Santa’s not the only one who should be making a list and checking it twice these days.

With the countdown to the holidays officially on, digital marketers need to double check their programs to make sure everything is wrapped up for the  season.

To help you do this, Rakuten Advertising created The New Rules Holiday Checklist,  a comprehensive guide to ensure you’re making the best impression on holiday shoppers this year.

To start, let’s take a look at the opportunities in front of brands over the next two months. Data from Rakuten Advertising’s New Rules holiday survey shows that:

  • 80% of Americans are more likely to shop online for the holidays this year.
  • 63% of Americans aren’t planning on decreasing their holiday spending even if the country returns to a full lockdown scenario.

You’ve gotten this far – Now it’s time to make the final and arguably most important push  to close out the year. Our handy affiliate marketing checklist includes tips on everything from communicating with publishers to identifying last minute shipping deadlines.

Plan for the best…and worst-case last-minute shipping scenarios

Brands need to be identifying “get it by Christmas” dates now and clearly communicating those with shoppers. This will help set expectations upfront and provide transparency so that shoppers aren’t disappointed by a late arriving gift.

It’s no secret that the last mile is going to be more complicated this year than it has been in previous years. Changes at the United States Postal Service have resulted in shipping hiccups throughout the past few months. An expected increase in online shopping this year is expected to put increased stress on shipping carriers, which could result in backups. Lastly, with COVID-19 still lingering and the potential for a second wave a possibility, there is a chance that fulfillment warehouses could be impacted.

Identifying and communicating your holiday shipping cutoffs will help you to engage and inform shoppers who may be browsing for holiday gifts now. Incorporating those deadlines into your retargeting efforts can serve as an easy reminder for them as the holiday gets closer.

Get ‘em to the curb

Curbside pickup and buy online pickup in store are expected to rise in popularity because shoppers are still hesitant to shop in crowded stores. Further, with last minute shipping dates moving earlier in the season, stores are going to be counted on to fulfill more last minute and impulse holiday purchases.

Brands should incorporate language around in-store pickup and in-store product availability as part of their digital marketing campaigns. Identify which products are going to be more popular with holiday shoppers and which products you have more inventory of in local stores and incorporate those products into your holiday messaging.

Learn from the past

While circumstances surrounding this year’s holiday shopping season are different, shoppers are still going to be spending online and buying gifts. Analyze your 2019 campaigns and come up with 3-5 lessons that you learned from the previous holiday season and determine how you can adapt and apply them to your strategy this year.

Scrutinize your budget

Take a close look at the calendar and your last-minute shipping deadlines to determine which days or weeks it makes sense to accelerate your digital spending and where you might be able to scale back.

Communicate with your publisher partners

Analyze your data to determine the publisher partners that have historically driven the best results during the holidays. Identify year-to-date trends and see if there are any new partners that have emerged since the 2019 holiday season that could present an opportunity to drive more traffic and conversions. Reach out to your partners to learn more about the challenges they’re facing and how you can work together to overcome them in a way that helps both parties achieve their holiday goals.

Grow your network

Has your target shopper changed this year or are you looking to expand your reach? Work with your account manager to explore new publisher partnerships that can help you get in front of unique audiences who may not be familiar with your brand.

Mark your calendar

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are going to continue to be the peaks of the holiday season, brands will have ample opportunity to win over online shoppers due to the fact that this holiday season is going to be more spread out than most. Identify specific dates beyond the peak days including Free Shipping Day or Green Monday where you can incentivize and engage shoppers to buy. Communicate those dates to your publisher partners to see what kind of availability they have and what they can do to drive more traffic.

Gauge inventory levels

To discover opportunities with new and existing publishers in your program, leverage tools like Rakuten Advertising’s Placements Marketplace that allow you to identify which publishers have available inventory on key promotional dates. And as always, lean on your publisher relationships by reaching out to discuss what packages are available this holiday season to optimize your campaigns.

Define success

What is really important for your 2020 holiday campaign, and how can you translate that into a matching KPI? Revenue is an important indicator. You may find that driving site traffic or viewability are important too. Defining how your business will view a successful holiday affiliate program will make it easier for you to work with publishers and determine what messaging and creative to release.

Ready to learn more about how we can help you ramp up your digital campaigns? Get in touch with us today.