The common and much-beloved idea of the holiday season, as perpetuated by everyone from Hallmark to Hollywood, is that it's a time for everyone to slow down, relax, and spend time out of the rat race and inside the house with family.
Maybe the holidays are still like this for some people. However, most digital marketers -- especially those who work in the retail sector -- surely find the "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" image laughable. The added workload is universal across all sectors of the marketing world, but perhaps most obvious when it comes to e-commerce.
Marketing initiatives get ramped up over the holidays, with season-specific inventory to move, more special deals to promote than during the rest of the year, extra campaigns to monitor, and additional recommendations to make as people shop not just for themselves, but for parents, grandparents, siblings, and spouses.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Through smart automation solutions, holiday marketing can easily feel just like marketing the other nine months of the year, with no increased burden on the company or team.
Some Things Can't Be Automated
When a company sets out to fill its digital marketing department, it doesn't choose the person who knows how to build the best product feeds; it's looking for the top job candidates -- creative people who were hired for a very specific reason, to bring their talents to the team and make a genuine impact on the organization. In e-commerce, where catalogues are vast, turnaround instant, and competition fierce, it's often creativity that sets a company apart from the pack. So why should some of the most creative minds on a company's payroll be distracted from the work they were hired to do, just because the transaction volume on your site is higher than usual?
In order to create, nurture, and keep a solid marketing team, it's of the utmost importance that those employees are able to continue doing their jobs (jobs that cannot and should not be automated) without the additional stress or distraction the holidays can bring. The additional work they're being asked to do requires neither their skills nor their expertise. In fact, it's so granular and so procedural that a computer can do it far better than they could, anyway.
Automating Repetitive Marketing Processes
Take, for example, Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Real-time bidding allows marketers to have control over where, when, and how their products are displayed on Google. However, real-time bidding necessitates the time and resources of a team member (or several), for oversight.
While tools have been developed that help team members refine the feed they're sending to Google Merchant Center, or manage the bids of each individual product, these systems still require the mindshare of your most talented people. Truly automated solutions remove this need for supervision and management, using algorithms to match catalog products to opportunity, and managing bids and ROI at the most granular level. The team member who had previously been a glorified button-pusher is now free to work on creative campaigns and leave the buying to the bots, checking in only on performance each day, or even a few times a week, rather than several times an hour.
Similar technology can be deployed to paid search, comparison shopping engines, and product personalization -- all tedious, data-driven tasks that can be controlled with greater frequency, precision, and performance through automation providers, requiring very little human intervention.
Give Your Team an Early Christmas Present
Digital marketers have been planning for the holiday season since at least July, but that doesn't make it too late to implement solutions to streamline and ease the additional burden on your marketing team.
Most of the solutions that exist to help automate digital marketing for e-commerce are designed to work nicely with existing ecommerce platforms; they install quickly and require very minimal set-up. Although integration is simple and management requires a little time from your team, make sure you choose a solution that includes a client services component.
The combination of the right automation and people managing your relationship will be a very welcome gift to your marketing team.
Title image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Andre Golsorkhi is CEO of Sidecar, a leader in automated e-commerce marketing, powering paid search, comparison shopping engine advertising, on-site product recommendations, and email re-targeting for retailers ranging from $5M to $3B in annual online revenue, including Top 25 retailers in the US.
Prior to Sidecar, Andre was the CEO and Founder of Snipi, Inc. a patented system for people to save their interests while browsing anywhere online. Snipi was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and established partnerships with the world's leading retail and entertainment brands.
March 19, 2014