Posted: Tuesday 18th November 2014 in Performance Marketing.

You’ve spent all year planning Christmas. You’ve established international shipping, the tax and custom laws are taken care of and the budget is set for both local and international campaigns. But did you know that most families in The Netherlands exchange gifts on the 5th of December and trading on Sundays dips significantly in Germany?

Here are our 3 key considerations that retailers need to have to ensure successful international Christmas campaigns and trade.

1. Cultural Differences: Saint Nicholas, Svatý Mikuláš and Santa Claus

Christmas goes by many different names and traditions across the world. If you fail to understand these in each of the countries you trade in then you are literally throwing money away.

Trading laws differ from country to country.  Whilst many retailers in the UK see traffic peaks on Sundays, search volume in Germany actually declines due to trading rules.  In France, on the other hand, the closure of high street shops on Sundays translates online with higher search volumes throughout the retail sector.

Sale periods overall also come with their own rules.  In France, for example, sale periods are set dates and a retailer cannot be in a sale outside of the predetermined dates, whilst in the UK many sale periods begin before Christmas Day.

In addition to this, Christmas day and the traditional present opening occurs on different days throughout the world.   Thanksgiving is much more prevalent in America but holds little significance elsewhere. In the Netherlands the traditional gift giving day is Saint Nicholas Day on the 5th of December  whereas in the Czech Republic, present opening takes place on the 24th December. This all clearly has an impact on promotions and other operations like last order and delivery dates for retailers.

During the holiday season, delivery options can have a significant impact on overall conversion with consumers actively looking for free next day delivery (or ‘shipping’  in the US and Australia).   Significant drops in search volume should also be expected in some territories, particularly Germany, following the last order date.

Summit recommends adjusting day parting based on trading laws in each territory, particularly for Sunday trading.  Retailers must consider at what time consumers in each territory require gifts by and to use options such as click and collect, if available, to maximise sales after the last order date.  Budget management and phasing is key during the Christmas period and understanding these cultural differences will help to drive the overall strategy for retailers.

2. Christmas promotional messaging

In order to get the most out of your Christmas campaigns, you must ensure that messaging is aligned with the market being targeted.  This may seem obvious however this is not just a case of translating your UK messaging into the target market language.  The overall tone of ad copy and regional dialects should also be considered.  This will ensure that, as a retailer, you are not viewed as an outsider and the USPs are relevant to the consumer you are targeting.   American consumers, for example, are much more open to a hard sell and as such the amount of promotional marketing and noise during the holiday season could mean your message is lost amongst the crowd.  The key to success will be ensuring that your message is unique, includes core USPs for the market and stands out in both the research and converting stage of the user journey.

3. Time zones & territories and their impact on Christmas trading

An awareness of different time zones is crucial right from the very start of the campaign planning process. Within Google, time zone settings cannot be changed once your account has been set up so it is important you have decided how you are going to manage this, and an awareness of the different time zones can play dividends for optimisation.

For example, applying overnight bid adjustments to campaigns within an account that has its time set to USA Eastern Standard time (EST), but is targeting nationally could result in ads losing impression share in California.

International time zones become particularly important when setting time sensitive promotions and will impact how you schedule and automate messages over the holiday season.  New Year’s Day, for example, starts in Sydney 3 hours before it does in Perth and this will need to be aligned with onsite changes to ensure a consistent message to consumers.

Our recommendation is always use local time, as it mitigates for any issues regarding time of day optimisation and bid adjustment.  It’s possible to set-up specific accounts by time zone; however this could impact on the time taken to manage your accounts.  Therefore, you may choose to target geographic areas instead, as a territory may be more valuable to target than a time zone.  The important consideration is making sure you reach people during peak in the most effective and efficient way.  Think about population density and the demographic alignment for your brand. You could potentially convert better if you target a large urban conurbation as opposed to an entire country and this could be the lever between good or excellent peak trading.

So that’s the Summit wrap up of Christmas trading around the world. We currently manage a variety of international online marketing campaigns for UK retailers. If you’d like to know how we can help you please contact us at [email protected] or take a look at some of our other Peak related articles.