Belly aches from too much candy aren’t the only thing to expect the day after Halloween. Prepare to be overloaded with the sparkle, shine, tinsel and turmoil that arrives once the dark and dire décor of Halloween has passed.
For brands and merchants, the fun and festivities are always joined with a merry madness to meet and beat challenging sales goals and deliver holiday success.
Each year, the stakes are higher, the competition is fiercer and consumers teeter between the delight of a seasonal sale and being overloaded with marketing messages that merrily make their way to their inboxes, phones, watches, ear buds, TVs, radios.
Differentiating your brand from the competition and finding unique ways to connect to the consumer will be on the wishlist for every commerce marketing campaign during the holidays.
Site-wide sales, deep discounts and fast, free shipping aren’t enough to stand out. You may as well be Donner. Who’s Donner? Well, he’s not Rudolph. Be the Rudolph! Don’t be the Donner!
User-generated content (UGC) can be the bright-red bulb of a nose that helps to break you out from the pack. Half of all marketers (50%) ranked UGC as the top way to distinguish their brand from the competition – outranking promotional strategies (discounts and shipping offers) and data strategies (purchaser and/or demographic segmentation). (Aligning Customer Content with Retail Success, TurnTo and WBR, 2017)
Consumers want some UGC wrapped up for the holidays. Nearly all consumers (90%) say that UGC influences their purchase decisions. This outranked search (87%), email (79%) and social (63%). (Hearing the Voice of the Consumer, TurnTo, 2017)
The good news is that you probably already have lots of UGC resources available. You just need to wrap them up in a nice holiday package. Here are a few ways you can put a bow on your UGC strategies without a lot of seasonal stress:
Ratings in Remails
You are going to increase your email frequency as the season progresses. Major shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday often see retailers sending 5 or more emails within 24 hours. Diversify your message by supplementing promotional and shipping details with UGC. Let your star ratings shine in the inbox. Let commentary from past purchasers give your marketing messages a reprieve from the refrain of “50% off everything and free shipping.”
Reviews in the Cart (and Cart Reminders!)
Site traffic will spike during the holidays. You will have lots of first-time site visitors and returning customers looking for the perfect gift. This flurry of activity will also lead to increased product page and cart abandonment rates. Use UGC in your cart reminders to augment your official product descriptions and value propositions to bring these shoppers back to your site. Keep the connection by including ratings in the shopping cart and throughout the checkout process to add a layer of social proof while the final purchase decisions are being made.
Product Photos in Product Galleries
Gifters and first-time site visitors may not be familiar with your products. If they are buying for others, they may be unsure of how your products work, are used, assembled, worn, consumed, paired with other items… While the content on your PDPs will likely help to guide the newbie, photos from customers can make a cheerful connection that can help the shopper to buy with confidence. Incorporate photos submitted by your customers into your product galleries. These images will complement your official product photos and will encourage shoppers to interact with your UGC in more depth. For example, a shopper viewing a customer photo in your product gallery may want to read the review associated with the photo or check out some Q&A about the product to learn more about it.
The details of your discounts and the logistics of your shipping offers are likely already locked in for the holidays. The success of your season may depend on the levers you can merrily manipulate once the rush of the season begins. You may find yourself needing to save slumping sales or extending an early burst of sales through the full season. UGC will be there to help amplify your message, connect with the consumer and positively influence purchase decisions. Take that, Donner!
Jim Davidson is Director of Research for TurnTo Networks