Each holiday season, retailers struggle with which avenues they should take to drive more sales. The options are abundant while resources and budgets typically are not. New digital platforms and technologies seem to pop up overnight, leading to some confusion, yet also a desire to experiment.
Retailers that think and act strategically will experience the most success. Through the collection, interpretation and analysis of their data, they will gain a much better understanding of which tactics will best support the overall digital strategy while driving sales.
Blueocean Market Intelligence conducts a proprietary, ongoing analysis of the social media efforts of the nation’s top 100 retailers (as defined by the National Retail Federation) – the Social Media Effectiveness Index for Retailers – and uses this data to derive predictions about what’s working and what’s not when it comes to holiday sales.
We suggest you carefully examine the needs and behaviors of your target audiences and consider incorporating these tactics into your holiday strategy to help convert more followers into customers:
- Entice customers visually: Consumers will continue to be drawn to video. Retailers that use this medium to communicate, educate and share information about their products and services on social networks are more likely to attract shoppers throughout their daily online activities.
- Evaluate social shopping: With the introduction of Twitter’s “buy” button and Facebook’s ecommerce integration, we are seeing a much bigger push with social shopping. Companies that leverage this feature should ensure they do it for a specific category of products only, as products already commonly discussed on social media networks will benefit the most.
- Think geographically: Retailers should consider geo-targeting their social media campaigns to drive more holiday sales, offering different, targeted offers by city, state or zip code. The geo-targeting should leverage external variables that could add value to the targeting process. This is an ideal option for businesses providing products and services near specific brick-and-mortar locations, or pushing seasonal products that are primarily relevant in specific areas.
- Start early: If you aren’t already making a concerted effort to push holiday sales, you may be behind the game. Consumers are shopping early. While there will always be a crop of last-minute shoppers, retailers that start earlier will have access to a larger pool of consumers who want to beat the holiday rush, as opposed to joining it. As more consumers shop early, some retailers may opt for guaranteed delivery cutoff dates closer to mid-December, rather than waiting until Christmas Eve.
- Go mobile: Mobile visits to ecommerce websites are booming year over year, and retailers that utilize mobile apps and sites that customize the user experience, enhance convenience and generate real-time deals will have the potential to increase holiday sales dramatically.
- Offer free shipping and in-store pickup incentives: A 2014 survey by UPS and comScore found 81% of online shoppers believe free shipping is important. Complimentary in-store pickup, too, has been found to be an effective promotion in recent years. Companies actively communicating these incentives via their social networks have the potential to drive more sales this holiday.
Anees Merchant is senior vice president – digital at Blueocean Market Intelligence