100 days from Christmas, it’s time to start planning!

It may seem like yes­ter­day you were sun­ning your­self on the beach dur­ing your sum­mer hol­i­day but believe it or not, today marks 100 days before Christ­mas! Cus­tomers’ shop­ping expec­ta­tions are high­er than ever, and Christ­mas is no excep­tion to this. As the sea­son remains the most lucra­tive peri­od for retail, the stakes are high­er than ever to get it right.

It’s time to start mak­ing your Christ­mas-plan­ning list (and check­ing it twice?). To help you in your efforts, we recent­ly shared our thoughts on Four things every brand should do now in the lead-up to the fes­tive peri­od. We spoke to Adobe cus­tomer Dixons Car­phone, to find out what the brand is doing ahead of this year’s cru­cial shop­ping period.

Start plan­ning early

The ear­li­er you start plan­ning, the more like­ly your cam­paign will unfold with­out a hitch. For the most high­ly-organ­ised brands, like Dixons Car­phone, the plan­ning has already begun.

“Christ­mas is always the most impor­tant peri­od for retail, so we start plan­ning as ear­ly as six months in advance,” says Saul Lopes, Head of CRM at Dixons Carphone.

Get­ting start­ed means con­cep­tu­al­is­ing and sched­ul­ing, but it also means test­ing your Christ­mas ad cam­paign – and those who kick their plan­ning off ear­ly will have a head start ahead of those who don’t. Dixons Car­phone uses Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er to per­form mul­ti-vari­ent test­ing to mon­i­tor how dif­fer­ent cus­tomer seg­ments respond to cer­tain mes­sag­ing and con­tent. This helps them under­stand what res­onates with their cus­tomer ahead of time, so their cam­paigns can be tweaked for max­i­mum impact. Saul explains:

“We test our Christ­mas cam­paigns in August and Sep­tem­ber. Using mul­ti-vari­ent test­ing, we’re able to mon­i­tor how dif­fer­ent cus­tomer seg­ments respond to dif­fer­ent mes­sag­ing and con­tent. We then use these insights to deliv­er rel­e­vant expe­ri­ences. By start­ing our test­ing ear­ly, we give our­selves plen­ty of time to refine our mes­sag­ing, so that come Christ­mas, we are 100% con­fi­dent in the tar­get­ing and deliv­ery of our Christ­mas campaigns.”

Learn from last year

Regard­less of when you start plan­ning, insights from last year’s cam­paign will like­ly pro­vide a use­ful steer in devel­op­ing this year’s one. Once again, brands with a mar­ket­ing automa­tion plat­form will ben­e­fit, this time from easy access to his­tor­i­cal cam­paign data across a num­ber of parameters.

Dixons Car­phone employs a sim­i­lar strat­e­gy ahead of their Christ­mas cam­paigns, as Saul explains:

“We start by analysing last year’s data to see what worked well and, in July, we review where we could make improve­ments,” explains Saul. “Adobe Expe­ri­ence Cloud not only helps us under­stand how peo­ple are brows­ing and inter­act­ing on our web­site, it also gives us the abil­i­ty to per­son­alise com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mes­sag­ing to cus­tomers based on those brows­ing habits and preferences.”

Bring the team together

Christ­mas cam­paigns are some of the longest and most com­plex of the year, often requir­ing mar­ket­ing teams to col­lab­o­rate with areas of the busi­ness they don’t usu­al­ly inter­act with. For Dixons Car­phone, tech­nol­o­gy helps bring the dif­fer­ent areas of the busi­ness togeth­er in the lead-up to this impor­tant peri­od. Saul explains:

“Col­lab­o­ra­tion between all of the dif­fer­ent on and offline chan­nels is essen­tial to deliv­er a good all-round expe­ri­ence to our cus­tomers. Adobe Tar­get and Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er help our teams work togeth­er more effec­tive­ly and allow us to review the per­for­mance of every chan­nel and touch­point by cus­tomer seg­ment through one cen­tral platform.”

“The abil­i­ty to share data effi­cient­ly across func­tions is essen­tial to the suc­cess of our Christ­mas cam­paigns, as each team has an impor­tant role to play in bring­ing these wider activ­i­ties to life. As soon as the plan­ning peri­od begins we have reg­u­lar meet­ings, bring­ing our cross-func­tion­al teams togeth­er, and pro­vid­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty for them to strate­gise togeth­er, face-to-face.”

It’s nev­er too ear­ly to start plan­ning for Christ­mas, but it’s not too late, either. There’s still plen­ty of time to devel­op and exe­cute cam­paigns that will res­onate with your audi­ence, and ensure your brand sees the many hap­py returns it expects from the Christ­mas period!