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Merry Christmas! That’s right, for a retailer, it’s really never too early to think about Christmas

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There are less than three months left until Christmas, a multibillion-dollar spending period for Australian consumers. To make the most of the seasonal spending cycle, it is essential that you plan your Christmas marketing now.

ExactTarget shared with Anthill some tips for retailers to think about in the months leading up to Christmas. Lee Hawksley, managing director of ExactTarget Australia, said, “Your customers might not be thinking about Christmas yet, but as a retailer you will be.

He added, “With ever-increasing competition from local and overseas brands, Australian retailers need to be on top of their game in the run up to Christmas.” So here goes…

October: Get your house in order

This is a great month to confirm your customers’ details are correct.

  • Update customer details: Leverage what you know about your customers, and prompt customers to update their information, including contact details, how many children they have or whether they are married. Reminding customers to check their details means you can deliver personalised content through the preferred channel.
  • Encourage customers to join the loyalty program: Loyalty programs are invaluable for gathering customer data and enabling targeted campaigns.
  • Ask them to connect on multiple channels: Remind customers about your social media pages by encouraging them to connect with your brand across channels.
  • Early bird offers: There are also some excellent pre-Christmas marketing opportunities in October.
  • Promote your Christmas catalogue: Consider providing your Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers and email subscribers with exclusive sneak peeks at upcoming product releases and store events.
  • Highlight ‘hot’ gifts: Drive pre-orders and early sales by highlighting the potential Christmas sell-outs. Include any limited edition stock that might not be around for long.
  • Offer lay-by: Optimise the customer experience by offering lay-by.

November: Enter the holiday spirit

With 20-40 per cent of annual sales happening during November and December, planning ahead and making the most of these months is vital.

  • Add visual clues to your email: Decorate your emails like you would a shop front. This signals to subscribers that it’s time to start thinking holiday shopping.
  • Offer free shipping/gift-wrap offers: Make holiday shopping easy for customers by offering free shipping or gift-wrap for early bird shoppers.
  • Personalized gifts: If you offer bespoke or personalised gifts, November is a good time to remind your customers about holiday lead times.
  • Launch your holiday microsite/apps: Drive additional engagement with holiday focused content.

December: The final push

December is the time to maximise last-minute sales. This can be done through offers, reminders and gift suggestions.

  • Guided Selling: Last minute shoppers may need a bit of inspiration. Consider using guided selling and asking a set of simple questions to drive personalised gift recommendations.
  • Promote gift cards: Help drive sales by promoting gift cards to customers who may be unsure of what gifts to buy.
  • Shipping updates: Send information on last dates for shipping to receive by the holidays. December also provides an opportunity to build relationship with your customers. Think about sending them a season’s greeting email. To make it sincere this shouldn’t contain any sales literature, just a message.

January: The Clean Up

January is the time to clear any excess stock and upsell where possible.

  • Promote your post-holiday sales: Continue to drive sales with post-holiday promos.
  • Gift card reminders: Email gift card holders to remind them to use their gift cards.
  • Personalised emails: Offer personalised emails based on past purchases by suggesting complementary products (for example compatible accessories).
  • Return reminders: Remind customers about deadlines for returning gifts.
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