This Christmas, I'd like you to spare a thought for the most over-worked, under-appreciated hero.
The forgotten friend saving you countless hours of frustration and heartache.
While you're enjoying the free hors-d'oeuvres, the delicious beverages and the friendly banter that comes with all pre-Christmas festivities, this unsung warrior slaves away to make your life easier...
I'm talking, of course, about the humble spam filter.
As every year passes, this humble, unnasuming workhorse has to shovel away the annual deluge of promotional waste blasted into your email inbox so you don't have to drown in a gloop of Christmas marketing rubbish.
Don't be one of those brands.
Stop loading up annoying promotional noise into your marketing bazookas. Make the humble spam filter's life a little bit easier this year.
Christmas is a time of giving, not a time of selling.
Stop concentrating on your customer's back pocket and start thinking about what they actually might like your brand to help them with.
Your marketing should be something your loyal customers genuinely look forward to receiving.
A 'thanks' in reply should be your target KPI.
This Christmas, get to work developing helpful, entertaining and inspirational content and show your subscribers how much you care.
As a gift to you this Christmas, we've got 5 content marketing ideas to help you start delighting your customers easing that spam filter's festive workload.
Don't miss our 5 weeks of Christmas marketing gifts
We've already wrapped up 5 packages of ecommerce marketing helpfulness and dropped them off at our subscribers' inbox doors.
Gift 1 – Online Store Technology
We help you prepare your site for the impending stampede of virtual traffic during the oncoming online shopping silly season. These changes might take a little more time than the rest, so we’ve got them ready to go nice and early.
Gift 2 – Promotion
Instead of the same old annoying promotional barrages, we show you how to develop customer-friendly content your subscribers actually want to receive.
The goal for this type of promotion is a little bit different...
Dollars, sales and conversion rates are important - but real loyalty happens when your customers start thanking you for your marketing.
Gift 3 – Design
Don't leave the jaw-dropping Christmas decorations to those old school bricks and mortar retailers. Why shouldn't our online stores be must-visit Christmas shopping destinations?
We shared a few design ideas to help you turn your online shopping window into something parents want to take their kids to see each December.
Gift 5 – Customer Experience
Our luck last gift shows you how to turn your online store into a loyalty-generating shopping experience that gives your customers those Christmas warm and fuzzys.
Make sure you check out the rest of our Christmas marketing series after we regale you with our festive content marketing ideas...
#1. Content Advent Calendars
Everyone loves advent calendars.
I remember the giddy excitement of opening that little perforated cardboard window every December morning, waiting eagerly to see which Christmas chocolate delight I was about gobble up.
I'm picking up what this little character is putting down. It was a fun time...
Why not appropriate this delicious memory and use this concept with a daily image treat on your social media channels.
If you’re feeling really generous, you could prepare an email advent calendar series with a different blog article for each of the 25 days. Use a combo of influencer interviews, product spotlights, gift ideas, staff Christmas stories, or curated content from other sites.
All of a sudden your subscribers have a strong purpose to continually open your emails, read your content and re-engage with your brand in the lead up to Christmas (just make sure your content is helpful and valuable, not annoying and promotional).
Just copy everything Huckberry did.
Even Santa wants to sign up for their content (we’re sure he’d love to know how to fix a better eggnog).
The outdoors retailer produced a ‘Guide to the Holidays’, complete with tips on how to make the ultimate Rob Roy, Tree lopping advice, DIY ornament how-to’s, cookie hacks from an expert chef, and even a downloadable holidays playlist.
Such supreme free content helpfulness for a joint that sells men’s clothes. Each of these articles could be broken up into a daily Christmas email send.
If you were on that list, you’d open every email, and you’d love Huckberry for their Christmas content present.
This year, the outdoors ecommerce Everest-climbers have scaled the customer friendliness heights again.
Their Golden Ticket series offers up a huge potential prize (to the value of $200 or more) for one lucky buyer each day in the lead up to Christmas.
But every other user still gets a consolation gift of Huckberry sales credits up to $500.
This concept encourages repeat visitation from loyal customers. Everyone wants to see what the Golden Ticket prize is each day. Even better, every new customer is greeted with their consolation prize, sparking their interest to revisit the site and check out the campaign.
In edition 2 of our Ecommerce Christmas Marketing Gift Series we showcased the outstanding efforts of fashion powerhouse Asos in December 2014.
These guys created an advent calendar on a specially arranged twitter handle for an inspired Christmas contest. The account posted a new photo every day until Dec 24, offering fans the chance to win a new prize daily.
To encourage user generated content genius, Asos followers that posted a picture using the hashtag #instadvent had chance to win the prize of the day.
If you haven’t already, read up on this concept and 5 other customer friendly promotional ideas.
#2. Send Helpful Christmas Ideas From Your Team
Christmas gives everyone the warm and fuzzies.
Even if you’re not enjoying a down-under summer of 30 degree days and beachside barbecues, you’ll be wrapping your hands around a warm mug of cocoa in front of a blazing fire, wearing your cable knit grandma sweater.
We love to get personal at Christmas time. It’s all about showing your loved ones how much you care.
Your brand is no different. Get cosy with your customers and show your human side. A series of blog articles from your team members will heighten the personal connection with your subscribers.
Ask for their favourite Christmas memories, the best gift they ever received, their family’s plans for celebrating the holiday, and their tips, ideas and suggestions for readers.
Get each employee to profile their favourite product and explain why they think it could be a super gift idea. Much better to have a present suggestion from a real, nice, personable human, than a shameless plug from a soulless brand.
Goulet Pens, one of our all-time favourite niche ecommerce brands, have taken this idea to the next level. The stationary retailers created ‘12 Days of Goulet (The Musical)’ as a special little gift for their loyal subscribers. Combining all of the hidden musical talents of their staff, Goulet created a cheeky spoof on the old classic, substituting pen related lyrics.
This wasn’t about sales. It was about strengthening the brand’s personal connection with their subscribers (and having some office Christmas fun!).
#3. Poach Christmas Inspiration From Other Industries
Every marketing pro is at a creative zenith leading into the Christmas sales period.
There’s lots of budget, which means lots of innovative and new ideas to attract new customers and engage existing ones.
Subscribe to as many diverse retailers as possible. Stay in touch with their blogs, sites, email programs and social profiles. Cast a wide net across different markets and industries – not just your direct competitors.
Don’t be afraid to appropriate the most amazing ideas from other best in class retailers.
Why not take the concepts and reshape them to work for your target audience? The hard work is already done for you!
It’s not just competitors and other online retailers who come up with the best ideas. Get into the habit of market research Santa-style. Try and keep an eye on everyone to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.
One simple way to manage your market research effectively - sign up to a bunch of other retailer's email program using the agreggating service Unroll.me.
Their software allows you to roll up all of your selected emails into one daily send that you can skim and scroll through for insporation without clogging up your inbox.
#4. Show Your Charitable Christmas Spirit
Christmas is a time of giving, and just like your friends and family – brands can get sentimental. If your brand genuinely cares about a charitable cause, now’s the time to prove it. Leave the cold hard sales to your Ebenezer Scrooge competitors and develop a December donation campaign.
But you don’t have to save the world to prove your brand cares.
US sock e-retailer Nice Laundry offers the chance to send in their old pairs to be recycled. It’s a simple gesture with no huge financial cost, but it’s a real reason for customers to choose them over their competitors.
A simple idea - for each item sold, offer a pledge to give a percentage of revenue, a $5 donation, or a free Christmas gift to the charity that your brand and community cares about.
Your customers will thank you for it in the long term.
So will the Ghost of Christmas Past.
#5. Email Subscription Gift Popover
Remember, Christmas isn’t all about the dollars. Sure, you make a bunch of your annual sales in the last two months of the year, but you need to keep your long term perspective goggles firmly attached.
Clearly Christmas time is also a high traffic time for new visitors, which means you have a great opportunity to snag more email subscribers, and develop long term relationships with helpful, valuable content.
Remember, ecommerce growth is about growing your base of loyal repeat customers. Don’t let your customer-friendliness slip in favour of a bunch of one-time sales.
Swap the buy-now-or-else banner and introduce something that shows you care about your visitors, not just their wallets. Consider introducing a popover with a call-to-action to subscribe for email updates, and offer a freebie, discount or ebook as a festive incentive.
We’ve already told you about Huckberry’s editorial-first approach to ecommerce.
These guys know that building an audience of loyal, repeat customers is the sustainable path to ecommerce success.
Their popover call-to-action explains the brand’s ethos;
‘Subscribe for our awesome email content so that we can prove to you that we understand you before we try to sell you stuff we think you’ll like’.
Think customer first, sales second. Even at Christmas time.
Content Marketing is a year round marathon, not a Christmas sprint
Customer friendliness is an attitude, not a tactic.
Content marketing is an approach, not an isolated campaign.
Don't just delight your customers with helpful in the last two months of the year in the hope of a little festive sales spike.
You need to develop a content marketing strategy that gives your whole business the direction it needs to attract, convert and retain more customers with helpful, valuable content - all throughout the year.
A structured content marketing program will give your business the ability to develop genuine marketing assets. Your single investment in a piece of content continues to bring you new customers (and nurture existing ones) for weeks, months and years into the future.
If you're interested in learning more about content marketing for your ecommerce brand, we've written a whole miniature online book about it. You should read it.
Our Ecommerce Content Marketing Guide will show you the strategic pillars you need to make this stuff work. Just click the big button and you're on your way.
Next in your Ecommerce Christmas Gift Series – Customer Experience
We’ve got one last gift of online retail helpfulness to send you as part of our five edition series. And we’ve saved the best for last.
I don't need to tell you how critical your Christmas customer's experience is to your conversion rate.
An easy-to-use, fast and intuitive online browsing experience is table stakes.
Our advice will help you create a new benchmark.
We're not focussing on conversion rates. We're showing you how to delight your existing customers with valuable content helpfulness to help you make sure they stay customers for life.
We'll also show you how to take advantage of your annual spike in Christmas traffic. Instead of selling your soul for a one time purchase, our advice will help you develop lasting relationships with as many new browsers as possible.
Trust and thanks will get your brand repeat sales, not mindless Christmas sales promotions. Here's the article;
In the meantime, get started on some developing some email content your subscribers actually look forward to receiving.