B2B Holiday Survival Guide: Navigating Holiday Seasonalities in the B2B Space
It’s no secret that the holidays are the busiest time of the year. Especially for those involved in eCommerce marketing strategies, the holidays are no time to relax. Starting the week of Thanksgiving through the shipping cut off day for Christmas delivery, retailers can expect between 18-20% of their annual sales, and the number is growing each year.
Over the past several holiday seasons, the trend of shoppers moving away from brick and mortar to shopping online has dramatically increased. In 2014, foot traffic in stores compared to online were split 50/50. However, this year, shoppers are expected to spend more of their holiday budget online than in-store. The digital space also influenced 73% of in-store sales. Last holiday season, The Census Bureau reported transactions at non-store retailers were up whereas department stores sales were decreasing.
This year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday was all about digital sales. American shoppers spent online a record of 5 billion dollars on Black Friday. This is a 16.9% increase in dollars spent compared to Black Friday 2016. Cyber Monday also broke its record reaching $6.5 billion in sales this year. This shift has led to a highly competitive digital landscape where retailers are battling it out for customers’ attention and dollars.
So what does this mean for B2B marketers? Including the shopping boom, there are a handful of factors at play during the holiday season. Consider the below:
As mentioned above, due to the competitive landscape, most channels are peaking red-ocean style. Your typical strategies just got a lot more expensive. With a lot of online traffic gearing towards the shopping and holiday festivities, different metrics such as cost per click, cost per million impressions, and cost per acquisition can skyrocket. In the matter of a week, the efficiency and cost of your typical strategies can start to sink.
As you get further and further into the fiscal calendar, annual budgets are starting to dry up. The end of the year typically is not a time when companies are looking for new business investments or focusing research on new purchases.
Similar to the summer months, you can expect more corporate decision makers and other influential employees to be taking a lot of vacation days during a condensed period of time.
A lot of employees are making purchase decisions at work alright, but not necessarily for their company. Research shows in previous years, over 50% of employees plan to do their holiday shopping online at work. That’s not to mention the recipe hunts and holiday activity planning spent at work. It is important to remember that we’re dealing with employees whose lives, just like yours, get pretty hectic during the holidays.
How can you combat these roadblocks and make the most of the holiday seasonality? Look no further; your B2B Holiday Season Action Plan is here. We’ve come up with four levers to pull when you start to smell Pumpkin Spice in the air.
Plan Strategic Launch Schedules – Try to avoid launching big-splash branding campaigns or any campaigns backed by a significant investment during November and December. These would be better scheduled at the top of the new year or between Summer and Fall. The campaign is likely to have a better impact for your marketing strategy and hit your KPI goals outside of peak holiday season.
Reduce Budgets or Pause Certain Channels – It is important to be tactical about which channels you are investing in for your holiday media mix. Costs spikes for programmatic, social and native channels are inevitable as retailers up their bids in hopes of getting in front of more customers.
Keyword driven strategies typically aren’t affected by the holiday season. However, you may consider lowering budgets across the board to reduce the impact of costs spiking. Pausing these channels during peak times and certainly dates of the actual national holidays can prevent spend increases as B2B ads are competing with retailers for impressions and clicks.
The goal is to avoid performance dips while not losing visibility completely for the small group of people who are researching work-related items after Thanksgiving dinner instead of napping (*overachievers*).
Focus on Nurturing Current Leads – There is nothing wrong with calling on “Old-Faithful” and narrowing in on your retargeting programs rather than prospecting and top-of-funnel programs. Turn your efforts towards the leads you currently have in the funnel and work on maturing these opportunities into the next year. Keep up the touchpoints and look for renewed contracts and upsells that are likely approaching for the new year. It is also good to note that trusted legacy partner campaigns with guaranteed leads are also a safer investment at this time of year.
Capitalize on Resolutions – The holiday season is a whirlwind – it is a flurry of shopping and eating, then New Year is here before you can say cotton-headed ninnymuggin. Creating content focused on New Year strategies and solutions will be timely as this will be top-of-mind for most employees with refreshed budgets and fiscal years starting over.
With this survival guide, you have a sure-fire plan for the end of the year. Most importantly, once the dust settles after the holiday, it is essential to have a set plan to revamp channels in strategies in the new year – i.e., crush it in January. Use the holiday season to start prepping budgets for approval and planning New Year campaigns.
*Reality check* – we realize most budgets don’t get officially approved until later in the year. So as not to delay the launch of your new, fresh campaigns, set out a chunk you are comfortable with that won’t disturb your yearly budget and have the backup plan ready to launch/invest more dollars if needed. Since budget delays will also be likely at the companies you are targeting, it actually creates an excellent opportunity for brands to lean in big and be top-of-mind when the space heats up later in Q1 and into Q2.
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Happy planning and cheers to the new year!
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