Ask any e-marketer and they'll likely tell you it is high time deck the web's walls with scores of sales, coupons, promotions, and special offers to entice holiday shoppers. But will the deals you have in mind match what consumers are seeking? What's the best way to get shoppers' attention online? And how do you know when the timing is exactly right to launch a particular campaign or promo? Experts say these are crucial questions to address in the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
After all, the stakes are high-consider that, among consumers polled for the National Retail Federation's recently published Holiday Consumer Spending Survey: 46% of their buying and browsing this holiday season will take place online (up from 44% in 2014); nearly 3 out of 4 said price discounts or sales influence their choice as to where to shop during the holiday season; over 28% said easy-to-use mobile or websites were important to them; and more than one-fifth of smartphone owners plan to use their device to buy holiday goods this year.
"Effective digital marketing is critical to holiday sales, given the ‘always-on' connectivity of today's consumers and their expectation for personalized engagements that mirror their individual preferences," says Brad Marg, COO of Clutch. "Having a sound strategy and being able to execute on consumer expectations should be a major priority year-round, but especially during the holiday season when consumers will be constantly bombarded with promotions, deals and offers."
Judd Marcello, vice president of marketing for Smartling, says smart e-marketing tactics can help brands cut through the clutter with targeted, relevant content and offers.
"Brands need to meet consumers' high expectations by delivering high-touch, meaningful retail and e-commerce experiences that reduce stress for consumers and help them use those precious resources wisely," says Marcello.
While any marketer can roll out a deal, it takes shrewd planning to craft and execute it successfully. Consider these digital marketing strategies for better holiday sales, suggested by various industry professionals:
1. Offer coupons to first-time customers only, and if you give special discounts for top customers be sure to provide them with unique coupon codes. Also, "don't show any coupon offers to customers until their behavior indicates they're going to abandon their cart," Peter Messmer, director of growth for AddShoppers, says.
2. Sell e-gift cards on your website and Facebook page, and consider replacing coupons and discounts with e-gift cards. "Our merchants have seen a 30% redemption rate by employing this [latter] strategy," says Simona Martin, marketing director for Yiftee.
3. Engage in dynamic remarketing, which shows your previous visitors ads based on merchandise/offerings they saw on your site. "This type of retargeting, available through AdWords, is much more targeted and effective than regular remarketing," says Andy Groller, DragonSearch's vice president of digital advertising. "When that user now goes to comparison shop around the web, the retargeting banners they see are customized to the products they viewed and were considering purchasing."
4. Offer free/discounted shipping. According to Bronto Software's "Holiday Planning Report: What Holiday Shoppers Want, How Retailers Plan to Deliver," 38% of consumers won't purchase from a retailer that doesn't provide free shipping, despite the finding that merely 18% of online retailers plan to offer free shipping on all purchases.
5. Supersize your message through social. "Use social channels to get followers and fans to spread holiday cheer via promotions, deals, add-on sales and fun seasonal messages," says Marcello. Consumers who engage with a social network during their shopping experience spend 8.2% more, on average, based on data revealed in AddShoppers' Go Out with a Bang! End of Year Strategies to Maximize Revenue webinar.
6. Send out personalized abandoned cart emails. "For some customers, a simple reminder email that they left a product or two in their cart will be enough. It should include information on price drops, quantities of the item, other related items from their wish list and maybe a discount code," says Ashley Orndorff, director of marketing for Visual Impact Group. "And if you have products with limited inventory, play up the power of scarcity with words like ‘Order soon! Only 3 items left!'"
7. Place a large search box prominently in the center of your page, "which can entice up to 40% of users to search," Matt Riley, cofounder/CEO of Swiftype, says. "Users who search convert at a 50% higher rate."
8. Time your holiday marketing campaign launch carefully. Per the aforementioned Bronto Software report, 53% of retailers initiate holiday marketing campaigns by September or earlier, yet 52% of all shoppers polled indicated they don't plan to make their first buy until October or November. "But if you haven't already kicked off your holiday promotions by now," notes Jim Davidson, Bronto Software's head of research, "you need to make it a priority or risk losing some sales by early season shoppers."
(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)