As consumers of all ages and genders continue to stick to a tight holiday gift budget in 2012, nearly one third are turning towards online resources as early as September to start shopping and browsing for deals, bargains and hard-to-find gifts before November even arrives. Similarly, the majority of holiday shoppers aren’t closing their wallets once Christmas passes. Most are actually holding out for the post-holiday sales, extending the opportunity for retailers to acquire new customers and promote their brand. It’s therefore important for retailers to start creating an early and consistent presence in the digital marketplace in order to deliver personalized, targeted holiday messages to consumers during vital times throughout the holiday season.
Digital marketing is a great solution for retailers looking to target consumers throughout the holiday season. With multiple channels to choose from including email marketing, search marketing, affiliate marketing and mobile marketing, retailers should work with digital experts to determine the channels that will best meet their needs.
Based on consumer behavior in 2011, email marketing remains one of the most effective digital strategies for retailers. Chad White of Responsys stated that “To date in 2012, email marketing volume has already grown 20%, signifying that the channel will retain its importance, especially with the online holiday shopping season becoming longer and increasingly influenced by mobile devices.”
Retailers should look at acquisition email programs that provide reach, scalability and targeting since email is the key to reaching consumers at work, at home and on the go. By working with 100% opt-in lists that have been tested, retailers can benefit from high open and response rates and in return can benefit from an increase in sales.
Paid search marketing is one of the most sought after services this time of year and retailers should not wait to start implementing a search marketing strategy. In 2011, clients increased their paid search budgets by 31% to ensure their brand stood out in online searches. By determining key words or themes like Cyber Monday, Black Friday, holiday gifts, and free shipping, you can increase your visibility and online activity in the form of clicks and conversions. You can also take advantage of Google’s ad extensions by incorporating consumer reviews and social media into AdWords ads. This tactic allows you to stand out on the search engine results page with engaging products and advertiser information. By continuously optimizing for CPA and ROI by analyzing keywords, sales trends by daypart, landing page conversion funnels, negative keywords and more you can help stay one step ahead of your competitors.
Affiliate marketing is another key online marketing channel during the holiday season. According to shop.org affiliate marketing was the most successful online marketing channel used during the 2011 holiday season only behind paid search and email marketing. According to US retailers, affiliate marketing is the highest sales converter and therefore is a channel that should not be overlooked this holiday season. Networks like GAN and Linkshare provide access to top publishers with distribution in blogs, loyalty, rewards, shopping, and special promotions channels. By working with an agency that specializes in affiliate marketing, retailers can let the agency work as an extension of their marketing team to manage, optimize, monitor and scale their affiliate marketing program on these networks.
If 2011 was any indication, then in 2012 shoppers will be using their mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, this holiday season to shop online, search for discounts and coupons, and scan QR codes for product information and locations. One third of consumers surveyed by Yahoo Advertising Solutions said they would like to receive holiday deals via their mobile device, making in-store purchases easier and faster. By strategizing creative ways to reach mobile users whether by encouraging an app download or utilizing display ads, retailers should look to implement a mobile campaign that focuses on design, content and interactivity.
With so many opportunities to expand your brand and acquire new customers this holiday season, retailers should look to implement a digital marketing strategy as it is sure to produce high traffic to your retail website and increase sales over the following months. By creating a digital marketing strategy now, you will be one step ahead of your competitors!