In a year of challenging retail news, this holiday season there are finally some promising predictions for retail brands. A surge of consumer dollars is flowing to online and brick-and-mortar checkout lines.
Recent numbers from Bain & Company help tell the story: 4% growth in US holiday retail spend in 2017, up from last year and almost double the 10-year average. In-store sales will represent some 80% of those sales, the report says. And here’s even more in the way of good tidings: retail absolutely still has time to tap into consumers’ gift-giving energy.
With the right approaches and strategies, stores can connect with consumers throughout December, even as the clock ticks down to everyone’s end-of-year celebrations. So, hitch your sleigh to the following five activations — put these in your marketing mix and get ready to toast your company’s end-of-year sales with a cup of retail cheer.
- React to strong purchase signals. Accurate first-party location data allow retail to discover consumers who’ve visited stores, plus those who’ve interacted with the company’s online content. Put this intelligence to powerful use by re-targeting these audiences on their mobile devices. Prompt them with last-minute gift ideas, gift-card offers, and also highlight your store’s key item programs — especially if you’ve stocked down-to-the-wire inventory of the toys and gadgets that everyone’s scrambling to find.
- Emphasize convenience for consumers. “Buy Now” means the world to time-strapped holiday shoppers. Mobile creative that embeds actionable options like on-screen click-to-buy features means capturing the spend that ready-to-purchase consumers represent. And don’t overlook the ongoing appeal of coupons. Save-to-wallet ads power decisions. They allow your customers to keep offers in their mobile wallet for easy redemption when they get to your brick-and-mortar location.
- Reinforce seasonal messaging. Engaging holiday consumers is about inhabiting their mindset — and that’s about creating purchase opportunities that are quick, easy, and cross-channel in nature. Your holiday outreach, for example, represents a massive chance to show customers all the free expedited-shipping, online-purchase, in-store pickup, and gift-card options that your brand offers. Keep your approaches cheerfully frequent and varied when it comes to content (rotate your creative!). Also, consider sequential messaging, overlaying a narrative based on what shoppers tell you about their path to purchase — how they’re interacting with your ads, for example. These moves are your signals for cutting through all the noise in the middle of a busy shopping month.
- Deploy last-minute tactics. Location and mobile mean more than proximity-based messages, it’s true. That being said, never underestimate the opportunities that a full spectrum of location-based marketing can bring to bear. Yes, there’s still value in prompting consumers’ devices when they’re close to your store, and in competing for devices that you see at competitors’ locations. These are the days of quick decisions, after all, the run-up to Christmas and Hanukkah and all the reasons we give at year’s end. Locate, incentivize, and convert!
- Be aware, be expansive, and inspire. Broad targeting works at this time of year. We talk a lot about relevance and tight-matches to context in this industry — essentially excellent advice, year-round. However, everyone is on mobile — 80% of all internet users own a smartphone, Impact reports (and users spend 69% of their online time looking at those devices). And, throughout the holidays, people are buying for others. They’re branching out. They’re open to inspiration as they run out of ways to find the “perfect gift” — in fact, they’re often desperate for help, as the The New York Times reports. Don’t miss out by skewing toward hyper-targeted at this point; demographics-targeting can be limiting when your business has amazing products and services that could appeal to a vast group of shoppers … and the vast group of recipients for whom they’re buying.
As always, in retail, timing is everything. Remember that evenings, at-home, often represent the best opportunities to engage consumers who are doing last-minute research on their mobile devices. Exciting, engaging, informative mobile-first creative is always a must.
The holidays are around the corner, but the chance to win new and loyal customers with a final push for gift-giving purchases is here and now. Have a happy holiday, retail, and may your end-of-year revenue reports be merry and bright!
Julie Bernard is chief marketing officer at Verve where she leads the company’s brand strategy, marketing, analytics, and creative services. Julie was previously senior vice president of omnichannel customer strategy, data science, loyalty, and marketing technology at Macy’s, where she was recognized as a customer-centric leader implementing data-driven approaches for strategic growth.
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