Marketing Strategy

5 Holiday Marketing Tips to Target Last-Minute Shoppers

Kimberly Findlay

Written by Kimberly Findlay

Digital Strategist @ Konstruct

The Christmas marketing season is in full swing. You planned out your Christmas marketing strategy months ago, your Google Shopping ads are running, your Instagram feed is full of the latest products and promos, and sales from your eCommerce store are starting to pick up steam. 

Or maybe not.

No matter where you are in your holiday marketing campaign, whether you have had sales or not, it’s not too late to kick your Christmas marketing plan into high gear and target those last-minute shoppers. 

Last-minute online shopping is definitely a thing. An online survey by eCommerce platform Shopify showed 43% of shoppers planned to make their final purchases in the last three days before Christmas. 

Woman online shopping on her smartphone

The challenge for online stores is how to get the product to the customer in time for Christmas. It’s easy to do if you have a physical location where the customer can pick up the product. But it’s a bit more challenging for those who sell exclusively online.

The first step in creating your strategy for capturing last-minute shoppers (and capturing those last-minute shoppers’ dolla dolla bills!) is to know your delivery times. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you can’t deliver your product before Christmas, definitely do not say that you can. 

Once you know your delivery times and your cut-off dates for getting your products to your customers, you can begin to build your holiday marketing strategy. Here are our top-5 tips for capturing those last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Tip #1 – Offer E-gift cards

An e-gift card popping out of a phone screen

If you don’t currently offer e-gift cards, now is the time. In 2018, US shoppers spent over $160 billion on gift cards, most of which was in the 4th quarter (Christmas time!). Since 2015, nearly 93% of American consumers have either given or sent a gift card. With numbers like those, it’s important that your business offers some type of gift card program.

Offering e-gift cards is a win-win. E-gift cards meet your consumer’s needs and your needs. They are a great gift-giving solution for consumers, and you, as the retailer, don’t need to worry about delivery times. Plus, it creates an opportunity to make further sales.  Odds are the recipient of the gift card will spend more than the value of the gift card. 

Offering e-gift cards is a simple way to capture the last-minute shopper market and extend your Christmas selling period all the way up to Christmas day. Ultimately, e-gift cards allow you to make more money, which really is the goal. 

Tip #2 – Offer alternative shipping options

A mailman handing a gift to a woman

Another option is to charge more for shipping or offer alternative shipping options, such as a local pick-up site or personal delivery by you.  

In some areas, paying more for faster delivery may be an option. There are a number of delivery services (mostly in larger cities) that offer shorter delivery periods during the Christmas season at a higher cost. Those last-minute shoppers who are convinced your product is the perfect present for their special someone may be willing to pay higher shipping costs. It’s worth offering it as an option. 

If you choose to offer last-minute shipping, your communication about delivery times needs to be very clear. Most major delivery services publish holiday shipping times. It would be prudent to include these shipping times in a table on your website. Also, make it crystal clear that faster shipping comes at a higher cost. 

Another option is to refine your shipping area to the local market where you can personally deliver your product, or have convenient pick-up sites. In the last few days before Christmas, you could run a Google geotargeting ad campaign if you find this option attractive.

A Google geotargeting campaign allows you to restrict your ad coverage to a given location. You can target smaller geographic areas, such as a neighbourhood, or larger areas, like your city. The size of your geographic area will be dependent on your delivery or pick-up area. However, keep in mind that if you restrict your area too much, you may not have a large enough audience to make the ads worthwhile. 

Tip #3 – Reach out to your email list

A woman looking at her phone with a "holiday sale" email popping out of the screen

For those retailers that don’t want the headache of worrying about shipping, you will want to begin your Christmas marketing strategy a little sooner. In the first two weeks of December, plan a short email campaign for your email list.

The emails could simply highlight popular items or items that are on sale. If you have data on your customers, you can segment them and send them holiday gift guides and curated lists. You can also send countdown alerts, reminding customers that shipping deadlines are near. After shipping deadlines have passed, you can send emails to your list to promote your e-gift cards.

The people on your email list want to buy from you. They are the lowest-hanging fruit in any marketing strategy. Sending emails to your email list is the simplest holiday marketing strategy and can also have the greatest positive impact on your sales. If you only choose to implement one of our holiday marketing tips, this is the one we recommend the most. 

Tip #4 – Highlight curated lists on your website

An example of online gift guides (gifts under $25, gifts under $50, gifts under $100)

Again, this is a tactic that you will want to implement earlier in your Christmas marketing strategy. Your customers want it to be easy to buy from you. Creating curated lists and displaying them prominently on your website is one way to do that.

Look back at your sales data, figure out the popular items, and make a “Popular Items” list. Or, create a “for her” or a “for him”  list, making it easy for significant others to find a great present. You could also create a list based on price – under $20 items, under $50 items, and so on. 

Another option is to add a recommended products section to your Shopify site if you have a large inventory. Amazon is famous for doing this. It is helpful for your customer and makes it easy to up-sell, meaning more sales and more profits for you.

Tip #5 – Retargeting Ads

A woman holding her phone thinking about different products (purse, lipstick, shoes)

Finally, our last tip is to run retargeting ads that target customers in every part of your sales funnel. If you are unfamiliar with retargeting ads or the term remarketing, you can check out our blog post “What is remarketing and should my business be using it” for a quick summary. 

You can use both the Google Ads or Facebook/Instagram ads platforms for your retargeting campaign. When choosing which platform to use, look at your metrics and consider your budget. If you have a bit of a bigger budget, you could use both platforms. If your budget is a bit more restrictive, you will want to analyze your metrics, and understand where you are most likely to connect with your customer. Your metrics and budget will determine which platform you should focus your time and budget on. 

An easy place to start with retargeting ads is to focus on those customers who put a product in their cart but did not buy the product. They offer the greatest opportunity for a sale because they have already demonstrated an intention to buy. They want to buy your product, so make it easy for them to do so. 

You can also take a broader approach and retarget all visitors to your website. In your messaging, focus on your value proposition and highlight what makes your product unique or a must-have. It’s also important to include inviting images of your products to motivate the user to click on your ad. Use a direct call-to-action, such as “buy now” or “shop now.”

Bonus Tip

A woman stressed at a mall compared to a man online shopping at home

Here’s an innovative tip that we have not seen widely adopted by eCommerce stores. If executed properly, it will definitely make your business stand out. For creative holiday marketing ideas, this one has piqued our interest. 

Our bonus tip is to utilize geofencing in your Google Ad strategy. Stores with physical locations have used it with varying degrees of success to attract local customers. But it is less commonly used by eCommerce business owners who only have an online presence.

First, what is geofencing? Geofencing is a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger an event, such as an ad pop-up, when a mobile device enters or exits a virtual boundary. This boundary is called a geofence. You can set up a geofence around a particular area. When people browse the internet in that particular area, they will see your ad. 

The advantages to physical stores using a geofence are fairly obvious  – serve the message to people at the right place and time – when they are near your store, and it is convenient for them to come in and shop. But for eCommerce only stores, the ideal use of geofencing is less obvious.

Our suggestion: deliver the message when people are most frustrated with their current situation and are looking for a better solution. And what is a major source of frustration at Christmas? The malls! Long lines, low inventory, and grumpy shoppers all make for a miserable experience. 

Geofencing is your opportunity to reach an audience that is looking for a better way to shop. They are tired, grumpy, and don’t want to stand in any more lines. Your ad copy can point out that your store has no lines, no angry crowds, and they can do their Christmas shopping quickly. YOU can end their suffering. 

Get started on reeling in those last-minute shoppers!

Regardless of how much marketing, promotion, and sales you have done this holiday season, it is not too late to ramp up your holiday marketing and target those last-minute shoppers.  Focus on the quick wins – promoting to your email list and remarketing to website visitors that have demonstrated an intention to buy. And avoid the hassle of shipping deadlines by offering e-gift cards. 

At Konstruct, we work closely with clients to ensure they get the best results from their Google ads and PPC campaigns. If you are short on time or need an extra hand, we are here to help! If you think a Google search, a shopping campaign, or a PPC campaign targeting a geographic area is right for your Christmas marketing strategy, let us know how we can help!

Merry Christmas and Happy Selling!

Updated: December 10, 2020

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