Drive Holiday Revenue, Shopper Engagement With Online-to-Offline Marketing

Economic uncertainty is having an impact on holiday retail spending forecasts. The NRF 2013 Holiday Consumer Spending Survey suggests that consumer outlays will rise by only 3.9 percent -- a 2% drop over 2012. It's time to think about how to connect with shoppers. Will retailers and brands be ready?

Don't worry, there's still time to create marketing plans to capture a greater share of holiday sales revenue. Mobile -- which is increasingly important at every step along the path to purchase -- must be part of the plan.

Location-based targeting and data-driven marketing are creating new possibilities for retailers and brands via online-to-offline (O2O) marketing.  O2O, which is growing at 19% per year, versus eCommerce's estimated 12% growth, will play an increasingly important role in retailer and brand marketing, particularly for high-volume sales cycles such as the holiday season.

Effective O2O marketing strategies draw mobile-savvy consumers in-store to complete sales. Here are a few tips to make planning easier.




Assess your marketing programs. Many marketers plan to use a silo mentality, focusing resources on mobile and e-commerce programs to drive mobile transactions while sacrificing in-store traffic. Sure -- consumers rely on mobile devices to find goods and services, but they still crave the in-store experience. Your holiday marketing plan must have a mobile component to drive in-store sales.  

Weave O2O strategies or tactics into the mix. Plan a campaign tying web and mobile searches to in-store stock availability of the season’s hottest goods. Assess and test now to be in a strong position for the holidays.


Think local. Ensure strategies and technologies are in place to allow you to find, reach and target mobile consumers to deliver relevant promotions with a local angle. Location-based targeting is proven to increase engagement and convert a consumer to a customer. Location-based messages are more relevant to consumers and provide an opportunity for immediate action. Direct shoppers to local stores where they can find and purchase brands they want, and you’re likely to see sales grow.  

Close the loop with product data

According to a recent Google study, 80% of smartphone shoppers use devices in-store. They're not all showrooming, however -- 58% are looking for locations or directions, 44% are making price comparisons, and 31% seek product information. Bringing real-time product data into the mix will move shoppers along the path to purchase. Entice mobile shoppers with offers that include location information, product details and inventory availability. Once in-store, consumers are more likely to buy. In fact, according to a 2012 IAB study, 32% of consumers who use mobile devices while shopping make an unplanned purchase in-store, compared to just 7% of respondents who don't use their devices.

Push and pull

Effective O2O marketing programs employ a two-pronged “push me, pull me” approach.  The “push” consists of mobile ads optimized with product availability/inventory and location data directing shoppers to convenient retail locations.  The “pull” comes from product searches on mobile devices and via mobile shopping apps.  Product inventory data and location information are integrated into mobile search results, providing shoppers with the knowledge they need to learn about offers on products and tell them where they can find and buy exactly what they want.

Play to heightened emotions

Shoppers act on emotion. They see a friend and think, ‘I need that bag.’ Their kids see a commercial and say ‘I need that toy/video game.’ Chances are they will pull out the cell phone to search for the item. If they are searching online, it's likely they will see both online and local results. Emotions will be running high. Waiting 3-7 days for a delivery is out of the question when the shopper wants it now. Capture shoppers when emotions are at peak -- for example, by offering a buy-or-reserve online with in-store pick-up option.

Using a variety of online, O2O, and in-store marketing tactics helps everyone win. Brands and retailers offering a range of options will be the winners for the holiday sales season and beyond, converting consumers and shoppers into loyal customers. 

Plan now to implement an O2O strategy for a strong holiday season. You will benefit by increasing opportunities for customer engagement -- both online and in-store.

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