Note: For retailers, the holidays are no longer a season, they’re the focus of the entire year. To help you capitalize on its opportunities and avoid its pitfalls, DEG will be publishing a series of strategy-focused blogs touching one every aspect of your digital holiday. Follow DEG on Twitter for updates and insights from now until the last champagne cork is popped .


In the retail world, the holidays are already here. Are you ready?

The importance of the fourth quarter is no surprise to anyone in retail. Corporate goals are set with lofty expectations – “This year we’re going to plan and get it right.” Goals are set across the business spectrum, be they for market share, revenue, gross sales, or net profit, and they’re all meaningful. But the way you achieve them can be markedly different, and even counterproductive if you’re not careful. Not to mention that the metrics to evaluating them are also unique for every organization. Is conversion rate based on visitors or by shopping carts? Is revenue gross or net? Does margin determine the amount of available discounting?

upward trendE-commerce sales are a portion of the overall sales strategy, impacted by merchandising, in-store sales strategies, affiliate programs, and economic factors. No Chief Marketing Officer is able to caveat his or her plan with “it depends,” although they certainly wish they could.

At this half-way point to the holidays, it’s appropriate to take a hard look at your planning and understand whether clear, measurable, meaningful goals have been established, and if they have been (and I hope they have been) get a grasp on your pace toward achieving them. Ideally, plans were set with an understanding of sales’ weekly/monthly ebb and flow rather than a straight 1/12 of the overall goal. To set holiday goals, you must first know where you stand as of June 30. The annual goal is not nearly important now as the amount you have remaining to meet that year-end goal.

So that’s where we are: It is critical that you have the tools in place to analyze the rest of the year, providing the detail required in the cleanest fashion.

Check how your web analytics revenue figures compare to your financial system. Marketers are often relegated to “close enough” information, but you need to know what the error rate is, so that you are reporting reasonable differences. There will most assuredly be a difference, and understanding the source of that difference is critical.

  • If you are using the free version of Google Analytics, reports you are pulling may include some sampling. You can reduce the sampling by pulling shorter timeframes.
  • Returns are not considered in typical web analytics, as the returns process happens outside of the website and e-commerce platform. Know the return values, and consider that in the differential.
  • ROI for online channels varies dramatically. If your organization measures each channel independently, you must ensure that channel attribution is accurate. If your campaign revenue is lower than expected, ensure the web analytics tagging structures are set up correctly. Check the traffic from referral and direct traffic to see if some of the campaigns are reporting under different categories.

Once you’ve determined where you are relative to your goal and the correct framework to measure success, then you are ready to establish benchmarks and compare throughout the season and measure against those goals. Ensure you and your management have clear goals, based on the same metrics.

Constantly measure your current state and adjust your strategy because the end goal isn’t as important is the differential between now and December 31.

Happy analyzing!

Is there a part of your holiday strategy that you’re still not sure about? Let us know what it is and we’ll help you through it.

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