It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
As soon as fall hits, the pumpkins come out, but before you can say ‘bah humbug,’ wreaths and Christmas trees take their place, and the yearly holiday shopping madness begins. For shoppers, this can be a stressful time of year. However, for us marketers, it’s the perfect opportunity to leverage holiday fever to maximize the impact of our campaigns.
Holiday shopping season has proven to be increasingly competitive in recent years with the escalation of mobile shopping and the increased interest in e-commerce. In fact, 85% of retailers surveyed agree that online competition is up in 2015 compared with recent years. Consumers are constantly bombarded with an assortment of holiday-themed advertisements in the weeks leading up to the holiday season, meaning advertisers need to be both clever and strategic if they are going to gain any leads during this lucrative time of year. Here are some digital marketing tactics that we recommend going into the holiday season:
Mobile shopping has taken e-commerce and the retail industry by storm the past couple of years. With people using their smartphones and tablets to find stores, compare prices and make purchases, optimizing your marketing strategy for mobile is no longer a question, it’s a necessity. And the holiday season is certainly no exception.
For the 2014 holidays, mobile traffic accounted for 45% of all online traffic and additional data suggests that between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, traffic from mobile devices constituted 26% of e-commerce sales.
According to a Google report, approximately $1 trillion of all retail sales were influenced by shopping-related mobile searches. And these numbers will only continue to increase. In fact, eMarketer estimates that 11 million more people will buy with their smartphone this year than in 2014 — further cementing the fact that marketers simply cannot ignore mobile devices.
- Plan to increase your mobile ad spend during key days during the holiday season, such as the traffic spike from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.
- Mobile helps to close the gap between online and brick-and-mortar stores, and retailers should consider it a tool to nudge consumers down the purchase funnel. This may include serving up push notifications via apps or leveraging geographic targeting where your customers are likely to visit your store and assisting their shopping behavior.
- According to an Interactive Advertising Bureau report, mobile users look for easy ways to input information, research, compare products, receive mobile coupons and ensure that data is protected when holiday shopping on a smartphone. Keep this in mind when working to make mobile more conversion-friendly.
Email marketing remains one of the most cost-effective ways for brands to reach shoppers quickly and on a modest budget. It allows marketers to effectively support their holiday campaigns and reach existing customers who have already expressed interest in their business. In fact, email marketing accounted for 27% of e-commerce sales on Black Friday in 2014.
That being said, customers will receive hundreds of emails a day during the holiday shopping season. It’s important to make your email marketing campaign count with dynamic content that is relevant and tailored your users.
- Plan your email marketing strategy as soon as possible. Promotional holiday emails will begin to flood customer inboxes well before Thanksgiving, so make sure yours are timely and stand out.
- If you haven’t done so already, be sure to upgrade your email template for mobile optimization. This will help boost your click-through rate significantly.
- Integrate some level of personalization. Costumers will appreciate the unique content and be more likely to take action. According to HubSpot, personalized emails improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
In 2014, e-commerce orders coming from social media grew an incredible 202% — but that was still a small portion of overall e-commerce sales. This year, all the major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest — are testing or rolling out ‘Buy’ buttons and/or dedicated product pages, and we expect to see social sales grow even more. However, as these features are still relatively new on many platforms or only available to bigger brands, the leading impact of social media on the 2015 holiday season will be as a tool for discovery. In fact, HubSpot reports that 64% of consumers turn to social media sites to find the perfect gift.
This season, utilize your social media platforms to increase brand awareness and engagement, improve reputation, and interact with customers on a deeper, more personal level. It’s practically guaranteed that customers will flock to social to vent their holiday shopping frustrations, providing your brand with the perfect opportunity to break through the holiday marketing noise with a personalized, real-time response.
Take REI, for example. In 2012, the outdoor brand launched its #giftpicks campaign aimed at busy holiday shoppers looking for gift-giving advice. Customers submitted requests for gift ideas via Twitter using #giftpicks. REI employees from stores across the country partnered with REI’s in-house creative team to generate custom video recommendations tailored to each customer.
During the campaign’s run, the team shot about 90 custom videos, and these responses were posted within 30-50 mins. As a result, referral traffic to REI’s site doubled.
- Don’t just focus on products or sales. Create educational content to engage your fans. Conductor found in a survey of retailers that 66% said educational holiday marketing content is beneficial to their site traffic and bottom line.
- Use paid social advertising to help you stand out among the other brands that are posting holiday-related content. According to Business 2 Community, by investing in Facebook ads, you can expect engagement levels of between 1% and 3%, which is much higher than an alternative paid advertising channel like the Google Display Network.
- Host a holiday-themed contest or giveaway that can be integrated across your social platforms. 63% of consumers will be likely to share a link for a holiday contest, garnering your brand free reach and engagement.
- Create shareable, engaging video content. In 2015 alone, Twitter began autoplaying videos in feeds, YouTube started supporting 360-degree video uploads and live-streaming platform Periscope created huge buzz. Early adopters to the video marketing craze will be one step ahead of the competition in 2016.
Paid Search & Display Ads
Paid search and display ads are some of the most effective ways for e-commerce retailers to raise awareness and drive sales, especially during the holiday shopping season. During this time, ad impressions get a 50% boost and conversion rates increase 60%. In fact, 30% of retailers claimed that paid media garnered the most e-commerce revenue during the holiday season.
To stand out from the competition, you can optimize your paid search strategy by putting together campaigns using the season’s highest searched keywords. For example, the query volume for “sale” keywords consistently increases during the holidays. Take advantage of this trend by using sale terminology in your ad copy.
As with paid search, optimize your display ads by updating your creative with relevant offers. While this should always be a best practice, the holiday season offers a unique opportunity to target users on a granular level because of the increased online activity. The more data you have to work with, the better you can target your best consumers. Also keep in mind that dynamic creative, which is an ad that includes features like video backgrounds and countdown times, increases conversion rates by 69%.
- Create a holiday retargeting strategy to keep your brand top-of-mind to online shoppers. This will allow you to deliver targeted ads to people who have searched for your brand before but have not converted.
- Make sure to budget your ad spend appropriately during peak times in the holiday season. It is also important to note when your customers converted last year and optimize campaigns to leverage peak shopping periods (day, time, etc.).
- Capitalize on seasonal searches and other timely trends by using Google Trends (or other similar online marketing tools) to identify new keywords to freshen up your holiday campaigns. Of course, capitalizing on trending topics for the sake of capturing largely irrelevant traffic shouldn’t be a part of your marketing strategy, but it’s worth revisiting your keywords to explore some opportunities you might have overlooked.
Implement these tactics while planning your holiday strategy and your brand will be well positioned for a successful end to 2015.