Step Two: Setting up Your Sale
1. Create the Mood
Once you've decided on a theme, use every tool at your disposal to support that theme and create the right mood. Use colors associated with that holiday – in your backgrounds, graphics.
Make your calls to action and most important text stand out by using high contrast or nearly-opposing colors.
For example, if you want the mood to be cold and icy, use cool colors like blue and white; and punch it up with contrasting warm gold or light-colored text against a dark background.
You can add a contrasting call to action within a button, to make it even more compelling…
The latter is better if you want your graphic to take the reader to a landing page: The former would work better as the header to a sign-up box or email Template background.
And do test your graphics. Test them on immediate staff and trusted associates or peers… and later, AB split-test them to see which combinations have the most success.
(More on split-testing later.)
2. Make your offer or coupon Time-Limited
Decide on a time period for either just your sign-up offer; or both your sign-up offer and your paid upsell.
Don't make the time so short that people don't have a chance to get pay checks in (or move money from their bank to PayPal and vice versa). But don't make it too long, either.
Build your offer around specific holiday dates, and work backwards, deciding when your potential subscribers or customers won't have time to think of offers any more – they'll be heading into holiday travel or preparations.
3. Subject Lines and Headings
If you're sending out broadcast emails about your offer, be aware of words that cause bounce-backs in your subscribers' spam filters. (If you track your email campaigns at all, you should know these.)
There are various words to avoid: “Free" and “Make Money" being the two worst culprits. And don't try to game the spam filters either by using symbols instead of letters (e.g. “M*ke M*ney") – most spam filters now hate this worse than they hate multiple exclamation marks!!! Or ALL CAPS!!!
Try to make your subject lines read as “naturally" as possible. This means Resist The Urge to Use Initial Caps: Instead of “Want a Juicy Coupon?", try “Want a juicy coupon?"
(Your subscribers also will probably prefer a more natural, friendly approach.)
Do use the word “coupon", if that's what you're promoting. But check to make sure it gets through.
Ultimately, you have to think of what your intended reader will find irresistible first; spam filters second.
Remember that people want:
• “% off"
“Tip" seems to perform better than “tips" (plural): Perhaps people feel one tip must be incredibly valuable, while multiple tips are hard work “right now" and can be put on the back burner for later.
According to top Autoresponder and stats companies like Experian.com, they also respond to:
• “Ends [today, tomorrow, in three days, on the 21st, etc.]"
• “Last minute"
Questions can work well, if you hit on the right one.
And do send out more than one email – at least three; the final one including the words “last chance" or “gone tomorrow".
(Take note of your average subscriber's response time and allow for their busy schedules around holidays, when setting a final date.)
4. Think Mobile
Do keep in mind current habits, which include 67% of all shopping done online and 82% researched online; then bought locally. Optimize your offers and blog for mobiles. Keep to one point per page, and a minimum of links and tabs.
Include strategies such as QR codes for your mobile users. (Your QR code should do the equivalent of saving them five or six steps such as clicking through pages, links and tabs with a mouse.) Consider creating Apps that will allow your visitors to buy straight away, or make reservations or book appointments via their mobiles. Give them the option of being notified by text message.
5. Track and Test
Use native Apps such as your Facebook Page's Insights to track your promotion-related posts and announcements.
Also be sure to split-test ads, landing pages, headlines, subject lines, graphics, posts – but not all at once! (The whole point of split testing is to test one single element at a time before proceeding to the next: For example…
• Does the Pink headline get more clickthroughs from segment A?
• Does the Blue headline get more click-throughs from segment B?
Do get into the habit of reading the official blogs from Autoresponder companies: They often have great tips and tutorials on topics such as tracking (and split-testing) – such as this email split-testing article from the official Aweber blog.
Often, the only difference between modestly successful and resoundingly successful Holiday marketers lies in which marketer does track and test and tweak; and which one just “sets and forgets".
6. Promote Your Holiday Promotion
You should begin planning your promotion schedule straight away – right when you start planning your actual promotion.
• Install the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin to help you schedule a consistent stream of blog posts
• Write a press release well before the event, and submit it marked “FOR RELEASE ON OR BEFORE [Actual date]"
• Make up a Media List of online directories, coupon directories, eZines, and local publications to send your press release to. (Be sure to make your Press Release not only about the What-Where-Who-Why-When, but also a fascinating story that agency's readers will love.)
• Consider advertising and create a budget – even if it's just “3 promoted Facebook posts". Do your advertising at the start of your campaign – unless you are promoting posts: In which case, add paid promotion to your top posts that are resulting in the most click-throughs.
• Create a header with a call to action for your Facebook Page
• Create a Tweet Chat, if that strategy is compatible with your offer and market
• Line up guest spots on blog radio shows, podcasts or blogs – not to talk about your promotion, but about the topic it's related to (some aspect of holiday production, cooking, stress, etc.) Make sure your hostess is willing to talk up your promotion for you; preferably at the beginning, middle and end of your interview or in a resource box at the beginning or end of your guest post.
• Find JV partners – this doesn't have to be a big, heavy “partnership", but more a case of “I'll promote your Holiday offer if you promote mine". But do make sure these cross-promotions are genuine and useful to each other's audience. It can actually be harmful if you are both plugging irrelevant offers.
• Make a list of the social media networks you are going to use for promotion. Suggestions:
• Email your list – and ask them to share your promotion with anyone they feel would be interested.
Do all this and have it completed at least one week before your Holiday event!
7. Pay Special Attention to your Affiliates
Prepare your Affiliates for your upcoming promotion too. Get them excited about by holding a contest, if you have the time and inclination. At the very least, provide them with:
And any other rich goodie they can use to promote your Holiday offer – and make their own content more interesting to their readers.
8. Keep Promoting Your Holiday Offer
One mistake often made by new marketers is sending emails out once… then forgetting all about them.
Send one out in advance; one during the offer period and one just before it closes (“This is your last chance to…") at the very least.
Track and tweak all during the duration of the offer period.
If one promotion area (e.g. SlideShare) gets many shares, views and clickthroughs, redouble or boost your efforts in that particular network. (Another newbie mistake: Pouring advertising dollars into venues that are not doing well. If your budget is limited, you are much better off pouring it into the areas that are performing well – these are the customers and subscribers who are creating your entire buzz, so help them create more!
9. Follow Up after the Holiday is Over
Thank your affiliates. Send people who were extra helpful a gift or at least a hearty, public shout-out.
Check to see that your customers and subscribers are enjoying your offer. See if they have any questions. Let them know how they can contact you.
Plan an email series to keep in touch – so your new subscribers don't forget who you are and why they liked you!