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One-Up Your Own Marketing: 4 Ways to Increase Sales This Holiday Season

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by: Todd McCormick (@TMcCormick2011)
25 August 2014

It’s preseason for two of my favorite times of year: college football (but more on that in future posts) and the holidays.

With holiday shopping season fast approaching, marketers are already gearing up for what’s certainly “the most wonderful time of the year” for retailers.

Last year was good to online businesses. Sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas rose for the fourth consecutive year. While foot traffic in stores fell 14.6 percent, U.S. online retail spending rose 10 percent to $46.5 billion in November and December.

But let’s not get too comfortable. Email marketing accounted for about 16 percent of ecommerce orders last holiday season, which means there are huge opportunities for brands that excel at engaging digital customers.

Want to outdo yourself this year? Here are three ways to strengthen your content, and one tactic for recuperating lost sales:

1) Ask the right questions of your data.

The trick is “listening” to last year’s sales results and getting buyers to respond even better this time around. Where did you win? Where did you fall short of customer expectations or your own projects? How can those insights help you do even better this year?

Take a cue from PaperStyle, an online stationery retailer that used what it learned about buyer behavior to craft an email campaign that yielded a 300-percent increase in revenue.  (Read the full PaperStyle story.)

2) Get all your channels ready with consistent messaging and content.

Forty-nine percent of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels.

Last year, holiday shoppers spent $46.5 billion from desktop computers, up 10 percent from 2012. On the flip side, Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 21.8 percent of total online sales, an increase of nearly 43 percent year-over-year. Given the growth in mobile online usage since last year, it’s a safe bet that mobile customers will play an even bigger role in this year’s holiday shopping season.

The bottom line is that you can’t afford to deliver a less-than-awesome experience for your shoppers, no matter how they engage with your company. Ensure all content is optimized for mobile while maintaining a strong desktop experience, and double-check that messaging and pricing are consistent across channels.

3) Personalize your message based on online behavior.

What have you learned about your individual customers since last holiday season? What information have you captured from their online behavior that could trigger more relevant digital content?

For example, let’s say you work for a department store, and earlier this year, one of your customers began purchasing baby clothes and bedding items. Sounds like he’s had an addition to the family. So why not send him a list of the most popular toys and products for infants? You might also consider reminding him to treat the new mom to something special this year. Perhaps something shiny from the jewelry department?

4) Plan to fail – and plan to win with cart abandonment retargeting strategies.

Don’t you hate it when customers get your hopes up by filling their carts with items they never actually buy? Just because a customer leaves your site before purchasing doesn’t mean you need to relinquish the sale. Online cart abandonment rates can range between 20 percent and 60 percent, but with the right digital marketing strategy, you can lure plenty of them back. (Download our cart abandonment white paper.)

For instance, S&S Worldwide implemented an abandonment campaign that recovered 25 percent of lost sales. (Read S&S’s story.)

Over the next couple months, I’ll share more strategies for getting what you want from Santa this year — your most profitable holiday season ever. So come back soon for more, and share your best holiday marketing tricks and tips with me via @TMcCormick. I might even include some of them in future blog posts.

Wishing you a happy holiday preseason!

Related Resources:

1) Tip Sheet: “15 Holiday Email Tips to Make Your Customers’ Shopping Experience Easier, Faster and More Fun

2) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program

3) Blog: “Implicit Preferences: Tracking Behaviors

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