Monday, December 7, 2015

The Last Minute Marketer's Guide to a Happy Holiday Season

It’s no secret that holiday advertising occurs way too soon (in my opinion) every year. However, from a marketing standpoint, it’s a necessity. Businesses want to get their products/sales/promotions to the public as early as possible to catch those early Christmas shoppers and all the shoppers to follow. So what happens when your business, whoops, didn’t start advertising around Halloween? Fear not! As Christmas approaches, there are still things you can do to draw customers to your business for their holiday shopping.

Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 consumers that revealed many “merry methods” for marketers to capture those last minute holiday shoppers.

First and foremost, keep in mind the “mobile shopper”. This group of people is, well, just about everyone. Burke’s study suggests that the accessibility of a company’s website directly correlates to consumers’ perceptions of their business. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said the quality of their experience on a company’s mobile site always causes them to consider purchasing from that specific retailer while 53% responded “somewhat” or “very influential” to the same question. Tools such as the search bar and store locator should be easy to use as they are the most frequently used features by consumers. Lastly, it is imperative that businesses understand that mobile users and desktop users do not have the same motivation while online shopping. Burke says it well, “everybody thinks [they] have to provide the exact same experience [as on a desktop] going forward, but the mobile customer actually has different needs.”

Continuing with mobile site opportunities, make sure these sites enable customers with enough information that they can make purchase decisions while in-store. While customers are in-store, there’s a good chance their smartphone is in-hand. According to the study, 63% of customers are likely (or somewhat likely) to use their smartphone in-store to access promotional codes while 54% of surveyed respondents are likely (or somewhat likely) to look up product ratings and reviews.

Businesses should offer Wi-Fi to their customers in-store to provide them with a better and happier shopping experience.

Maybe your business left a sour taste in some customers’ mouths after last holiday season, no worries, make amends! It’s not too late to gain back the trust of a customer; it just takes a little effort. Try sending personalized emails apologizing and offering a “special” deal for this holiday season.

The bigger the better, right? Wrong. Burke suggests that retailers shy away from heavy discounts. Instead, focus on customer service, convenience, reliability, and product availability. His study shows that having products in stock and having guaranteed online delivery always leads to online purchases for 62% and 52% of respondents, respectively.

E-mail marketing is proven to still be effective; yes, even in 2015. In fact, “55% of respondents say they are highly likely to take advantage of retail emails revealing new products or personalized product recommendations”. However, be careful to not over-email. Burke says, “Make sure that when the consumer opens the email that there’s a benefit… It could be a discount; it could be content; it could be something that’s meaningful and relevant to them”.

With that being said, segment your messages. Tailor messages to specific people. I, a 23 year old female, have no interest in receiving offers/promotions/advertisements for football gear or the newest most gruesome video game. Make sure relevant emails go to each customer.

As the popularity of social media becomes more and more popular, it would be easy to rely too heavily on the medium. Burke suggests keeping social media as a channel for inspiration and education. Show consumers new products, gift ideas, and sale announcements, but don’t expect many sales to come from social advertising alone.

Now, after you’ve done all these last minute tricks to boost your holiday sales, begin preparing for next year so you’re not stuck in the same last minute bustle. Happy Holidays J

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