Historical trends indicate that U.S. presidential Election Days – like the one coming up on Nov. 6 – see a marked decrease in ecommerce spending as consumers focus on voting and watching election results.
“Many retailers simply accept election dip as a given, assuming that ecommerce and retail spend will be down across the board,” said Kurt Heinemann, chief marketing officer at Monetate.
While Election Day will certainly not be the biggest shopping day of the fourth quarter, Heinemann says retailers that plan ahead and get creative can still engage customers and minimize the dip in election day spending.
Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, says it’s not just Election Day, but the run-up to the election that makes it challenging for retailers to reach consumers
“Retailers would be smart to take advantage of any opportunity, including election-related promotions, to create closer engagement with shoppers, especially with the holiday season just around the corner,” Baird said.
Monetate offers six tips online retailers can use to improve Election Day sales:
Crowdsource the vote
Retailers can draft off the get out the vote (GOTV) message by creating a crowdsourced voting campaign allowing consumers to vote for the Election Tuesday deal they’d like to see online. Allowing consumers to vote for percentage off, free shipping or other promotional offers engages them in the shopping experience and makes them aware that the brand will be providing an incentive on Nov. 6.
Tactically, an easy way to plan ahead is to refer back to data from past elections (presidential and otherwise) and check traffic, conversion rates and timing trends. If the majority of sales came early in the day, consider an online early bird special. Or, if sales spiked only after the polls closed, consider a late night flash sale timed with the polls closing.
Countdown to the polls
Use geotargeting to feature a countdown clock for the closing of the polls, with the clock populating for each visitor depending on his or her state. This can serve as a reminder to visitors to go out and vote, and if a retailer is planning a promotion in conjunction with the close of the polls, the clock can also be timed to the start of the offer.
Make a merchandising play
Merchandisers can take a look at their products and play into the theme of the day by offering red, white and blue or politically-themed products at a discount.
Optimize the experience
Odds are strong that consumers will be watching the election results roll in that evening, likely with tablet or mobile phone in hand. Retailers should make sure their site is optimized for smartphones and tablet traffic, or risk losing shoppers to better optimized retailers.
Utilize community-building features
Sure, ecommerce and in-store shopping may be down on Election Day but it’s part of having an engaged electorate. Sites can utilize their blog and community features to let potential shoppers know in advance what promotions will be offered, and also to remind them of their civic duty and encourage GOTV efforts. A blog is also a great avenue to convey policies that a company implements to make sure its employees have access to voting as a way of supporting the democratic process.