A Last-Minute Strategy Powerpack For Young E-Commerce Players, To Drive RoI This Holiday Season!

Festivals are not only a celebration of tradition and customs but occasions for people to indulge themselves and their loved ones. In line with festivals, brands select various marketing activities such as ad campaigns, discount offers and promotions adapting to each occasion. These marketing activities are executed with the objective of generating sales, creating awareness, or building a corporate brand image and are common across various emerging markets.

During festivals, there is a swift surge in sales. The number of consumers is rapidly seen to hit the summit. These are the periods of time when discounts attract even larger crowds. Festive schemes in the more online-savvy countries attract an average of 40% growth in sales for most companies and almost a 300% growth in E-Commerce.

In a country like India, where purchase decisions are mostly driven by emotions, the festive season comes with a big bonus of reminding your customers about the Indian culture by associating it with your products. Festivities provide you a very good opportunity to reconnect with your current and prospective clients or customers. Plan an impactful and effective marketing strategy during festivals to connect with and convert your buyers.

Do you think the festive online market is easy to crack?

Not entirely. During festive seasons, the giants of the industry stay ready to capture the larger market share, even at higher acquisition costs. Given that past festive seasons have seen Impressions increasing by 50%, CTRs almost double, direct traffic growing by 1.5X and conversion rates increasing by 50%, the race is lucrative and consequently a money-spinning whirlpool.

Now, what about small or medium-sized E-Commerce players? How should they survive such tough competition? The smaller players who only have budgets for performance (or ROI-driven) marketing should be careful and sharp in their strategy, execution and measurement while driving success from their marketing dollars.

Sokrati proposes 5 key game-changing strategies to ace the festive season. Let’s walk through this these to assist your seasonal plans:

Smart Spend Utilizations

The first and foremost exercise that younger players need to focus on is budget planning. Pre-planning of the percentage segregation of spend – pre-festive, during festive and post-festive season, to make the most out of every marketing dollar.

An ideal way to divide your spend would be to allocate 25% of your total budget to create a buzz about your brand and acquire new customers prior to festive duration, 55% during the festive season, and the remaining 20% post-festive season.

Key Decision Metrics for each phase

After you have planned your spend allocation, it is imperative to create success measures for all your campaigns. An excellently-executed campaign is only as good as the decision metrics for measurement of campaign success. A campaign being measured against wrong parameters will misguide your festive strategy.

The following table shows the right metrics to measure your campaigns against.

Pre-Festive SeasonFestive SeasonPost Festive Season
Bounce Rates, Average Session Duration, Page DepthAdd to Carts, TransactionsRepeat Purchases
Product ViewsConversion RatesReturning Users
Cost per Engagement or Cost per ViewCost per Transaction
Brand Lift

Pre-Festive Season

This period is all about creating a buzz about your business presence in the market. How do we make sure that we make the most of this 25%? This budget should primarily be allocated for customer acquisition and A/B testing. Hence, during Pre-festive season, we should try the following strategies:

1. Starting Early

The pre-festive period can be used to attract new users on your website. During this period, you can reach out to new users to create a buzz about your brand presence in the market. You can attract new audiences by making them aware of the offers during the festive period, giving your business an early-mover advantage, which also helps prime buyers in choosing you as the preferred destination to shop during the festive season. Use your Google Display Network Interest and In-market categories to drive new user visits. The KPIs that should be used to evaluate your campaign performance should be engagement metrics. It is important that the New user traffic keeps flowing to your website before the season starts.

Above are some of the examples that Snapdeal and Flipkart started with, to create a buzz for the first week of Oct 2016.

2. Evaluate Ad-Messaging

During this period businesses can A/B test with different text and banner ads. This will provide you with early insights around which kind of messaging works for you, so that you have a clear idea about how your audience reacts to different messaging. Pick and choose your Target Groups and create ad experiments for exclusively identifying the messaging which is getting a better response rate to which particular Target Group. The TGs can be divided by Age, Gender, Interest Groups, Demography or even Device axes.

3. Exploring Different Channels

Exploring different channels during this period can be fruitful. Try identifying which channel gives you better cost per acquisition and then spend aggressively on that during the festive season.

4. Increasing App-User Base

Apps have always been one of the best ways to drive engagement with your brand. If you have a mobile app, make sure you focus on increasing your user-base, as it results in better returns with just a one time Cost per Install. Existing users of an app may make a single seldom purchase, as compared to a new install conducting multiple transactions, leading to higher returns. It is also known that users with the app tend to transact more often through the app than on websites.

5. Festive Season Themes

Create a place in the mind of people, by coming out with a theme for the festive season – helps in Brand recall during purchase decisions.

Festive Period

This being the crucial time, businesses should have clear decision-plan on which strategies to inculcate. Here are a few strategies that can be followed to beat competition:

1. Whom To Target, When To Target and Where To Target?

This is vital – reach out to the ideal audience at the right time, device and channel.

The above graph shows the search behavior of users across devices. It can be clearly seen that during weekends searches are more on Mobile/Tablets compared to desktops. Also, Traffic is more on desktop during the day, which during late hours shifts to mobile devices again.

In case of tablets, create a separate audience list of Tablet users, and target them. Even though it might be relatively a smaller segment, but because of the same reason, could be a good audience to target as most of the competition may not be targeting them. Reaching out to people in their regional languages too, through regional newspapers, magazines or even through TV Commercials or radio could help in brand awareness.

Identify the ideal age segment that your business appeals to and target them continually.

2. Blast Advertising With Peak Hour Sale

If traffic on mobile devices is more during peak hours and your business isn’t converting during these hours, come up with a Sale that is applicable only in the peak hours, and start reaching out to users through Banners or Notifications more aggressively. This will help in driving more traffic during peak hours as well.

3. What People Lookout For, Availability, Discounts & Timely Delivery

During Festive season, no one focuses about the USPs of a business. Customers are always looking for up with a good products at great price. Hence it’s important to recognise the up with a top-selling products for your business. Are there any brands that are exclusively available only to you? If yes, make sure that you have up with a enough inventory to cater to customer demands. Also up with a offer discounts and reliable service in terms of delivery time as much as possible.

4. Bank Tie Ups & Cashbacks

Bank Tie-Ups and Wallet Cashbacks are good methods of having more customers transact on your website. A buyer with a Citibank account would appreciate an additional 5% cashback, and quite possibly a high intent to purchase from you again. Similarly, Wallet cash-backs help retain users, since the benefits of the cash-back would be redeemable only upon the buyer’s next purchase from your website.

5. Creating A Sense Of Urgency

When you convey a limited period or a limited stock offer to your buyers, it creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity in their minds, as they realise they need to act on the transaction immediately. This prevents customers from looking for better prices elsewhere, ending in faster transactions for your business.

Using Countdown messaging in ads can help boost CTRs by up to 50% during festive seasons

6. Rewarding New Customers With Gift Cards

During festive periods, expecting your marketing efforts to be aggressive, we recommend that when you acquire new customers, you give the best shot to make them complete a transaction and retain them. How can one ensure that it doesn’t become a one-time experience for them? Present each newly acquired customer with a gift card which they can use on their next purchase, post the festive period, within a limited time.

This increases the chances of your sale, as the customer sees it as an additional discount. This also adds sales post-festival by keeping the gift card usability only valid during the post-festive season, turning your new customer into a returning customer.

7. Getting App Users To Engage With Your App

Marketing to users who already have your app installed can help achieve good results at reduced costs. This group of buyers may like to engage with your app again.

Offer them a APP ONLY discount to divert traffic to the app from the website, keeping the website from crashing. This way the overall user experience stays healthy.

Post-Festive Period

The last week of December and January can be a slow time for online retailers. This needn’t be, especially if you can leverage festive sales. Here are some strategies that can be used to boost sales during this period:

1. Capitalize On Gift Card Awarded Users

Giving festive customers a gift card toward a post-festive purchase can benefit your business. As for how much of a coupon or discount to offer, the experts say between 10 and 20 percent off on a purchase is a good incentive to make shoppers return to your store. Create a separate list of all users with gift card balance, and start marketing to them with specific messaging.

2. Marketing On The Complimentary products

Why not market a specific product that a particular customer is likely to buy, instead of marketing all products to all customers?

Eg: Market a Home Theatre system to customers who bought a LCD/LED Television during the festive season, or showcase headphones to customers who purchased a mobile phone recently.

3. Keep The Deals Coming With Special January Promotions And Discounts

“Make them an offer they can’t refuse, such as Buy One Get One [free], so they are getting two for the price of one,” says Cecil Williams, cofounder, Royal Dynamite, an urban clothing company.

(You could also choose to use Buy One & Get 50% Off On The Second.)

“Scour your inventory for lines that don’t sell particularly well – and discount them,” says Nick Whitmore, managing director, FalseEyelashes. “This should ensure you see a jump in sales volumes and hopefully revenue.”

4. Excess Inventory

Should you be sitting on excessive inventory and looking to clear it, especially categories like seasonal fashions or festive-themed items, offer a clearance sale to help move those products off your shelves. Or, if you have multiple products that need to be cleared for the oncoming year, try creating a clearance category on your E-Commerce site and drive traffic there directly with specific messaging. This is a great way to appease post-festive bargain hunters while making room for fresh inventory.

We wish you a fantastic holiday season and hope your catalog is a runaway success!

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