With billions of retail dollars at stake, it’s no surprise that marketers are eager to begin holiday campaigns as soon as it is culturally acceptable. U.S. holiday retail sales rose 4% last year to $616.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, and they are expected to climb to $630.7 billion in 2015. That’s great news for retailers, but what can we attribute this growth to so we, as marketers, can be prepared for another record-breaking holiday season?
Experian’s holiday study looked at the differences between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014 and saw a 36% increase in consumers shopping via their smartphone, and a 43% increase in consumers purchasing via their smartphone. While correlation does not always imply causation, marketers know that the proliferation of mobile devices has had a direct impact on sales, customer acquisition and retention.
We also know there is a science to the holiday season, and 2015 has no shortage of online and offline marketing tactics and strategies to consider. But what will define a successful holiday season is marketers’ use of mobile as part of a cross-channel strategy. Here’s why:
M-Commerce Continues To Grow
Mobile commerce is projected to account for nearly 30% of all U.S. e-commerce sales in 2015 according to Internet Retailer, and now that nearly 60% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, there are more consumers with the means to shop from their mobile devices more than ever. Consider optimizing your campaigns towards best performing mobile sites and audiences, with a clear “buy now” call to action.
Mobile Drives In-Store Traffic, Too
82% of respondents in a Signal holiday study suggested that they weren’t ready to give up on in-store purchases, and would continue to purchase in a physical store this holiday season. If you haven’t taken mobile location seriously, ’tis the season to geo-target. Location-based mobile advertising has become more sophisticated and more accurate, giving marketers the opportunity to leverage carrier data, GPS data and other reliable sources for targeting.
Unwrap The Gift Of Video
This year we saw the rise of digital video provide additional advertising opportunity for brands to stand out across social, mobile and display formats. Mobile video continues to provide consumers with valuable brand experiences that lead to higher engagement — five times more than standard banners on average, according to a Millennial Media study — making it an optimal channel for increasing awareness in a creative way.
Most consumers make purchases both online and in-store. Their cross-channel, cross-device behavior is a golden opportunity for marketers to have an agile strategy that accommodates both scenarios. According to eMarketer, 32% of consumers classify their behavior as “webroom” — researching products online and purchasing in store. On the flipside, 19% of consumers identify as “showroom” — researching products in store and purchasing online. This cross-channel strategy comes together in the top shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Marketers should be considering how mobile can help drive sales both online and offline, with messaging support across additional channels.
Cross-channel may be at the center of holiday marketing strategy, but there are many ways to act on it. Leveraging real-time insights to understand consumers, targeting cross-device to reach these consumers and using location-based data to meet consumer needs in the moment, are ways to break away from competition vying for holiday spending dollars. The most important piece of information consumers have shared with marketers is that they want an experience, and they want that same experience wherever they’re shopping. Cross-channel advertising allows you to create, monitor and deliver an experience that aligns directly with who it was made for, whether they’re researching potential purchases on their mobile phone, reading reviews on a social site or browsing in a retail store.
As marketers, there’s a reason our holiday season starts in September, and in some cases even earlier. Consumers have evolved into this experiential and savvy purchasing powerhouse, and expect brands and advertisements to treat them as such. With technology at their fingertips, it’s our job to stay one step ahead with actionable data and insights that help us to deliver what they need. By understanding and reacting to what device or channel a potential customer is more inclined to use at any stage in the purchasing journey, brands, marketers and advertising agencies alike are on their way to a happy new year.