Building Blocks: 2021 Holiday Season Learnings

As marketers, we understand that the landscape is changing daily. From branding to promotions, best practices are constantly evolving. In the last few months, we have posted about the all-important holiday season in terms of planning for it and selling successfully. With the holiday season underway, we wanted to provide a roadmap for the last few weeks of the year – to ensure you close it out successfully.

(1) Attempt to Clear Any Excess Inventory to Protect Margin

  • – It is important to remember that the work is not over once the holiday season is here. In fact, it is a critical time to ensure you end the year in a profitable way.
  • – Analyze what is left in stock, and what you can promote right now (or in early 2022). Build a post-holiday marketing calendar and campaign to stimulate sales.
  • – Use your hard-won list growth from the holiday season and continue the conversation with customers. Tip: ignite a sense of urgency!
  • – Use both personalized marketing and bulk tactics.
    • – Examples include an exciting subject line that is transparent or show products that are on sale in emails. Better yet? Personalize emails with previously viewed items that are now on sale or abandoned cart positioning.

(2) Reflect & Learn to Stimulate Growth in 2022

  • – Dedicate time to learn and document your wins / losses while they are fresh in your mind.
  • – Reference your calendar with campaign reporting. Observe traffic, measure results and identify selling trends. Record your marketing successes; use them for future planning.
  • – Assess your inventory and determine:
    • – Were your best sellers those that you expected them to be?
    • – Were different items more popular?
    • – Were there more items that needed to be discounted than you thought?
  • – Use tools like customer surveys to help with marketing decisions for next year.

As you can tell, our themes are absorption, education, and growth. We believe that evolution is the key to success – especially in this ever-changing retail landscape. Most importantly, this evolution will trigger success. We hope you are having a successful holiday season and look forward to even more prosperity in 2022!

Information sourced from Mailchimp eCommerce Masterclass Series. 

Consumer Behavior Unknown

How Post-Pandemic Consumer Behavior Is Impacting Companies’ Success

I vividly remember someone saying to me, “I really do not think anyone is going to work out in a gym ever again.” Two weeks ago, Peloton’s stock plunged more than 35% in a day and last week, it fell another 11% likely because of the decrease a few days earlier (source: The Motley Fool). In contrast, Equinox’s stock increased last week (source: Market Watch). At-home fitness soared during the pandemic, but people are reverting to gym workouts.

While we all understand that consumer behavior has been changing rapidly – mainly due to the pandemic the last 2 years – the bottom line is that many of the behaviors that did transform are seemingly changing back to what they were pre-pandemic. While some brands may have benefitted from the pandemic, others are now experiencing the success they once did. As they say, “old habits die hard.”


As the U.S. recently eased international travel restrictions, airline stocks soared. CNN Business reported, “US airline shares take flight.” Moreover, the JETS ETF (holdings include Delta and American airlines) climbed 11% this month. Virgin Atlantic reported that flights were 98% full. In fact, by July 2021, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that domestic air travel was back to pre-COVID levels. New trends arose such as U.S. travelers booking outdoor activities, visiting rural destinations, and reserving private vacation rentals (source: NPR). We will see if some of these pandemic-related trends are here to stay!

Meal Delivery

While grocery stores and big box retailers are still experiencing the effects of the supply chain, meal delivery services such as Door Dash, Grub Hub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and meal prep services are up. In fact, sales for meal delivery services grew 17% YOY (source: Bloomberg Second Measure). With consumers traveling more and working in different locations (gasp…at the office?!), it is expected that meal delivery services will continue to experience an uptick due to people being “on the go.”

Video Conferencing Tools

Beginning in July, daily average users for Zoom were down by about a third from the year prior, to 44.3M from 49.3M. Since then, Zoom app downloads also decreased (source: Barrons). During this time, 74% of businesses reported that they were bringing employees back to the office (source: Inc). While the power of video conferencing has been incredible (and useful!), it cannot replace in-person meetings and get togethers entirely. More than 8 in 10 executives prefer in-person meetings, specifically sharing that they create the right environment for timely decisions, difficult discussions, and stimulate more strategic thinking. In fact, research shows that face-to-face meetings are 34x more effective than email conversations – and 35% of the discrepancy in a team’s performance directly correlates to the number of times that the individuals spoke in-person (source: Washington Post). 

Apparel & Accessories

The pandemic created an athleisure boom. While the business casual and athleisure segments were climbing in popularity pre-pandemic, it is obvious that the pandemic created an acceleration. In 2020, the athleisure market yielded about $105B in sales (source: CNBC). Post-pandemic, we are seeing marketing efforts tailored to comfortable workwear and items that can transition from working remotely to the office, and back. Transitional items such as stretchy work pants and unique sneakers are more popular than ever. For example, Athleta now has a “Travel and Commute” section while J.Crew’s new holiday section features cashmere and velvet sets to dress up or down, and Bonobos includes “E-Waist Pants and Joggers” on their website. Brands continue to tailor not only their products but marketing efforts towards new consumer behaviors. 

As Bob Dylan and The Band sang: “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Not only do we understand the marketplace, but we know your customers. From shopper marketing, data & analytics, creative services, to direct mail and insert media, we have the expertise to tailor your marketing strategy to these changing times. 


Best Practices for Creating SEO-Friendly FAQ Pages

SEO-friendly content has always been important, but with today’s increased online competition, it is essential. As digital marketers, our goal is to provide and design web content that attracts search engine traffic to ultimately grow brand success. But, can certain content be difficult to make SEO-friendly? Are the best practices different depending on the type of webpage?

Coincidentally, the goal of an FAQ page is the same as the meaning of SEO: offer the best answers to the questions your audience is asking. Not only can FAQ pages help with user experience, but they have the power to optimize your SEO strategy.

Best Practices for Creating SEO-Friendly FAQ Pages

Compile The Most Common Questions From Your Users

While you may be tempted to answer questions that you think your customers will ask – or plant questions to help sales efforts – we recommend that the questions are instead based on data. Tap into internal team members, conduct audience research, use chat logs and site searches, and determine industry-wide trends and issues using online forums.

Provide Comprehensive Answers

Answer the questions in a complete and concise manner. These answers should be consistent with your brand message. Ensure each answer is accessible and easy to read. Beware of repetition and complexity, which will not only negatively impact SEO but hurt your customer experience as well.

Your FAQ Pages Should Be Formatted for an Optimal User Experience

Rather than trying to keep your FAQs on one page, it actually helps SEO to create multiple pages because you can target specific terms for each topic or category. In addition to helping your own SEO efforts, your customer will not need to scroll endlessly trying to find an answer to their specific question.

Don’t Forget About Pages’ Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

With multiple FAQ pages, you can more easily feature and customize topically relevant keywords into the title tag and meta descriptions.

Implement FAQ Schema

FAQ Schema is a unique markup that you can add to your page’s code to enhance the Google search result listings. Google reads this markup and generates a richer snippet, earning you a greater presence in the SERPs.

Good FAQ pages are great for SEO…but bad are really terrible. Let’s work together to create the best possible site experience for your customers beginning with your FAQ page. Reach out to begin optimizing for SEO today! We offer complimentary SEO audits and can help steer you and your website through the SEO landscape.

Sources include Seer Interactive and Search Engine Journal.


Building Blocks for Creating Authentic Customer Relationships Through Branding & Content

As marketers, we all have our “secret sauce.” In terms of building authentic customer relationships, we’re inviting you to “taste test” ours! Brand, content and storytelling are the ingredients in our recipe.

Measure & Mix:

1 Great Brand

  • An important element of branding is about building a positive reputation.
  • The best brands find balance between their own character and customer needs.
    • – Make sure to get ahead of these needs – appeal to the ‘needs’ they don’t even know they have.
    • – You may do this with tools like surveys. Using surveys, you can discover details that customers may not be articulating through shopping behavior, but you may infer based on responses.
  • Emphasize empathy and determine how it can play a bigger role in your customer journey.

Stir In:

1 Perception Identity

1 Price

  • Understand brand archetypes: these will help define a brand’s role in the marketplace and in the lives of customers by creating a human connection.
    • – Archetypes are directional and not prescriptive.
    • – Finding the right archetype can develop a role in the marketplace as well as customers’ lives.
  • Create a consistent and compelling brand identity, so you can always tap back into this as you develop consistent communication.
  • If your brand identity is meaningful enough, then brand evolution may occur as well.

For added flavor, here are some suggested enhancements for brand identity:

  • Authenticity
  • Differentiation
  • Consistency
  • Presence
  • Relevance
  • Understanding
  • Price
    • – How you price your products is key to bringing your brand to life. It determines your reputation within the marketplace and customer perception


4 Organizational Content Framework

1 Hero

1 Hub

1 Help

1 Heart

  • Combine large and small moments to help convert prospects or increase engagement with existing customers.
    • – Hero content: Huge moments like big campaigns, pop-up events which are usually larger investments 1-2x per year.
    • – Hub content: High impact, medium moments that demonstrate industry expertise, increase prospect engagement and drive conversion, such as videos, white papers, and new product launches.
    • – Help content: Always-on, small-scale content designed to solve customers’ job to be done. Content such as social posts, customer service interactions, help communications (explainers, demos, etc.), SEO strategy and retargeting, team culture, customer and community stories, and surprise moments increases brand affinity, drives conversion, and improve retention. Typically, brands spend a lot of time and effort in this area.
    • – Heart content: Medium moments balanced with Hub content. These are highly impactful and designed to demonstrate empathy and increase retention with existing customers. Examples include small-scale, intimate events as well as social media events. Overall, brands are solely trying to enhance customer relationships in these moments.
  • By understanding your content ecosystem, a brand will strengthen its customer journey.

Serve valuable content to facilitate stronger customer connections & enjoy heightened marketing success!

Information sourced from Mailchimp eCommerce Masterclass Series.