Toning Down Online Holiday Marketing

Online marketing
It’s that critical time of year for retail online marketers. The time when most marketers begin testing online email campaigns, while looking back on last years results to measure current success and failures. The goal, of course, is to increase revenues – but there are pitfalls to the push that can be very bad for the brand.

“Think about toning down marketing right now,” says Chris Baggot, CMO and cofounder of ExactTarget, an email marketing solutions provider. “Think about frequency. If the open rate is 20 percent, slow down. If people aren’t listening, stop talking to them for a while and then they’ll pay attention.”

It’s a fact that the public searches differently during this time of year. And important that marketers look back on the trends from last year’s search results, then revise their sites to fix problems, and create greater effectiveness for their users.

But beware the impulse to send more emails than before. That can actually decrease the customers’ desire to buy, as they become easily overwhelmed during the holidays. Even if marketers get their “holiday ROI”, it could come at the expense of easily frustrating, and potentially losing customers for the remainder of the year.

WebTrends’ “2005 Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report” found that 52 percent of respondents plan to use testing techniques to optimize campaigns during the holiday season.

“One retailer said the holidays are no time to be doing testing. I see where they’re coming from, but you don’t want to wait until next year to see what you should be changing,” Jeff Seacrist, director of product marketing for WebTrends. “There’s no problem doing A/B testing of two different versions of a landing page offering different promotions and comparing the response rates, conversion rates, and profitability…to make better decisions about how you market to your larger population.”

So the key is, do this testing well in advance of the holiday season – beginnng in early October, then watch the trends and make the adjustments to drive the market, rather than waiting for the market to drive your response. Worse yet, by expanding your email campaigns for seasonality gains, you might drive your customers away for the long term. This is the time of year that the efforts to build your brand should show results, and not the time to force yourself into the marketplace.

If every retailer heeded this advice, I think we’d all have a happier, less stressful, more productive holiday season.

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