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5 Ways to Increase Conversion Rates This Holiday Season

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
17 November 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas — at least inside retail stores. Now it's time to make sure your digital marketing is just as ready for the holiday shopping season.

Gift-givers who aren't already buying are at least making their shopping lists. If you can engage buyers with digital marketing during the pre-purchase research phase, you stand a greater chance of increasing conversion rates — both online and in-store.

Just consider the following:

  • 22 percent of consumers spend more money as a result of using digital, with just over half spending at least 25 percent more than they originally intended.
  • 84 percent of shoppers used some type of digital device for shopping-related activities before or during their most recent trip to a store.
  • Conversions increase 40 percent when customers use digital before and during in-store shopping.

So how can digital marketers get customers' attention during the most profitable time of year?

Know Your Customers

Fifty-five percent of consumers say they expect retailers to use purchasing and behavioral data to offer relevant promotions, according to IBM's Online Retail Holiday Readiness Report.

The more information you gather on individual customers throughout the year, the more relevant, personalized marketing experience you can deliver. Of course, around the holidays, people aren't necessarily shopping for themselves. Therefore, profile data may not be as helpful as knowing what people are viewing on your site during that time.

For example, if a customer has been browsing Iron Man action figures and Captain America T-shirts, it's probably safe to assume he or she is holiday shopping for a child who likes superheroes. Send the shopper an email promotion for your most popular superhero toys and gear, or even a list of the best-selling gifts for children in the appropriate age group.

Optimize for Mobile Usage

Sales via mobile devices in the U.S. on Black Friday 2013 increased 43 percent from 2012 and accounted for 21.8 percent of all online sales. Considering the growth in smartphone usage over the past year, it's likely that those numbers will be even higher this year. (For the latest Black Friday stats and holiday trends, visit IBM's Digital Analytics Benchmark Hub.)

All websites and emails should now be optimized for mobile devices. But this trend offers just as many new opportunities as it does new demands — including mobile apps, push notifications and SMS text messaging — that will help you reach on-the-go customers at just the right time and place.

Bridgevine, a cable and telecommunications reseller, increased conversions by 300 percent with its SMS campaign alone. (Read the case study to learn how.)

Get More Social

Social media channels are still an underwhelming source of site traffic. Only 0.9 percent of retail site visitors were referred by social sites in March 2014, accounting for 0.2 percent of sales. Yet social media is huge for brand awareness. In fact, 75 percent of consumers report that their shopping behavior is influenced and enhanced by product information found on social channels.

How do you integrate social media into your digital marketing efforts? My Silverpop colleague, Mary Featherstone, has put together 10 tips to guide your strategy.

Be Consistent

Consumers use multiple devices for different purposes and at different times, and they expect a seamless experience across all channels. In this omnichannel environment, consistency is key — in both messaging and pricing.

Say a customer purchases a Cartier necklace for his wife from your website. Then two days later, he gets an email from your company saying all Cartier necklaces are 20 percent off. Not only are you rubbing it in his face that he missed a great deal, but you're also sending irrelevant marketing offers. After all, how many expensive necklaces does the typical man buy during one holiday season?

The key to avoiding this scenario — and delivering a personalized shopping experience — is to get your data out of silos and into a unified platform. This leverages the information you have on each customer from across channels.

Don't Let Them Get Away

Shopping cart abandonment is a fact of life for e-tailers, but incomplete purchases don't necessarily mean customers have decided not to make the purchase. Some might still be on the fence, while others are doing comparison shopping or just got distracted and haven't thought to come back. Either way, reel the buyer back before your competitors steal them away.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, where I'll expand on cart abandonment and share retargeting strategies to prevent it from happening. In the meantime, make sure you’ve made any necessary last-minute tweaks to your holiday marketing to help optimize your efforts, and check out Silverpop's "Ultimate Guide to Post-Purchases Messages" ebook for ideas on how you can turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers.

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “10 Tips for Using Email to Drive Mobile Engagement – and Vice Versa

2) Video: “Tips for Incorporating Dynamic Content into Your Automated Emails

3) Blog: “5 Email Predictions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014


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