The winter festival season is one of the most important times of year for B2C businesses – from holidays to gifts and personal purchases, customers use this time of year to splash out on new products and try out new brands. Including Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas as well as the traditional Boxing Day sales, the winter season can present a mammoth challenge to all but the most established companies.

Fail to Prepare…

As offline sales and marketing start earlier and earlier every year, it can be difficult for businesses to judge when their online marketing should also start – and when to prepare for that start. A recent study by Shopify suggests that the majority of marketers use the quarter before the winter season for planning – giving themselves a full 3 months to decide strategy and finalise campaigns decisions (as well as budget, sales and so on).

Strategy should be a big consideration for any winter season preparation, and has the potential to ruin an otherwise successful campaign if a business is insufficiently prepared.
Strategies can be complex or simple, but should include discounts, offers and how to frame the campaign; content is still king, and the messaging (as well as visuals and any site content) should be neatly tied into your strategy over the quarter.

Customers are Key.

It is also important to consider customer types and how sales events can bring returning users, not just a flood of new ones, to your website. By leveraging existing data, as well as channels and communication avenues like email or social, businesses can appeal to a broad range of users that are still segmentable into more strictly defined groups.

By planning audience segmentation in advance, brands can more easily tailor messaging and creative to be as attractive as possible to varying users with varying levels of intent – without falling into the trap of stale, repetitive content. Different types of users will also expect, or be more attracted by, different types of reward for shopping with your brand during the season, and scalability of prospective offers should be considered alongside what those offers actually are.

Consider your Channels.

When considering content and audience, you must also consider which channels to prioritise for your campaigns – and beginning your winter season preparation long before the season starts can give you ample time to confirm the structure (and budgets) of your campaigns. Channels should tie into your audience segmentation, ensuring that your most relevant content is shown to the most relevant audiences on the most relevant platforms.

Advertising on these channels can also promote significant growth during key events, and research from Shopify has found that paid channels are some of the most effective for acquiring new customers despite an increase in costs during popular periods. Optimising regularly, and keeping campaigns focused on specific sets of data could help to mitigate competitive costs for paid channels – and maximising conversion or sale value should be a key concern when planning channel activity.

Tech Prep.

One of the last major considerations on our list of seasonal preparations are technical concerns – both online and offline. The expectation of increased traffic to your website should be coupled with an expectation that your website can handle that traffic – and that your existing e-commerce solution is robust enough to deal with both increased purchases and (sometimes very complex) promotions or offers. This need for a robust system extends to the offline world – the processing, handling and shipping of orders, as well as the ability to respond to queries (or complaints) can all seriously impact on the success of your winter season strategy.

Whilst some brands have found mild success through publicly disavowing events like Black Friday, there are considerable upsides to participating in the busiest sales periods of the year – whether in the form of sales or customer data collection – and preparing for this period with plenty of time to spare has the potential to give your business the greatest chance of winter season success.

Are you lagging behind on your winter season preparations? If so, we may be able to help with getting your marketing efforts in shape, both off and online. Get in touch to discuss your festive campaigns this year.

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