Black Friday and the following avalanche of ecommerce activity that flows thereafter until the January sales kick in puts a massive strain on retailers. For the newbie it can be really daunting. But you have to get it right as it is the cash cow that will see you through the year ahead.
And to tap into that you need to make sure you are marketing yourself as well as you possibly can. Here Bazaarvoice, a provider of consumer-generated content (CGC), advertising and personalisation solutions, shares its best marketing practices and shopping data insights to ensure your business is capitalising on the holiday season, drawn from its network of 5,000-plus brand and retailer websites.
With UK households expected to spend a total of £3bn during the Black Friday sales alone this year, the holidays are a marathon of sales opportunities. Brands and retailers need to ensure they are prepared for the influx in online and in-store shoppers and, while this should have started at least a few months back, it’s never too late to take some last-minute actions. So, how can smart marketers cut through the noise and reach the in-market shoppers?
Customise your campaigns to the different holiday shopping spikes
Marketers can no longer plan a one-size fits all holiday campaign. Depending on the category, shopping traffic can spike on Cyber Monday, right before Christmas, or even in the first week of January. Be strategic about the types of campaigns you run — use data from your website, your data provider, and your customers to inform when and on what you focus your efforts. By being thoughtful about your audience segmentation and their shopping behaviours, you can run hyper-targeted ad campaigns to reach in-market shoppers at the most optimal times.
Take a look at your own website analytics – if your data shows increased attention for certain products, these may be good items to feature in retargeting or promotional advertising campaigns. For instance, based on the Bazaarvoice Network last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday together drove more than 7X the online shopping traffic than a typical day. The consumer electronics category as a whole saw a 141% increase in traffic growth over the course of the winter months, with smaller spikes right before and after Christmas Day.
Differentiate your product from competition
A good place to start mining for your product differentiators, if unsure, is in your existing product reviews. If your customers mention specific features that they appreciate, like the user-friendly navigation on a laptop for instance, these are most likely to resonate just as strongly with potential buyers. Consider using your advertising campaigns to educate those early browsers on the unique features and differentiators of your products.
Triple-check the health of your product catalogue
All retailers should start evaluating their product catalogues months in advance, ensuring all data on the products to be sold during the holiday season are up to date. Make sure you also arm your tech partners with the information they need to help you succeed. Other partners, like Google or Bing will use your product catalogue for Product Listing Ads, so make sure it’s up to date.
Populate your product pages with customer photos
Product shots are the minimum requirement on product pages. With 66% of consumers more likely to purchase a product if the website includes social media posts with pictures and videos from real customers, brands and retailers should also display photos and videos of real customers wearing or using the products to inspire others.
Amplify your campaign through social media
Launching a relevant hashtag campaign on social media for a product and asking customers to tag their photos, makes it easy to find customers’ photos, and, with their permission, curate and display these images across a company’s website. This is what retailer Debenhams did to successfully launch the Kat Von D makeup line to the UK market, using hashtag #KVDxDebenhams to collect 900+ customer photos from social media to create a shoppable gallery, and saw 25,000 visitor interactions within the first two months of the launch.
Anticipate an influx of questions during the holiday season
With a major uptick in shopping activity, retailers should anticipate that a flood of questions will pour in from holiday shoppers. Featuring a Q&A on your product pages can help save time and deflect questions from your busy customer service teams who are tirelessly answering questions by chat or phone.
Execute a word-of-mouth advertising campaign
A strong majority of online shoppers for consumer electronics (as high as 65% of TV shoppers) read product reviews before making a purchase decision. Put your existing customer reviews to work – word-of-mouth advertisements can include star ratings and/or quotes from your actual customers, which lend credibility and authenticity to your campaign.
Run a sampling campaign to launch new products
If you plan on introducing new products or seasonal items to your product catalogue this holiday season, it is likely that you may not have customer reviews for those specific products. Offer your loyal customers the opportunity to try out these new or seasonal products in exchange for their honest reviews. Not only does this allow you to get feedback about your product and build your review volume, but it also is a great way to reward your best customers.
Above all; remember – it’s a marathon, not a sprint
The holiday season is an intense, exhausting period for brands and retailers; if you’re armed with the right data, you can take advantage of the shopping surge. Take the time to perform last-minute checks on the current state of your inventory, staff, marketing plans, technical systems, and operations. All of these components must work together to help you manage the heightened activity you will experience during this peak shopping season.