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How to jumpstart your holiday preparations [editorial calendar included]

By Julia Gifford - Reading time: 5 minutes

September is over, and you know what that means? It’s only three months until Christmas! To some, this may seem like a lot of time, but for business owners selling their product, this is when you need to start preparing to ensure smooth sailing over the holidays.

This is the time to come up with your strategy. How will you promote your brand? What deal will you offer? What are your deadlines? There is a lot of work to be done, and we’re here to help! In this post, we’ll outline some of the key dates to keep track of, and what you should be doing to leverage them.

Spark notes version: the big event you need to be prepared for is Black Friday. The Friday after Thanksgiving has become the biggest shopping day during the holiday season. With most stores offering Black Friday deals in their online shops, and with the addition of Cyber Monday, online sales go through the roof during this time. People expect great deals, and you need to be ready to provide. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase your product and offer incentive for buyers. You don’t even have to be limited to two days. Consider running deals throughout the entire week to maximize your sales.

September = prep work

Now is the time when you sit down and figure out what your plan is for the next couple of months. You don’t want to suddenly realize at the end of October that you missed out on shipping deadlines for Black Friday. This will cost you a lot of money and a lot of sales. Considering that the estimate for worldwide retail ecommerce sales for 2016 will reach $1.915 trillion, you don’t want to miss out!

Worldwide retail ecommerce sales for 2016 will reach $1.915 trillion

What you should be doing:

First things first, update your editorial calendar. Plan out your marketing campaigns and make sure they are consistent throughout the holidays. Mark down all the important deadlines and start planning out how to schedule your work so that everything gets done on time.

To have an accurate editorial calendar, you need to know your order deadlines. Get in touch with your distributors and familiarize yourself with shipping times. What is the last day that customers can place their orders to have it arrive in time for the holidays? Once you know these deadlines, you can start to plan your marketing campaigns around them.

Here are Printful’s order deadlines to keep in mind: 

USA

Nov. 30 – FedEx Smart Post
Dec. 2 –  FedEx Ground
Dec. 8 –  FedEx Express Saver
Dec. 8 –  USPS First Class Mail
Dec. 9 –  FedEx 2Day
Dec. 12 –  FedEx Standard Overnight

Canada

Nov. 23 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 30 – USPS First Class Mail
Dec. 5 – Int’l Expedited
Dec. 2 – FedEx International Ground
Dec. 9 – FedEx International Economy
Dec. 12 – FedEx International Priority

Military

Nov. 29 – USPS

Europe / Asia / Pacific Rim / Australia / New Zealand / Caribbean

Nov. 18 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 28 – Int’l Priority
Dec. 1 – FedEx International Economy
Dec. 6 – FedEx International Priority

Africa / Central & South America / Middle East

Nov. 9 – Int’l Economy
Nov. 15 – Int’l Priority
Dec. 1 – FedEx International Economy

Decide on your holiday specials: What deal can you offer for Black Friday that people will go crazy for? Do you want to offer a Christmas special? Be it discounts, 2 for 1s, or free shipping – everyone loves a deal! And now is the time to take advantage of that.

Pro tip: 8 out of 10 consumers will shop online if offered free shipping. That is good incentive to make this your deal!

Do a bit of house cleaning and make sure that everything is working smoothly and efficiently. Update your website, check your automatic emails, test your online store. A single second delay in your website loading time can result in a 7% loss in conversion. You do not want this to happen, so check everything now! Make any necessary changes right away so that you can avoid updating your site during the holiday season.

Set up the tech in your store: set up the popup software you’ll be using to offer your deals, cart recovery software to remind potential customers of the awesome deal they’ve left behind, or the retargeting pixel you’ve been meaning to implement so that you can turn a one-time visitor into a loyal, repeat buyer. If you’re not sure about what to use, we suggest Nosto for “recently viewed items” and Mamaya for Facebook retargeting.

Pro tip: Try to make significant changes to your store sooner, rather than later. If something goes wrong, you’ll have time to fix it by the intense shopping season.

October = crunch time

October is the time to buckle-down and really start preparing for the holiday season. There are email campaigns to be set up, visuals to be prepared, and deadlines to be announced. Now is not too early to take out paid Google advertising for your Black Friday deals because competition is low. October is also the month of Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween, so you can start your holiday season early and offer sales for these events as well.

What you should be doing:

Start writing those email campaigns: As you will see in the editorial calendar, there are many emails that should be sent out over the next couple of months. You should write them all now to make sure that they cover all necessary steps and deadlines. Emails drive more sales than social media, so you want to make sure that they are catchy and well written. You don’t want to risk rushing through them and forgetting something important.

Here are some ideas for emails:

  • announcing (and then reminding) your subscribers about your store’s order deadlines
  • spreading the word about your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals

Get a complete guide to email marketing along with free text templates and visuals here.

Prepare your visuals: Make your deals and your deadlines stand out in your emails, blogs and websites by creating different visuals for them. You can announce deadlines in email headers, or discounts in social media cover photos. You want them to be eye-catching, so prepare them now!

Announce order deadlines: Remind people that the holiday season is approaching and that they already need to start thinking about buying.
Pro tip: Nobody actually likes last-minute shopping, so advise them to avoid the stress they felt last year by getting a head-start and placing their orders now.

November = go time

Now is when things get serious. Those email marketing campaigns you wrote last month? Yeah, now is the time to send them out. Don’t worry about overloading your subscribers with emails because most people don’t mind receiving emails from brands they trust. They would be more upset about missing out on a great deal or order deadline.

What you should be doing:

Schedule your emails about all your holiday deals. Having a crazy Black Friday sale? Make sure you schedule emails to announce it, to remind your subscribers about it, and then to let them know it’s about to end! People are so busy these days, that they will appreciate the reminders – especially procrastinators who leave everything to the last minute!

Schedule all your order deadline emails. Deadlines for orders are fast approaching, and you need to make sure that your customers know when it’s the last moment for them to order.

Pro tip: Segment your customers based on their location and only inform them of their specific deadline. For example, customers in Europe should only receive an email reminder about the European order deadline.

Make sure you have recovered cart emails set up. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to cash in by reminding visitors of their abandoned cart. There are many apps out there specifically designed for this, but one of out favorites is Nosto.

Your free holiday editorial calendar – start now to reap the benefits

As you can see, there is a lot to be done in the upcoming months, so we recommend that you start now! Do all your prep-work, set up a plan, make sure to follow-through with it, and reap the benefits. We want to ensure that you have all the knowledge necessary to manage a smooth holiday season. For that reason, we’ve put together an in-depth version of the content marketing editorial calendar that is specifically designed for ecommerce stores for the holiday months. We’ve even included the Printful order deadlines so that you stay on top of your notifications.

This editorial calendar is built the same way as our previous editorial calendar for 2016, so you can simply copy and paste it into your own calendar, or use it as is.

 

 

 

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  1. Adrian Velazquez

    I think this info is extreemly valuable for any online store that has already garnered a following and has had some type of positive success. In my case, however; I thought maybe these steps are a little premature as my business is still VERY young and I have’nt really gained a firm footing with my niche or target audience. I think my best would be to focus on continuing to crank out products and reaching out to my audience to gain that buzz, and then focusing on those elements that I can use to target my loyal consumer base.
    Awesome article…. Keep up the good work!

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