It’s not even Labor Day, but the vast majority of brands and retailers are already planning for the holiday shopping season.
Why? For starters, this year’s holiday season will be shorter than previous years – only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, which is just one more day than last year and five fewer than 2012. But there’s even more reason for brands and retailers to amp up their digital marketing strategies to connect, engage and convert casual browsers into long-term, repeat buyers – from every screen and channel to brick-and-mortar stores.
Cofactor’s Chief Category Officer Mark Marinacci had this call to action for retailers:
“There are three massive roadblocks standing in front of brands and retailers this holiday season. First, you have a shorter selling season. This is compounded by the saturated promotion period and the shorter attention spans of consumers.”
As Mark explained, IBM’s Retail Holiday Readiness Report 2014 found that retailers’ digital presences face a unique challenge. According to the report, the 2013 holiday shopping season faced some new lows with an average of 7 minutes, 9 seconds spent on retailers’ websites, an average of 6.93 page views per session and higher bounce rates (34.5 percent).
But all hope is not lost. Precise targeting, personalized content, real-time marketing and ad optimization can help save the holiday season. But to make success happen, brands must understand who each of their customer segments — what devices and channels they use, what types of actions they’re taking in those stages as well as what types of online, mobile and social messaging, content and ad formats convert them from browsers into buyers.
Don’t interrupt with digital; disrupt with what consumers want and need.
Today’s holiday shoppers are always on the hunt for choices and savings. Just consider how tied to our mobile devices we all are – whether at home, at work or on-the-go. This constant connection makes shoppers more demanding and impatient with irrelevant, poorly targeted and delayed experiences. If there’s one thing retailers cannot forget, it’s that static content and one-size-fits-all experiences just won’t cut it this holiday season.
Creating personalized content with dynamic pricing is essential. Just imagine a single mother who lives in Cincinnati who is feverishly scouring the internet and running Google searches, researching directly on retailers’ websites and even running around malls and local stores – all in the search for a Dora The Explorer doll as a holiday gift for her 6-year-old daughter. Amidst of this long and multi-device path to purchase, one effective way to grab her attention and get her to buy is to serve up content and offers that are easy-to-find, intuitive, relevant and localized to allow for product and price changes in real-time. The benefits of this real-time marketing approach are massive and will result in higher engagement rates, higher AOVs, lower bounce rates and lower shopping cart abandonment rates.
Social media can move the needle from “consideration” to “transaction.”
Social is growing in both the importance of consumers’ lives, but also in its value for brands. Ecommerce functionalities and ‘Buy’ buttons are on their way and that’s a sign of yet another shift in the path to purchase and how each device and channel must work together to capture dollars repeatedly and drive consumer loyally across multiple channels.
As you think about what the right approach is to integrate social into your omnichannel marketing strategy, I am reminded of a great piece of advice from one of our internal social experts: “Social’s value lies in how it allows you to connect with someone’s identity at scale.” That means connecting on social isn’t about overloading consumers with photos and videos. It’s about sharing something of actual value and relevance. And that approach leads to real brand building, customer acquisition, lead generation and in-store sales.