Merchant Meetup: Holiday Marketing

We created these meetups to give merchants like yourselves the opportunity to engage with one another and find commonality in the vast world of ecommerce and entrepreneurship. We know that being an entrepreneur can be incredibly lonely, so we created a space to empower and facilitate connection. 

This week, we went international and combined entrepreneurs from Sweden and Canada in the same Zoom room to discuss the biggest selling season of the year. We had a special guest, Ignacio Varas who is a marketing expert to answer those urgent questions about marketing around the upcoming holiday selling season. 

Thank you so much Ignacio for your time and wisdom! 

Date: September 10, 2020

Hosts: Stefan Cautin- Shopify Community Manager, Stockholm

Lindsay Zubrickas- Shopify Community Manager, Hamilton

Special Guest: Ignacio Varas- Marketing Growth Specialist

Merchant Questions:

Question: What should I start preparing right now?

Ignacio's Answer: You should begin preparing as soon as the last holiday selling season ends. It's best to think about what currently drives traffic and sales to your store and create a plan based on that. Look at the sales channels you currently have and how often you are using them. It isn't the time to try new things and reinvent the wheel. It's best to optimize the sales channels you currently have. If you don't have any current data, take a look at your competitors and the channels they are using to advertise their product.

Question: How do I make sure I put my efforts into the right things when marketing so I don't waste my time? 

Ignacio's Answer: You can test different methods and then check your analytics to see what has the highest conversion. Test, review, and test again. You'll also want to make sure you are optimizing your site for conversion before testing. A few things you can do to optimize your site are to have the right payment options for the countries you are selling to and optimize your product pages (main points above the fold, good photography etc.). 

Question: How can I market myself to compete against large companies having Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales?

Ignacio's Answer: Their advantage is that they are well known. What is your advantage? What value do you provide? What is your story? Why do people buy from you? This is what you should be thinking about when marketing yourself and your small business this selling season. Taking the time to create a personal connection with your customers by writing a hand written note after they make a purchase can go a long way. 

Question: What should I be looking at and measuring after the holidays to see if my efforts were successful?

Ignacio's Answer: Track everything!

Question: How do I make sure I use the resources I have to the fullest?

Ignacio's Answer: If the resource is your budget, you don’t have to put all of it in one channel. It’s more about resource management + flexibility. You may not even need to spend it all. If your resource isn't your budget and it's your time, don’t overdo it. Do what’s right for you. Don’t compare yourself to competitors in terms of where you’re putting your time. Utilize how many hours you have in your own day and allocate that accordingly. Every company is different.


Audience Question: How is LinkedIn working together with Shopify?

Ignacio's Answer: If you have a following on LinkedIn, you can use that as a channel for your business. 

 (There is no direct link from Shopify to LinkedIn)

Audience Question: Do you recommend Shopify email for abandoned email?

Ignacio's Answer: Start with something simple that lets you send out automated emails and then change or work towards services that have more features and let you do more things. Just ensure you are using an email platform that allows you to collect data. 

Audience Question: You had mentioned earlier to look at competitors if you are a start up. What app have you tried/would you recommend to analyze our competitors (ie., Iconosquare)?

Ignacio's Answer:,

Audience Question: What is your top tip when you have "0" followers/customers and you want to build it up for Christmas?

Ignacio's Answer: Build up some sort of dataset. Email everyone you’ve been in contact with and invite all friends on your personal facebook list. Once they follow you, make sure you are continuing to engage with them. Decide how often you’ll be posting, for example, once a week to start. 

Audience Question: Should I do a sale for Black Friday or for Christmas?

Ignacio's Answer: This is a holiday season, so do both. Think about what offers you want for both holidays. Either have different offers or different product sales at those times. Do both or none at all. Remember that people are more inclined to purchase during November and December so even if you don’t have a discount you might get more sales. Alternatives to giving a discount on a regular purchase is to give discounts on bundles (upselling) or for their next purchase.

Audience Question: Would you recommend a discount for launching? We have about 700 followers on Instagram.

Ignacio's Answer: Start by presenting yourself, “We are here/we are open!”. If people don’t interact you can start thinking about a discount. For example, you can send an email stating you are here and for those who don't open the email you can provide a discount.

Audience Question: What is the best way to build up a customer base before Black Friday/Cyber Monday?

Ignacio's Answer: Build up your email and your current sales channels. Set a high goal to work towards and you will find the tools along the way. Cross-promote with other businesses via email or social media. Create some sort of structure like a marketing plan or calendar. 

Audience Question: Is it better to start sending emails before December?

Ignacio's Answer: Yes! Start early. Email them 2-3 weeks before but don’t mention the discount. As you get closer you can start advertising the discounts. 

Main Takeaways

- Track everything! 

- Look at what your competitors are doing if you're a new business and/or don't have much data to work with.

- Have a plan. Create some sort of structure before going into this selling season. 

- Start early! 

- Always give a reason for a discount.

Find and follow Ignacio on


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