If you are like most retail companies, you depend on Christmas sales to significantly boost your bottom line. Competition for consumer dollars is fierce this time of year. To gain a competitive edge, you must employ creativity and tactics that will make your holiday marketing campaign more effective than your rivals.

Here are a few of the many marketing methods you should use to make the most of the holiday season:

Fast and free shipping

The Amazon phenomenon has set a new standard for shipping. People now expect to receive the items they ordered online within 2 days of purchase. The reputation of your brand may suffer if you cannot deliver within this time period. This is especially the case at Christmas when nearly everyone has last minute shopping to do and may not get around to it until the week or even days before the 25th.

Whether or not a company can offer fast and free shipping depends on several factors, some of which begin far from the point of sale. For example, if the product originates from a manufacturer utilizing Smart Factory technology, the reliability of supply will ensure items can be shipped affordably and efficiently. On the other hand, if the products originate from a less predictable source, the promise of fast and free shipping is hard to keep.

There are many ways to implement fast and free shipping. You can offer a loyalty program in which customers pay a one-time fee and get free and express shipping any time they make an online purchase. This is a highly effective method of expanding your customer base. The individuals who frequent your online shop will sign up because they know and trust your brand and they want to get their stuff in time for Christmas.

You can also offer free next-day shipping on orders over a certain price point. This helps to drive sales as buyers are more willing to buy something extra in order to surpass the minimum required.

End-of-year advertising

Another option is to go outside of traditional over-the-air television ads and engage customers through live streaming. This can be done on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. It gives you the opportunity to interact in real-time with customers, which is something that increasing numbers of consumers have come to expect. Live streaming gives you the opportunity to present both the products that sell well and any special deals or discounts you have going on.

You can also buy digital audio ads. Spotify has over 140 million listeners worldwide. Pandora Internet Radio has nearly 80 million users. These digital audio channels are also used by many startup cafes, bistros, and restaurants during the holiday season, some of which let the music and advertisements play through. You may be able to reach many more people than you think by buying spots on these channels.

Gift cards and coupons

Sift through your data and identify repeat customers. Then send them a gift card for your online store along with a note thanking them for their business and loyalty. This is the kind of marketing that people appreciate, especially during the holiday season. The customers you send the gift card to will likely spend much more than the value of the card.

You can also send discount coupons through direct mail. People still clip out coupons and use them when making purchases. You can also send digital coupons to customers who have shopped with you before. However, you must make sure they are easy to access and redeem when used to purchase online.

Engage a charity

Charities are also in need of money this time of year. It is possible to approach a charity and get it to advertise for you. They can promote your brand and products among their employees and supporters. Provide the charity 3 or 4 percent of all sales generated by their advertisement. You can also work it out so that you are able to track the volume of sales you do through them online.

The holidays are an important time of year for just about any B2C business. It’s, therefore, no surprise that companies are under a lot of pressure to successfully engage customers at the end-of-the-year. As far as holiday marketing goes, there are many options to choose from. Sticking to a few core essentials, such as being able to offer free and fast shipping and engaging with a charity, will increase the chances of businesses making the most of the holiday in preparation for the new year.