Web marketing holiday prep, Part 1

Yield Software · September 16, 2009 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/a9d

Integrating online and offline marketing tactics

Fat Wallet I know, I know: every day it seems you hear news about the dismal sales climate in the US. And it’s true: consumers are sitting on their wallets.

However, with a little strategic planning and creative thinking, you can help ensure that you finish the year with a bang. In this three-part series about prepping for the coming holidays, we’ll cover how you can drive traffic to your site and increase conversions.

And the first step is ensuring your holiday campaign components work – not just in driving traffic but actually work together without glitches and snafus.

Case in point: A few weeks ago I visited Williams-Sonoma at my local mall. While ringing up my purchases, the sales clerk informed me of cooking classes the store was holding – and gave me a flyer listing the class topics and dates.

Cool! I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pasta dough from scratch. However, while in-store cooking events are a great tactic for getting people into the store (and buying things), Williams-Sonoma made a big error: people interested in the classes have to call the store to RSVP. Even worse, the flyer from my store didn’t list the store’s phone number, a URL for online information or an email address.

Many Williams-Sonoma stores across the U.S. are holding these cooking classes – and a quick search showed that people are posting videos to YouTube about them and talking about the company on Twitter – yet W-S doesn’t incorporate these consumer-generated videos on its own YouTube channel or website, and it seems there are at least a couple Twitter feeds: the Santa Monica, CA store has a Twitter feed but is not following its fans; and a corporate Twitter feed that has a few hundred followers, but only follows a few dozen in return, and that has a tweet in August that obliquely refers to cooking classes in the stores this weekend (with no link to calendar listings).

It should be said that I am a HUGE fan of Williams-Sonoma (my kitchen is testimony), and so it gives me no joy to use them as an example of poor marketing integration strategies.  But by not integrating its campaign components, W-S is losing some serious buzz opportunity!

Whether you’re a pure e-tailer or a bricks and mortar business with an online presence, consider the following strategies when planning holiday campaigns:

First: Integrate offline and online – Make it easy for people to do business with you. All printed promotional materials should, at the very least, include your phone number, email address and website URL. If you’re hot into social media, include your Facebook and Twitter URLs.

If you’re holding an event – whether virtual or face-to-face – develop a special landing page where people can sign-up and use this URL on all promo materials.

W-S, for example, does have a Facebook Fan Page but doesn’t list events on it. On top of that, the paper flyer the store gave me lacks any contact info, making it difficult for people like me to register for the cooking classes (now I have to go online, find the store, look up the phone number and call – not convenient).

Second: Join the conversation – Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your company and its products. You can either ignore this conversation or promote it. When the group Msyto & Pizzi did a video to the Geico theme song, rather than ignore it Geico added it to their website.

If you haven’t already, develop a Twitter profile, a Facebook Fan Page, a YouTube channel, a blog – or even an iPhone app. Reserving your profiles now, even if you’re not ready to use them, is important because cyber-squatters are stealing brand names.

Once you’ve developed your social media presence, reach out to the people already talking about your company. Retweet their tweets, thank them for their contributions, promote their videos, and even ask them the write guest blog posts. You’ll create more buzz – and more sales.

Three: Test, test, test – In his book, “Slightware: The Next Great Threat to Brands,” Kenneth J. Weiss talks about how poorly branded and badly-executed software-powered applications negatively affect your customers and your brand.

This includes landing pages where the order process is broken (or those e-tailers that make people register before making a purchase – my pet peeve!) or even something “small” like making people call to RSVP for an event versus signing up online.

Once your campaign components are in place, test them – and have your family members test them, too, from their clunky home computers and smart phones. What works? What doesn’t? Listen to feedback from your testers and fix the bottlenecks.

In my next post, I’ll cover strategies you can use to increase traffic and conversions for the holiday season.

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