Every year the Christmas decorations seem to sneak into stores a couple of weeks earlier. A decade ago, people grumbled when the decorations came out in early November. No joke, this year I saw a Christmas display at my local grocery store in early August. But while people may claim they aren’t thinking about Christmas yet, the truth is retailers are only reacting to customer demand. And you’d better believe that demand is already there online, too.
People are making their holiday purchase decisions well before the holidays. If you haven’t started your Christmas campaign yet, then you need to get on it right now. You could be missing out on tons of revenue, in part because the competition is a lot lighter in the months before the holidays than it will be in November and December.
Here are five compelling reasons why your company should start Christmas campaigns early.
- Because Sales Start Sooner Than You Think
The key to online marketing is to reach people before they make decisions about purchases, not when they’re about to start buying. And people start their sales early. According to one study, they begin making holiday purchases right after Halloween. So it follows that if you don’t begin your Christmas marketing campaign until right after Halloween, you’re losing out on a lot of potential purchases.
Instead, work backward. You know that people will be shopping during the first week of November, so you want to reach them at least a month before then. Don’t assume that everyone buys at the last minute. Some people ‘pride themselves’ (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/15/christmas-shopper-what-type) on being done by the end of summer. And more than a third of holiday shoppers say they ‘start before November’ (http://www.epossolutions.org/retail-advice/people-start-shopping-christmas/). That’s a significant chunk to lose out on if you are starting your campaign late.
- Because Your Company Will Stand Out
For the past two years, the British department store Selfridges has opened its brick-and-mortar Christmas store in August. The smart marketers behind this plan have turned the early opening into an event. It receives loads of media attention in the U.K. and across the world, despite this year opening some 142 days before Santa Claus is due to slide down the chimney.
Because the campaign is so unique, Selfridges really stands out. Think about it. If you get an e-mail pitch with candy cane imagery in August or September, it’s a lot more likely to capture your attention than one with similar pictures in November or December, when everyone’s into candy canes. By getting an early jump on advertising, you ensure your campaign will get special attention.
- Because You Have Time to Tweak It
When you start your campaign in August, you will have plenty of time to gauge whether the campaign is working before you get to the frazzled November and December months. At that point, it’s way too late to make changes to your campaign. In fact, you won’t really know whether it’s working until a few weeks before Christmas.
But by starting your campaign early, you are building in a cushion that will allow you to make changes as needed. Not getting enough opens on your emails? Mix up the messaging. Getting too few likes, shares or retweets on social media? Highlight some different products. Flexibility is the key to any really good marketing campaign, and starting early gives you a chance to take advantage of that flexibility often.
- Because You Will Be in a Time Crunch Later
Let’s face it, November and December are busy months. From a practical standpoint, whether you own a small business or work for a Fortune 500 company, you are going to be swamped at the end of the year. You don’t want to be making decisions about a holiday campaign while you are supposed to be doing 10,000 other things, not to mention your own personal shopping.
Here are ways that doing an early campaign helps you save time later:
- You will have already set up all the logistics for the campaign.
- You plan out sales dates and merchandise well in advance.
- You can avoid deliverability problems that often strike in November and December.
- You can survey potential buyers to find out what they will be looking for well ahead of time and have those things ready to go.
- You can troubleshoot your ads well before the Christmas rush.
- Because You Get Better Pricing
Know what’s in high demand in November and December? Online ad inventory. Know what that means? Higher prices. When people are competing for ads, it drives up pricing. When lots of people are clicking on your ads, it eats up your ad budget more quickly. For instance, an ad that may have gotten 50 clicks in a day in September will get 500 in December. If you only have $X dedicated to the campaign, you may spend your allotted budget in one day instead of seven.
That’s why it’s smart to start early. Inventory will be cheaper and you will probably get a better conversion rate. People will only click on your ads if they’re really interested, rather than clicking on everything in sight as they desperately try to finish their shopping. That means more real leads at a lower price, which is the goal of every campaign.
The Bottom Line
You don’t need to wait until it’s cold and snowy outside to launch your Christmas campaign. With creative ideas, you can save time and money on your holiday outreach, not to mention gaining lots of dollars from making those early sales.