If last year’s holiday shopping season is any indication, 2015 holiday shopping trends may see consumers spending in the neighborhood of $620 billion on retail sales in November and December. For some retailers, holiday sales account for as much as half of their annual revenues. With so much money up for grabs and so much at stake, having a clear picture of consumer shopping research and buying behavior is critical, as is taking this data and translating it into actionable strategies that can be used to attract more holiday shoppers and turn them into holiday buyers.
Thanks to Google’s 5 Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch in 2015, you can get a head start on tracking down holiday shoppers and connecting with them while they are researching holiday purchases, so you get a chance to win them over and reap the benefits of strong holiday retail sales. We took Google’s five holiday shopping trends and created a checklist you can use to strengthen your holiday marketing plan this year.
5 Holiday Marketing Plan Musts for 2015
- Build Bridges for a Self-Service Holiday Buyer Journey
Time is often the consumer’s most precious resource in our fast-paced society; and thanks to the internet, holiday shoppers are no longer constrained to sore feet and retailers’ store hours. Today’s holiday shopper uses the internet to inform themselves, become their own objective expert and complete the buying journey – when it’s most convenient for them. Make sure that your website and paid and unpaid digital and social media marketing tactics accounts for lookers and buyers.
- Include statistics, before and after case studies, price match guarantees, case studies, testimonials, social proof and other types of content that holiday shoppers would perceive as “objective information” to persuade researchers.
- Use pop-ups to discourage cart abandonment and target researchers using pay-per-click retargeting, email marketing, social media interaction and other tactics that might bring them back to your store when they are ready to buy.
Google’s trends also showed that holiday shoppers are less-reliant than before on advice and information from people they know personally (friends, co-workers, family members, etc.) which may be indicative of the consumer’s desire to find something unique vs. buying things that those in their sphere of influence already know about. Make sure that you have something new and interesting to offer holiday shoppers who think they have seen it all!
- Think Small to Win Big
Last year holiday shoppers used electronic devices of all sizes to research, browse, compare and buy; in nearly equal numbers. According to the Google Article, 53 percent of those who shopped online used smartphones or tablets last year, up 29 percent from the year before. Given the trend, it’s likely that this number will rise again. Having a mobile-friendly, search-optimized website is no longer optional; neither is it enough. Take time to compare the holiday shopper’s journey across all the devices they may use this year and make changes that make their buying journey easier and more likely to convert. Eliminate unnecessary clicks, improve product images and views and make sure persuasive data, content and social proof is prominent.
- Start Early to Finish Strong
While November and December are typically the months thought of as comprising the holiday shopping season, and the Thanksgiving weekend is often seen as the beginning, the reality is that for some consumers, the holiday shopping season never ends. Last year nearly half of all holiday shoppers said that Cyber Monday (part of the Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend) fell at the tail-end of their holiday shopping, not the beginning. A growing number of consumers are even on the look-out for great holiday shopping buys all year long, preferring to take advantage of off-season sales or the opportunity to buy unique items that might not be available when the holidays roll around.
- Is Brand Loyalty Up for Grabs?
Brand loyalty is, at best, a reward business owners have to win over and over again, with each customer transaction, and that goes for holiday shoppers too. Last year, 41 percent of holiday shoppers bought something from a brand they had never purchased from before; a number that was up significantly over the previous year.
The flip side of that coin, however, is good news for retailers who understand that with loyalty up for grabs, they too have new opportunities to introduce their brand to holiday shoppers and turn browsers and shoppers into buyers who may one day become loyal brand customers as well. Make sure that your holiday marketing plan helps you reach out to new target markets so you can introduce your brand to holiday shoppers based on the holiday shopping experiences, products or services they are looking for.
- Real People Are the New Experts
We have already referenced the tendency of today’s holiday shopper to self-educate as they decide what to buy; however, one of the most persuasive marketing messages they come across might not be something that today’s marketer can control. Whether jaded by bad past experiences or skeptical of paid advertising and marketing, consumers now rely heavily on the recommendations of other people before buying, and those “other people” don’t even have to be people they know!
Over the past several years studies have shown that for holiday shoppers (and consumers in general), the line between personal recommendations and reviews and ratings in general has all but disappeared. Today’s holiday shopper is just as likely to trust the number of stars in reviews which perfect strangers have assigned to your products or services as they are the opinion of a co-worker, friend or loved one, with 94 percent saying they would readily do business when a brand or product has at least four of five stars on average.
Ratings and starred reviews are just the beginning. Google’s holiday shopping trends points out that a significant number of holiday shoppers turned to YouTube videos created by real people as part of their holiday shopping research. Marketers that want to reach these holiday shoppers might want to produce their own customer testimonial videos or even solicit customer-generated videos, vines and other content using contests or sweepstakes for use on their websites, social networks and even in paid marketing and advertising campaigns. The more objective holiday shoppers believe your marketing content to be, the more likely they are to be persuaded to buy.
If knowledge is power, then these holiday marketing ideas should become the fuel that feeds your holiday marketing machine! The more that you understand the journey that holiday shoppers are likely to take when buying products or services like yours, the more likely you are to attract and convert holiday shoppers this year.
What about you? Which of these trends do you think will impact your holiday sales the most, and what do you plan to do to reach more holiday shoppers this year? Add your insights below or tweet them to us @KabbageInc – we would love to hear from you.