While the holiday season may seem a bit far away for businesses, retail companies should already be thinking about and planning their marketing strategies. Starting on Black Friday and ending with Christmas, this year’s holiday season accounts for only 26 days; 26 days during which retail companies expect to make 35-40% of their annual sales revenue. Recent surveys and extensive research provide retailers with crucial shopping behavior analyses and expected trends for the 2014 holiday season that, if included in your marketing efforts, will undoubtedly increase sales and revenue.
Follow the must-do’s below to ensure you have a very Merry Christmas.
1. Prepare now for Cyber Monday. It’s expected to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
According to ComScore’s 2013 holiday report, Cyber Monday was ranked as the #1 spending day for the 4th consecutive year. If your marketing strategy is mainly focused on Thanksgiving and Christmas, now is the time to rethink that plan. Cyber Monday should have a marketing campaign of its own: Exclusive discounts, offers and surprises geared specifically for this day, which this year falls on December 1 by the way.
2. Offer free shipping – your competitors will, too.
An E-tailing Group study revealed that unconditional free shipping is the #1 criteria for making a purchase (73% listed it as “critical”) and another study shows that 49% have at some time abandoned their shopping cart, whether or over the phone, due to shipping costs. More offers of free shipping are expected by retailers during the 2014 holiday shopping period; however, while free shipping is top of mind for consumers it remains a struggle for retailers. It is therefore encouraged to test free shipping on certain products or a subset of customers. Perhaps loyal customers get free shipping while first-time buyers get free shipping only on certain items. If you’re thinking of offering major discounts on shipping, you should read the book Free to see why it’s not a good idea.
3. Include product videos on your product pages.
Studies show that product videos increase the conversion rate of e-commerce websites and help retailers increase their sales. It can be expected that by the Christmas shopping period this year, more retailers will be including product videos on their product detail pages. If you can’t have videos for all your products, create them for some of your products in different categories and see where it makes the biggest difference.
4. Add mobile to your marketing strategy and target this audience group effectively.
Key shopping days during last year’s holidays were Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with mobile sales accounting for about 50% of sales during those days. The rise of mobile is evidently contributing to shorter attention spans, and this is a major challenge that online retailers will need to tackle – especially during the holiday season. Website navigation and ease of use are two areas that retailers should focus on and improve as a result of the rise in mobile shopping. If shoppers can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they’ll simply move on. A study by Sisco suggests that since many shoppers are on mobile and mobile devices are location-enabled, retailers have a great opportunity to tailor promotions to those shoppers that are nearby or even visiting their store at the moment.
5. Test and optimize your product reviews.
Juniper Research found that 77% of people take the time to read product/service reviews before they make an online purchase. During the 2013 holiday season, 48% of shoppers were always or frequently influenced by online ratings and reviews, a 45% increase from 2012, shows an e-tailing group study. These findings suggest that product reviews should be another area of focus this holiday season and even taken to the next level: targeted by geo-location, tested with different font sizes and designs, and better emphasized throughout the sales funnel.
6. Tackle shopping cart abandonment and aim to reduce direct revenue loss in this area.
All retailers know that there is a constant rise in shopping cart abandonment, averaging at 70% these days. What you probably don’t know, is that retailers lose about $18 billion annually due to shopping cart abandonment, according to a study by Forrester. Retailers are expected to tackle the issue this holiday season; here are a few of our own suggestions:
- Use remarketing. Abandoners spend 55% more when remarketed (Source: Forrester).
- Test your pricing, and always know your competitors’ prices. Users have become experienced online shoppers and run comparisons even at checkout.
- Test your online shopping form. Add customer reviews, shorten fields and change images.
- Offer your customers help via chat, phone or any other means you find suitable. Test these methods on all users and/or specific segments or at different times.
- Offer free shipping and emphasize it at every step of your shopping cart. See #2 for more on why it’s important.
7. Address the virtual window shopping trend if you haven’t already.
Virtual window shopping has become a common trend due to the major rise in mobile shopping, and should definitely be addressed by online retailers this holiday season. What it means is that consumers browse online using mobile devices, find what they want, identify the nearest store where they can buy, and go to that store. This is yet another reason why online retailers need to improve the customer experience on their website, make navigation easier, and customize the experience according to the shopper’s geo-location, behavior and shopping history. The goal is to help shoppers quickly find what they’re looking for and ensure that the item is as relevant to their location as much as it is to who they are.
Dynamic Yield is a personalization and automated conversion optimization engine that automatically delivers a fully personalized user experience to every website visitor according to who they are, where they came to the site from and what interests them. The result is higher content relevance for every visitor, more user engagement and increased revenue. Designed for the marketing professional, the platform is super intuitive and automatically executes data-driven decisions in real time, which naturally leads to creative freedom and unlimited testing and optimization.