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14 October 2022

Ten tips for peak season performance

With 18 years’ experience managing peak ecommerce seasons for brands across the globe, at THG Ingenuity we know just how important the last couple of months of the year are for ecommerce brands, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas creating big opportunities to drive sales and connect with consumers.  

With that in mind, we spoke to senior leaders across THG Ingenuity to get their top tips and advice for a successful online peak.  

This is what they had to say: 


1. Focus on new customer acquisition 

With customers shopping around in search for the best deals, the peak season offers brands the chance to focus on new customer acquisition. The ability to attract customers beyond those who have already heard of your brand will make a big difference as you look to drive sales. Examine your target audience to identify any new priorities, needs or wants that could help you steer new buyers to your site through your product offering or messaging.  

Likewise, make sure you are making full use of the seasonal period to encourage new customers to visit your site. Are there any developments to your product range, personalization capabilities, advent deals or gift-wrapping options you can offer to create a seasonal buzz and attract new buyers? Think long-term and devise approaches that will not only help to bring new shoppers to your site but also turn them into returning customers: schemes like subscribe and save, for example, can help you build a wider and loyal customer base. 


2. Ensure your on and off-site content is aligned 

Having a consistent omnichannel content strategy is key to support consumers’ shopping journeys across both digital and physical environments. Consider your seasonal campaigns: does your brand and conversion creative flow from awareness activations through to onsite messaging? A continuous, clear message with strong creative across both online and offline channels can help to reassure and reconfirm the strength of your offer and brand with new customers. 


3. Plan your performance media 

Make use of automated bid strategies and smart bidding for search campaigns and employ seasonality adjustments to prepare automated bid strategies anticipating the Black Friday and Christmas peaks. Most importantly, ensure all your key strategic campaigns and bid strategies have been tried and tested prior to going live and are out of the learning phase before peak season to ensure optimal performance. 

Likewise, when it comes to crafting your campaign copy, think about your target consumers’ motivation to buy from your brand, and highlight key selling points like special discounts, limited-time promotions or free next-day deliveries. 

Lastly, stay on top of competitor activity to see how your brand compares to other offers. Keep your strategy as flexible as possible to be able to pivot and remain competitive throughout the period.


4. Influence Christmas 

camera screen showing influencer recording a Christmas video with Christmas tree and Santa hat

Influencer marketing can be a key tool to amplify the reach of your offer and connect effectively with your audiences. We always advocate for long-term influencer strategies so that your creators can build a strong and authentic relationship with their audiences. To ensure you maximize the potential of these relationships during this critical peak period, first ensure your product is seasonally relevant: offering your influencers seasonal or gift-related products helps to inspire fresh content ideas as celebrations of the festive season commence. Creators can use your products as part of gift list suggestions or wish list ideas for their audiences.  

Likewise, make sure to amp up the festive factor by wrapping products in exciting packaging (think eye-catching colors, patterns and textures) that uses personalization and localization to make the unboxing/unwrapping sequence exciting to your influencer’s audience. The more ta da! the moment for the influencer to unbox, the bigger the reaction you’ll receive from their post. As with all things at Christmas, remember: more is more. 
 


It’s also smart to re-engage creators you’ve previously worked with during peak, as their audience has likely already heard of your brand and could already have an affinity with the products and services you’re offering. Working with your key influencers gives you the opportunity to offer bespoke discounts to their already engaged audiences. 


5. Launch power hours 

A power hour is the happy hour of ecommerce – a short window of time (even as short as one hour) in which you can launch an exciting offer for a limited time with the goal to drive a high volume of traffic and orders. This can be an opportunity to push a bigger offer due to the limited time it’s live. Be sure to utilize your CRM capabilities to communicate the start of the power hour to your customers and keep the offer live for a window before and after the designated hour to capture extra orders. 


6. Create a sense of urgency to drive results  

Implement countdowns to take customers through the conversion funnel and drive conversions. Complement this strategy by using short, simple and snappy promotional messaging that encourages action and drives buyers to your checkout page.

Push notifications and emails or SMS can be especially useful to let customers know about limited time offers and remind them that time is running out to take advantage of a special promotion. However, there is a balance to strike here: while more is more during the Christmas period, make sure you don’t flood your target audience with notifications in such a way that they feel more inclined to unsubscribe rather than shop with your brand. 


7. Personalize offers and communications 

Use data from different channels and dynamic elements to further personalize customer communications and highlight relevant products and services based on popular search terms and individual product preferences. Taking into account previous purchases will help you offer your returning customers products you know are pertinent to them and enable your brand to create journeys that are specific to individual shoppers and their needs. 


8. Use existing databases to increase audience reach 

Leverage your existing customer relationships to expand your customer base heading into peak. Implement a ‘refer a friend’ scheme, where both your existing customer and the new one receive special offers or discounts.  


9. Prep, prep, prep 

Get your preparation done well in advance of the key days themselves: build your emails, have your banners ready and offer codes created. This will allow you to focus on performance, the competition and reporting on the day itself, and will hopefully mean that you get some time to enjoy yourself and the fun of the season! 


10. Always have a plan B 

You may have carefully planned your special promotions, discounts and offers, but it may happen that not all of them resonate with your audience in the way you had hoped. This is why having a contingency plan to hand is crucial to your peak season success. Devise alternative offers beforehand and launch them if things are not going according to plan. This will not only give you the peace of mind that you are ready for anything, but also offer another opportunity for your brand to reach its target. 



Whilst offering many opportunities, the peak season also poses threats to online brands with spikes in fraud levels; last year fraud levels increased by 14% year-on-year between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (A1 Retail Magazine). To learn how you can keep your brand and customers protected from fraudsters this holiday season, watch our webinar to discover key insights and tips to keep your operations safe during peak period. 

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