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How to Tie the Holidays Into Your Social Media Posts

100118 How to Tie the Holidays Into Your Social Media Posts

You know the holiday season is right around the corner, but what does that actually mean for your social media strategy?

Well, I could tell you to do steps X, Y, and Z to update your social media plans and all your woes will vanish! Christmas shoppers will rush to your website and the garland around your tree will be made of shredded $100 bills!

But that isn’t how this works.

I can’t tell you what’s going to work perfectly for your business in your unique situation. What I can tell you, though, is that Marketing Dive found that 80% of shoppers are planning to spend at least as much on holiday shopping as they did last year. The holidays are simply too lucrative not to plan for them.

So how do you learn what you need to do? You study the best. I’m going to show you some of the most successful holiday campaigns, explain exactly what made them such hits with their audiences, and give you some tips on how you can replicate those results.

Starbucks’ holiday cups have earned them a lot of attention over the years, and the 2017 holiday season was no different. The face of coffee let their customers design their own holiday cups and have a chance for their work to be shared by Starbucks by using the #GiveGood hashtag.

What’s their secret?
Starbucks has a huge fanbase of active, loyal customers. When they were given the chance to create content for a company they love, there was no hesitation. This influx of user-generated content (UGC) got Starbucks a lot of positive attention and plenty of fresh content for advertising, all without paying a dime!

#GiveGood was also a key part of their success. It showed users that Starbucks wasn’t thinking about themselves, but was instead focusing on the spirit of giving. That brought in a human element for customers to relate to, so suddenly they were getting into the holiday spirit and not just buying coffee from one of the largest corporations in the world.

What’s the lesson?
UGC is almost always going to endear you in the eyes of your audience. It’s also important to remember that, as the holidays come closer, you can’t beg your customers to buy from you. Show them your human side and let them be naturally excited about your brand.

2. UPS
UPS started a #WishesDelivered campaign to share real, touching stories from their customers of how UPS made a difference in their lives. Every time users shared or submitted stories with the hashtag, UPS donated a dollar to one of three charities.

What’s their secret?
The short version: people love stories. Everyone wants to feel good, and #WishesDelivered gave people a reason to spread the word about what a difference UPS was making. Combining easy charity donations with the chance to spread positive, holiday-themed news made this campaign an instant success.

What’s the lesson?
Tell your customers how you’re helping them! Even if you can’t afford a huge donation to charity right now, let your customers interact with your brand by telling stories of how you did right by them. Hashtag campaigns can work wonders for spreading your message.

Nobody said the holidays were all exchanging gifts and kissing reindeer. HotelTonight’s holiday campaign acknowledged that sometimes the holidays just suck, especially when family is involved! They posted jarring (in a good way) caricatures of unpleasant family members, and encouraged users to share their worst stories of staying with relatives.

What’s their secret?
HotelTonight was simultaneously funny and reminded its customers why they needed to book hotels over the holidays. It’s hard to say “I’ll just bunk with mom” when you’re thinking about your great-aunt Muriel’s Scrabble tournament!

What’s the lesson?
Holiday marketing doesn’t have to be happy. If your brand’s personality isn’t one that cares about Santa and eggnog, that’s fine! This is also a lesson that you should be establishing empathy with your customers wherever you can. Show them that you know what they’re going through, and they’ll flock to you!

You don’t want to copy these brands, but you should take the ideas behind each success story and make them your own! The holidays are a chance for your business to score some big victories, so don’t waste this opportunity with tired marketing strategies! Now get out there and show your customers why they need you this holiday season!

Did you find this advice helpful and want to see how else you can improve your marketing strategy? Reach out to The Go! Agency today for a free consultation!

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3 Ways to Get Your Shopify Store Holiday-Ready

3 Ways to Get Your Shopify Store Holiday-Ready

You’ve put a lot of work into your e-commerce platform throughout the year, but have you thought about what you’ll do for the holidays?

It isn’t enough to quietly lower your prices. There are a lot of Shopify stores out there, and you need to stand out! Thankfully, there are some simple steps to ensure you’re making the most of of the holidays.

Let’s talk about how you should customize your Shopify store for the winter sale season!

1. Start a Holiday Sale
This one is a no-brainer. Holiday sales are inseparable from the winter shopping experience, and frankly, most shoppers won’t consider your Shopify store if you’re not running a seasonal sale.

To set sale prices, you’ll click on the individual product you want to discount, and you’ll have two options, “price” and “compare at price.” The “price” box will be the sale price, and the other box will be its price outside of the sale. This is a classic marketing strategy. When interested shoppers see how much they’re saving with your sale, they’re more likely to jump on the chance to get your products at a lower rate!

Once you’ve set up your sale dates and prices, don’t stop there! For loyal customers on your email list or new shoppers who sign up for it, why not show them a little extra love with some coupon codes?

2. Prepare Coupon Codes
Special discounts give people that extra push to give your store a try. After all, what do online shoppers love more than a bargain?

You can create coupons for a specific dollar amount, a percentage off an order, or free shipping. Your Shopify discounts will also have a programmable range of dates when the codes can be used, the number of coupons you’ll accept per order, and any order minimums for your discounts.

A word to the wise: Test your coupon codes! If your customers go to checkout and their coupon codes won’t apply, they’ll be so frustrated that they’ll never spend a dime at your store.

Before sharing the coupons, create a buyer’s Shopify account and try to make a purchase from your store. If the code works, then full steam ahead! If you’re getting an error message, you may need to reach out to Shopify’s support team for help.

3. Limit Your Coupons
Remember how I said you can limit the number of coupon codes for each order? Yeah, you’ll want to make that a priority.

Let’s say you’re offering 3 different coupons: 15% off the order, $10 off all orders over $50, and free shipping. Individually, each of those coupons is an incentive for your customer to spend more money at your store. But together? Their $60 order is only costing them $41, and you’re left on the hook for shipping.

By programming your Shopify checkout to only accept one coupon at a time, though, your customers can choose which discount best suits their needs without completely draining the transaction of any profit.

Deck the Digital Halls

It’s a lot of work to get your Shopify store ready for the shopping season, but it’ll be worth it. Apply these tips to your e-commerce shop and you’ll be set to enjoy a holly jolly sleigh ride straight to the bank!

Do you have some lingering questions about optimizing your store for the holidays? Talk it out with the experts at The Go! Agency!


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Creating Your Timeline for Holiday Marketing

092418 Creating Your Timeline for Holiday Marketing

The holiday season is just a few weeks away! So far, I’ve told you what you need for your holiday campaignhow to target your audience, and where you should focus your budget, among other tips from my years as a marketer. Now I want to address the schedule. 

Your holiday marketing campaign isn’t a high school project: you can’t expect to reach your goals if put everything off until the last minute. You need deadlines! I’ve found that there are three pillars for a good deadline. Good deadlines must be . . . 

1. Good for Your Budget: The deadline must fit within the confines of your budget. Will you have enough money to run ads for a given amount of time? Will you have enough in the budget to cover your personnel needs until a specified date? These are the questions you’ll need to consider.

2. Good for Your Bandwidth: Speaking of personnel, you must give your team deadlines that are reasonable. Don’t assume that your staff will be able to pull off a Christmas miracle! Factor in human error and human nature by giving yourself and your staff a buffer. Never set deadlines at the last possible minute! 

3. Good for Your Campaign’s Effectiveness: Will this deadline further your goals? In other words, are you spinning your wheels? Determine which actions are priorities, and which actions can be postponed.

Let’s start with a list of everything you need to accomplish or complete for your campaign. You’ll notice that some of these lead into the next item (i.e., you cannot complete Y until X is done). Generally, holiday campaigns include:

  • Final Strategy: When will you have your final plan? This is the blueprint that you’ll be sticking to for the entire campaign; so while you can (and should) be flexible, your campaign plan should be complete.
  • Budget: When will you have your budget ready? Do you need to hire any contractors or agencies to take on extra work of the campaign? It might sound silly to include deadlines for strategy and budget, but it will help you keep an analytical perspective toward your campaign.
  • Creative/Visuals: When do you need your final designs? This aspect includes layouts for ads and any new website or landing page visuals. Do you use a contractor for design work? Remember that contractors might book up quickly for the holiday rush!
  • Copy: When do you need all of your campaign’s written content? This should include landing page copy along with advertisements, posts, and blogs. You’ll need to account for editing content in addition to the approval process for ads.
  • Advertising: There are a few aspects to keep in mind here. The first is practical: what is the deadline for submitting ads for a given publication, website, or platform? The second aspect to consider is when will your ads have the greatest impact? For example, you can’t expect a lot of engagement from a Cyber Monday sale ad if won’t be approved until Tuesday morning.
  • Website Landing Page: You could generalize this to your entire website, but focus on the landing page for your holiday promotion or campaign. When will you need to have it up and running? If you use a contractor or another third party entity for your web design, what is their turn-around time? Will the holidays affect their schedule and availability? 

Finally, you should consider the timing of your overall campaign. The timeline for a campaign that peaks on Black Friday is drastically different from a timeline for a campaign that peaks during the week of Christmas. 

Armed with my advice, creating your campaign timeline should be a breeze! I mentioned this already, but it’s important enough to repeat: keep your plans firm, but allow for some wiggle room! Life happens. You realize that your copywriter will be out of town for Hanukkah. Your social media manager is hosting a horde of relatives and cannot work any overtime. Your IT guru will be on PTO all of Thanksgiving weekend–and you approved her request back in March. 

This guide should help you create the optimal timeline for your holiday marketing campaign! Now let’s go!

The holidays are coming in fast–is your marketing strategy ready? The Go! Agency can help you get results! For a free consultation, contact us today! 

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Contests, Promos, & Giveaways: What You Should Know

091918 Blog Contests, Promos, & Giveaways_ What You Should Know

Whether your business centers on a product or a service, the holiday season is filled with opportunities. But how can your marketing compete when all of your competitors are pushing for the same clients? Why not incentivize your customer with a contest, promo, or giveaway?

In my years as a marketing expert, I’ve noticed that companies fall into one of two camps when it comes to incentives. The first camp consists of the anti-incentives crowd. These brands might feel that giving a free incentive would denigrate their product or service. They believe that such promotions (or even discounts) could damage the brand even if they attract new customers. Antis see incentives as pandering to their consumers. The second camp is filled with pro-incentives people. Such brands believe that people love free stuff, therefore free stuff will attract customers. This group is all about giving away promotional materials, too. (Coincidentally, brands like these are the reason we have uniquequirky, and just plain weird marketing swag.)

Both sides make fair points. You don’t want your brand to appear aloof, but you don’t want customers to take you for granted, either. There’s a way to balance both. Let’s discuss contests, promos, and giveaways, along with incentives!

Contests are events in which individuals (or teams) compete for a prize. They are a great way to get user-generated content (UGC). Often, brands will ask customers to post pictures or create videos that meet certain requirements. 

Tagline: “Send us your best pic, and the winner will receive an all-expenses-paid cruise!”

Promos (short for promotions) are limited-time offers or events that are held to encourage consumer engagement. Brands want to attract new customers, so they’ll offer free shipping for a given time period. Some companies offer discounts to new users or members. In several U.S. states, the school year is preceded by a “tax-free weekend,” in which the government forgoes sales taxes in an effort to increase back-to-school shopping at local establishments. 

Tagline: “Buy-one-get-one-free sale on pens this weekend only!”

Giveaways are when a brand gives an item or provides a service free of charge to consumers for promotional reasons. These can range from a free gift with purchase to giving out promotional swag to passersby. 

Tagline: “Free gift with every purchase!” 

As you decide what you want to do, you need to think about the following points.

1. Competition 
This point could just as well be labeled “research.” Find out what your competitors are doing. While you want to stand out from the crowd, knowing industry norms will keep you from looking reckless or foolish. For example, a Porsche dealership wouldn’t hold a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) for free deal on cars, but they might throw in free oil changes and other maintenance for the lifetime of the vehicle.

2. Incentives
There are actually two types of incentives. The incentive could be a reward, i.e., something that could be considered a bonus. With the above example, a reward might be the inclusion of an official Porsche crest keyring. The incentive could be a motivator, i.e., something that would push your audience through the decision process faster. In the previous example, the free maintenance acts as a motivator. The great thing about the types is that you can combine them or use them concurrently. One final note on incentives: it should be something complimentary to your service or product. An insurance company might give out a free umbrella to new clients, for instance.

I personally believe that incentives can be great for your brand’s sales and reputation. I’ll leave you with a story that, to me, proves the value of an incentive.

The Go! Agency handles the marketing for a franchise of assisted living facilities. One challenge they faced was that caregivers of potential residents who toured their properties would love what they saw, but choose another home for their loved one. These decisions were often based on price and other factors that our client could not control. We decided to add value to the tours by creating an ebook that explained what you should ask about a potential assisted living facility. At the end of each tour, the guide would say, “I know that you’ll probably continue looking around and researching your options. We totally understand–you want to find what’s best for your family! Anyway, the website has a link to an ebook we’ve written. The book gives you some questions that we’ve had people ask time and time again. We’ve chosen the most important ones, so it should be useful if you tour another residence.”


By sharing knowledge, our client is now an expert. 


By trying to help out caregivers, our client is now a resource.


By emphasizing that they understand, our client has now endeared themselves to that family.

All because of an incentive. 

Contests, promos, and giveaways are great for encouraging engagement from your audience and drawing attention to your brand. You can do so much with these events, both in terms of money made and buzz generated. 

Do you need help with with an event, or your overall marketing strategy? Discover what my team of marketing experts can do for your brand! Contact me today for a free consultation!


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7 Questions to Answer When Creating a Holiday Sale

091718 7 Questions to Answer When Creating a Holiday Sale

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday . . . . We’re about to enter the holiday sales season!  

I have seen so many brands crash and burn when it comes to holiday sales. Either they do no promotion at all or they go overboard and spend a fortune promoting the sale. You don’t want to do either! Sales should be organized, promoted, and measured. Never wait until the last minute to plan your sale! And remember that you have to budget for the whole season: you should never throw all of your holiday budget into promoting your Black Friday sale, for example. 

I’ll let you in on a secret: you can learn a lot from your competitors! What are their promotions like? How far in advance did they begin promoting the sale? What discounts are they offering? Do some research and see what the norms are for your industry.

On to the nitty-gritty! Here are seven big questions you should answer. 

1. What is Your Goal? 
What are your desired results from this sale? Do you want to reach new customers or gain exposure? Do you want to make room for new inventory? Do you want to make money? This will affect the details of your sale, like prices and discounts.

2. Does Your Sale Revolve Around the Price or the Product? 
“But wait,” you say. “Don’t sales involve both?” I’m talking about discounts versus bundles here. Are you offering your merchandise at a blanket discount (“20% off the whole store!”) or are you grouping products/services into bundles (“Buy One, Get One half price!”)?

3. How Will You Measure Success?  
Determine what metrics you will use to gauge your success. One thing you should absolutely find out is the total amount grossed from the sale, minus the total amount spent on promoting the sale. Other metrics might include counting unique website visitors, new email marketing subscribers, or social media engagements.

4. Where Are You Going to Promote It?  
You should definitely advertise your sale on social media, but how do you choose which platform? The obvious answer would be: the platform which is most frequently used by your target audience. Boosted or sponsored posts on the right platforms are crucial!

5. What is Your Promotional Budget? 
Speaking of sponsored posts, you’ll need to determine your promotional budget. What will you spend on ads and boosted posts? For online merchants who also have brick and mortar stores, will you be making any physical materials like flyers or signs? Keep in mind that this might not be the only sale you will have during the holiday season–budget accordingly!

6. What is Your Timeline?  
This not only includes the time of the sale itself, but the lead-up to the sale. How long will the sale itself last–a few days, one day, a few hours? A good timeline is thorough! You should include deadlines for writing ad copy, designing visuals, and placing advertisements; additionally, you need a deadline for sending your website or IT team the necessary codes and information for the website! As I mentioned above, you should look at your competitors and other companies in your industry to determine discounts, duration, and other specifics. 

7. Is Your Website Ready?  
The doomsday scenario for every online merchant is a website crash on the day of a major sale! Don’t let this happen to you! Consult with your website design team to double check that your online store is stable and ready for an influx of customers. Contact your web host to ensure that their servers can handle the anticipated above-average volume of traffic. If possible, ask your IT person to be on standby during the sale–especially for weekends or holidays, but expect to pay for their time–in case of emergency issues.

There you have it! These will help you plan the holiday sale–without losing your holiday cheer! I’ve learned from experience that there’s no such thing as a stress-free sale, but these questions will help keep you focused!

Do you need marketing help for the holidays and beyond? Contact us today for a free consultation!


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