Commentary

Deck The Halls With Email: A Holiday Guide

This should be one bright Black Friday. Almost half of U.S. consumers plan to shop that day — November 24— according to a survey of 2,586 people in this country, by the company Periscope By McKinsey.

And their attitudes about it are positive, with 28.98% saying it’s one of their favorite shopping events, and 25.05% saying they like it more now that they can shop online.

But here’s the strange thing -- UK consumers, who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, like Black Friday even more than the Americans do.

Of 641 UK residents polled for the same study, 80.97% plan to shop on the day, with 29.80% saying it’s their favorite shopping day, and 36.86% saying they like it more as they move online.  

So what’s going on?

“Despite weak wage growth and higher inflation, UK consumers are defying expectations and continuing to spend — for these cash-pressed consumers, Black Friday may represent an opportunity to make big ticket purchases at discount prices and get Christmas gift purchases underway,” the study says.

As for the U.S., “consumer confidence has been steadily returning and hit a five-month high in August 2017, buttressed by strengthening optimism about current business conditions,” it continues.

That said, people on both sides of the pond like promotions — they are the main driver for 37.42% of U.S. consumers. And 36.31% crave steep discounts.

In a reversal, 47.95% of UK customers are motivated by deep discounts, and 38.21% by promotions.

As for how they will shop, the biggest purchasing channel will be the computer — for 35.22% in the U.S. and 45.29% in the UK. The smartphone is next — 30.59% see it as the main channel in the UK, and 25.72% in the U.S.

In addition, 36.04% of U.S. consumers will shop equally in-store and online, and 25.35% only online. In the UK, 31.38% will shop both ways, and 31.19% entirely online.

So what’s email have to do with it? It’s the mechanism that can get those consumers to your web and mobile pages, whether in the U.S. or UK.  

Here are some suggestions on holiday emailing and social media use from consultant Ryan Pinkham, as published today in business2community.com.

First, create a schedule and stick to it. And don’t forget that Black Friday isn’t the only shopping day — there’s also Small Business Saturday (Nov. 25), Cyber Monday (November 27) and Giving Tuesday (November 28).   

Next, offer your customers what they really want — via content that they will read, based on their browsing and purchasing behaviors. 

Obviously, customers should get relevant content all year round. But this is “especially important during the holidays when your customers are not only busy but are also bombarded by content from other businesses fighting for their attention,” Pinkham writes.

Third, be a resource for consumers, not simply a site that pushes out sales pitches. Give them tips for preparing their shopping lists, recipes and even coupons, Pinkham continues.

Fourth, schedule your promotions wisely and don’t try to do too much, too soon. Refer specifically to days like Black Friday — not to the solemn holidays that surround them. Why scare consumers away in October? Finally, remember these tips:   

  • Give them exclusive content
  • Make the holidays an event
  • Remember what works during the other seasons
  • Be authentic

Finally, don’t forget that consumers do most of their Black Friday research online.

According to the Periscope study, 34.07% in the U.S. will use the computer, 35.60% the smartphone, and only 2.78% will shop in-store. Another 12.48% will rely on catalogs, flyers and/or newspaper ads.

The online numbers are higher in the UK. Meanwhile, Happy Halloween. 

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