The holiday shopping season is in full effect, but there’s still time for business owners to reach shoppers looking for gifts and bargains. The problem is that just about every other business in the world has the same idea. Business owners have to be smart and aggressive if they want to make their marketing message reach and stick with audiences. As the clock to Christmas winds down, it’ll only become more difficult to make an impact. Here are four things that marketers can do to get the attention of customers even as the holiday season nears its end.
Offer Generous Specials and Discounts
In some respects, this is good advice for any marketing campaign, because consumers won’t respond to a weak offer. But it’s more important during the Christmas shopping season because every retailer is offering some kind of discount or special. Consumers are being bombarded with advertisements for “Buy One Get One Free” and “50% Off”, a discount of 5 or 10 percent won’t even catch their attention.
The other reasons generous discounts are essential involves money and the prospect of future discounts. By now, most shoppers have bought their major gifts, and are now looking for things that catch their eye and maximize the value of the money they have left. Bundling items together at a discounted price is one tactic to show people the value of a particular special. Consumers are also wary of spending too much on things near the end of the holidays, because they know many items will be on sale after Christmas at large discounts. This isn’t a concern for items that are to be given as gifts, but shoppers may put off buying something for themselves if they think they will get a better price on Dec. 26th. Marketers need to make sure their offer is appealing enough that the person won’t feel the need to wait.
Ensure Timely Delivery Options
As has been mentioned before on this blog, delivery options are important to consumers. According to one study, when people abandon their carts at the checkout portion of a website, their reasons are either they didn’t want the particular item or they weren’t satisfied with the shipping options. This is another case where the holidays make delivery options more important. People want to be sure that the things they order will be available in time for Christmas. Every delivery company has some benefit that the others don’t so it’s advantageous to offer as many shipping as possible. For example, FedEx offers delivery of Christmas Day. Amazon and UPS have teamed up to offer delivery on Sunday in certain areas. Retailers should also be mindful of the last day to ship and to plan their marketing accordingly. If the deadline for the retailer to get packages out is the 20th, advertising campaigns and marketing pushes should end on that date. Otherwise, the retailer may end up annoying potential customers who come to the site only to find that they can’t possibly get what they want in time.
Offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount is also a good way to boost sales. People would much rather pay for products than for shipping. So if they can buy $30 more in product and save $10 in shipping, they they’ll do it. According to one report, three out of four shoppers say they have added things to their online shopping cart to qualify for free shipping. Also, be upfront about shipping costs. Some sites try to slyly put the shipping cost on the final page of the checkout. This annoys more customers than it endears (if any customer likes this at all).
Use Paid Advertising
The Christmas shopping season is extremely important to retailers and that means using tool at a marketer’s disposal. This means using ads on the internet. Ads on websites, social media networks, and mobile devices are relatively inexpensive and an effective way to reach holiday shoppers. Though the bidding will be higher than usual because of the increased number of people vying for ad space.
Online cost per click ads are, by their nature, a targeted approach to finding customers. The algorithms on the advertising networks are designed to present your ads to people who will click, since that’s how the ad network gets paid. It’s easy for people to underestimate how smart these algorithms are, but these programs are amazingly good at analyzing the patterns in web behavior to find the people most likely to click an ad. During the holiday season, when ad space is at a premium, marketers shouldn’t waste their efforts with scattershot tactics that are unlikely to find their market. This is best illustrated with Facebook. Rather than promote a post for $20 and get thousands of people to view a post but none to click it, an ad with a $20 budget would deliver the desired result dozens of times, even if it was viewed by significantly fewer people.
This Cyber Monday, mobile devices made their mark and it’s time for business owners to take the hint. According to data from IBM, mobile sales increased 55% year-over-year and now account for more than 17% of total online sales for Cyber Monday. Retailers can take advantage this by ensuring their site is mobile compatible and using mobile ads. For example, video ads on mobile devices (such as the ones on many free games) have three times the click through rate of ads viewed on desktops. As with the other points, the nature of the holiday makes mobile so important. Shoppers are out and about during the Christmas season. Any marketer that only tries to reach people when they’re sitting down in front of the computer is behind the times when it comes to understanding technology. Not only do mobile ads help reach people on the go, location based ads can reach people the shoppers who happen to be near a location.
The holidays are the most important time of the year for the majority of business owners and it’s important to treat it as such. Things that are usually good suggestions for marketers become essential for the success for any campaign. Making the special effort to reach customers and to offer them specials and features that bring them in can turn a quick stop for presents into the start of a lifelong customer relationship.