It's official, we're now in Q4 and the holiday season is almost upon us. For retailers, this time period represents a large revenue opportunity. According to eMarketer, online holiday sales will account for nearly a quarter (24.3 percent) of the total sales forecast for 2012.
For B2B marketers working at companies that support these retailers, it can be a busy time capitalizing on opportunities to generate content and communicate relevant messaging during the holiday season. By now, hopefully most B2B marketers have plans that are underway and teams that are prepping for execution.
So assuming you've made your plans, I'd like to offer two tips to ensure you achieve solid execution for one of your best holiday seasons yet.
The devil is in the details. Attention spans can be short during the holiday season so getting timing right and the messaging right is critical. Lots of details can go into your marketing automation execution and getting a small detail wrong could mean a missed opportunity or just be flat-out embarrassing. Here are some pieces of your plan that I recommend double-checking before you hit "activate" this season.
Segmentation. Have you properly segmented your targets lists? Not every business is in the retail sector so don't blast a retail, holiday-focused message to your entire contact list if you have customers across multiple industries.
Database. Be sure there have been no recent changes to any fields in your database and that your marketing automation platform is properly synced with your CRM system. You may have your target segment defined but what will happen if a field you filter on to generate the segment list recently had a small tweak?
Dynamic fields and default settings. Let's hope your target list never sees this type of messaging: "Dear < >" or " < >" Ouch, right? It's happened before, so let's be sure it doesn't happen to you this season. Double-check your dynamic fields in your emails and be sure you have properly set default settings so the message isn't a complete fail.
Frequency. As I previously mentioned, the holidays are a busy time of year. There's a lot for marketers to accomplish and we're all looking to take time off to be with our families. Hopefully you've determined timing of your campaigns based on what has worked in the past. However, I recommend making sure the timing of your automated campaigns is not overwhelming the intended audience. The frequency you've used throughout the year may not be the best during the holidays. When in doubt, set up your campaigns for testing.
Don't be a slave to your plan. This tip can apply all year long but is amplified during the holidays due to the higher volume of opportunity. You're in a good spot if your holiday plan is set and ready to go. However, you're in a bad spot if all you plan to do is follow the plan. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
It's impossible to predict every outcome so be prepared to react and adjust your plan as needed. Keep an eye on your data, watch for market trends, and keep your team agile to follow the opportunities.
Stacie is senior director of marcom and PR at Kenshoo, a digital marketing technology company backed by Sequoia Capital, Arts Alliance, and Tenaya Capital. Kenshoo powers nearly half of the Fortune 50 and all 10 top global ad agency networks.
Prior to joining Kenshoo, Stacie worked as director of client strategy and development at Resolution Media, an Omnicom Media Group Company. In this role, she was responsible for overseeing the growth of key accounts, in addition to leading Resolution Media's account management practice. During her tenure, Stacie led relationships with brands like Bank of America, Gatorade, Norwegian Cruise Line, Restaurant.com, Sirius XM, and State Farm, while working with partner agencies to ensure all search programs are integrated into the overall marketing mix. Prior to Resolution Media, Stacie worked as an account manager at Nielsen Claritas. There she was responsible for managing and growing relationships with key clients, such as Sprint, US Cellular, Alltel Wireless, and Charter Communications.
Stacie graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a degree in Marketing. When she's off the clock, Stacie enjoys yoga, rooting for Wisconsin football teams, and exploring her new state, Colorado.