The winter holidays will be here before you know it. I’m talking about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Free Shipping Day, and Christmas itself.

These are some of the most important days of the entire year for marketers. And because all of these days fall in a tightly condensed amount of time, the pressure on marketers is considerably high.

Folks, believe it or not, Black Friday is next month. If you need a wake-up call to get your head in the holiday marketing game, consider this blog post and podcast episode to be my holiday gift to you.

In this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, the award-winning marketing podcast from Salesforce, I’m talking with Ron Pereira. He’s our Senior Director of Product Marketing for Marketing Cloud who focuses on retail, and he’s a true expert in all things holiday preparation.

Listen to a preview of our conversation that’s entirely focused on 2017 holiday predictions and preparations here:


For the full conversation that's filled with many more insights, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Before listening, you can also download the companion piece to this episode: the Marketing Holiday Calendar.

Here are our top 11 ways you can prepare in October for a successful November and December.


1. Get abandoned-cart emails in tip-top shape.


Ron explains, “The #1 commerce journey to focus on and make sure you're nailing is the browse or cart-abandon journey.” According to him, it’s a great idea to remind folks of abandoned carts, but when you bombard them, it’s a turn-off. Instead, think more intelligently about your use of data. “Try and see if you can bring in some more data to be a little more intelligent — a little tweak will move the needle in this holiday season.”

Use data about the last time they purchased, other items they may be looking at, or other items recommended to similar customers to make those abandoned-cart emails even more effective.


2. Amidst all the marketing, don’t neglect social customer care.


“The element of social that we get lost in as marketers is sometimes how social can impact the customer care perspective. We focus on the outbound. Practically speaking, make sure you're bridging that silo. If you're in the marketing department and you own social engagement, reach out to your service colleagues and be that trailblazer that bridges that gap,” shares Ron.

Customers will be using channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to ask you top-of-mind questions that could be the difference between conversion and abandoning a cart, so staff accordingly.


3. Remember that mobile is a strategy, not just a channel.


“Mobile is not a channel as much as it's a device,” says Ron. “And every channels is mobile. So are you delivering that email in a mobile-friendly way? Are you putting in interaction points that will really benefit the overarching mobile experience?Are you leveraging mobile in-store? If you're advertising on Facebook and Google, you're really doing mobile advertising. Are you thinking about how that interaction plays out through a mobile experience, as opposed to strictly a banner-on-a-website-type experience?”

As you plan campaigns for November and December, think of your entire customer journey through a mobile lens, as opposed to just thinking about mobile as SMS, mobile apps, or mobile social apps.


4. In every store transaction, ask for customer information that can lengthen their journey.


Every time a customer exits a store, the journey can end if you have no other way to communicate with them. Ron explains, “If you don't ask for an email address or a mobile phone number, your opportunity to engage if you're a physical store goes down.” With more foot traffic in your stores over the next couple months than any other time, make sure employees are trained to seek this information with every sale.


5. Think long-term and plan for how you’ll use more data next year.


Ron advises, “Make sure you're capturing as much data in this holiday season that you can use for next holiday season. Go back and now say, ‘Hey, I'm solid on my plans for the 2017 holiday. I have testing and optimization. I know how I'm going to learn. Now how am I going to make sure I capture as much data as I can to make sure I can use that for next year?’”

And stay flexible. No holiday ever goes totally according to plan, so if you focus on the long-term, you’ll reduce your stress.


6. Be ready for Black Friday to be your biggest online shopping day of the year.


In 2016, Black Friday surpassed Cyber Monday as the year’s biggest digital shopping day for the first time. We expect even more shoppers to shop online on Black Friday 2017. So make sure web teams, customer service, social, and other relevant teams are totally prepared for the Black Friday onslaught.



7. Mind the algorithms.


You don’t want to bother customers with too-frequent or irrelevant social posts in October — it’s more important to keep them in the loop for November’s marketing efforts. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter pull the best messages to the top of a user’s feed, so for now, post consistently on social only when you have useful content to share.


8. Think local.


You’re probably finalizing plans for your holiday ads. Meanwhile, leverage all of your CRM data to target existing customers and focus on location-based ads that can bring customers into stores. For example, Google offers advertising options with Maps that promote nearby stores. Customers care about what’s in their area, so capitalize on that local interest through your digital advertising.


9. Leverage progressive profiling.


During the holiday season, marketing noise is at an all-time high, and customers delete and scroll past any marketing that isn’t relevant to them. Enact a progressive profiling campaign in October so you can learn more about customers and use that information to better target the season’s emails, SMS, push messages, and ads.


10. Inject a bit of early holiday messaging for the early-bird shoppers.


Forty-one percent of consumers say they kick off their holiday shopping in October or earlier (NRF). You already have some early-bird shoppers browsing your site for gift inspiration, so don’t be afraid to run specials or use messaging that reference the impending holidays.


11. Be sensitive to marketing overload.


As you review your plans for November and December, is the amount of marketing you’re planning a bit superfluous? More than half of consumers feel overwhelmed with the various marketing communications sent by retailers via text, email, and other channels throughout the holiday season (Salesforce). Take a last look at your marketing plans through the 2017 holidays and make sure your strategy doesn’t push customers away.

Ron offers much more insight for making the most of Black Friday, December, and beyond in the full episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. Join the thousands of smart marketers who are Cloudcast subscribers on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Stitcher, or Overcast, and download the 2017 Marketing Holiday Calendar for many more tips in a unique calendar format.