Class is officially in session, and marketers are studying up for the fiscal finals – better known as the cyber-brawl that is the 2018 holiday shopping season. Advertisers must work harder than ever before now that an anticipated 190 million U.S. consumers will shop online this year, according to Forrester Research, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. On top of that, shoppers now make more than half of their purchases online, in comparison to 48% in 2015. Q4 promises a lot of success with over half of the population ready at the click – but first, let’s do a little unwrapping.
For the first time in history, the majority of shopper purchases are happening on the web. We know it’s advancing and at an intangible rate. Futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote, “we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress [at today’s rate].” So the question becomes, what will be considered digital fatigue in the next few months? How can we plan for success? Here are four tips to keep your brand on top of the nice list this season.
First Things First, Mobile. The “millennial marvels” have become more mobile as a whole, and behind the shift to digital is the desire to make time for their own experiences. A Saturday trip to the mall has lost its magic. In 2016, the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper™ found that a measly 11% of frequent purchases happened in-store – a nosedive from 22% in 2014. It’s become increasingly harder to drive foot traffic when consumers are widely tech-savvy, which is why marketers need to connect the dots digitally. Geo-targeted media allows marketers to communicate the promotions their buyers know and love, both inside and near brick-and-mortar locations. Reach the right person, with the right message, at the right time. Exhibit A: Searching for some cozy gear? Macy’s is offering 50% off all scarves and mittens, and it’s right along your New York Thanksgiving Day parade route. Convenience is king.
Turn Social Presence into Presents. Bridge the gap between the ease and stress of the online gift search, and make your social efforts shoppable. Remember, your audience wants to indulge in their own experiences, and is likely more willing to jump through cyber-hoops to find what they want than bid adieu to the comfort of their home. Shoppable posts allow advertisers and brands to post photos of products and seamlessly link to the product or checkout page within the same platform. Although this feature is only available for Instagram and Pinterest, it won’t be long until the trend becomes a social standard. E-commerce businesses have reported a 1,416% increase in traffic and a 20% increase in Instagram revenue in just a few short weeks – along with another clothing company that found 30% of the sales it generated from Pinterest came from Buyable Pins. With such a fluid engagement, marketers can conquer those eleventh hour spending urges. Did I mention that 90% of Buyable Pin buyers are new customers?
The Message is Just as Important as the Method. The key is to speak to consumers, not devices. It’s no secret that traditional advertising vehicles aren’t as effective as they used to be, and that’s simply because technology offers us real-time product reviews, and they come dressed as a shiny new toy called social video. In fact, the average user spends 88% more time on a website featuring video – where messages come across in an authentic manner. So even if you’re not utilizing video this holiday season, take note that its success comes from appearing in a more personalized format, connecting with consumers by portraying itself as less of an #advertisement and more like a friendly conversation.
Word-of-Mouth Wins. The appeal behind social video is that it’s also snackable and direct, and feels like more of a point-of-view from a friend or trusted influencer. Influencer marketing has also been on the rise, and as organic as it is, the numbers are there to support it. A study by Market Force reveals that 81% of U.S. respondents indicated posts from their friends directly influenced their purchase decision. You jump, I jump, right? The newsfeed names that we know and scroll by daily seem to have the greatest impact on our purchasing behaviors, because we feel like we can open up to them. They make each product an experience. Hence, why word-of-mouth has such a significant impact on us – and why shoppers’ retention rate through this method is actually 37% higher.
In a world where dollars are driven by thumbs, it’s difficult to predict the strategy that will outperform them all. Shoppable posts, social video, and influencer marketing are more than just ornaments to larger holiday marketing schemes – they string together as perfect complements during the mobile-first era.