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Anyone in the eCommerce industry knows that the 2020 holiday season is bound to be just as crazy and unpredictable as the rest of the year has been. And the big question we are all curious about is, “How should I adjust my holiday planning strategy for COVID-19?!?”

Many of the tried-and-true strategies that have helped us survive years past will need to be recalibrated this year. For instance, conducting a historical performance analysis to determine daily budget forecasts for the upcoming year (a common practice) could markedly lead us astray as we plan our budgets this year. And relying on promotional strategies that have worked well in the past will need to be re-evaluated as we consider the challenges that our customers are facing this year.

So, that begs the question: How can we plan for the unprecedented circumstances this year, and make the most out of Q4?

Well, you’re in luck; 3Q recently conducted an internal holiday planning event for all of our employees where several of our in-house experts (Zenia Johnson, Jenna Hardenbrook, Abel Tesfa, and Charlotte Haab) shared what’s on their mind this year. In this post, we’ll share three of their key tactics and insights.

1.   Prepare for early holiday shoppers

Consumer shopping trends will be different this year. While nobody can predict how this shopping season will play out, 3Q’s experts anticipate that the shopping season will start significantly earlier. Companies that historically allocated a large portion of their Q4 budget to Cyber Five should consider re-distributing some of that budget to the early part of November (and even late October). With a lot of people cooped up inside, it’s likely that consumers will get their shopping finished up online earlier than ever before.

At 3Q, we are integrating Google budget alerts directly into Slack so we can be alerted when a campaign is close to reaching its budget cap. This will allow us to act quickly if we need to increase budgets to capture demand unexpectedly. Our account teams are also creating coverage plans to check performance over the weekend, evenings, and holidays so we don’t skip a beat during non-work hours. With all of the unknowns, now is the time to take extra precautions and be ready for anything.

2.   Appeal to the retail shopper segment

Many eCommerce enthusiasts pride themselves on never setting foot in a retail store to do their holiday shopping. But whether for nostalgia, the hands-on experience, or tech avoidance, some customers prefer the retail setting. Whatever the reason, 3Q’s eCommerce experts anticipate a surge in the number of online holiday shoppers this year, as many of the retail shoppers who have shifted online for COVID-19 safety reasons will continue that behavior in Q4.

With this in mind, 3Q is taking another look at the typical audience segments for our clients, and we are thinking about creative ways to appeal to the former retail shoppers to assure them of the quality and advantages of the online experience.

3.   Use ad copy that speaks to your audience

This year, it’s going to be more important than ever to put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and think about the challenges they are facing. Are they longing to reconnect with loved ones during the holiday season, but can’t travel to see them? Is their budget smaller this year because of economic hardship? Are they having to re-invent their holiday traditions?

We need to consider what’s on the customer’s mind and use those insights to fuel the creative strategy for ad copy and messaging. Rather than just launching a non-stop series of holiday promotion ads, consider mixing in a few non-promotional ads that showcase empathy. Being empathic and relating to the customer will go a long way in strengthening the customer relationship.

Final Note

The rest of 2020 is bound to throw a few more curveballs our way, but preparedness and flexibility will help fuel success this holiday season. We hope these tips help with your holiday planning. For a more comprehensive look, download our 2020 Holiday Retail Guide!