Most retail businesses experience their peak season between Halloween and New Year. It can include Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other events during the holiday season.
However, some industries experience their peak seasons when others have their off-seasons. For example, florists see a huge bump in sales around Mother's Day. That's their peak season.
You probably look forward to generating higher revenues whenever your peak season happens. But with higher revenue coming in quicker, monitoring, reporting, and understanding your data become more crucial than ever.
As costs tend to skyrocket around peak season, reporting is crucial to ensure positive results. Ahead of peak season, make sure you analyze insights from previous years — particularly useful is an hour-by-hour breakdown by device across every channel. We’ve consistently found that different devices perform extremely differently hour by hour throughout Black Friday weekend, and analyzing last year’s data should help you ensure you’re bidding on the right devices at the right time.
Follow these best practices for peak season reporting to stay ahead of trends and anticipate customer behaviors.
What is peak season marketing?
During peak season, marketers must adapt to profit from the potential for increased sales and contact with customers. Make sure your efforts don’t end with the end of the peak season, though. Focus on drawing people in and giving them lasting, impressive experiences that will turn them into returning customers.
Remember that increased demand doesn't always translate into higher sales for your business. Plenty of brands offer similar products and services. Your peak season marketing should grab shoppers' attention and convince them to at least visit your site or store.
6 Best practices to follow during your peak season
Think beyond common approaches to improve the customer experience and make a bigger impact that grows your brand. Here are some ideas to plan for before your peak season arrives, so they are implemented during your busiest time of year.
1. Shorten review-analysis-optimization cycles
The peak season doesn't follow the same flow as the rest of the year. Suddenly, you have more sales to track. Black Friday 2022 set a new record with $9 billion in online sales. Even with high inflation, people were taking advantage of online deals.
You also experience a higher possibility of running low on popular items. Adjust your reporting practices to match the faster pace.
"You need a strong marketing-data infrastructure and automated processes. There's simply no other way to optimize ROI effectively during peak seasons."
If you don't already have a strong marketing-data infrastructure with built-in automation, find a tool that works well during the peak season and all year round. Then, you can track data much more easily.
2. Keep shoppers informed
With record-setting e-commerce sales, people have gotten used to digital commerce. However, many will still feel some hesitation as the holidays near. USPS and private shipping companies provide "send-by dates." The average person probably doesn't know that, though.
Help them out by clearly communicating the last day customers can place orders and expect them to reach their destinations by Christmas (or any other day that matters to your audience).
Make them even more comfortable by sending alerts to their mobile devices. When consumers see that the gift is moving in the right direction, they will relax and trust in the delivery process instead of reaching out to customer services.
The peak season isn't just about higher conversion rates. It's about finding a way to plan ahead and positioning your business for higher sales in 2023.
Ideally, tracking the number of customer service requests you get would be best. If you see people asking about delivery times, look for a more effective way to emphasize your delivery and sales process.
3. Take an omnichannel approach to marketing campaigns
Existing customers generate reliable revenue throughout the year. During the peak season, you need a marketing strategy that reaches more potential customers and converts them into buyers.
It isn't enough to list sales on your website and post updates on your social media profile. You need an omnichannel approach to reach new audiences and remain top of mind for shoppers. Take advantage of omnichannel seasonal marketing by aligning your efforts across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
TikTok looks like a particularly great marketing and advertising tool for 2022. You have to know the platform's audience to convert people into buyers, though. Online jewelry rental company Rocksbox was able to increase purchases 1035% by releasing videos with fun music, voiceovers, and a DIY aesthetic.
Ashley Lashgari, VP of Paid Meda at Primer, has also noticed the advantages of using TikTok. She says:
We're seeing a number of our clients expanding into TikTok this year, and we expect that to continue to grow through 2023. TikTok is reporting CPMs that are half of Meta's in Q4, and we're seeing that for our clients as well. Purchase intent is also strong – a study that TikTok conducted showed that 70% of users expect TikTok to inspire them to make a Black Friday purchase.
As always, you should collect data and test new approaches to optimize every aspect of your campaign. If you don't have a high conversion rate on TikTok, you can keep playing with your approach until you get it right.
Platforms will also contribute in different ways. Maybe TikTok is better focused on brand awareness efforts and it works best when combined with lower funnel activity from Google Ads and Facebook.
4. Use Google Trends to gain insights into campaign success
Why did some of your marketing efforts get spectacular results while others failed to meet expectations? You might not find the answers until after the season ends and you have time to conduct additional research.
Google Trends gives you a great place to start. The service tracks popular keywords and trends across the internet. Maybe some of your campaigns thrived because they had connections to a trending subject.
You can't redo your peak season marketing, but you can include information from Google Trends in your post-season report. When you start preparing next year's marketing materials, you can get guidance from trends that affected the previous season's results.
5. Pay attention to mobile load times
Over 90% of people worldwide access the internet via mobile devices. If you still haven't optimized your e-commerce site for mobile shopping, do it now. Landing pages with slow load times can frustrate shoppers, encouraging them to buy elsewhere.
Peak season marketing campaign reporting should track load times for all of your website and product pages. A faster load time will lead to accelerated growth so you can make more money and reach your business goals.
Not sure how to test your load speed? Try tools like:
You can also use these tools to test your competitors' websites. If they work faster than yours, have a developer fine-tune your site's performance. Otherwise, it might slow as increased demand brings more traffic during the lead-up to the holidays.
6. Monitor your ad budget – especially during the holiday season
Social media marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can take a big bite out of your ad budget. Pay close attention to your expenses by tracking:
- The cost per click of your PPC keywords.
- The cost per thousand impressions (CPM) for your display and social media campaigns.
- Whether your revenue is high enough to create a profitable ROI.
Focus on these strategies and if you are seeing lower consumer interest than expected, reevaluate your brand awareness and conversion plan or redistribute your budget to different channels.
Data can make or break your brand's peak-season marketing campaigns. Include the right numbers in your marketing reports to stay ahead of other businesses and earn customers who keep coming back all year round.