huge sales month. Woot! Woot! If you’re relatively new to the agency space, you’re probably asking yourself “why on earth are sales good in October”? I believe the answer is two fold. The first contributing factor is that businesses of all sizes are planning marketing strategy with projected returns for 2015, and they realize they need more, qualified inbound leads. So, they invest heavily in Q4 to build momentum. The second reason for the business boom in October is a reason you might not be quite ready to hear yet. Yes folks, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas are looming ever closer. Creating, as the events do every year, many opportunities to capture market share and generate new revenue. Just how big will the holiday season be this year, and how can you prepare for it? Read on to find out!

2014 Holiday Outlook

According to eMarketer, we can expect to see a 16.6% rise in US retail eCommerce this season. The firm sites consumer confidence and comfort with mobile shopping as well as a general improvement of overall retail sales as the reason for this increase. [caption id="attachment_1874" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Image from eMarketer Image from eMarketer[/caption] The rising tide of brick-and-mortar retail sales is looking like it’s going to lift all ships. Even if individuals don’t plan on purchasing online, many will take the ROPO route (research online, purchase offline). Even service-providing firms need to be prepared for the influx of leads and sales that will occur from those readying themselves for 2015. So, how does the expert inbound marketer prepare?

5 Steps For A Stellar Inbound-Marketing October

You can prepare by starting now! If you’re planning on beginning to think about holiday campaigns in November, you’ll be far too late. There are 5 key steps to get your inbound marketing holiday-ready. Conveniently, there are 5 weeks in October! It’s meant to be.

1. Finalize and understand your Q4 goals.

Number 1 is kind of a no brainer, right? Before you embark on your holiday journey, you must solidify your goals for Q4. How much do you want to increase revenue by? What about leads? Nail down these finer points and use them as your North Star to navigate the holiday season.

2. Prepare your Content Marketing calendar.

Planning out every piece of content until 2015 not only gives you a concrete direction in your inbound marketing efforts, but it takes a huge load off of the rest of your year. Creating a calendar with each piece of content (including its type, target audience, anchor text, keywords, etc.) will only prove to make your content marketing efforts more effective.

3. Prepare holiday social campaigns.

This step includes both paid and unpaid social campaigns. After you’ve created your content calendar, now is the time to construct a supporting social calendar. If you’re planning unpaid social campaigns, curate relevant 3rd party content that supports your owned content and publishes via your social platforms. If you’re embarking on a paid campaign, set your budget and goals, and get all of your content in order (images, copy, etc.)

4. Prepare your PPC campaigns.

Creating your PPC campaign now enables you to simply say “go” when you’re ready to begin the actual campaign itself. If you can begin the campaign early, you’ll have a jump-start on the competition. In addition, you’ll have more time to optimize your campaign and bidding strategy. PPC newbie? Check out this introduction to PPC campaigns.

5. Prepare your PLAs.

PLAs (or Product Listing Advertisements) are essential to any merchant’s inbound marketing strategy. Kenshoo found that on average, PLAs receive a 73% higher click through rate than text search ads, a 35% higher conversion rate, a 36% lower average cost per click rate, and a 46 percent higher return on ad spend. To read more about this study and PLAs, check out an introduction to PLAs here.

You’re Ready For An Awesome October!

Preparing for the holiday season now will not only give you a jump on your competition, but it might also make this holiday season less stressful. Isn’t that all we could really ask for? Have you begun preparations for Q4 and into 2015? We’d love to lend a hand to any inbound marketing questions you may have.]]>