to convey a similar experience as ‘Google Doodle’ when they change the regular design of their browser for special holidays, occasions and in remembrance,” said Tammy Frumkin, public relations and social media manager, Infolinks. “By replacing our link, which is normally used for advertising with Infolinks, to a link for Movember, we have seen an increase from 3% to 6%.”

Focus your email promotions

Let me start with a statement I’d bet will receive 100% buy-in: you would rather send your audience an email promotion for one product they want, rather than for two products they don’t want, and one product they do. Those unwanted items just clutter the promotion, and drive down conversion for the products your audience actually wants to buy.

However, as the famous Wannamaker quote says, “I know half of my advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which half.” And personalization and segmentation is tough and certainly not worth a last-minute holiday promotion.

Here’s my indefensible argument – maybe you can do it before December 25th.

[Cue motivational music and applause]

I know, I know. I wouldn’t have agreed just a few months ago. But our Gold winner for Best Personalization/Segmentation Strategy in the 2012 MarketingSherpa Email Awards, sponsored by Responsys, changed my paradigm, and made me realize that a last-minute tweak is possible…and could noticeably help your conversions.

The transactional data dive by Clare Florist provided an answer that was almost too easy: people tend to repeatedly buy the same thing. By cross-referencing purchase history with data from the email service provider, while focusing on a single product, and including the irresistible “Your Favorite Flowers” as the main subject line message, Clare Florist was able to drive a 448% increase in revenue-per-campaign.

Most surprisingly, in a direct quote from the free 2012 Email Awards special report, “The main reason we decided to share this case study is that the changes were so obvious and easy to implement, but still produced a major shift in KPIs. Email optimization and testing is often considered to be ‘rocket science,’ with the belief that any test would require serious development involvement and massive budgets.”

It continues, “As seen here, even modest, straightforward hypotheses can produce amazing results, with no external costs.”

Related Resources:

2012 MarketingSherpa Email Awards, sponsored by Responsys

MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report


Online Marketing: Cyber Monday reactions from 17 of your consumer marketing peers

Good Marketing: How your peers brought joy to the world (and their boss)


Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

Categories: Ecommerce Eretail Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

  1. March 9th, 2013 at 18:43 | #1

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe that this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!

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