The holiday season is just around the corner. Are you prepped and ready for this biggest selling opportunity of the year?
A well-planned strategic campaign will drive sales, streamline operations, and give you space to authentically connect with your audience. In this week’s episode, I’ll be sharing with you campaign strategies you can use to make the most out of this year’s holiday gift season.
We’ll talk about starting now with a simple reach campaign to grow your audience before you ask for the sale. Then we’ll map out two types of sales campaigns that will carry your eCommerce business through the end of the year:
A Q4 gift sales campaign that continues past Thanksgiving weekend to your shipping cutoff.
A later campaign for last-minute shoppers that also encourages sales in the early part of Q1, which can be a slower period for many brands.
Taking advantage of your social media platform, engaging with your audience through automated emails, and driving traffic back to your website using gift cards, vouchers, and subscriptions are a few of the vital steps you should include in your campaign strategy.
Regardless of your current marketing budget, you should start somewhere - and this is your chance. Get ready to take notes and listen to Episode 37 to apply these strategies to your business!
Virginia Foodie Essentials:
Now is the time to encourage pre-ordering for holiday entertaining, and to plan out campaigns for great gift ideas.
The recent Facebook outage underscores that social media is just one tool in your marketing arsenal, so be sure to use it to drive customers to your website and email list.
If you don't attach a conversion goal to the work that you're doing, you aren't measuring the worth of your activity. You're just measuring your activity.
Planning is essential for time management. The time you are spending on social media is the time that is not being spent on closing key accounts.
If you don't spend to boost your audience, you're going to have very slow growth and slow return on your investment in social.
A true campaign has multiple touchpoints.
Key Points From This Episode:
Campaign strategies to drive sales for the holiday season
Role of social media in your marketing platform
Use calls-to-action in your social media posts
Pick your Thanksgiving weekend sale combo and get that planned now
Start a reach campaign before asking for the sale
Plan your first selling campaign for Dec 1-12, or 1-15, ending on your shipping cutoff
Add a campaign for the second half of December to drive Q1 sales
Put improving your email strategy in your plan for 2022
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Click Here for Full Transcript:
[00:00:00] Georgiana Dearing: If you don't attach a conversion goal to the work that you're doing, you aren't really measuring the worth of your activity. You're just measuring your activity.
[00:00:12] Welcome to The Virginia Foodie Podcast, where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind the good food, good people, and good brands that you know and love. If you've ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered, "How did they do that? How do they turn that recipe into a successful business?" Then we've got some stories for you.
[00:00:39] Hello, Foodie fam, welcome back. It's another Marketing Monday, and it is official. We are in the thick of the holiday selling season. In my coaching groups, we've literally been talking about Christmas since July. And we started then, so we would be prepared for the times where you're in right now, the Q4 Sale Season. This can be, for many food brands, the biggest selling opportunity of the year. Now is the time to encourage pre-ordering for holiday entertaining and to plan out campaigns for great gift ideas that will carry you through the end of the year. I'm going to talk to you today about some campaign strategies that you can use to make the most out of this opportunity. But before we get started, I want to take a moment and talk about the role social media should be playing for you, and about Facebook in particular.
[00:01:28] On October 4th, 2021, Facebook went down hard. Facebook and Instagram disappeared from the internet for what they reported as a 6-hour outage. For our business, at least, it was much longer than that. We had difficulty accessing all of our accounts for the entire workday. This outage just underscored a point that I often make when I talk about social media, that the channels we use are just tools for marketing. I think Chris Brogan said it first. You should never call yourself a Facebook expert. You should be a marketing expert. You'd never call yourself a telephone expert. Facebook is a tool that you are using to communicate and share your brand message. The more alarming thing to note about the Facebook outage is that if they never came back online, all of that content you created would be lost forever.
[00:02:23] If you read the fine print, you don't actually own the content you post through their channel. So they don't need to give you access to get it back. And this is an argument for backing up your images and your content. But the tools that you do own and control are your website and your email list. And that is why your social media should always be driving your audience to those two destinations. Your website lets you track their actions and also closes the sale. Your email list allows you to continue to communicate with your customers one-on-one. As I speak to you today about holiday strategies, I'm going to talk about the ways you can use social media to drive traffic to your site and to email sign-ups because those are the minimum conversion points you should be tracking.
[00:03:09] Likes and engagement and shares are all well and good. But if you don't attach a conversion goal to the work that you're doing, you aren't really measuring the worth of your activity. You're just measuring your activity. Running social media costs money. Either the fee you pay someone to do it for you or the lost revenue because the time you are spending on social media is the time that is not being spent on closing key accounts.
[00:03:35] So there are two parts to this strategy. Part one is growing your list, and part two covers the campaigns that you'll run from Thanksgiving to the end of the year. There are two types of campaigns that I'll cover. One, to boost your Q4 sales, and one, to get a jumpstart on Q1 sales for the next year. Right now, the first week in November is the time you should be running paid campaigns to grow your reach. Basically, we want to increase the number of followers and email subscribers now so we can sell to them later.
[00:04:06] Did you know that the SBA recommends that 20% of your gross revenue be allocated to marketing? And that's the same recommended percentage for effective e-commerce marketing, 20% of your channel’s revenue. If you aren't in a position to put that much into promotions, then consider taking a hard look at your margins later in adjusting your pricing to allow your business to invest in itself. Regardless of your current marketing budget, you should start somewhere. So assign a dollar amount and set up a campaign now. [00:04:37] To help you frame the decision tree for the spend, you should know that small brands can expect to spend pretty close to a dollar a lead. There's a lot of other calculating you can do from there to come up with an ROI and a lifetime value, and then the cost of customer acquisition. But for now, understand that if you don't spend to boost your audience, you're going to have very slow growth and a slow return on your investment in social media.
[00:05:03] Ideally, you want to start your first reach campaign the last Monday in October. This year, that Monday was October 25. I'm coming to you in early November, so if you start your reach campaign now, you'll still get ahead of all the noise that the big national brands will be making on all the channels. They've got more buying power than you, so if you want to leverage your spending to get the most out of every dollar, you should start late October, early November.
[00:05:30] Reach campaigns are too broad and should include organic growth as well as paid growth. You should definitely take some very engaging on-brand content and boost it for reach or for web traffic. This will get you the broadest coverage and the best return on your spending. Boosting for sales is one strategy that would show you a financial return, but your response will be lower and the fees will be higher. And at this time of the year, we are very specifically targeting new followers. So we want the content to get in front of as many eyeballs as we can in the right target markets, of course.
[00:06:03] As well as your paid boosted posts, you should also include content in your regular streams that encourages sharing to help with organic growth. Your email subscribers can also be given an incentive to share your brand with their friends. It can be as simple as asking them to share with friends, or you can offer a special friend and family code that they can share. Something that encourages them to pass a recommendation along. Because you want to grow your email list, you should be driving traffic to your website. Adding a pop-up window on your site that includes a promo code for signing up is a good way to start building some brand allegiance and capturing those emails.
[00:06:40] In VA Foodie, we put our pop-ups on a delay. Ours don't block content as soon as readers arrive. Instead, they activate as readers stay on the page. But our primary goal is to capture readers, not immediate sales. It's fine on a shopping site to ask for the email address right away, especially if you give them an incentive to make a purchase like that discount code.
[00:07:06] Another list-building tactic to put in place right now is to have the opt-in button pre-checked on any of your forms. That forces the user to pause and uncheck the box before signing up for anything like a holiday meal-planning guide, or a top 10 healthy side dish recipes. Carrying good giveaway content that is on-brand for you is one more way to capture more contacts. So that covers campaign strategy part one, growing reach for followers, and ultimately, your email list. Part two of your holiday campaign strategy is dedicated to those high selling days. And I've got three a purchase, Thanksgiving weekend, a Q4 sales boost, and a campaign to carry sales into a typically slow Q1 of next year.
[00:07:49] Because American shoppers are conditioned to expect sales over Thanksgiving weekend, you should pick the approach that is right for you. There are several sales names to choose from on this special weekend. Black Friday, Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. One or all of them, or a combination of any of these weekends sale dates should be part of your plan. If you elect to participate in Cyber Monday, understand that those promotions are expected to be the deepest discount possible. Consider setting an outrageous amount like 50% or 75% off of a volume sale. Those sound like scary numbers, but you can limit that offer to a quantity of just ten specially bundled items are some way to drive traffic to your site in search of a great deal. But if you limit quantities, be sure that you've got other enticing offers lined up for shopper number 11 and onward.
[00:08:45] Giving Tuesday is the day after Cyber Monday. And that's a good opportunity to give back while building your brand story. You could dedicate a single day of sales with a percentage of proceeds going to a charity that's in alignment with your brand values. Or you could introduce a particular care package that you offer all season that gives a kickback to the charity. It's a way to call attention to a good cause and to build a feeling of community around your brand. [00:09:13] After that Thanksgiving weekend is covered, the Q4 holiday sales boost campaign should run from December 1 through 12. We're using December 12 as the end date as it's a good shipping cut-off. You can extend the campaign to better match your product in your region. But honestly, in 2021, the 12th is a good date. Your product offers for this period should be bundles that make gift sets. And be sure to have those suggestive sell add-ons queued up on your website, and then promote your bundles heavily. People are searching for gift ideas and you want to be the one they'll pick. When they're out searching, you want your products to pop up.
[00:09:52] The second 12-day campaign window is December 12 through 24, and that should have content designed to give your Q1 selling period a bit of a jumpstart. Things to consider for this timeframe are gift cards, subscriptions, and experiences. Digital gift cards can run right up to Christmas Eve, which is a way to capture last-minute shoppers too. To set a gift card value, review your last six months of sales, look at your average sale value, and select a number that's compatible with that. Subscription packages should be based upon patterns of repeat purchases or suggested use rates so that six months of sales data are instrumental in helping you determine what is a good subscription offer. Take some best sellers and offer a slight discount for repeated purchases. And then use a tool that will automatically bill for the subscription. Some plugins only generate an email prompt. And if they don't click through and make a purchase, then they don't get the product shipped to them. So make sure you're using the right tool for subscriptions.
[00:10:52] The third product concept for a Q1 boost would be selling an experience. Goldbelly had a great Halloween collaboration with the chef from Cake Boss. They sold a virtual cake decorating class to make a green Frankenstein cake. The bundle was the class plus all the ingredients to make and decorate the cake. Selling a virtual experience means you'll have opportunities to sell additional products, add ons, or even a new experience later in Q1. If the experience is scheduled for January, they can pay now and you ship later. So the products will arrive just in time for the virtual party. For all of these sales strategies, you should have your site optimized for product suggestions in ways to increase the take. You want to leverage those shoppers who are on your site and in the mood to spend with you.
[00:11:39] I've covered three sales campaign strategies, and these are not one and done social media posts. A true campaign has multiple touchpoints. You can take up to seven touches before someone makes a purchase. So once you have your images and content all pulled together, make sure you're sharing them on all channels. All of them should be communicated to your existing followers on social platforms and your existing email subscribers and in any other communication channel. Maybe an interview about shopping local, or you could send a product announcement released to local media outlets to get a little more attention in your region.
[00:12:13] And the last piece of any marketing strategy is leveraging your email list. A healthy email ecosystem should have at least five types of automated emails that have been customized to your brand message. And these are a welcome email series, which is indoctrination to your brand, Thanks for your order or your order confirmation email, shipping notifications, abandoned cart messages, and newsletters or broadcast messages. Something from the founder or product details or seasonal notes or something about education.
[00:12:45] A brand should be sending two to four of these a month. Some power email moves are to also include allegiant messages like the pop-up to sign up for a discount, or inviting high rollers to a VIP club, or offering friends and family discounts for subscribers to share. Customer win-back messages are another type. These are to bring low-frequency shoppers back to your brand. And then the breakup email. Targeting those people who never engage and ask them to resubscribe is a good way to clean up your list. If you don't hear from them, then let them go. They only clutter up your list, they drop your engagement rates and ultimately, it costs you money to keep talking to people who don't want to hear from you. For most small brands, the only active emails in my suggested list are the order confirmation and the shipping notification. And that's because they can be pre-programmed into most shopping cart tools.
[00:13:41] If you're on Shopify, you'll also get a generic abandoned cart notice. There's a lot more that I can say about emails, but honestly, it's another podcast on its own. I will share with you now, then I know that most small brands are not using email to its full potential. And how do I know? Because I sign up for emails from all the companies I cross paths with, and almost none of them send me a welcome email. And even fewer send me any kind of email at all. It is a seriously underused tool. But I'll come back to that topic later. I covered a lot. But here are the high-level takeaways for today.
[00:14:17] Pick your Thanksgiving weekend sale combo and get that planned right now. Start a reach campaign now to grow your audience for the holiday sale season. Plan your 12-day selling campaign for December 1st through 12th or 1st through the 15th, whatever your last order date will be for direct shipping. Then if you're so inclined, plan that Q1 campaign for December 12th through 24, and then put a pin in the recommendation to improve your email send strategy, and make sure that it's part of your growth plan for 2022. And that's it, Foodies. Give one or all of these a try and then tell me about your holiday season. Let me know how your campaigns performed for you. And in the meantime, if you have any questions, email or DM me to grab a free half-hour of consultation. I am happy to chat with you. And that's another Marketing Monday.
[00:15:11] Thanks for listening. And if you want to learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on Grow My Brand at vafoodie.com. If you're a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are at @vafoodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.