The holiday season has arrived. Here’s our cheat-sheet for keeping up with trends & best practices for this potentially record-breaking retail season.

Best eCommerce practices for holiday ‘15 (stats)

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Some researchers consider the holiday season to begin the day after Halloween, while others point to Thanksgiving as the official start. Holiday shopping is projected to be 11 percent higher than last year’s season, and since many stores will be closing their doors on the 26th and 27th, Cyber Monday will likely significantly surpass Black Friday in sales. Thanksgiving will likely continue to be the fastest-growing online shopping day, with retail prices an average of 4 percent lower than any other day.

ecommerce_timeline

The peak marketing period of retail has already arrived. Whether you’re focusing your efforts on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, in-store or online, 2015 has seen major tech and style changes in B2C digital marketing strategies.

Here’s our cheat-sheet for keeping up with the trends and best practices for this year’s potentially record-breaking retail and eCommerce quarter.

Trends

Mobile retail is streamlining business operations, and a result, retailers can afford to take Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday off. This year, H&M, Staples and REI, for example, join dozens of other major retailers in closing on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Their 24/7 mobile-optimized, targeted, local or global online marketing, combined with goodwill and positive PR from closing for the Holiday, are expected to continue to drive sales.ecommerce_content

Content

Content is continuing to be the most crucial part of any marketing campaign. Every year, more avenues for using content emerge, and more audiences join in the conversation.

ecommerce_iphoneMobile

More than half of Thanksgiving shopping traffic is driven by mobile marketing. Improvements and optimizations of platforms through responsive design make mobile purchasing even more appealing to consumers.

Dataecommerce_graph

Every year, more audience data is available to marketers. Potential buyers often willingly input their information to social networks, apps or brand websites (or allow their information to be passively skimmed and analyzed). Through signing up for newsletters, listing interests on Facebook and even searching Google, consumers’ day-to-day activities increasingly reveal their demographical and behavioral data to marketers.

ecommerce_videoVideo

Video is a mainstay of modern content marketing. People stay longer and engage more on websites that make use of video, and video makes up about half of all mobile content accessed. According to Codefuel.com, 70 percent of marketers found that video converts better than other media. Consumers are drawn to video-enabled sites, where they spend 88 percent more time than on sites without video. 

 

64 percent of shoppers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing a video about it.

Best Practices

The fourth quarter offers the most opportunities for improving your holiday eCommerce marketing technique, and for planning your strategies for the new year. Here is our checklist of best practices for marketing, just in time for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • Use responsive design for your shopping siteecommerce_checkmark
    • Responsive design keeps your website optimized for both desktop and mobile shoppers.
    • Brafton’s Director of Consulting, Natalie Grogan explains: “Mobile users have no patience for unfriendly sites and will abort their transaction and go elsewhere. By using responsive design vs. creating a native app or using adaptive design, you only have to design once. Another side benefit is that it forces you to evaluate your site structure and user experience to trim the fat, so to speak, which can get complicated on longstanding eCommerce sites.”
  • Keep your site simple
    • The least friction you can have in your customers’ actions – search, navigation, transactions – the higher your sales.
    • Natalie also explains: The best way to keep your eCommerce site simple and user-friendly is to use clear, well-defined categories for your products and keep page clutter to a minimum. Give your users the basic information they need to make a decision without making them click into the product page. Personally, I love the “Quick Shop” option seen on many sites.”
    • Social media is a great way to let your fans help spread your message virally, as well as to interact informally and personally with them. You can use social media to post engaging, multimedia content as well as product info, sales, discounts and other helpful information for encouraging your audience to purchase.
    • Take advantage of the highly targetable multimedia social ads, and make use of their custom CTAs.
  • Video Marketing
    • Keep your video content fun. Find a mix between promotional, educational and entertaining.
    • For successful video ads, Brafton’s Director of Video Product, Perry Leenhouts recommends:
      • Start with a question that identifies a problem… Follow up with a “we have the solution” kind of response. Grab the viewer’s attention with a dynamic animation and engaging music or sound effects, with a charismatic on-camera personality, or go for shock value with attention grabbing footage and matching voice-over. You’re promising a solution or to fulfill a need in the next 10 seconds, who wouldn’t want to stick around for that? End with a CTA to route the viewer to your site.
      • Appeal to the viewer’s curiosity: “If you’re targeting an audience you already know is interested in your (or a similar) product or service, show bits and pieces, maybe even in a suspenseful or playful way.
      • ”A company providing cyber-security may want to play on a sense of fear: fear of getting your data compromised, or lost. A travel site may want to play on ​a sense of longing and escapism.”
  • Location
    • When consumers search for niche or hard-to-find products, their searches often take them to global or nonlocal stores. Other consumers focus more on local, convenient transactions, online or in-store.
    • Efficient, smart targeting, with custom use of CTAs in your marketing will help you reach both audiences.
  • Use remarketing data
    • Use remarketing ads in your social media, video, banner and search engine ads to reach people who may already be interested in your product.
  • Digital assistant optimization
    • Every year, digital assistants like Google Now, Cortana and Siri are carving out larger shares of the search landscape. Optimizating for conversational search, and including informative graphical results are crucial for helping mobile voice-searchers find your products.
  • Use a strong, dynamic content strategy
    • Feature sales and promotions.
    • Utilize “card design” – a clean and simple format that highlights features such as pictures, descriptions, and price.
    • Use large, rich videos and photos on your site.
    • Use CTAs on social media and content.
    • Implement modern in-window popup merchandising.
      • According to PracticaleCommerce.com, in 2016 “pop-ups will become so common that perhaps as many as a third of the National Retail Federation’s top retailers will use them.”
  • Simplify check-out
    • Use relevant recommendation algorithms.
    • Feature cart-recovery capabilities.

TL; DR

Your holiday marketing checklist, just in time for Thanksgiving:

  • Responsive design
  • Simplicity
  • Social and video marketing
  • Targeting with specific geographic, demographic and remarketing data
  • Strong, rich multimedia for content marketing and SEO
Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman is a former marketing writer for Brafton. His writing experience dates back to his time reviewing music for The UMass Daily Collegian at UMass Amherst. Ben comes from a background in marketing in the classical and jazz industries.

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