• Marketing

Keeping your ecommerce customers engaged throughout the holidays

Missy Hildebrand | December 17, 2014 Comments
Holiday Ecommerce

It’s that time of year again – the Holiday Season is already upon us and in full swing.  The winter holidays make up one of the biggest and most important times of the year for consumers and businesses alike. And if you haven’t shifted your online marketing into full gear, you probably should…

THE SHIFT
Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already come and gone, and the results are in.  While most of us were stuffing ourselves full of turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, retailers were gearing up for the massive wave of customers expected to bombard their stores. While the brick and mortar shops seemed to remain packed as usual, their revenue actually slipped 11% from last year’s totals. However, Cyber Monday sales proved less disappointing, as they increased an estimated 8.5% when compared to 2013. According to IBM, 27.2% of those sales were conducted on a mobile device. 

The results of the plummeting Black Friday sales show it’s quite evident that holiday shopping has shifted away from traditional means of navigating through the aisles to browsing through the web. Online shopping is much more convenient, as consumers can now order gifts anytime and anywhere. Data solidified a growing preference towards online shopping with reports of Black Friday AND Cyber Monday sales growing 12.6%compared to 2013. With many retailers offering the same discounts online as their brick and mortar stores, as well as free shipping, the choice was obvious. Why deal with the crowds when you can shop from the comfort of your couch in your jammies?
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Consumers have also learned that there is no longer just one weekend to take advantage of holiday deals.  In fact, many retailers started promoting their holiday sales as early as Halloween this year, meaning Black Friday doesn’t necessarily symbolize the kick off to the Holiday Shopping Season as it once did. Not only are the sales starting earlier, they are also being extended. The once thought to be "only weekend of deals" has turned into a month long occasion of savings. And many companies promoted "Cyber Week" instead of just "Cyber Monday". So although it seems the season of shopping is off to a slower start, Holiday retail sales are still expected to be higher than last year, but accumulated over a more extended period of time, and occurring online.

EMBRACE CHANGE

Now that retailers are starting to see that their customers are more likely to purchase online this holiday season, it’s not a bad idea to double check online marketing efforts to make sure customers are still fully engaged with the brand. And with the increase of online and mobile shopping, it’s critical that businesses focus on their online channel in order to stay relevant to buyers. Hopefully, you already have a game plan in place on how to keep your customers captivated throughout the holiday shopping season. But if you haven’t, we’ve laid out some tips to help. 
 

  • Understand WHY Consumers Shop Online:

If you can understand why consumers are choosing this channel to purchase, you can virtually meet and market to every online need. For instance, customers turn to the internet to shop for some of these key reasons:
 

  • Price – They are comparison shopping to find the best deals online.

Holiday shoppers are smart and keen on research. Being equipped with this knowledge enables you to take a look at your competitors to not only ensure you’re competitively priced, but to see how your other offers stack up as well. This will give you the edge to deck the halls with better deals. 
 

  • Convenience – They want to shop anywhere, anytime.

By promoting the easy option of online shopping, you can entice those customers who are not willing to make the trip out to your brick and mortar stores. Also, make sure your site is ready to handle any influx in traffic during your peak online shopping times.  
 

  • Free Shipping – An added convenience many ecommerce vendors offer.

There’s a plethora of stores offering free shipping this holiday season, either when purchasing $X, or on any size order. If viable for your company, offering free shipping as an option to your customers is a great method to gain business and spread holiday cheer.
 

  • Daily Specials – The excitement of a flash sale and impulse purchase.

Even though statistics show that consumers have become less concerned about getting great deals due to an improving economy, many shoppers can’t resist a flash sale.  The thrill of getting a great bargain and limited access reels them into make purchases they may not have necessarily made in the first place. 
 

  • Be Ready For Mobile:MISSY 2

At this point in the game, it might be a little too late to tackle (there’s always next year), but accommodating all shoppers no matter what device they use is critical to the success of online sales.  Mobile is one of the top reasons for ecommerce growth in the holiday season.  It provides a high level of convenience to shoppers as they can make purchases no matter where they go or what time of day it is. 
 

  • Post Holiday Related Blogs:

Tis’ the season for helpful holiday articles. From gift ideas to holiday survival tips, you’re bound to come up with some beneficial posts that customers can use.  And since you’re posting something that’s relevant to the season, your holiday posts are more likely to be searched and shared online. 
 

  • Update and USE Social Media Accordingly:

Gone are the days when you could simply have great promotions and wait for customers to show up and purchase.  Engage your social media fans in the holiday fun by sharing festive content such as holiday tips, or photos from your company’s Christmas card or party. Update your cover photos to something that’s relevant to the time of year.  Not only will this remind your fans to think of you during the holidays, it will also demonstrate your efforts to keep up with the times. 
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•    Emphasize Pinterest: 
If you’re a product based online retailer, Pinterest is absolutely essential for your business. So if you’re not on Pinterest, you might want to put that on your to-do list.

Why? Pinterest is probably the only social media channel where people actually expect, and actively look for, images of different products and prices.  Not only can you promote different products through boards on Pinterest, you can make your website "pinnable", allowing customers to pin products directly from your website.  This is an excellent means to spread the word about your business and products. 

•    Use Holiday Themed Ads: 
This is really a no brainer since we already know the importance of being relevant and targeted when it comes to general advertising. However, don’t just stop at targeting ads by consumer location or demographics; inject your ads with something that’s related to the holidays. This could be promoting a Christmas sale, or showcasing products/services that would be a great gift. Make sure your ad is in the holiday spirit to really entice your customers. These ads can be delivered across numerous channels, including email, social media, online banners, and more. Some quick ad ideas include:

o    Gift Guides – 
Shoppers appreciate some extra help with the daunting task of finding the perfect gift. Send featured gift guides to help them get exactly what they need. Include ratings and reviews to give them piece of mind they are purchasing quality items that their friends and family will love.  

o    Sale Previews – 
During this time of year, customers are hard set on finding the best deals.  Give your buyers a sneak peek of the great offers to come so they will be eager to shop your online store. 

o    Contests – 
This is also a great way to build contact lists and gain fans on social media. Run a contest that encourages customers to sign up and invite friends to win a prize of your own products or receive a special discount.

o    Gift with Purchase – 
An easy way to get customers to return for a second purchase is to offer them a gift of a nice discount, free shipping, or an additional item.  You can even suggest they make that second purchase a gift for themselves. 

•    Have a Content Marketing Plan:
Many online retailers underestimate the power of content marketing and don’t realize that most shoppers research quite extensively before they make a purchase (remember our first bullet point?). By creating relative content that promotes your products/ services, you have the potential to attract customers by providing them with information that makes your buyer more intelligent about the product. The essence of this strategy is that if we as businesses deliver reliable and valuable information to our customer, they ultimately reward us with their business. And they do!

•    Run Campaigns Even After the Holidays: 

The holidays will be gone as quickly as they came, but don’t be in such a hurry to close up shop. MDG Advertising shared that 57% of Americans will be shopping the day after Christmas. Last year, retailers saw a massive dip in sales the week ending December 22nd when sales decreased by 3.1%. At this point in the shopping season, customers start to hold off to make gift purchases in anticipation of post-Christmas sales. So accommodate these late shoppers by keeping some deals and promos in place.

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•    Analyze Current Trends:

Reviewing your past success is a good idea, but remember to stay relevant with the current season. Get familiar with all popular choices and current trends of your audience, and stay up-to-date with the holiday season predictions to. Don’t sell apples when people are buying oranges.

•    Vow to Start Earlier Next Year:

If you started marketing for the holidays early this year, then rock on! According to Internet Retailer, many ecommerce stores (about 42%) began their marketing push in September, and 23% started in October. 

However, if you missed the boat on revealing your early holiday specials, never fear.  There is always next year. And like we previously mentioned, you can still accommodate those late Christmas shoppers by keeping those deals going even after the holiday has actually passed.

For a happy, healthy, and profitable holiday season, it’s important to be prepared. As we previously mentioned, many retailers begin devising their holiday marketing strategy early in the year to stay one step ahead. If you find you’re completely unprepared even with these quick tips, consider Americaneagle.com’s strategic services as a gift to yourself.

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