Holiday Marketing Guide for Brands & Online Retailers

 In Customer Acquisition, Marketing

The holiday season is the most important time of the year for many retailers. It’s a time when sales are generally at their highest and an opportunity for retailers to build loyal customer relationships with those who may not have shopped with them previously. In fact, 58 percent of retail marketing managers expect that the holiday season will account for 21 to 50 percent of their yearly sales.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) supports these expectations with its prediction of a 4.3 to 4.8 percent increase in overall retail sales throughout November and December of 2018. This equates to between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion in retail sales for the 2018 holiday season.

Internet Retailer has also projected a 15.5 percent increase in e-commerce sales throughout the holidays this year. This increase in traffic and sales gives digital marketers the chance to drive sales throughout the entire year by diligently serving their customers’ needs. The best way to do this is by analyzing and integrating current market trends and efficiently handling any conflict or challenges and ensuring the satisfaction of each customer that makes a purchase.

The guide that follows offers advice for meeting the needs of your customers this holiday season by meeting each challenge with confidence. With this guide, you’ll also gain an understanding of shopping trends for the 2018 holiday season and learn how to effectively execute marketing strategies that appeal to the masses.

Retail Trends in 2018

2018 has been a revolutionary year in online shopping. With record-breaking sales throughout the country and highly effective marketing techniques, 2018 has been wildly successful for many online retailers. Here are some of the biggest shopping trends we’ve seen in 2018, and some of the best methods that you can use to increase your sales this holiday season.

Wishlists and Gift Guides

According to the NRF, 63 percent of consumers would like access to online wishlists. The process of creating a wishlist is similar to the creation of a wedding or baby registry — while browsing online, shoppers can add an item to their online wishlist with one simple click and provide the link to their wishlist to anyone who desires access.

For online marketers, the integration of a wishlist on their website is an effective way to attract holiday shoppers. The addition of a gift guide with the option to add the items listed to a wishlist can make shopping simple for customers, but it’s also useful for increasing sales. By adding trending items, holiday favorites, or bestsellers to gift guides, the likelihood that site visitors will result in conversions increases vastly.

Product Recommendations

Ingraining simple algorithms into your website that provide shoppers with recommendations of similar and popular products may be one of the most important marketing tactics for e-commerce businesses. Product recommendations provide online shoppers with a simple way to navigate your website without browsing through thousands of product pages to find what they’re looking for.

Marketing Promotions Across Multiple Channels

While e-mail marketing is an effective strategy throughout most of the year, most customer’s seen a massive increase in marketing e-mails starting on Black Friday that doesn’t let up until after the holiday season is through. During the holiday season, in particular, it’s important to consider marketing and offering promotions via other channels. Instagram and Facebook offer simple to use advertising tools that can be targeted to a customizable audience. Combining social media marketing with mobile marketing and a positive in-store experience for those with traditional retail stores can be the key to driving sales over the holidays.

No-Hassle Returns

According to the NRF, 75 percent of shoppers research a company’s return policy before checking out their cart and 22 percent abandon their cart due to a bad return process. Offering your customers a simple and hassle-free return process is a crucial step to take when building customer loyalty.

Free Shipping

64 percent of customers cite free shipping as one of the driving factors that influence their decision to make a purchase online. It’s also worth noting that shipping costs are the number one reason online shoppers abandon their carts. Offering free shipping to your customers can be a major game-changer for online retailers when it comes to increasing sales.

Key Marketing Strategies

Increasing sales throughout the holiday season relies heavily on marketing, and there are several key strategies that should be deployed by digital marketers in order to increase sales to their full potential and to build and maintain positive, long-term customer relationships.

Re-Vamp Your Personalization Strategies

Throughout the holiday season, personalization gets tricky. Shoppers are often new to your site and have only visited to purchase for a loved one, and often your frequent shoppers are buying for someone else and unfortunately, personalized recommendations are meant for the individual shopper.

Personalizing e-mail send times is a helpful way to ensure that your e-mail marketing strategy has a better chance at reaching your customer, and providing personalized recommendations via e-mail is the best way to increase conversions from your e-mail marketing strategies.

When it comes to personalizing product recommendations on your website, it’s best to provide a variety of recommendations that suit the tastes of different shoppers. Highlighting bestsellers, trending products, holiday product trends, and new products instead of tailoring recommendations to the shopper’s buying habits.

Make use of other techniques such as abandoned cart follow-up e-mails, transactional cross-selling (offering product recommendations with transaction and shipping confirmations), and incorporating a holiday gift guide into your product recommendations.

Mobile Optimization

Many holiday shoppers prefer to enjoy their shopping experience on their mobile device. In fact, eMarketer research predicts that mobile shopping will contribute 34 percent to sales growth this holiday season. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to invest in a website that’s fully optimized and responsive. Make use of push notifications that notify your subscribers of flash sales, VIP events, and holiday promotions and use personalized send times to increase the chances that your customer will engage with the notification.

Follow Up on Abandoned Carts

An estimated 70 percent of shopping cart contents remain unsold. Shoppers abandoning their purchases is the top problem online retailers face, and it’s a difficult one to solve. While no retailer can save every shopping cart, following up on abandoned carts has shown to be effective in saving many sales.

Creating urgency is one of the easiest ways to prevent carts from becoming abandoned. By using language for promotions and items such as “2 days left” or “almost sold out”, customers are more inclined to complete their purchase to avoid missing out on the items they want. Following up on abandoned carts with similar language either by e-mail or push notification is a reliable way to bring many customers back to complete their purchase.

Create a Simple, Fast Checkout Process

The checkout process is one of the most important parts of the online shopping experience. Making the process simple for the customer is important. Using social logins, such as a login/sign up with Facebook button is a good way of doing this. If your site uses promo codes, make sure that your customer can easily see where to enter the code and show them clearly what they’re saving. Lastly, make your shipping options clear and free or inexpensive. High shipping fees are the number one reason customers abandon their carts and is a sure way to guarantee they won’t return to shop with you again.

It’s incredibly important to begin the checkout process to first ask for the customer’s e-mail address. This is the best way to ensure that you’re able to follow up if the customer abandons their cart or experiences any problems during checkout.

Vary Your Discount Offerings

Discounts are one of the most effective ways to draw customers into your store, however, if you offer the same promotions on a regular basis, you’re actually sabotaging your sales throughout the rest of the year. During the holiday season, it’s best to offer a variety of promotions and discounts that keep customers guessing, otherwise, they may wait to purchase items on sale if they’re aware of the discount you’ll be offering.

Make the Best of the Holiday Season

Using the strategies above along with marketing strategies that have worked well for you in the past, you can increase your sales exponentially during the holiday season. Being the busiest time of year, the holidays are a great time to build loyal customer relationships and promote your brand to the masses in order to increase your sales during the holidays, as well as throughout the remainder of the year.

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