Social Media Marketing For The Holiday Season

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					Social Media Marketing For The Holiday Season
Making the Most of the Holiday Season

Although consumer budgets
continue to remain tight this
year, online retailers have little
reason to worry. Consumers,
who previously thronged brick
and mortar stores during the
holiday season, are shifting
their focus to online shopping.
What is attracting these
shoppers to online stores? In
addition to the convenience of
saying goodbye to the crowded
stores catering to last-minute-
shoppers, the availability of
discounts is a big crowd-puller.
According to the 2011 Holiday
Shopper Survey:

        79% of shoppers said
        saving money was one
        of the reasons they
        preferred shopping
        online.
        This, along with other reasons like saving time (77%), easily locating products (76%) etc have made online
        shopping a hot favorite this holiday season.
        56% shoppers surveyed said that they planned to spend about the same on shopping this year (during the
        holidays) as they did in 2010.

The above statistics indicate that this is the perfect opportunity for online retailers to get their sales charts soaring.
Marketers, who may not have had such a great year so far in terms of revenue, are looking forward to making up for
this. Going by the Shop.org‟s eHoliday survey, 68% digital marketers are expecting to see a +15% growth over last
year. One of the crucial things that brands need to keep in mind is that, although people may not make immediate
purchases, they are definitely doing their research online before deciding to buy; which is why we recommend
marketers to be one step ahead.

        Planning Ahead
    With the holiday season just around-the-corner, there is one
    thing that both consumers as well as online marketers are
    doing i.e. planning ahead. The fact that 61% consumers
    (2011 Holiday Shopper Survey) are planning to first check-
    out a product on the web before spending their hard-earned-
    money means brands have much planning to do. Before
    overwhelming consumers with irrelevant or one-too-many
    promotional messages, here are some things that brands
    need to check in their to-do list:

            o    Research Social Buzz

            Considering how lucrative the returns can be, the
            temptation to launch that Facebook campaign or
            upload the Christmas special promotional video on


© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                            1
            YouTube may be tough to pass up. However, diving into the vast and highly crowded world of online
            marketing without doing some background research may not be the best approach. Our advice? Make use
            of social media monitoring tools like Brand Monitor™ to a) monitor the buzz surrounding your brand and
            determine if you need to tweak your existing marketing strategy b) find out what social media channels
            are most popular with your target audience c) determine the demographic that is likely to buy your
            products and aim marketing messages accordingly and d) know what time of the day are your consumers
            most likely to engage with your brand.

            o   Start Early:

            The secret to a successful online holiday campaign is to start early instead of focusing on the holidays as
            they happen. Social media creates buzz for the product way ahead of the launch phase, thereby
            increasing demand. The Shop.org study indicates that 52.9% of retailers planned on starting their
            promotions by Halloween. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day fast approaching, and
            Christmas not too far away, brands can entice shoppers by treating them to early deals, alerting them
            about special promotions and offering seasonal discounts. In our opinion, enticing customers with the
            prospect of avoiding the last minute rush is also a good way to stay ahead of the competition.

            o   Identify Your Competitors:

            This is where social media monitoring tools come to the rescue…yet again. Keeping a tab on competitor
            activity is a vital part of the planning process. This helps a) position yourself better to attract customers
            b) determine how you can design your holiday special promotional material to be different from or better
            than that of your competitors‟ c) understand where you stand in a crowded, competitive environment.
            Monitoring competitor activity is also a great way to find the gaps and fill them in, giving consumers a
            good reason to choose your brand over others in the industry.

            o   Preparing for the ‘What-If’ Situations:

            For both marketers as well as consumers, the holiday season can be chaotic and sometimes stressful.
            Consumers, who are looking for last-minute deals or are facing problems accessing a coupon, have little
            patience with brands that are slow to respond and may end up looking for alternatives. Although many
            social media savvy brands today have a crisis communication plan in place, it would be a good idea to
            customize it for the holiday season. The holiday season for instance, brings with it a deluge of questions
            around return policies, complaints regarding shipping issues etc. Considering the tight deadlines that
            marketers have to work with during this time, it would be smart to plan ahead for certain „what-if‟
            situations that could arise and not risk being caught off-guard.

        The Must-Haves of Holiday Special Campaigns
    Consider this; Forrester
    Research has predicted
    e-commerce sales to
    climb 15% in the holiday
    period this year. Despite
    the economy being in the
    recovery phase since
    2008, shoppers, who
    tighten their purse
    strings throughout the
    year, don‟t mind
    indulging during the
    holidays; and 2011 is
    going to be no different.
    Also, the otherwise
    cautious marketers are a
    little more indulgent in
    their investments. What

© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                         2
    makes shoppers indulge and how can online marketers design their strategies to make the most of consumers‟
    willingness to spend during the holidays? Let‟s look at some must-haves of holiday special campaigns:

            o   Time-Sensitive Deals:

            The holiday season, for most
            marketers, significantly
            impacts their financial goals,
            making the last two months of
            the year a crucial time to
            announce those half-price
            sales and discounts. As for
            consumers, they are only too
            happy fill in their shopping
            carts. Timing those deals in
            accordance with the key dates
            is a good way to increase
            sales. Black Friday, for
            example, is synonymous with
            online shopping deals, with
            Green Monday, Cyber Monday
            and Free Shipping Day being
            the other hot favorites.
            According to ComScore‟s 2010
            Holiday Spending Data, e-
            commerce spending for the
            first 49 days of the November
            – December 2010 holiday
            season was up by 12% ($28.36
            billion spent online) in comparison with the previous year. Thanksgiving Day particularly saw a 28%
            increase in online spending. These statistics further highlight the importance of time-sensitive deals and
            are a good reason why digital marketers should develop a specific marketing strategy for each day.

            o   Holiday-Special Social Media/Web Pages:

            Designing a creative Facebook or Twitter page for the
            holiday season is a good way to attract consumers and
            does wonders to brands‟ visibility online. Best Buy‟s
            Facebook page is a great example of what a holiday
            special webpage should look like. Besides focusing on
            the season-special offers, the festive images and
            colors used further add to the visual appeal.

            o   Throw in Some Benefits:

            Besides discounts and special offers, if there‟s
            something else that stressed-out shoppers would love
            during the holidays are added benefits like getting
            early access to sale prices, hassle-free delivery of
            purchases and free shipping. Although consumers are willing to pay the full price for the product that they
            „absolutely have to have‟, they consider high shipping costs to be one of the deterrents that prevents
            them from making an online purchase. The 2011 MarketLive Consumer Shopping Survey shows that 45%
            consumers felt that high shipping costs is one of the top reasons why they wouldn‟t shop online. Despite
            free shipping being an important driver of e-commerce, offering this benefit to all their shoppers all the
            time is impractical for online marketers. A wise approach, in our opinion, would be to a) offer free
            shipping on all orders, but for only limited periods or during the holidays or b) offer this service only to




© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                        3
            repeat customers and those who make purchases exceeding a certain amount.




            o   Get Creative:

            It is no secret that creativity is a crucial deciding
            factor as far as the success of a campaign is
            concerned. With an overload of season special
            campaigns during the October-December period, a
            creative digital campaign stands out and gets the
            brand noticed. After posting unsatisfactory results
            over the last three quarters, retailer Gap is doing
            everything it can in the social media marketing „how
            to‟ book to turn their fortunes around this holiday
            season. On checking out their recently launched „I
            want Candy‟ campaign on Facebook and YouTube, we
            have every reason to believe that the company‟s
            marketing team has been at their creative best. Launched to increase their Children wear business during
            the holidays, the USP of the campaign is music video featuring viral music sensation, Maria Aragon. This,
            along with exclusive offers ($5 off or 50% off one regularly priced item) for those who share videos with
            their friends, makes this campaign something to watch out for.

        The Role of Mobile
    The modern consumer is almost always on-the-go and
    has little time to spend browsing through shopping lists
    over PC‟s and even laptops. As far as visiting actual
    brick-and-mortar stores is concerned, they would rather
    make purchase decisions based on the information they
    can access on their mobiles or smartphones. For
    retailers, this means making their webpages mobile
    friendly in order to better meet the requirements of
    today‟s shoppers. A recent PayPal survey of smartphone
    and tablet owners shows that holiday m-commerce
    could nearly crack the half-way mark this season, with
    46% consumers planning to make holiday purchases via
    mobile devices this year. To know how the advent of the
    mobile age influences or has changed consumers‟
    shopping behavior during the holiday season and what
    can retailers do to benefit from this, brands have to first
    understand three aspects of m-commerce:

            o   What Are Consumers Looking for?

            According to a 2011 Mojiva survey, consumers are using their mobile devices to look for:
                   a) Product Information: 56% respondents want to do their homework via mobile before visiting
                        actual stores or even buying online.
                   b) Coupons/Sale Information: Coupons, special offers and information on sales is a driving factor
                        for 56% mobile shoppers.
                   c) Product reviews: For 53% respondents, what their friends have to say about a product or
                        service on various social networking channels will greatly influence their holiday purchasing
                        behavior.


© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                       4
                    d) Store Information: 51% shoppers looked for the nearest store that sells their product via their
                       smartphones and mobiles.
                    e) Buying Products: 32% will actually buy the products through their mobile devices.

            o   How Can Marketers Help this Decision Making Process?

            From the Mojiva survey, it is clear that research is majorly what consumers will use their mobile devices
            for. With so little time and so much to shop, mobile devices are the perfect solution for time-strapped
            holiday shoppers. For marketers, it all comes down to making it convenient for them. Here‟s what we
            suggest:

                    a) Create mobile friendly websites for your brand(s) and include all the required information in
                       an easy-to-navigate format. Smartphone users often scan the bar code to obtain product
                       details see if it is actually discounted. Also tailor your marketing messages for the mobile
                       channel by keeping in mind text-limitations, mobile capabilities and handset variations into
                       account.
                    b) Allow customers to download coupons via smartphones. Consumers sometimes do this when
                       they are at the physical location.
                    c) Provide a link to map directions. Consumers who are driving around will find it much more
                       convenient to locate your store from their mobile devices by following the directions
                       provided.
                    d) Provide customer reviews to mobile users. This can immensely influence how they shop,
                       especially during last-minute shopping excursions.

Conclusion
Despite being weighed down by financial constraints during the rest of the year, otherwise frugal consumers are
loosening their purse strings when shopping during the holiday season. According to Matthew Shay, president-CEO of
the National Retail Foundation, retailers are “optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory
levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season.” The attraction of season-special offers and
promotions is expected to be a major crowd puller during the October-December period this year. However, shoppers
also recognize value beyond low prices, with a significant number looking for added benefits like free shipping and
timely delivery of purchases.

With people starting to shop as early as Halloween, retailers are designing their holiday special online marketing
strategies earlier than expected. Online shopping means saying goodbye to crowded shopping malls and long billing
queues; therefore it is unsurprising to see consumers hitting the web much earlier than expected this year. For online
marketers looking to keep up with the ever changing taste of consumers, the choice is between staying one step
ahead and getting left behind. Keeping this in mind, marketers have increased focus on time-sensitive deals and
creative social media campaigns. Although the coupon collectors and discounts seekers will continue their quest for
the best deals, we expect to see a significant increase in the percentage of holiday shoppers who do their research
online before making a purchase.

While the experienced online retailer knows that offers and deals almost always guarantee healthy revenues, the
modern marketer‟s attention is diverted to the next big thing in online marketing; m-commerce. With IBM expecting
15% of online shoppers in the US logging into a retailer‟s website via their mobile devices this year, retailers are
tweaking their digital marketing strategies to offer a smarter and a more convenient shopping experience to this fast-
growing demographic. For social media marketers and online retailers, the last three months of the year hold a lot of
promise and offer the opportunity to make up for slowing sales during the rest of the year. With a little smart
planning and adequate preparation, this should be easily achievable.




© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                       5
About Position2
Position2 is a Search and Social Media Marketing firm that delivers continuous growth for our clients using our
proprietary “Surround and Intent” Marketing Methodology, delivered by our products. Our proprietary methodology is
a result of years of experience in working with diverse clients to deliver customer acquisition goals through search
engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), and Pay Per Click (PPC) and online media advertising.

Position2 was founded in 2006 with funding from Accel Venture Partners, and has offices in Palo Alto, Bangalore and
Mumbai. Position2 is a certified agency with Google, Yahoo, Bing and is also part of the Google Adwords advisory
council.




Position2's flagship product is Position2 Brand MonitorTM, a platform that allows users to listen, discover and engage
with social media conversations in real time. With a team of over 100 professionals, Position 2 also provides expertise
in online marketing solutions: SEO, PPC, Media and Advertising.

Position2 works with leading global brands:




This article is also available on the Position2 Blog: http://blog.position2.com.
For more information, visit http://brandmonitor.position2.com or email info@position2.com.




© Position2, Inc.                                                                                                         6

				
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Description: For social media marketers and online retailers, the last three months of the year hold a lot of promise and offer the opportunity to make up for slowing sales during the rest of the year. With a little smart planning and advance preparations, this should be easily achievable.