Rajiv Ranjan Rai

Rajiv Ranjan Rai
Head, Growth and Ecosystem

How do you plan and execute holiday campaigns without a hitch? Our Infosys Equinox Digital Commerce Marketing Operations offering has been helping brands do this and Rajiv sheds lights on some of the tricks of this trade.

Build “stickiness” into your calendar

Give shoppers reasons to visit and purchase frequently throughout the season (and look forward to opening every email). Consider daily or even hourly flash sales, contests, rotating gifts with purchase, mystery deals and creative loyalty point offers.

And don’t be afraid to start your campaigns “early.” Half of US shoppers expect to be holiday shopping by the end of October, and nearly a third of early birds say they’ll be finished by then.

Craft your channel strategy

Start with specific goals, such as adding new customers or increasing online revenue. These metrics help to determine how successful your channel is, and at what cost to your budget. Always consider your target customer and which channels work best to reach them, using your analytics data for context.

Then, thoroughly map out the promotions and creative you need for each channel, including web and in-store, retail partners, marketplaces, ad networks and social platforms. Ensure you tailor and optimize your banners, messaging and formats for each avenue.

Make sure your production and execution plan accounts for the nuances such as specs, launch dates, and exclusions that must be communicated, depending on the agreements you have with your partners.

Plan for personalization

The more targeted and relevant your offers, the higher they convert. Your personalization strategy can be as simple as email flows that dynamically insert products based on profile info, site behavior, past purchases or email engagement. Or, it can serve dynamic content on your site in the same way, including geolocation, referral source, cart contents and visit frequency as targeting context.

Consider crafting messaging that speaks to specific user segments based on their past interactions, purchases or account data. Naturally, the more granular your personalization strategy, the more versions of content and creative you need. Scaling up your resources to support personalized journeys can be well worth the investment, especially if you leverage generative AI and automation.

Prepare your catalog

Make sure you budget enough time for updating your catalog so pricing, promotions, attributes and tags, metafields, images and category assignments are in line with your holiday campaign strategy. Your operations team must have attention to detail, rigorous discipline and the patience to QA their work.

Optimized catalog data supports great user experiences. Gift guides and finders are more accurate and helpful to shoppers. Site search is more relevant, categories more complete, and cross-sells more contextual.

And don’t forget to audit your catalog to clean out old, out-of-stock products that can leave you with a “Holiday hangover”!

Refresh your theme

There are many ways to decorate your digital properties with holiday cheer. Consider re-skinning your site with holiday colors or graphics (within your brand guidelines, of course). You can also add holiday icons to your logo or menu items, animated elements like falling snowflakes to your home page, festive illustrations to your footer menu, or holiday graphics to your pop-up modals and digital gift cards.

If you’re an international merchant with localized stores, you may want to exclude certain geos from this treatment or customize them for their respective winter holidays.

Build landing pages

The holidays are the perfect time to create and curate in-depth gift guides and product finders, and new theme-based categories. The fastest and most efficient way to spin up new landing pages is with a digital experience platform (DXP) like Adobe Experience Manager, or content management system.

SEO tip: Keep your holiday themed page URLs live year-round to maintain SEO strength, and simply update the content each year at that URL.

Invest in responsive images and layouts

It takes extra effort, but it’s always worth it to optimize images for various device breakpoints and retina display. Remember that the mobile phone is the in-store shopper’s sidekick. Banner text should be readable and images clear for every screen dimension.

Optimize images for performance

Many digital commerce teams cut corners and upload heavy images without the right compression and formats for optimal page load speed. The cost comes in higher bounce rates, conversion rates and even lost organic traffic. Make sure your operations team builds image optimization into their SOP.

Apply searchandizing rules

Personalization engines rely on behavioral data to determine how products rank within a category or search list, however, they’re agnostic with respect to upcoming events that can throw a monkey wrench into their machine learning.

By manually configuring merchandising logic that aligns with your holiday strategy, you can optimize your algorithm for a rapid shift in buying context. For example, you can down-rank products that customers typically buy for themselves, and promote products more likely to be gifted, or boost seasonal products to the top of results for a set period of time. Ideally, your rules should account for inventory levels, and bury products as they go out of stock, or a significant portion of variants sell out.

Tip: start early! With enough lead time, your operations team can review your seasonal product list and prepare synonyms, apply search redirects to specific products and landing pages, and use data to craft merchandizing strategy.

Test your promotions

The holidays are prime time for discounts, which means Marketing must get creative on the start and end dates, merchandizing rules and audience segments each promotion applies to. To execute without a hitch, these specs must be clearly communicated to the Technology and Operations teams that implement them.

Once set up, it’s critical to triple check start and end dates, and QA your promotions across a number of conditions before rolling them out to customers, and triple check that they’re active once your emails, SMS and social campaigns deploy.

And don’t forget to pay close attention to the details, such as the microcopy you use to communicate a coupon code’s success or failure. More specific feedback provides better customer experience than a generic “coupon can’t be applied.” Does the code not apply to a specific SKU? Does the cart total not qualify (yet)? Did the code expire on a specific date? Was the code already redeemed?

Ramp up people power

The most important component of a hitch-free holiday campaign is your people! Your operations team ensures all the moving parts come together for a seamless season. But with your anticipated traffic spike comes a spike in workload – at the very time of year staff want to book PTO. And digital marketing is not an industry where you can hire and “fire” seasonal talent to add capacity.

What’s more, in a fast-paced dynamic environment, last-minute requests and changes are to be expected. Make sure you plan in advance who on the team is available on which days to jump in and handle any time-sensitive contingencies, such as product additions from vendors and partners.

Tapping into outsourced operations talent that can scale up and down throughout the year as needed is a cost-effective and highly efficient strategy. Infosys Equinox’ Digital Commerce Marketing Operations group can reduce your campaign costs by up to 40%, with an experienced team that keeps “the lights on” for you, even outside of your standard business hours.

Want to learn more about how we can help you streamline your digital commerce and marketing operations?

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