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October and Prime Day have come and gone, and with that, the start of this year’s holiday shopping season has too. Yet, with two full months ahead of us before the end of 2020 and doorbusters like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday on the horizon, the shopping season has also only just begun. 

Though it feels on-pause right now due to the world’s attention on this week’s US Presidential Election, 2020 has shown us time and time again that people are resilient, and life goes on — even as we move through change and uncertainty. Below, we dig into four key goals e-commerce marketers should focus on this month to keep calm, carry on, and grow their brands.

Goal 1: Optimize Digital Ad Campaigns — Connect, Engage, and Convert 

CPMs dipped in March and April this year and have been steadily climbing month-over-month thanks to market recovery and an enormous increase in online shopping. Between political and holiday advertising, November is poised to follow that upward trend. 

But hang on, that doesn’t mean you should stop your advertising campaigns. Brands who go dark when it gets loud are the ones who are fast-forgotten. 

Consider dialing back on reaching new potential customers and focus your budget on engaging already-engaged customers directly, empathetically, and often. Get the most bang for your buck by analyzing your campaigns’ performance frequently and optimizing them with agility. Last but not least, double down on highly targeted tactics like abandoned cart recovery campaigns to motivate shoppers to complete checkout. 

Important: Use data (particularly performance and conversions) as your guide to making decisions around managing your advertising budget, rather than relying on external influences like world events and the shipping landscape. 

How to Create an Abandoned Cart Recovery Campaign

Goal 2: Keep Marketing and Stick to Your Strengths 

While your customers’ attention may be more focused on the election than holiday planning at the moment, you must keep playing to your brand’s strengths. If political activism is core to your brand’s identity, personality, and narrative, keep participating in political conversation. But if it’s not, shaking messaging up can do more harm than good. It’s projected that political advertising will reach a record $14 billion this election — needless to say, there is A LOT of noise. 

More often than not, showing up and staying true to who you are is what your customers need from your brand. In times of change and uncertainty like these, people need to take good care of themselves and increase their positive emotions. What does your brand offer that helps your customers and makes them feel good?  

Important: Stay true to your brand in your marketing messaging and communications as we move through the uncertainty of this election season, and do not stop connecting with your customers.

Marketing in the Middle of an Election

Goal 3: Make the Most of BFCM and Advocate for the #ShopSmall Movement 

Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to support other small businesses. While it’s easy to assume that competition might be the default response during these uncertain times, small businesses need to remember the adage: We’re stronger together.

And this holiday season is the perfect opportunity to support the community by shopping small and collaborating with other small businesses to increase visibility and build customer loyalty. Consider seeking out complementary brands and offering partnership opportunities, such as joint discounts and deals, social media campaign/shoutouts, and blog exchanges.

Brand Partnerships: Why They Matter for D2C Brands

Goal 4: Double Down on Giving a World-Class Customer Experience 

The relationship your customers have with your brand and how it makes them feel is your greatest asset. This month, zero in on giving your customers a world-class experience across these three key areas:

1.) Manage inventory, packaging, shipping, and logistics

Having your pulse on inventory will go a long way in ensuring your customers have a great experience with your brand this holiday season. While this year presents new shipping challenges, your business can successfully manage them. Check this shipping preparation checklist twice, implement the customer experience tactics below, and take a deep breath. Everything is going to be alright.  

2.) Set expectations, and communicate clearly and with empathy  

Empathy and clear communication go a very long way when it comes to delivering a great customer experience. Be upfront, and set clear and realistic expectations around order deadlines for shipping guarantees to build brand trust and motivate action. 

People are already aware of the increased shipping and delivery demand and are ready to manage their holiday shopping, so they (and their loved ones) receive their packages in time for the holidays. Meet them where they are, and you’ll increase relationship strength and build lasting trust. 

3.) Make returns and exchanges easy for gift receivers 

With far fewer people gathering this holiday season due to the global pandemic, we will continue to see an increase in customers buying gifts online to be delivered to a loved one rather than to themselves. So, we can expect an increase in gift receivers wanting to exchange gifts, and this will be a completely different customer experience than heading to a brick-and-mortar store to manage the exchange. Be thoughtful and strategic about the experience you give gift recipients (in addition to the buyer) to expand your customer base and open new doors for your brand.  

Important: Make empathy your guiding principle for creating world-class customer experiences this holiday season. 

It’s All About Empathy: How to Understand, Influence, and Connect With Customers

We’re Here for You 

From our free resources and community to our marketing platform and beyond, we’re here for you as you navigate through the end of this challenging year. Drop us a line at community@adroll.com — we’d love to hear how you’re doing. 

Stephanie Abe
Author

Steph is the Community Marketing Manager at AdRoll. A relationship-builder, she’s behind the Growth Guerilla Collective (GGC); the community for D2C marketers. Before AdRoll, Steph ran Customer Marketing at a B2B SaaS company in San Francisco. She is passionate about customer-centric marketing.