November 20, 2015
It’s that time of year again; consumers crack open their wallets and checkbooks ready to ensure that the whole family is thrilled with Santa’s offerings. This isn’t just an important time of year for kids of all ages, this is the most celebrated season among retailers — the bulk of a brand’s revenue is typically earned during this time.
Businesses have been creating and blasting marketing materials, e-mails, promotional offers, topical blogs and social posts, all for a bid to attract consumers. These efforts should already be well underway for many companies, and now comes the time for predictions about how well all our efforts will fare.
To help best prepare you for the shopping frenzy that has commenced, behold a few top predictions for the 2015 holiday shopping season:
’Tis the Season, Here and Now
Holiday shoppers are already on their way to checking off items from their wish list and many businesses are not even in on the game. While this may not be any major revelation, it is the continuation of a trend that seasonal shopping begins earlier and earlier each year. Last year, Google reported that one in four Americans purchased at least one Christmas gift before Halloween. Additionally 48 percent of consumers completed the bulk of their holiday shopping before Cyber Monday even landed.
It appears to be quite similar this year. It has been reported that 25 percent of individuals started their shopping before Halloween once again.
On the flip side, companies like Nordstrom and DSW are making headlines by refusing to showcase the holiday season until Thanksgiving lets loose. While some stores now invite the madness of Black Friday into the sacred turkey holiday, others are taking a stand for their employees and refusing to open until normal working hours. And they are seeing a lot of positive press for it as well.
The key here is to adopt a strategy that works for your company: That includes employees and consumers. Start sales early or hold them for the holiday push; but have a clear and crafty plan to rise above the holiday chatter.
Online Sales Will Surge Once Again
Every year, online sales continue to increase as individuals become more confident and comfortable shopping virtually. This trend should be expected as the benefits of online shopping are all too alluring to go out and fight the crowds.
Research firm eMarketer believes that overall retail sales across November and December could increase by 5.7 percent when compared to the previous year, bringing potential sales to reach an astronomical $885 billion.
In the online arena, retail is predicted to see a 14 percent hike to account for $79 billion in sales. This equates to about nine percent of all holiday sales nationwide.
E-mail Marketing is Your Greatest Ally
E-mail marketing is still one of the most powerful and prevalent tools used year-round, and come the holiday season this vehicle is ready to be outfitted with NOS. This is one tactic that marketers are all over. The MailChimp 2014 holiday survey showed very clearly that 100 percent of the marketers surveyed planned to use e-mail in their holiday promotions. Seventy-three percent of these respondents operated eCommerce businesses while the remainder ran brick-and-mortar stores.
This year, marketers will beef-up e-mail activity with a series of automated e-mails aimed at converting holiday shoppers into loyal customers all year long. Additionally, as marketers continually become more efficient at segmenting audiences and personalizing e-mail blasts, this modality is set to become an ultra-profitable technique.
It is important to note, however, that 52 percent-77 percent of the MailChimp respondents (depending on company size) did not alter their e-mail message according to the audience segment. Take advantage of this shortcoming for an extra boost in you ROI.
Mobile Continues Its Dominance
In 2014’s primary holiday shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mobile commerce was responsible for approximately 28 percent of eCommerce transactions. And mobile sales accounted for nearly 25 percent of all purchasing activities during the 2014 holiday season.
This trend will no doubt continue as Google’s “Mobilegeddon” sought to essentially make mobile optimization and responsiveness a requirement for online prosperity. Additionally, since Smartphone devices have been increasing in size as of late, some with screens clocking in at a massive seven inches, shopping from a mobile device becomes even easier. Furthermore, mobile payment options continue to swell in popularity. The long and short of it is your business must be mobile-friendly if you want to compete.
Online Reviews are Paramount
Most are already aware of the power of online reviews. It has already been reported that a whopping 78 percent of consumer choices are influenced by online reviews and these shopper insights become even more heavily weighted during holiday shopping sprees. Garnering reviews and highlighting testimonials should be an integral part of your year-round marketing efforts. These will be your secret weapon during the holiday rush.
Gift Cards Are a Must-Have
Gift cards are popular because they’re so dang easy; restaurants, movies, retail stores, iTunes, Amazon; you name it. Since 2010, annual gift card sales have increased five percent to 10 percent year over year. In 2014, gift cards accounted for $31 billion dollars in holiday sales. This year it is predicted that sales in gift cards are set to rise by six percent above 2014 numbers. Offer gift cards for specific categories of goodies or for different store-wide denominations. Get creative or stay generic; either way, just make sure you’re in on this growing trend.
Now that you have soaked up this barrage of holiday knowledge, prepare yourself. Ensure that all marketing efforts and technologies are consistent and on-point with consumer behavior. Verify that your mobile site is reaching peak performance levels. Have a social media plan that integrates with e-mail and online ads. And get ready to become one of the many success stories this holiday season.
What’s the most crucial aspect to a holiday marketing campaign? Do you have any personal predictions about this year’s holiday shopping season?
Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach. Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile