The stress of the holiday season is behind you and it’s time to put your feet up and take a breather, right? Hardly. Successful ecommerce companies know that the next holiday season isn’t far away. Testing Adwords campaigns, preparing website updates, planning email campaigns, and procuring products takes an enormous amount of time. So grab your numbers from 2013 and get ready for a data-driven 2014.

Really? Do I have to?

Could you have been more prepared in 2013? We thought so. So get out that data. You probably have a whole lot of it and it comes with the added benefit that it was within a short time period – no Google algorithm changes or economic conditions to muddy your analysis.

What worked and what didn’t work?

Before you plan next year’s campaigns you want to understand what worked and didn’t work this past year. This isn’t just about what sold the most. Think about COGS, repeat order purchase, average order value, and customer lifetime value.

Here’s an example. What if every holiday you have a small set of very popular items. You spend your ad budget promoting these items, and they sell well. The campaign is working! Right? Not necessarily:

  • This may be an item customers would buy anyway. Meaning your ad dollars would be better spent elsewhere.
  • These products might be bringing in the discount-chasing holiday shopper, but failing to turn them into year-round customers. This can have a major impact on overall campaign ROI that you’ll need to take into account.

Take the time to put your campaigns through some analytical rigor. Find where you’re getting the most bang for your buck and plan some experiments you would like to run the next holiday season.

How do I turn 2013 holiday shoppers into repeat buyers?

If this is the first time you’re asking that question, well…you messed up. The best time to turn holiday shoppers into repeat buyers is during the holidays.Within hours and days of their purchase. If you didn’t do that, get started ASAP.

Act now to come up with a great retention marketing program so that when November 2014 comes around you’re ready. Use your data to understand what drives repeat purchases and then leverage that into your onsite, retargeting, and email marketing plans for getting those first timers to come back during the year.

For example, imagine that you are a clothing store. Over the holidays you sell lots of sparkly scarves. You also know, by looking at data throughout the year, that people who buy sparkly scarves also buy dark wash jeans and brown belts. You’ll be best poised to succeed at getting that second purchase if you tailor the content of your follow-up marketing to highlight those items.

Wow! Look at all of these new customers!

It’s easy to get big eyes when you pore over your holiday acquisition numbers. But before you start to remarket to the entire list, remember: during the holidays, you’re selling to a different customer.

This is a customer that may not normally be interested in your product, probably doesn’t know that much about your product category, and doesn’t know what they’re shopping for. Check out this Google Trends chart showing searches for “Gift Guide.”

Gift-Guide

It’s critical to identify holiday shoppers and segment them out of your overall customer base. They want something very different from you, and it’s in your best interests to treat them accordingly. If you send them an email a day for the intervening 364 days, they’ll unsubscribe long before present buying season rolls around.

You can identify these shoppers in a few ways:

  • Look for first time shoppers during the holiday season (November-December)
  • Sort out users who checked the “this is a gift” box
  • Look for shoppers who requested gift wrap

Conclusion

This quieter time of the year is an ideal time to dig into your data and get the insights you need for a more profitable 2014. Now put down that leftover turkey, it’s time to get moving.

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