Adjusting Your Holiday Marketing Plans for COVID-19
We’re already at the end of September, which means it’s time to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas! Well, at least that’s the case if you’re a retail business looking to maximize your holiday sales. But, as if the topic wouldn’t be complex enough in any year, 2020 has thrown a wrench in everyone’s plans.
How do you market your products in the middle of a pandemic? How do you make sure that you still grow enough revenue to survive and thrive? Here are some tips:
1) Get Ready for eCommerce Pushes
If the last few months have shown us anything, it’s just how important an eCommerce presence becomes in the midst of a global pandemic.
According to Salesforce, 61% of consumers reported shopping less often in brick and mortar stores than they did previously on June 1. Black Friday and pre-Christmas shopping crowds aren’t likely to change that behavior; if anything, they’ll accelerate it. In fact, Salesforce also predicts that this upcoming holiday season, an astonishing 30% of global retail sales will occur online.
If you are already an online only retailer you have an advantage already. If you are a brick and mortar store, that’s where your competition is going. If you want to keep pace or even push ahead, you have to as well. That means spending time now to bolster your online shopping presence.
On the most basic level, make sure your website is set up for online sales. Expand your presence so that your entire product catalog is online. Check and double-check your website processes to make online shopping easy and straightforward for anyone coming across your website.
2) Showcase Your Products Virtually
Of course, it’s not just about the logistics of a well-presented online shopping site. You also have to be able to showcase each of your products virtually in a way that engages and convinces your audience to hit that buy button.
Now is the perfect time to get started on that process. Find your best-sellers (especially those that sell well around the holiday season), and think of some ways you can feature them. These might include some feature photography, shot in high enough resolution to allow for plenty of close-up examination or videos that showcase your products ‘in action’.
Now is also a great time to gather some testimonials and encourage positive reviews on your product pages. Build it up with third-party social proof to add credibility to your own messaging. That way, when the holiday season comes, your products are well-positioned to shine online.
3) Make Sure Your Shipping Infrastructure and Messaging is Sound
In the same analysis linked above, Salesforce predicts that shipping services will be strained this holiday season due to the increased demand. Packages shipped by services like FedEx, UPS, and DHL might exceed total capacity to ship by as much as 5%.
The last thing you want is unhappy customers because you can’t guarantee shipment by the time the holidays arrive. Fortunately, you’re not powerless. Instead, you can make changes and adjustment to your shipping procedures and messaging now.
That starts with making sure you have expedited delivery options that come closer to a guaranteed delivery date. Even with the lower-priced options, though, be sure that you at least estimate delivery times and clearly display them on product pages.
Clarity in your messaging is another factor to pay attention to. You can also run promotions that encourage shoppers to buy early. Free shipping the last week of November, for instance, may be effective in reducing the capacity shortage that could impact you alongside countless other businesses this fall.
4) Account for Consumer Financial Distress
At this point, it’s a cliché to say that this time is unlike any we’ve experienced in our lives. But that doesn’t make it any less true. For retailers and their marketing plans, that means adjusting to the way consumer behaviors and circumstances are changing. And unfortunately, many of these changes have to do with financial distress.
For instance, your customers might be more interested in inexpensive or multi-purpose products than they have been in the past. Unable to take a vacation, they might also gravitate towards ‘staycation’-type products that help them relax at home.
Of course, these are general assumptions. Now is a great time to learn more about your specific target customers, their attitudes and circumstances, which you can then leverage into more context-appropriate marketing.
One area you can focus on is developing creative promotions. For instance, you may look into a ‘buy now, pay in installments’ promotion or a bulk discount designed to help ease the financial burden. It’s a way to ensure you still generate revenue, without stretching your customers’ wallets too thin. PayPal is making this option open to many eligible businesses, even very small ones, and so it’s certainly something to consider.