Marketers who want to make their brand messages heard must find untapped opportunities to reach always-on consumers.

The 2013 holiday shopping season is expected to be huge, with the average shopper prepared to spend 11 percent more this year than last. But facing the shortest shopping season since 2002 (a late Thanksgiving clips six days off the 2013 holiday buying season), brands’ search and social content will be in fierce competition for consumers’ attention.

According to the National Retail Federation, 51 percent of retailers will launch online promotions five days before the holiday weekend. To make brand messages stand out in customers’ crowded inboxes and fast-moving newsfeeds, marketers must find over looked windows of time when shoppers are prowling for product information.

Target customers on Turkey Day

Thanksgiving day was once a precursor to the holiday shopping season, but it’s quickly being added to smart retailers’ calendars as a lucrative business opportunity. According to the Adobe Digital Index’s 2013 U.S. Sales Predictions report, consumers are expected to spend around $1.1 billion on Thanksgiving – a 21 percent rise over last year’s take. Around 33 million American shoppers – 23 percent of consumers – plan to open their wallets at some point before or after Thanksgiving dinner.

23 percent of consumers  plan to open their wallets at some point before or after Thanksgiving dinner.

While a handful of retailers will open their doors on the holiday itself, companies don’t need staffed brick-and-mortar stores to capitalize on sales opportunities. Well-timed custom content might be all it takes to capture consumers’ interest and convince them to convert from the comfort of their homes. This will suit the 18 percent who plan to shop exclusively online, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll, and another 20 percent will make some purchases in stores and on the web.

The early content marketing gets the sale

In addition to sending email blasts and publishing promotional blog content on Thanksgiving day, marketers should consider scheduling social media posts throughout the early morning hours of Black Friday. This is when 16 percent of consumers say they start their shopping, according to Ipsos’ poll. Just over 20 percent anticipate hitting stores between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m., while 23 percent plan to wait until sunrise and shop between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.

51 percent of retailers will launch online promotions five days before the holiday weekend. 

Traditionally, it may not have made sense to publish marketing collateral on the day of promotional events because consumers would already be in stores. But smartphones make content hyper relevant and increase the importance of being timely. Brands that continue posting about products and services will reach their showrooming prospects with the right messages at the perfect moment. This directs them to product landing pages and support offline conversions – or perhaps even fuel some online purchases among shoppers who are visiting competitor stores.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.