The holiday season can be a boon for B2C companies, but they can’t expect to just sit back and wait for sales and leads to fall into their laps like gifts from the North Pole. Preparation and understanding the nuances of the season and how consumers behave during these months are essential when it comes to knowing how to best generate leads during the end of the year.
Timing is everything
“Remember how last holiday season felt like it was over before it even started? Expect the same this year,” says Daryl Colwell, vice president of business development at integrated digital media agency MediaWhiz.
“Performance marketers have to be prepared to get in front of their key media sources and publishers before the competition do,” he adds. “Be that pace car. Bring out the big punches earlier than the others. Give your potential customer base something enticing before they expect it.
Mike Janes, chief marketing officer of online monetization and traffic acquisition technologies provider Wize Commerce, encourages B2C marketers not to wait until Thanksgiving, or Halloween for that matter, to begin engaging consumers. “Start brand-awareness campaigns at least six weeks before Thanksgiving to connect with consumers prior to the cluttered holiday period,” he says. “Then leverage this awareness and use reminder messages in peak season.” (For those taking notes, Oct. 11 is exactly six weeks before Thanksgiving this year.)
Marketers should also note that Mondays are the biggest days for online sales during the holidays, which means search budgets should be adjusted to extend weekend search engine marketing (SEM) keywords into the first day of the workweek, according to Janes.
Count the costs
Speaking of SEM, Colwell warns marketers to prepare to pay a premium for traffic during the holidays. “We typically live in a performance-based world where advertisers are paying per sale, lead or click,” he says. “Come holiday time, we see many seasonal advertisers and retailers compete for the media we’ve become accustomed to securing throughout the course of the year. These entities are often used to paying on a sponsorship or CPM basis. That said, your performance-based offer has to either outperform a CPM on the back-end, or you’ll be required to secure traffic on a CPM basis.”
Janes also notes that budgets need to prepare to pay for higher levels of traffic the week before Dec. 17, the free-shipping deadline. Nextag, for instance, saw a 35 percent increase in clicks during that week last year when compared to the rest of 2011, he says.
Standing out from the crowd
The holidays bring more than cheer