How to Sell More this Holiday Season through Smarter Customer Interactions

Blog Post
August 19, 2015

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The dog days of summer are quickly winding down. Back to school season is in full force, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for marketers to shift gears towards the upcoming holiday season.

Consider this: most retailers get about 20 percent of their annual sales during a typical holiday season (November through end of December). This presents an enormous opportunity to execute on holiday marketing campaigns that are highly targeted, relevant, and personal, and that can drive strong ROI and sales for your brand.

Use Trends to Your Advantage

I am sure holiday plans are nearing lock down; however, there are several “low-hanging” opportunities that every retailer should be considering. We have some recommendations to help you develop and execute these tactics quickly to drive as many sales as possible during this critical selling season.

But first, we can learn quite a bit from looking at some key retail trends from last year and statistics for the first half of 2015:

  1. According to the ShopperTrak, foot traffic continues to decline year-over-year for retailers. What does this mean for marketers? To no one’s surprise, more and more consumers are purchasing their holiday gifts online or through mobile applications.
  2. Additionally, Deloitte Research says that digital interactions are expected to influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores by the end of 2015. The ability of time-starved consumers to digitally research their holiday shopping and continue this digital research even in the store with their mobile device has changed the time spent shopping, the number of stores visited, and the knowledge consumers have in the store when they are engaging with store personnel. This means retail marketers need to evaluate all of their digital communications leading up to the important holiday shopping season and align important promotional and merchandise content with store associates.
  3. Lastly, consumers are demanding highly personalized and relevant messaging delivered to them whenever and wherever they need it.

Although sales were sluggish in the first half of 2015, the National Retail Federation (NRF) is predicting overall retail sales to grow at a more positive pace of 3.7 percent over the next five months.

Marketers need to be ready to strike while the iron is hot.

Here’s how to get your fair share of sales:

  • Remember that consumers are still looking for a deal no matter where they shop. Lower the purchase hurdle or remove online shipping fees as much as possible. Consider free shipping offers for your most loyal customers throughout the season, or introduce time-sensitive “flash sales” to create a sense of urgency, competition, and the “hunt for the deal” triumph that consumers love. If you have a loyalty program or credit card program, consider extra perks from November to December – double points, double rebates, etc.  These are your most valuable consumers and worth the investment.
  • Use mobile to help consumers locate and purchase what they want. According to Google, 82 percent of consumers consult their mobile device while in a store deciding what to buy. Be sure your website is optimized for mobile and offers your customers the same price and deals across all buying channels. There are many new services and capabilities, including those from our digital agency, 3Q Digital, that can help refine mobile marketing, mobile performance buying, optimization, app, and user acquisition strategies. Remember, too, that many consumers do research on mobile but complete the ultimate purchase on desktop (where the form fills are easier to complete). Mobile design needs to take into account the mentality of the mobile user.
  • Review your search plan. For example, 3Q, whose clients include SurveyMonkey, Fitbit, and Eventbrite, conducts digital audits of search engine marketing to enable campaign management where the goal is to have 100 percent control of queries through the use of exact match, single-keyword ad groups, broad and broad modified match, and exact match negatives for mapping.
  • Leverage offline first-party data. First-party offline data represents a major opportunity for efficiently targeting and running online campaigns by opening the door to better retargeting as well as search, display, social, and look-a-like modeling. Data can enable improved conversions and personalization, and can help with programmatic display, landing page optimization, and engagement testing as well as inform an overall attribution plan for the holidays to optimize sales and insights.
  • Geo-targeting is all the rage. Proximal marketing is booming right now because it delivers messaging at the right place and times—when a consumer is physically close or inside a retail store. When implemented correctly, this can be one of the biggest sales drivers for the holiday season because it capitalizes on getting consumers who are near your store to go into your store.
  • Maximize your Facebook strategies as consumers spend more time on Facebook during the holidays. Note that Facebook is constantly updating its advertising features, targeting capabilities, and ad types – not to mention its News Feed algorithm – so make sure your creative, promotions, ad copy, and bidding strategies are tailored specifically for each audience.
  • Communicate via email throughout the holiday and do it often. Email is still one of the most powerful and cost-efficient marketing tools at our disposal. Use email at key days and times, including critical dates like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then conduct follow up campaigns one to two times per week during the remainder of the holiday season. Also, work with your team to give customers multi-channel offers. And don’t forget about January- give them ideas on ways to spend the gift cards they received!
  • Use timing trends to your advantage. Remember that Sunday and Monday of Thanksgiving week are amongst the top 10 shopping days of the year and offer some of the lowest prices of the season. Consumers are getting smarter about shopping early in the Black Friday week, so be sure to use strong email subject lines those days. Consider adding “deals of the day” for email and social channels – in fact, many retailers do a “deal of the day” for the 12 days of Christmas.

Your Pre-Holiday Checklist

Here’s a holiday checklist that can get your marketing into top shape for the holiday shopping season:

  • Optimize your search plan to ensure customers find your stores and website
  • Utilize offers like free shipping and flash sales to get your fair share of online sales
  • Use email throughout holiday to drive all sales channels
  • Consider developing an SMS strategy to create opt into holiday deals of the day
  • Use multi-channel offers customers want deals to use across all shopping channels
  • Evaluate your target audience and frequency strategy on email and direct mail to ensure reach and frequency at key times
  • Facebook is a channel that many of your customers will visit and interact with this holiday season, so make sure your strategy there is effective.
  • Have a strong measurement  plan that helps ID attribution so you know at the end of the season what tactics worked best
  • Lastly, don’t forget the stores!  Use all the above tools to drive both in store and online sales

With the right strategy, you can effectively compete and win this holiday shopping season. Be sure to capitalize on the trends, understand your consumer/customer base, and find a partner that can help you be smarter in the way you interact.