Getting Set up for the Online Holiday Shopping Season

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The holiday season is officially here, which means millions of consumers will be pulling out their wallets (or purses) to buy those “hot” gifts. As a small business owner, you should capitalize on the holiday shopping trend by creating a sound online marketing strategy. Doing so will allow you to reach more customers and generate more sales.

Mobile-Friendly Website

Don’t make the mistake of focusing your marketing efforts strictly on desktop visitors. Failure to cater to the ever-growing demographic of mobile users may cost you tons of sales. According to a recent Think With Google report, 54% of consumers plan to shop for products this holiday season on their smartphone or mobile device. Mobile devices are now faster and more powerful than ever, allowing consumers to buy products with just a few basic steps.
responsive website

With the holiday season fast approaching, there’s no better time than now to optimize your online store for a higher conversion rate. Take a look at one of my previous posts, How To Optimize Your Ecommerce Store for the Holidays, for some good tips to streamline your store.

If you’re site isn’t mobile friendly yet, depending on the size of your store, you may still have time to convert your website to a responsive mobile friendly design. If you have a large store and most of your orders take place over the holiday season, you may want to wait until the new year before taking on that challenge.

Google Product Ads

Not to be confused with Google AdWords, Product Listing Ads are another self-serving ad type offered by the search engine giant. They differ from PPC ads like keyword search or display ads in several different ways: PLAs are designed specifically for products, making them particularly effective for the holiday season, and they contain more information than standard AdWords keyword ads. Furthermore, PLAs display a picture of the product alongside the listing, drawing more attention to your ads. Assuming you sell a physical product and not a service, consider using PLAs as part of your online marketing strategy this holiday season.

adwords-vs-plas

Use Video

The same Thing With Google report cited above also found that consumers are planning to spend more time watching product videos this holiday season. Whether it’s a live demonstration on how a product works, or a video review by another customers, video has become an integral component in consumers’ shopping decisions. As such, business owners should include video in their marketing strategy, posting relevant videos to YouTube.

Green Beauty has done one of the best jobs I’ve seen providing videos that are not only engaging, but extremely beneficial to their audience. If you’re looking for examples of the kind of content that drives traffic and rocks social media, look no further.

Social Media

Of course, social media should also be a part of your marketing strategy for the holidays. More people use social media during the holidays than any other time of year. This means an even larger audience, which should help to generate sales, will see your posts. Try posting a combination of both informative and promotional material on social media, keeping your content diversified enough so that it doesn’t deter people from following your accounts.

Social Media marketing for the holiday season can be a great strategy for local retailers as well as online retailers. If you want to be a social media rock star in 2015, click here to learn how to create your social media calendar.

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Report: Consumers Already Experiencing Holiday Shopping Fatigue

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The holidays always provide a boost in online and retail sales, and in attempts to leverage more revenue, many businesses began their campaigns earlier this year than before. However, data from content marketing and activation agency Cofactor suggests that pushing customers to shop earlier may be weakening big sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The data was collected between October through November from dozens of top 100 retailers like Target, Macy’s, Sears, Office Depot, and Toys R Us. All-in-all, 2,100 brands and 35,901 stores in the U.S contributed to the data.

Black Friday sales material has been launching earlier and earlier every year, with Best Buy launching as early as October 6. This trend has led to a six percent increase in visits to retail sites online during October compared to last year, and a three percent increase in time spent on leading retailer sites.

There was also a 39 percent increase in mobile traffic to these sites during October, and a six percent increase during November. Tablet visits were down across the whole survey period, from October right through Black Friday.

According to Cofactor, this increased activity led to a certain amount of consumer fatigue during the holiday weekend itself. Website traffic decreased 33 percent on Thanksgiving, and 34 percent on Black Friday. Additionally, time spent on sites by mobile users decreased five percent on Thanksgiving and traffic from tablets decreased by 48 percent on the same day, compared to last year. On Cyber Monday, there was a 17 percent increase in phone browsing, but a three percent decrease in overall time spent on the site.

While the increaseses in October may seem to indicate a boon, they have simply encouraged consumers to make their purchases earlier. In some cases, this data might be an indicating that some shoppers had decided not to bother with online shopping at all. And it may have been retailers that encouraged this behavior.

CoFactor CMO Jeff Fagel, who led the study, told SocialTimes:

Retailers have trained consumers to wait for a sale. To look the other way. To shop around. To ignore them. While the allure of Black Friday has lessened, customers love for deals have not.    Retailers released their holiday campaigns earlier and earlier, but shoppers lost interest.  In terms of response to these earlier efforts. October saw an early spike, but led to Consumer fatigue in November.  

Marketers who want to succeed today must understand the individual motivations, behaviors and varying paths to purchase of consumers first. From there, it’s up to marketers to customize content and stage cross-channel promotion in response to consumer cues versus former date-driven tactics. If they don’t, consumers will quickly move on to competitors who do.

Readers: Are you already feeling holiday marketing fatigue?

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown on Flickr.

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