by Erika Jolly Brookes
Is it already time for Christmas in July? For some, yes. But if you’re not quite ready for the popular winter holiday, dial down the noise a bit and start developing your marketing strategy for the biggest fall holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving.
In 2015, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated 157 million Americans would celebrate Halloween in October. Total spending in 2015 was expected to top $6.9 billion, with the average American planning to spend $74 on decorations, candy, costumes and more.
The next biggest shopping weekend for retailers is Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. According to data released by Adobe, shoppers spent $4.45 billion online on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. Up fourteen percent from 2014, Black Friday brought in $2.72 billion in ecommerce sales while Thanksgiving Day went up twenty-five percent from the previous year and $1.73 billion in sales.
While these fall holidays may seem like a long ways off, they will be here as quick as a Google search result. To help merchants get started, we’ve identified four key marketing activities retailers can start doing today.
- Examine your data – Before you start planning your holiday campaigns, take a look through last year’s data with a critical eye. This will help you determine what marketing activities worked last year and what marketing activites could use improvement. And if you haven’t already set goals, last year’s data can help create your 2016 benchmarks. Ask yourself:
- What merchant information am I missing?
- Are there new tools or marketing tactics I should implement?
- Which marketing channels had the greatest impact on both traffic and conversions?
- Who were your top buying segments, what were the top products purchased and what marketing channels did they buy from?
- Use social to sell – Social marketing was hot last holiday season and it will be again in 2016. Industry research continues to confirm that social media influences sales. So it’s no surprise that more marketers are using the social channel that best resonates with with their audience as part of their overall holiday campaign strategy. Add to that, social platforms are amping up their features for businesses to make it a more robust part of overall marketing efforts.
For example, Instagram expanded its platform and is amongst the best in terms of time spent on site. Savvy marketers are using Instagram’s photo shape formats, video tools, and ads to showcase lifestyle images their customers and fans can relate to. Online retailers are also making their social channels shoppable by using tools like Springbot to create unique trackable links to a custom landing page that features shoppable images to minimize the number of clicks and streamline the path to purchase.
- Capture more sales with triggered mails – Sales are all about the right place, right time, and the right message. To help facilitate this winning trifecta, set up and schedule triggered emails based on behavioral parameters and data to help capture more sales. According to the Baymard Institute, the average online shopping cart abandonment rate across thirty-three different studies is 68.63 percent—which means more than half of items added to a shopping cart are not purchased the first time.
To capture these abandoned cart sales, set up triggered emails encouraging shoppers to finish their final purchase. For the first email, include product photos and links of the abandoned items just a few hours after the shopping cart was first abandoned. Then, send a reminder email a few days later with a discount code to first-time visitors. Lastly, take advantage of happy birthday or anniversary, post-purchase and win-back emails.
- Increase site traffic through retargeting – In the world of ecommerce, driving traffic to your online store is key, and this is especially true during the months leading up to the official holiday season. “If you build it, they will come,” seems like great advice from the movie Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t apply to ecommerce.
Retargeting is an increasingly popular refinement to paid search marketing and a popular way to quickly generate traffic. Retargeting tracks people who visit your site and automatically displays your ads to ‘retarget’ them as they visit other sites online. Through CRM retargeting and traditional ad retargeting with tools such as AdRoll, online merchants can continue to engage customers even after they leave their site. Other ways to drive site traffic include:
- Building a robust community on social channels that engages with your posts and increase the likelihood of ranking higher within seach engines.
- Encouraging your customers to leave reviews on your product pages.
- Giving pay per click advertising a try.
While the fall holidays may seem a long way off, taking steps to prepare today and execute early will help merchants experience a seamless and successful holiday marketing program. By focusing on four key areas of marketing starting with last year’s data, social channels, triggered emails and retargeting campaigns, retailers can build a solid holiday marketing plan that generates traffic and conversions.