It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas … to commerce marketers, at least! We’re all making plans for holiday campaigns to catch those early season shoppers and carry us through the end of the year. Are you ready? What are the keys to your successful holiday marketing plan? We recently spoke with several of our industry partners to get their top tips for the holidays. See what strategies they suggest for a very merry season.

Analyze and Optimize

Blue Acorn"Analyze the previous year's campaign performance to optimize for this year, and make sure you gather more data this year to help you in the next,” says Blue Acorn CEO Kevin Eichelberger. “You should be A/B testing, personalizing and then measuring the results from different promotion types, messaging, timing, and the like. In this way, you're not only running campaigns, but you're also using the opportunity to gather information about your customers to drive improved performance. If you did this last year, use the data. If not, now's your chance to help improve your campaigns for next year.”

 Keep an Eye on ROI

Magento"If your ad budgets are blowing up this holiday season, take a close look at what you’re getting in return,” says Robert J. Moore,  head of Magento Analytics. The holidays can be a great time to acquire new customers, but our research shows that customers acquired during the holiday season are also more likely to be once-a-year shoppers. That means they have a lower lifetime value and should cost less to acquire.”

Automate and Personalize

MoavableInkChris Kopyar, associate account director of client experience at Movable Ink, reminds us that “competition in the inbox is at an all-time high during the holidays. Be sure to automate and personalize! Personalization not only results in performance lifts – it provides value and a reason for a customer that’s quickly tapping through their inbox to stop and read your email. “The holidays are also your chance to create a one-to-one experience by making shopping easier through personalized recommendations. With each campaign, ask yourself, ‘What is the value from the customer’s perspective? Does this email provide me with something I want to read, or is it simply a message a marketer wants me to see?’ This perspective is key. “If you’re not using automations, progressive profiling, and personalization during the holidays, you’re missing opportunities that are going to cost you clicks, opens, and conversions.”

Prep Your Data

Agilone"Get your omnichannel customer data together, cleaned, and ready!” That’s the advice from AgilOne’s Laura Corbalis. “As we mention in our recent e-book and webinar on retail tips for the 2016 holidays, the most effective marketing this season is targeted AND cross-channel, which requires customer data that’s reliable and readily available. When your customer data is clean and ready to go, you can create truly unique customer experiences. For example, you send an email to your VIPs inviting them to bring a friend to their closest or preferred store for a private pre-holiday sales event. At the event, you collect new email addresses from your VIPs’ guests. You have now delighted your VIPs, acquired new lookalike customers, and gathered more customer data. Tie the in-store transactional data to the digital interactions and let your customer data guide your holiday promotions to success!

Give Customers What They Want

Wpromote"Tailor your ads to specific customers. The ad you show a new holiday shopper doing research in September should be quite different than the ad you show an existing, highly engaged customer who’s shopping on December 23,” says Wpromote Account Strategist Kimberlee Raymond. “Be ready for customers to discover you any number of ways, whether they click on organic search results, open emails, or click on ads,” adds Raymond. “In terms of SEO, create gift guides and other content that correspond with search trends during the holidays. With paid search, shopping campaigns are more critical than ever before, especially with the current increase in the number of searches where shopping ads are being shown. Countdown ads also allow you to showcase your best offers while adding a sense of urgency.” Need more inspiration? Check out the Holiday Marketing Academy for the latest ideas from Bronto and our partners.