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2019 Holiday Readiness: How to Power the Best Campaigns and Promotions

This is the first in a tutorial series that breaks down everything retailers need to do for a successful 2019 holiday shopping season. 

Would you look at that! I hate to do it (somebody is going to), but we are 130 days out from Black Friday. But, chances are, you already knew that.

I’ve spent the greater part of my career as a retailer. During that time, preparations for Black Friday always seemed to start earlier and earlier. To feel prepared, I always craved practical information focused on improving holiday processes and strategies. This year, Salesforce collaborated with retail experts from around the world to bring years of experiences, insights, and learnings. With early preparation and solid tools and strategies in place, you can avoid (limit?) impossible-to-achieve to-do lists and the scramble to meet deadlines — and we’re here to help.

The reason why a readiness plan is important is because it builds confidence in your organization that you are going to deliver on expectations.” Zachary Bezyak | Senior Manager, Marketing Technology & Operations, Best Buy

This year, we break down how to meet shoppers on every channel of engagement with consistent, personalized experiences — and show you exactly how to do it.

Our 2019 Holiday Readiness Guide is a go-to resource for holiday planning. It’s filled with expert advice on how to create promotions that yield results, embed your brand everywhere, get your site holiday-ready, and much more. Plus, you’ll get the scoop on the latest trends and innovations. In the coming months, we’ll also show you how to make holiday magic with this tutorial series.

So, what’s the first step on the path to holiday readiness?

Planning successful promotions and campaigns. Read on for tips on how to:

  • Build an integrated holiday promotional calendar
  • Align with inventory and operations teams
  • Maximize impact with data
  • Test your messaging throughout the season

1. Evaluate what worked — and what didn’t — last year

Take a look at your campaign performance during the 2018 holiday season to understand what resonated, such as:

  • The emails that drove the most site visits
  • The most-redeemed mobile coupons
  • The social campaign with the highest engagement

Your prior campaign performance will help determine where lightning can strike twice. With this data, you can build a promotional calendar that includes:

  • Special gift offers
  • Stocking stuffers
  • Gifts grouped by category, such as price and personality type

2. Review this year’s campaign successes as a temperature check

However, as shopper expectations evolve, last year’s success will only go so far. Your performance through the year is also a good read on what will make an impact during the 2019 holiday season. Analyze this year’s campaigns — so you can replicate and adapt, at scale, that summer program with off-the-charts engagement for your holiday programs.

3. Sustain messaging with back-end support

Nothing is worse than driving excited shoppers to out-of-stock items. Align with your inventory planning team to maintain the right levels of inventory support for your marketed products.

Get operations teams prepared for the influx in messaging, too. Consider your critical functions and goals — online account management, in-store experience, purchase updates, and general marketing key performance indicators (KPIs). Identify potential failure points in your operations and create a test plan to safeguard against them.

4. Dig into data — starting now

To build the best data profiles, analyze your data (e.g., names, email addresses, demographics, purchase history, and ad impressions) and find overlaps in how shoppers interact with your channels (e.g., the time of day they open emails or click on an ad). Understanding your data now will help you dynamically serve future personalized content and offers.

Then get an even fuller picture of search habits and behaviors with second- and third-party data from premier providers like Nielsen and Acxiom — backed by consumer trust and consent.

5. Ask shoppers directly about their preferences

The phrase “straight from the horse’s mouth” applies — ask shoppers directly how they prefer to receive promotions and offers. After all, 40% won’t shop with a brand that doesn’t use their preferred channel. Do this through surveys and via a preference center on your site or app.

6. Test messaging for relevance

Increase effectiveness over time by A/B testing offers, creative, content, and tactical elements like time of day. Test throughout the holiday season to see what resonates and adjust accordingly. As a bonus, these learnings will help you kick-start 2020 planning.

Illustration of the A/B testing offers with creative and content

I hope that you’re ready to “sleigh” this holiday season. These are just a few of the tips you’ll find inside the Holiday Readiness Guide. To learn more, visit Holiday Readiness Headquarters to discover what’s on every commerce, marketing, service, and technology professional’s list. And check back for future installments of this informative series!


John Strain is the Senior Vice President of Retail and Consumer Goods at Salesforce. He leads his teams to build strategies and partnerships around personalization, relevance, and engagement. John has previously worked at Gap Inc., Williams Sonoma, and Total Wine & More. (His favorite wine, in case you’re wondering, is pinot noir.) Connect with him on LinkedIn.

More by John Strain

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