Christmas is still five months away, but it’s never too early for retailers to start gearing up for the busiest shopping season of the year. In an effort to sneak a peak at which marketing channels retailers expect to drive the most sales this year, the team at Campaigner surveyed its customers. The results, which were just released this morning, offer a glimpse at the strategies, channels, and platforms generating the most buzz among retail brands as the holiday season nears.
According to the survey, 42% of retailers are prioritizing social media integration as a marketing method for the holidays this year, followed by personalization (31%), segmentation (12%), and geotargeting (11%). Of the most popular social media platforms, retailers expect to invest most heavily in Facebook, followed by Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. Just 3% of the retailers surveyed by Campaigner said they plan to invest most heavily in Snapchat during this holiday season.
Sixty-two percent of retailers said early preparation of holiday marketing content was “most helpful in last year’s holiday season,” which doesn’t surprise Seamas Egan, associate director of revenue operations at Campaigner.
“Early preparation is critical to the success of holiday marketing campaigns and while the holidays can feel far away in July, it’s smart to lay the groundwork now so year-end marketing campaigns can be as successful as possible,” he says.
Thirty-three percent of the retailers surveyed by Campaigner have already started preparing their marketing plans for the 2017 holidays, and 4% more are commencing campaign preparations before September in 2017, compared to 2016. Egan emphasizes that marketers who wait until the last minute to prepare risk missing promotional opportunities, sales, or revenue, especially to competitors who may have already started preparing.
“During the holidays, consumers are inundated with marketing and sales promotions making it extremely difficult to cut through noisy inboxes,” he says. “Developing a sound campaign strategy early with thoughtful, personalized and engaging holiday content provides the structure and guidance needed to succeed during the year-end frenzy.”
In his day-to-day experience working with Campaigner’s retail customers, Egan says he’s begun to notice a greater emphasis on personalization, simply because consumers now expect to be catered to as individuals rather than lumped together as a group. He believes the brands that will really stand out this holiday season are those that understand the importance of producing authentic marketing content that is interesting, relevant, and shows they’re making an effort to get to know consumers and understand what they want.
“Building on that desire for personalization, this season we should not only see a higher standard for content, but we will also see forward-thinking brands offer plenty of choices at opt-in in terms of frequency, timing and content so subscribers can customize exactly how they receive communications,” he says.
As an email marketing solution, Campaigner has a particular interest in learning most about how retailers plan to utilize email in their strategies. According to the survey, 66% of retailers believe email was the most effective marketing method for their business during the last holiday season, with 40% of businesses having used personalization and 27% using segmentation to boost the effectiveness of their email pitches.
As this holiday season approaches, Egan hopes that retailers consider the importance of early preparation and having a solid plan of attack — preferably one that includes both email and social channels — to best capitalize on holiday sales.
“When you boil it down, early preparation is simply an element that cannot be stressed enough in order for retailers to meet those desired holiday sales goals,” he says. “Savvy retailers should make the effort to maximize email as much as they can, and integrate campaigns with social media to maximize consumer reach and surpass their holiday marketing goals.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.