7 ways to ensure your holiday marketing succeeds all year long – The Drum

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – and it’s only Spring. Retailers are seeing a surge in demand for Easter-related goodies from decor to chocolate and crackers to trees with the bank holiday set to be a spending egg-stravangaza. Consumers deprived of family get-togethers for two years, are spending big to make up for missing out. This provides new opportunities for marketers.

According to research by the retail analysts Mintel, Easter was estimated to be worth £550m to UK retailers in 2016, and the figure has since grown. In 2021, almost one in 20 Britons brought home decorations for Easter, rising to one in 10 between the ages of 25 and 40.

At John Lewis, sales of Easter trees are reportedly up 65%. Wayfair has reported a 500% increase in customer searches with customer searches for Easter trees, hanging eggs and Easter wreaths decorations. While Hobbycraft has seen a 100% rise in sales of chocolate Easter egg molds and a 300% rise on searches for its blank fillable mache Easter eggs compared with last year.

The sales trends suggest that consumers are really investing in marking milestones with friends and families, which means that the calendar of holiday-sales surges has potential for growth as new habits are formed.

Many marketers have their Christmas holiday marketing campaigns fine-tuned to film in January, secure media in the summer and air in the golden quarter. So, with the holiday calendar expanding, there are a few evergreen marketing success factors that brands can apply to make the most of their seasonal campaigns.

1.) Invest in the creative

It might sound obvious, but the creative will make or break a holiday campaign – get it wrong and your campaign will be lost in the noise or be a boring, snoring turn off. According to our ROI Genome report, good creative drives 75% of ROI. Aldi takes the Christmas crown with the ever-popular Kevin the Carrot which has led to spin off new characters – hello Marcus Radishford – and must-have merch and continues to steal a march for Easter.

2.) Create synergies

While a seasonal TV ad may not be easily tweaked, other channels and formats offer greater flexibility for short notice adaptations. Having done their homework on the latest consumer behaviors and segments, marketers should seek to maximize synergies to make the most of their spend. Reviewing the mix of media channels to maximize reach is only one aspect. Key is to integrate channels well to tell a consistent story and reinforce core messages by using recognizable assets such as the same actor, characters, voice or tagline adapted for the festive season. In doing so, each channel needs to be given a clear role – for example, Online video may continue with the emotional story told on TV, while an out of home ad repeats a core message and adds a call to action. The impact is sizeable: Within our own research, we have seen that e.g. combining channels like TV and Search can increase ROI by over 30%.

3.) Horizon scan for good customer experience

There may be a myriad of external factors going on, but the customer still knows best, and they know when you’ve disappointed. There’s no excuse for a shoddy online experience and marketers must invest in removing friction points. Having broader campaigns which focus on a product range rather than on a particular stock item can help ease supply issues, and looping in the whole organisation to help out – such as Marks and Spencer did last year when it deployed head office staff from HR to procurement to pick and pack to meet online orders and create localized click and collect hubs – can create PR and good CX.

4.) Cookies off menu

With soaring consumer demand comes the perfect opportunity to start building out client lists and first party data by offering meaningful newsletter subscriptions and loyalty programs. By finding ways around relying on third party cookies, brands can ensure to continue talking directly to their customers.

5.) Look at the larger picture: performance vs brand

Beyond the evergreen success factors, brands need to think long-term, even when creating their seasonal, promotional campaigns. Performance marketing using high frequency and targeted multi-channel content will drive sales and give great ROI in ‘high engagement’ weeks such as the run up to Black Friday, the countdown to Easter or the weeks leading to Christmas.

Covid highlighted that focusing on the short term can be detrimental when something attacks your base business, so despite short term pressures, the smart marketer will still invest in brand building. A strong relationship between brand and consumer will strengthen the base business when challenges do come.

It’s crucial to find the right balance between brand and performance activities and to understand how brand messaging and prospecting executions perform alongside performance and conversion marketing and messaging.

We’ve found that oversized lower funnel marketing strategies and budgets can lead to short bursts of success and at the expense of new customer acquisition that generates sustainable sales and brand growth. In the long-term, heavy upper funnel marketing strategies outperform heavy lower funnel strategies by 65%.

6.) Measure holistically and in one currency

Finally, marketers need to always keep in mind that marketing doesn’t work in silos. They should avoid using performance metrics for budgeting decisions and should consciously and comprehensively measure both online and offline business drivers across channels and ecosystems.

Looking at research from our ROI Genome, last click and performance metrics overstate impacts from some tactics by 2-10x and severely understate the role of tactics like video and audio. Indeed, video advertising has 2x the half-life and 160% higher impacts in weeks after delivery vs non-video content, but this is only apparent if you measure it. The world is now omnichannel, with online and offline blending and interacting more than ever. Focusing only on immediate short-term conversion metrics and downplaying lasting impacts leads to longer term sales losses.

Key Performance Indicators that represent short- and long-term success can help marketers to continue adapting to the changes in the marketing ecosystem and analyzing the true value of holiday campaigns. A clear definition of KPIs helps to identify what success looks like and sharpens focus across the whole company.

7.) Never stop adapting

As the advertising ecosystem continues to evolve with new and emerging platforms and formats, marketers have an ever-increasing toolbox, but not all new tools will be fit for purpose. Test and learn programs can help create speed to insight when it comes to trying out new tools, formats, or creatives. We’ve found that brands that adopt these types of measurement programs achieve 25-70% ROI gains.

By following our evergreen rules, while thinking long-term and measuring holistically, marketers can ensure that their festive campaigns deliver eggs-cellent results.

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