2020 Holiday Planning for Merchants

Lab6 Media - Holiday Planning for Merchant Affiliate Programs

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Lab6 Media - Holiday Planning for Merchant Affiliate Programs

With the world a bit topsy-turvy this year, it’s easy to understand the overwhelming urge to simply stop planning, toss the holiday marketing calendar out and throw your hands in the air in frustration. We get it, really we do.

There are so many unknowns: what may, or may not, be open, pricing structure changes, supply chain adjustments, and even major changes across teams internally. The good thing though is that regardless of these major machinations, people will absolutely still want to celebrate the holidays.

Here are five things to keep in mind as you look towards Q4:

Prepare Early

According to the National Retail Federation, about 40% of consumers actually begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. If you’re waiting until October to finalize holiday planning for November, not only are you likely too late for your affiliate partners to help with holiday lift, you may in fact be too late for a lot of your customer base.

Look Outside Your Box

We know that Q4 planning can be a bit repetitive, and in fact many companies roll out very similar promotions year after year on a fairly similar schedule. Take a good look at your promotions from last year and see if there are additional events you might take advantage of in this new season.

Merchants who ship internationally should consider participating in ‘Single’s Day ‘on November 11th, and its small/medium sized merchant focused sequel, ‘Double 12’ on December 12th. In 2019, Singles Day shopping on China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba set a record with over $30 billion in sales, outpacing spending by consumers on Black Friday.

Other mini-shopping dates may also be great additions to your holiday planning:

  • Small Business Saturday – November 28 – the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, intended to promote shopping at small, brick and mortar businesses.
  • Giving Tuesday – December 1 – the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it encourages giving back to charities and communities as a whole. Merchants with ongoing charity efforts do well to promote their partnerships, especially when a portion of a purchase is donated directly to a cause that resonates with their consumers
  • Free Shipping Day – December 14 – participating stores offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve
  • Green Monday – December 14 – typically the second Monday in December, and this year it coincides with Free Shipping Day. While not necessarily a consumer holiday, it is typically one of the heaviest online shopping days in December.
  • Super Saturday – December 19 – the last Saturday before Christmas, targets last minute ‘panic’ shoppers, great for merchants who are able to ensure fast shipping and last minute deliveries
  • Boxing Day – December 26 – typically a large promotional day in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand

Be Flexible

The last few months have taught us all to be incredibly flexible and adaptable. Depending on your industry and product line, you may find yourself in the position to have to make swift adjustments to your messaging, graphic assets, and targeting.

To save time and prevent headaches later, set aside time now to craft some basic message templates to your partners that you can utilize later with short notice. For example, already you know that you’ll have a campaign for Black Friday. You may not have all the details of the consumer offer, but partners will need to know other basic information at that same time; how to obtain their links, when to put them up, when to take them down. Now is also a great time to draft reminders about any PPC restrictions your program has as well as those FTC reminders.

If your program struggles with timely asset creation, sync up with your designer now to better understand their work flow. Ask them specifically the best way for you to request new designs or sizes from them and put a plan into practice now, before things get busy.

Merchants with geo-targeting considerations may need to account for more frequent adjustments this year, and as a result, so will their affiliate partners. Prepare now by setting up useful reports to easily review purchasing geos on a regular basis in order to better inform your partners. This will be especially critical to partners that may be participating in search campaigns on your behalf.

Connect with your Network

If it’s been over a month since you communicated with your network rep, it’s time to set up a call. It’s important to have visibility now of any changes or updates that may impact your workflow in the coming months. Many networks have rolled out new features and shared product roadmaps in the last few weeks and you definitely don’t want to be the last to know.

Not sure who your network rep might be? Reach out via your network’s ticket system and ask.

Talk to Finance

Ok, we know…no one really likes talking to the souls over in finance, however it is extremely important to be on the same page about payouts, budget, and pacing for the remainder of the year. By having the conversation early, all parties are on the same page as to the goals for your partnership program and how it will impact your company’s bottom line over the coming months.

This also is the perfect time to review network payment methods and invoicing practices to ensure your partners get paid on time during the holidays and your program never goes offline due to lack of funds.

Undoubtedly, the holiday season will have surprises yet in store for us. However, with a few easy preparations, you’ll be better equipped to adjust your partner strategies on the fly.

Finally, if you’ve found yourself suddenly wearing many hats at your company and you’re feeling overwhelmed by your affiliate program holiday planning, contact our team about a program review and management services. We’re happy to help.

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