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Victoria Greendyke - 08.10.2017

Retail Marketing’s 2017 Holiday Readiness Assessment Guide

It’s that time of year again - the summer days were long, hot and carefree, but now families are in “Back to School" shopping mode while marketing organizations are already planning 2017 holiday marketing campaigns, new year’s promotions, and even 2018 spring product lines. With back-to-school promotions in full swing, kids, parents and teachers alike are spending up to twelve hours researching back-to-school products like electronics, school supplies, clothes and extracurricular activity gear. This research time is expected to triple when it comes to 2017’s holiday season shopping.

To help your marketing organization get prepared, we've put together a few insider tips to help online e-commerce marketers get an increase of over 250% click-through on all seasonal promotions. Sagepath’s Retail Marketing Holiday Readiness Guide is a framework all e-commerce retailers should review. These five tips can be applied to any industry or target persona to help drive increased awareness and conversion this holiday season.

  1. SEO-optimization: Many marketers treat SEO as an afterthought on new and existing e-commerce sites. Ensure your site is SEO-optimized for seasonal keywords and long-tail keyword strings. Research your industry's competitors to determine how you rank against targeted keywords. Optimize your content on key landing and product pages to ensure you have high visibility. Also, work with your IT partners to optimize technical SEO requirements and link-building techniques on your site. The key to effective SEO is knowing that your domain authority and relevance in search results does not update overnight. Work in advance and give yourself a minimum of two months to see results.

  2. Market a "Seasonal" Shopping Guide: During the research phase of online shopping, many consumers are on the hunt for the most convenient and value-based promotions. Capitalize on this research phase by heightening awareness of your brand and the products you sell with multi-channel "Seasonal" shopping guides. Additionally, a one-stop-shop appeals to consumers who can save money on shipping charges and coordination. To highlight the ease of shopping with your brand, we recommend making a "Seasonal" Shopping Guide that provides an interactive, click-through of top-selling products. Gender-based visual wish lists are another tactic that can be used to highlight top-selling products along with supplemental upselling and cross-selling products. Publish wish lists or supplement your guides with product catalogs and recommendations. The goal is to increase awareness, so highlight a mix of your best-selling products. 

  3. Personalization: Personalizing your messages can lead to increased click-throughs by an average of 250%. We recommend not only personalizing the messages on your e-commerce store to target key personas or lifecycle personas, like new browsers, returning browsers, and returning buyers, but personalizing your products to customer personas as well. We innovated with BIC’s product offering by introducing persona-based product bundles (read more on that here). These product bundle pages had more views than any single product page on the site due to promotional campaigns and SEO-optimized pages.

  4. Spotlight visual commerce opportunities:Review the average click paths on your website to determine where your users are converting on product information. Based on this click-path analysis, determine additional opportunities to use videos and interactive content to convert users. Leverage these content areas to showcase products from different perspectives — technical product specs, in-use product imaging and common multi-purpose uses. Focus on value, not price. Lastly, you must ensure that interactive and video-based content is optimized for users on mobile to allow for quick-play user-experiences. Use image compression tools so images load quickly, ensuring a good experience for mobile users.

  5. Leverage UGC: If your brand has a supportive community of influencers and followers, leverage that content on your site. People have a higher chance of conversion if a friend or family member recommend a product. Target influencers — specifically those with images showing products "in use." For BIC, we created an online community with #BICLIFE user-generated content that increased their marketing community reach by over 300%.

  6. In closing, keep in mind that holiday shopping options and customer needs are more diverse than they've ever been. Knowing your target personas’ demographics and especially what resonates with them when it comes to your brand, can help to boost sales during the traditional holiday shopping season. In addition, technology platforms can help you leverage data to market to your clientele. Data is the key to success for retailers. Therefore, ensure that all your e-commerce decisions are backed with the appropriate analytics tools to measure your campaign success across our recommendations.