The holiday season is a critical time for retail. The sales from the final months of the year can make or break a retailer so it’s a good idea to go full bore with marketing efforts. This means coming up with a solid plan of action long before doors open on Black Friday.
With U.S. smartphone penetration over 65% of the mobile phone market, a comprehensive mobile strategy is a key component to finishing out the year in strong form. Here are six tips to help make the most of this year’s holiday shopping season.
1. Leverage beacons. Increasing staff and preparing the layout of a store for seasonal crowds are great ways to ensure customers are engaged. However, if a retailer has a mobile app, implementing beacons in-store can take engagement to a completely new level. Beacons are relatively inexpensive devices ($5-30) that can be used to send push notifications to Bluetooth-enabled smartphones. Simply place them in a store and customers with a retailer’s app will automatically receive messages on deals or promotions when they are near beacons.
2. Use family-friendly messaging. The holidays are a time when friends and families come together to celebrate and show how much they care for those closest to them. Reflecting this sentiment in ads helps reinforce this feeling during customers’ shopping experiences. And using family-centric messaging does more than just encourage customers to buy—it personalizes a brand and endears it to customers.
3. Increase user acquisition. Now is the time to start pushing an app to consumers, not while the seasonal rush is underway. There are almost endless possibilities when it comes to encouraging customers to download an app and promoting a retailer’s business; here are a couple:
- Offer a special promotion for downloading an app. Send an e-mail announcement that those who install an app will receive a 5% Off coupon once it is downloaded. This could be tied to a holiday, like Halloween, or just a random promotion. Either way, this will help ensure an app is at your customers’ fingertips during the holiday season.
- Use all existing marketing channels to make a business top of mind. E-mail blasts, in-store advertising and increasing online ads will all pay dividends in the coming months.
- Implement a customer loyalty program. Though this is a great way to increase user/customer acquisition at any time of the year, it can go a long way toward making the holiday season a success.
4. Deep link products. It’s no surprise customers like instant gratification. Now more than ever, in the mobile age, customers are a lot less likely to invest the time to track down a product they have seen in an ad. This is particularly true when they are on mobile, as consumers are generally engaged in other activities. Deep linking product pages in an app means when a customer clicks on an online ad or e-mail promotion he finds enticing, he is taken directly to the product page in the app (if he has the app), as opposed to the page on a mobile web site. He then can purchase the product in the app, which provides a superior shopping experience to mobile web sites.
5. Use programmatic ad buying. During the holiday rush, retailers are busy. There are a variety of campaigns to manage and a flurry of special promotions and marketing initiatives that need support—manually managing ad buys isn’t exactly the best use of time. There is another, better way: programmatic ad buying. Programmatic ad buying is the use of software to purchase digital advertising. It removes the need for requests for proposal, in-person negotiations, and manual insertion orders, saving time and resources required to effectively buy ad space. There are a few different ways to leverage programmatic ad buying, but one likely helpful during the holiday season is real-time bidding. These are auctions, usually facilitated by ad exchanges, which cut the buying process down to milliseconds. Retailers can use technology to quickly decide which ad impressions they wish to purchase and how much to bid on them.
6. Regionalize creative. Ads are most effective when they speak to the individual. To truly be a powerful means of persuasion, the context in which an audience is viewing an ad must be taken into account and their geographic location is a big part of that. Ideally, a retailer wouldn’t speak to consumers in Dallas the same way it would to potential customers in Boston. Consider including imagery and text that references where an audience lives. For example, if targeting customers in New York City, showing an image of a Christmas tree in Time Square along with a promotion will resonate with the viewer and help strike that special chord. Likewise, for the holiday season in Hawaii, a retailer may want to show a palm tree strung up with lights and a star on top. These are basic examples of regionalizing creative to speak to the viewer, but this practice can go beyond just calling out landmarks or scenery through ad imagery. The demographics and culture of the different regions being targeted also can affect messaging and design.
Following these six simple tips will help maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing efforts this holiday season and ensure retailers make the most out of this critical time of the year.