jingle bells
To maximize these last few weeks, marketers need to start testing and keep pushing straight through to the new year PHOTO: Joanna Kosinska

For marketers, this is it. We’re well into the final holiday countdown. And this is the season that, in many ways, sets the tone for the year ahead. 

This is also the season to continuously test and optimize your sites and other key digital touchpoints. But, interestingly, many digital marketers hold back. Maybe they’re scared to rock the fragile holiday boat, or maybe they think they’ve done all they can and the rest is now up to the e-commerce gods. 

Whatever the case you make for holding back, stop.

To maximize these last few weeks, marketers need to start testing and keep pushing straight through to the New Year. 

So what should you be testing? A few things — let’s call them The 12 Days of Christmas, marketing style. 

On the first day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... insights on holiday offers

This one comes first because, like the song, we’re going to repeat it for the entire holiday season. 

Why? Because the shopper who’s primed to buy in late October looks a lot different than the one who’s scrambling to stuff those stockings two weeks from now. Maybe free overnight shipping the week before Christmas is the offer of the season. You’ll never know if you don’t test.

On the second day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... two compelling headlines

Eight in 10 people don’t read past your headlines. 

If that isn't reason enough to up the ante on your headlines, add this: shopping trips and online sessions are getting shorter, giving you even less time to grab their attention and entice them to take action. 

By continuously testing your site headers and marketing headlines, you’ll be able to determine what best appeals to the increasingly time-crunched customer. 

On the third day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... three time-sensitive offers

Fear of missing out is real. We’re hardwired to avoid pain over seeking pleasure — and that’s why creating a sense of urgency is a compelling force in the marketing universe. 

If consumers fear they’ll miss out on that great deal, an in-demand toy or last-minute shipping offer, they’ll act. Aim to test a few FOMO-focused promotions — the limited times, the countdowns, the last minutes — and see what happens. 

On the fourth day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... four emotionally-charged campaigns

Emotional marketing was one of the buzziest trends this year. Not only is emotionally charged content easier for consumers to process, record and act on, it’s one of the fastest ways to build strong, lasting bonds with your consumers. About 80 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by emotion, versus just 20 percent fueled by other, more intellectual sources. 

The holidays are the perfect time to tap into the power of emotional marketing, whether you’ve been using it already or are a newcomer to the practice.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... five ideas for the hero spot

The hero position on your homepage is often taken over by the biggest, best performing products, services and offers. If you select those pre-holiday, you could be missing out.

Your brand’s “it” item or offer could be something totally unexpected once the holidays roll around. Test and see what warrants the spot, then revisit as the weeks tick down. The winner gets the hero spot — no if, ands or buts about it. 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... six great gifts just for them

Self-gifting continues to be a major slice of the holiday shopping pie. This opens up a whole new world of personalization that might not follow the same rules of engagement. 

But how do you deliver relevance when the dots don’t quite connect? For starters, fall back on your existing customer profiles as well as some of your know-how in engaging and activating the anonymous site visitor. Test and go from there. 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... seven ways to say it

Think about how else you could convey your message. Does that hero become a video? Does the video become a user-generated content campaign? Is there a giveaway? Hourly promotions? 

‘Tis the season for creativity, so don’t be afraid to experiment with formats and platforms to see if something can lend a little more holiday cheer, with tests to support what’s working, what’s not and who’s engaging with these fresh promotions. 

On the eighth day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... eight calls-to-action

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are very simple to test and, often, a few small tweaks — different sizes, colors, fonts, language — can make a massive difference in conversion. 

At the end of the day, consumers actually like to be told what actions to take next. Steer shoppers through the journey by testing clear-cut CTAs designed to drive action.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... nine ideas for rewards

The vast majority of holiday shoppers are comparing prices, using sites like Amazon to ensure they’re getting the best deals. So, why not toss in an added incentive to ensure they buy from you first — and keep coming back? Why not test a seasonal rewards program? 

These programs can incentivize current customers to keep more of their shopping with your brand, while giving newcomers a reason to dive in. 

On the 10th day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... 10 email tests

About two-thirds of all emails are opened on mobile devices, so you really need to dig into your email campaigns over these coming weeks as consumers are flying from store to store in search of the perfect gift. 

So how do you speak to your customers when they’re on the move? By testing anything and everything you can, from subject lines to times of day to length of copy to CTAs. 

On the 11th day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... 11 recommendations 

Testing recommendations is tried and true, so don’t gloss over it. Don’t be afraid to go with the old standards — recommending a 12-pack of batteries when they buy the remote controlled car, or the case for the smartphone. Test timing, messaging and creative. Some well-placed, high-engagement recommendations can drive up your average order value significantly, and make customers feel like you really get them. 

On the 12th day of Christmas, my data gave to me ... 12 last-minute offers

As the final few shopping days roll around, keep testing those offers. Sure, that was number one on this list but, as we wrap, it deserves revisiting. In the last few days and weeks before Christmas the crunch is really on and tests can and should revolve around true last-minute offers. 

Singing along yet? Now roll up your sleeves and get ready to dig into your holiday campaigns starting now, layering in the testing and optimizing that may be missing.