Sakina Najmi
Sakina Najmi 14 November 2016

Staying on Point During Peak Season

Last year, UK shoppers spent £3.3 billion over the four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, with Black Friday exceeding the £1 billion sales mark for the first time. And this was before the country’s online retailers took £24 billion over the Christmas period.

The spend is huge, and the stakes are high: marketers typically allocate a significant proportion of their annual budget to the final months of the year and getting it wrong isn’t an option.

With peak season almost upon us, here are four steps that marketers can take to make it – and the rest of the year – as effective as possible.

Understand the gift giving consumer

Consumers are often buying for others during peak season, and this change in behaviour means that it is even more risky for retailers to rely solely on demographic insights. You are no longer targeting consumers with items they would like, but with items that those near to them would like to receive.

Using past purchase data in a smart way will enable marketers to predict the types of people those consumers are buying for – for example, if a male consumer bought a female beauty product in the run up to Valentines day, targeting them with a female gift product in the run-up to Christmas could be more relevant to that consumer. Or, if a woman in his mid-50s has previously bought video games at other times of the year, it’s likely she’ll be gifting something in the same category at Christmas.

Retargeting allows retailers to reach shoppers that they know are interested in a specific item for most relevance. But don’t limit campaigns to points at which people are actually browsing; creative content marketing that inspires gift givers or helps to solve a last minute present-buying panic allows brands to create a conversational tone and strike up a more meaningful relationship with consumers.  

Working with influencers or existing customers to create content is also a valuable way to make your brand relatable at this time of year – with 90% of consumers trusting peer recommendations, and influencer campaigns capturing 16 times more engagement.

Make it a holistic holiday season

Most marketers now recognise the need for a robust mobile commerce strategy. With an average of 7.4 devices per household, marketers should also remember that consumers switch devices while browsing and buying, and they risk losing a sale if they can’t track this movement and target on the right device at the right time. 

A holistic approach is particularly important in the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday: mobile shopping is much more prevalent at weekends than on weekdays, so consumers are likely to switch from browsing on their smartphones to buying on desktop as Sunday turns to Monday.

A multi device view of a customer also prevents ad saturation – avoiding targeting consumers who have already purchased an item, or who have already clicked on the advert.

Stress-test your online Christmas window

The importance of digital channels to the peak season sales mix grows every year, and in 2016 they will be as important as bricks and mortar stores. Physical outlets will have been busy hiring more staff, managing stock levels and planning store décor. It’s not too late to check that you’re doing the digital equivalent.

A site failure or faulty advertising link could be fatal, because the gifting season can be a stressful time for consumers trying to cram in their Christmas shopping or bag a bargain in the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. And with consumers spending more time on their phones than on their desktops, landing sites must be mobile ready. Any site changes or updates should be completed before peak season is fully under way, and all channels should be stress-tested.

Make peak season the gift that keeps giving

Marketers should ensure their experience is compelling and easy-to-use to attract shoppers back at other times of the year (when margins may be slimmer). Retailers have a 60-70% probability of selling to an existing customer, but this drops to 5-20% among new prospects.

Ensuring that your online shopping experience is smooth and efficient can mean the difference between a sale and just a page view – 40% of shoppers won’t go through with a transaction if the checkout process is frustrating. Simple steps include investing in digital presence that is responsive to different devices, and introducing greater choice in purchase and delivery options.

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