You’ve created a plan. This holiday retail season, your brand is set up for success. You know when you’re promoting the best deals, and you’ve already started communicating with your most loyal customers. But what happens when you realize something’s not adding up right?

Related Content: Breaking Down eMarketer’s 2018 Holiday Retail Predictions

The shopping season has already begun, so you should soon be seeing the beginning sales numbers trickle in. If they’re not where you’d like them to be, you still have time to make some changes to your holiday marketing plan to make this year a success for your company. It simply takes a little bit of a pivot.

Do some testing before Black Friday hits

It’s important to set expectations ahead of time about your holiday store hours, and make sure your messaging aligns with your brand promise.

If you’re not happy with your sales right now, you still have a little room to do some testing. Try testing a few different offers by sending multiple versions of emails to your customer base. A/B test your subject lines to track open rates and conversions, because open rates aren’t good enough. Test things you can sacrifice testing now for the gains later in the season. You don’t want to do a knee-jerk reaction and give it all away.

Figure out what you can afford to give away on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and figure out how to build up to that. Play around with shipping offers or the promise of a coupon after the holidays—something that might not hit your bottom line now—because you don’t want to sacrifice your profit margin.

Keep your messaging genuine

It’s important to set expectations ahead of time about your holiday store hours, and make sure your messaging aligns with your brand promise. Being open or closed on Thanksgiving isn’t something that works for every brand. We know Target will be open—its promise is about convenience. But be careful about jumping on the bandwagon of closing your store because your focus is family values. Whatever you decide, your messaging has to feel genuine. Doing something that makes customers think you’re not genuine could definitely hurt you.

After Black Friday, there’s still a month until Christmas, and 2-3 weeks before guaranteed shipping cutoff dates. Push gift guides and unique gifting in the last 3 weeks.

Make a plan for Thanksgiving Day

If your promotion is online only, our recommended email strategy is to send two emails—one in the morning with a traditional “Happy Thanksgiving” message, and one in the afternoon communicating, “We’re having a sale!” Keep in mind Thanksgiving is a holiday and people are celebrating with family, but they still expect a sale.

The same goes for Black Friday and Cyber Week. Customers expect you to do something, so adjust your plan accordingly if your current offers aren’t giving you the results you want.

Keep in mind the rest of the shopping season

You know the majority of people continue shopping after Black Friday. There’s still a month until Christmas, and two or three weeks before guaranteed shipping cutoff dates. Push gift guides and unique gifting in the last three weeks.

Holiday marketing should be focused on the audience versus the splashy campaign. It should be an extension of what you’re always doing as a brand.

Think about where the purchaser mindset is and what they need—the perfect gift, not necessarily the best deal. If you have data about how your customers have spent money in the past, use it to determine what you focus on for your final communications of the season.

Be unique, not a sheep

After Black Friday, be unique with what you’re doing and what differentiates you as a brand. This doesn’t have to be promotions based on pricing—it could be customer service (free returns), coupons, shipping, or pickup in store for added convenience. Offering free returns to your brick-and-mortar store could bring customers in, and possibly get them to purchase something else.

If you’re a small- to medium-sized business, try to do things that aren’t scalable, like personalized notes in packages, because big companies can’t do it all. If you can’t put your whole site on sale, small, personalized things like this can make you stand out to customers.

Download our 2018 Holiday Marketing Strategy Guide

Market to your audience in the right way—in the way they expect—and you’ll reap the rewards. Holiday marketing should be focused on the audience versus the splashy campaign. It should be an extension of what you’re always doing as a brand. You don’t want to change who you are as a brand just for the season because you want your customers to stick around for longer than just the holiday season.

You still have time to make some changes to your holiday marketing plan. Discover our best channel-by-channel tips and tricks in our 2018 Holiday Retail Prep Guide.

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