As a self-proclaimed shopaholic, mid-November is my time to shine. It’s the kickoff of holiday shopping! Brands targeting holiday shoppers are well aware that ignoring key shopping days is detrimental to business. Two promotional periods in the US are obvious: Black Friday (Friday, November 25) and Cyber Monday (Monday, November 28). During the 24-hour period of Cyber Monday 2010, consumers spent more than $1 MILLION shopping online; a 16 percent increase from 2009. It’s important for brands to take advantage of these key shopping dates and times in order to connect with their target audience.
Consumers aren’t just buying presents for other people either; in 2010, the average shopper spent $107.50 on themselves while holiday shopping. More than ever, brands need to break through the noise in order to reach consumers shopping this season. Here are five considerations for brands to remember when looking to connect with holiday shoppers online:
1. People can shop anywhere, anytime
This holiday season, consumers will be expanding the shopping experience to their mobile device. Even if users choose to not make a direct purchase through their mobile phone or tablet, the device contributes to holiday shopping decisions through search. According to a Google Mobile Ads blog post: “65% of high end device users report that they have used their [mobile] device to find a business, and then made a purchase at that business in person.” Google also predicts that 15 percent of total “Black Friday” searches will be from mobile devices. The mobile trend isn’t going away anytime soon; Gartner predicts that by 2015, 50 percent of sales will come from mobile and social media.” It’s vital for brands to optimize mobile search by providing mobile apps to best connect with consumers and in turn, sell product, during the holiday season.
2. All shopping is social
With the launch of Facebook’s new features users will be able to be a part of a larger “social shopping” experience. Mashable explains how the customizable Open Graph will enable new buttons, including “Want,” “Own” and “Love.” Brands such as Express, J.C. Penney and GameStop are turning their Facebook page into a storefront. Consider this: why make your fans take an extra step to go to a website when they can do all their shopping directly on the Facebook page? Another way brands are turning the shopping trip into a social experience is through the simple Facebook social plugin on their site.
This holiday season, take cue from Levi’s (an Edelman client) and add the Facebook “Like” button to your website in order for shoppers to share their favorite products with their Facebook community. Brands also have the opportunity to look beyond Facebook for social shopping. Advanced Micro Devices (an Edelman client) used Pinterest to host their AMD Holiday Look Book and tap into a new target audience. The brand is using the “online corkboard” site to post, share and monitor the AMD-powered products they are promoting this holiday season. Images taken from from AMD’s partner retailers’ sites are “pinned” with deep bit.ly links so when users click the image, they are directed to a point of purchase.
3. ”That item looks great on you!”
There are several other online communities that allow shoppers to come together to swap tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration. Consumers are using Pinterest and VisualizeUs to bookmark, save and share images online. Brands have the opportunity to connect with these consumers directly where they are already searching for inspiration.
Today, instead of going shopping with your friends, you can simply send them a tweet asking their opinion on a product you’re interested in. With the rise of Twitter chats, an active and engaging way for brands to connect with fans, consumers are participating in these conversations to gain insight. Take cue from Sam’s Club (an Edelman client); the brand is hosting a Twitter chat every Wednesday night from October 26 until the end of 2011 with the hashtag #simplesavings. Weekly topics range from “simple kitchen cooking recipes” to “party planning without the stress,” and all allow the brand to directly encourage consumers to do holiday shopping at Sam’s Club
4. Click and save
Shoppers want deals! Online coupons aren’t just for email subscribers though; brands can connect with potential shoppers via Twitter and Facebook. Special deals and promotions just for brand Facebook fans and/or Twitter followers is a way to tap into the “coupon culture” online as well as grow the brand’s social media presence. A recent study notes that one in four consumers use online coupons. While many still receive coupons via “snail mail,” consumers are receiving holiday deals directly to their email inbox. Thirty-six percent of holiday shoppers this season plan to use more coupons when shopping. According to a recent Forrester study, “Online coupon usage, spending, and savings are all increasing—both overall and within key segments such as households where children are present and among shoppers who are under 32 years of age.”
5. Not all shoppers are created equal
Who is shopping on Black Friday this year? According to this study, Gen Y shoppers will be scrambling to start and finish their holiday shopping on Black Friday. Forty-two percent of all 18-24 year olds plan to shop that day and 38 percent of consumers have already started their holiday shopping as of November 1st.
Shoppers will be in stores and online on these days, so social media efforts should be aligned. Black Friday shoppers often wait hours in line outside of stores. Every person in that line is likely to have a mobile phone and most of them will be checking in, doing last minute research, or connecting in some way. They WILL be checking their Facebook and Twitter while waiting! If stores open at 2 a.m. on Black Friday, brands should be updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts accordingly to be included in users’ news streams. Some stores will even open as early as Thursday night at 10 p.m. It’s vital for the brands to be top of mind for shoppers—and ensuring tweets and Facebook posts are timely and relevant is key.
As an eight-year Black Friday shopping veteran, I’m always on the lookout for brands that are thinking outside the box with their holiday shopping outreach. What holiday shopping online trends have you noticed? What brands come to mind when you think of holiday shopping? What other tips would you recommend for brands in order to connect with holiday shoppers?
Image credit: Wigwam Jones
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