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Strategy

Try Something Different: A Holiday Marketing Guide

'Tis the season for happy customers'. These strategies will leave customers feeling jolly well past the holidays

Adebisi Adewusi
November 17 2018

2017 was a relatively strong year for holiday sales. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales during November and December of 2017 increased by 5.5% year-over-year, the largest increase since 2010. Although the National Retail Federation hasn’t released estimates regarding this year’s holiday sales at the time of writing this article, the association expects 2018’s sales to increase between 3.8% to 4.4 %.

Reflecting similar observations, a consumer survey conducted by OpenX and The Harris, found that more than eight in 10 US consumers plan to spend the same or more on gifts this year than last year. Considering the constant change in consumer behavior, encouraging holiday shoppers to do business with you this year will require more than free shipping. Already, 87% of marketers are using augmented reality for this year’s holidays, a noticeable jump from last year, where only 74% planned to introduce something new. In this guide, we’ll dive into marketing strategies that’ll help you have a joyous holiday.

Leverage Mobile Apps

If you’ve been sleeping on your mobile app, now is the time to wake up. 85% of shoppers prefer to make purchases on a retailer’s app instead of the mobile website. Conversion rates on apps are 120% higher than on mobile-optimized web or desktop. To optimize your mobile apps and drive maximum holiday sales, follow these tips:

In-App Messaging: In-app messaging is one of the most effective methods to reach consumers on mobile apps. According to data from Localytics, in-app messages increase app launches by 27% and triple consumer engagement. To increase user attraction and engagement with your mobile app this holiday season, use in-app messaging to deliver time-limited offers, discounts and coupons. In 2016, Sephora leveraged in-application messaging to give loyal customers an extra 20% off already marked-down items, prompting users to pamper themselves with gifts they did not receive for the holidays.

Rich Push Notifications: Rich push notifications include push messages with characters, images, audio, video and interactive elements. Notifications with an embedded image generated a 56% higher direct open rate than those without images. When Brazilian ecommerce retailer, Dinda, paired A/B testing with rich notifications, the brand saw a 25% increase in direct open rates. To get consumers to take action after receiving notifications, use location data to enhance your push notification strategy, rather than a spray and pray approach.

Scan and Go Features: Globally, 59% of people say they care most about avoiding long lines and 57% say they care more about avoiding crowds during the holidays. Deliver a convenient in-store shopping experience by allowing consumers to skip checkout lines and include scanning and payment features in your mobile app. In the US, 49% of millennial shoppers say they are interested in scanning their own products and paying via apps. In response to consumers need for convenient shopping, Sam’s Club Scan and Go App lets consumers scan items as they put them in their cart. When finished, consumers can pay from anywhere in the club and completely bypass the checkout line.

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A user-friendly mobile app is an opportunity to make more sales this holiday. For specific details on how to improve their experience, use mobile behavior tracking data to see how customers are currently engaging.

 Be Charitable

Support a cause this season. When choosing between two brands of equal quality and price, 90% of U.S. shoppers are likely to switch to a cause-related product. Use these tips to give back and connect with holiday shoppers.

State Your Commitment On Your Pack: Make your commitment visible by placing the cause or partner organization on your packaging. 88% of Americans are interested in businesses’ social responsibility, and the most preferred place to hear about these efforts is on the product’s packaging or label. Partnering with UK charity FareShare, Coca-Cola European Partners launched a charity initiative to provide meals to those in need during Christmas. Consumers were encouraged to ‘Donate a Meal to Someone in Need’ by taking a picture of the FareShare logo on their promotional bottle and uploading it to a dedicated website. Each image upload triggered a donation that provided one meal to someone in need. The promotion raised more than £83,000 for FareShare.

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Buy One-Donate One: Sell a “buy one/we donate one” offer. This method of giving back connects customers to people in need and turns a purchase into a good deed.  During the holiday period (from Nov. 29 through Dec. 13, 2016),  Hollister partnered with Operation Warm Coat. For each winter coat sold in its stores across the United States and online, they donated a coat to a child in need.

Give Away Some Profits: If feasible, give a portion, or all of your profits to charity. In 2016, following its commitment to addressing climate change, Patagonia donated 100% of global Black Friday sales in its stores and website to grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect the earth. This initiative attracted loyal customers and thousands of new customers who had never purchased from the brand before. By the end of its Black Friday sale, Patagonia sold $10 million worth of merchandise.

When giving to causes or organizations, position sales as a value driven by consumers and give to a cause in line with your brand values.

Holiday Fulfillment and Shipping

Delivery and fulfillment methods are an effective way for you to differentiate yourself from the competition this year. According to an eCommerce survey, 66% of shoppers bought goods from a specific retailer because the delivery services were more appealing. Beyond free shipping, here are a few things you can do to get shoppers into your store during the cheerier months:

Start A Delivery Loyalty Program: To bag new customers and increase customer retention, offer a delivery loyalty program. 79% of consumers want e-commerce websites to offer a delivery loyalty program so they can benefit from faster/free delivery. Inspired by Amazon Prime, Flipkart’s loyalty program Flipkart Plus gives consumers free delivery on thousands of products and other perks.

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The main difference between Amazon Prime and Flipkart’s loyalty program is that while Amazon Prime costs $12.99 a month, Flipkart offers consumers free fast delivery and early access to sales events based on their shopping history and activity on the site.

Try Before You Buy: To reduce cart abandonment and returns, consider implementing a “try-before-you-buy” fulfillment strategy. 57% of shoppers state they will be likely participating in a try-before-you-buy service. Brands using this strategy are raking in cash. Online fashion firm Asos reported bumper Christmas sales as customers used its “try before you buy” service to turn their bedrooms into changing rooms. The retailer’s UK sales climbed 23% to break through £300m during the last four months of 2017.  While this strategy can lead to profits, make sure you have the right framework to manage the tsunami of returns you’ll receive.

Buy Online Pick In Store: If you want to enhance customer experience, save delivery cost and have a competitive edge. Implement a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) option.  Globally, 44% of people say ordering online and picking up in-store is important to them and 44 % of decision-makers view BOPIS as a competitive imperative. The International Council of Shopping Centres found 61% of shoppers who bought items online and picked up in-store, made an additional purchase. This was higher for younger shoppers, with three-in-four millennials making impulsive purchases when popping in to collect. To succeed with a BOPIS strategy, connect offline and online customer data, have knowledgeable store associates and a dedicated pickup location.

This holiday, consumers will expect fast and hassle-free delivers. Use these ideas to get your delivery and fulfillment strategy in shape.

Deliver A Superior In-store Shopping Experience

This year, expect more in-store shoppers. Data from a Natural Insight 2018 In-store Holiday Shopping Report, states that 88% of consumers intend to shop in-stores this holiday season. The report further states that this year’s in-store visits will revolve more around the experience than around buying a product. To deliver a superior shopping experience, consider the following recommendations:

In-Store Digital Enhancements: Nearly six in 10 consumers are interested in special experiences hosted by retailers according to the 2017/2018 National Retail Federation Consumer Review. Therefore, to get consumers in-store, offer them a chance to virtually try out products. This strategy makes sense considering the fact that 70 to 80 % of early tech adopter consumers are eager to use virtual reality technology to design rooms and customize products like jeans and eyeglass frames. This holiday season, department store chain, Macy will be adding virtual reality headsets to some of its stores to make it easier for customers to visualize furniture in their homes.

Hold In-Store Events: When asked what the most important reason for visiting a store is, 12% of consumers said parties or shopping events. In-store events are a great way to generate genuine excitement, entice new prospects and retain customers. Last year, Walmart hosted more than 20,000-holiday parties with product demonstrations and visits from Santa, while Target hosted toy events and scavenger hunts.

Aside from in-store enhancements and events, you can design interesting displays and invite shoppers to take a photo and share on social media. Research from Facebook, indicated that consumers are using WhatsApp, Facebook and Messenger to share photos of their experience.

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In a retail world driven by Amazon, use your stored as an asset to get people into your physical locations.

Happy Holidays

This holiday season, consumers will start browsing and buying earlier than ever. Now is the time to put your holiday marketing strategy in place. Apart from the strategies listed above, optimize your website for voice search and use data to offer personalized customer experiences across channels and devices. This cheery season promises to bring in a windfall of revenue. Brands that will win are those that’ll provide a seamless shopping experience for consumers.

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Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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