Prepare for the Most Connected Holiday Ever
There are many types of holiday enthusiasts. Like those who are already blaring “White Christmas” on October 1 and basking in the joy of early coupons. Others who are adamant about waiting until Black Friday to start enjoying the season. And some who do most of their holiday shopping during week-of festivities.
Unless you’re already humming along to your favorite holiday tune, prepare for the worst.
According to Think with Google’s holiday shopper research, 2015 will be the “most connected holiday shopping season — ever”...meaning people are tuned in online like never before. And the shopping season is already in full swing. New research from Accenture found 18% of consumers got started in June.
Regardless of holiday biases, marketers and ecommerce pros are already knee-deep in holiday promotions. A new holiday retail-readiness survey sponsored by LivePerson, Akamai, and BloomReach, revealed that 51% of retailers start prepping for the seasonal rush between July and September. Another 33% start between April and June.
Read on for more insights from Google’s study plus tips from LivePerson’s holiday survey to be connection-ready this holiday.
Black Friday isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Black Friday has become a commercial monster. Think with Google is calling Black Friday a “month-long event” — and rightly so. Twenty-six percent of shoppers started their research before Halloween. And during last year’s holiday season, retailers promoted Black Friday deals throughout the full month of November.
When it comes to the online browsing experience, November is critical. It’s the home stretch for gift inspiration. For the non-Grinch/Cindy Lou type, searching for deals is half the fun. One company that appealed to deal-hungry consumers last year, Sephora, revealed Black Friday deals exclusively on Snapchat leading up to the big day.
Call it the holiday spirit, but during this shopping season consumers are more open than ever to new brands. Most are looking for products completely out of their wheelhouse and will gravitate toward brands that not only offer intuitive experiences but also appeal to their emotions.
Luckily, now that Black Friday has become something of a marathon, we have time to get creative and present our brands as the best, no-brainer options. One retailer is eschewing convention completely and leveraging Black Friday by boycotting it altogether. REI, the outdoor goods and sporting retailer, will close its doors on the infamous shopping day and is encouraging its customers and employees to partake in outdoor activities instead. REI wants us to #OptOutside, representing a core piece of the company’s mission and values.
Complete insanity or totally genius?
May your holiday be mobile, merry, and bright.
What’s the secret sauce to making more memorable connections…and hopefully capturing new brand advocates? Mobile.
The newly released holiday readiness survey found 79% view mobile as a significant part of their holiday strategies. And, according to Google, 1,000,000,000,000 holiday retail sales were “influenced by shopping-related mobile searches” in 2014.
Smartphones have become the mental sidekick, a true hi-tech extension of self. It’s not surprising then that consumers first look to mobile for gifting ideas and research.
It’s our most personal device. And, during the “most connected” holiday, mobile is the obvious choice to appeal to consumers on a one-to-one level.
Assuming your website is already optimized for mobile, the leading companies are maximizing their strategies in other ways. To romance first-time browsers and keep them past the holiday, put your dollars into the right channels.
- Build an app: It sounds daunting, yes, but necessary. Consumers spend a lot of time peering into tiny screens, and 85% of that time is spent in mobile apps. To get started, there are free app makers available. Or hire a helper for a small fee. Here’s a list of “excellent platforms” from Mashable (in Mashable we trust). When considering features for your app, I’d suggest starting with special offers, mobile-only content, insiders’ promotions, and/or geolocation targeting.
- Ask holiday shoppers to opt in: Text message marketing can be tricky yet effective when done right. Offer a personalized holiday campaign to promote top-selling items and offers via text. If you’re a first-timer, check out these best practices from Inc.
- Offer messaging for customer support: Don’t make your consumer wait on hold. Give your customer service some holiday cheer and make real-time, helpful support a reality through mobile messaging. It’s more affordable than the 1-800 number — and beyond the cost, one-to-one connections are more meaningful. More than half (54%) of holiday survey respondents selected live chat as the top support option for the “best customer experience.” For a quick (and free) solution, download LivePerson’s LiveEngage app.
’Tis the season to create lasting consumer connections.
Everyone knows that the holiday shopping season is prime time for gaining brand-new customers. And that opportunity to create a great first experience can pay dividends if done right.
I repeat: 2015 will be the “most connected holiday shopping season — ever.”
While consumers look to connect, impress first-time shoppers with an easy, intuitive, and personal brand experience. That means following three ground rules:
- No holiday customer waits on hold.
- Offer mobile convenience via in-app and mobile engagements.
- Consumer engagements must come from an actual human being to start that brand-to-consumer relationship off on the right foot.
Best of luck and happy holidays from our team to yours!