Holiday Marketing That Actually Spreads Cheer

by Grace Miller |

Holiday Marketing That Actually Spreads Cheer

Holiday Marketing

December is well underway, and naturally we’re seeing some companies ace their holiday marketing campaigns while others struggle. Sales and promotions capture the attention of many shoppers, but there are other ways to get noticed that build your brand instead of undercutting it. A tactic that has popped up more and more in various forms is cause marketing. It demonstrates your brand’s values, endearing you to shoppers and generating positive buzz. We know that cause marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, when done well, are extremely effective. According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study…

  • 90% of shoppers would switch brands to one associates with a social/environmental cause
  • 71% of consumers would pay more for a socially/environmentally responsible product
  • 63% of shoppers have bought such a product in the past year
  • Companies that address social/environmental issues see an 88% increase in loyalty

Here we’ll take a look at a few businesses that are using holiday marketing campaigns to give back to their customers and to larger communities.

Altruistic Holiday Marketing: Patagonia

This one is almost old news by now, but we have to mention it. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing brand, caused shock waves when they announced that they would donate all the proceeds of their retail and online Black Friday sales to environmental organizations. This bold move rejected profits for a day but created new fans and cemented loyalty for a lifetime.

In the words of Patagonia’s president and CEO, Rose Macario, “Patagonia reached a record-breaking $10 million in sales. We expected to reach $2 million in sales—we beat that expectation five times over…Along with many loyal customers, the initiative attracted thousands who have never purchased anything from Patagonia before.”

For more insights on holiday marketing, don’t miss out on our roundup of what millennial holiday shoppers want. We have also documented The Biggest Holiday 2016 Retail Trends here. 

Holiday Marketing with Fluffy Friends: Zappos

For the past few years, Zappos, the online shoe, clothing, and accessory behemoth, has been sponsoring free pet adoptions during the Black Friday through Cyber Monday weekend. The promotion, called Home for the Pawlidays, is interesting is that it’s not that directly related to Zappos’s core business, which historically has been shoes. While the retailer sells pet accessories, the adoption campaign may be equally aimed at giving shoppers warm, fuzzy feelings about how Zappos is helping needy cats and dogs find a home. In effect, it’s a three-pronged move: sell pet supplies, help out a good cause, and show your audience that you care.

Read on below…

Holiday Marketing with Surprise and Delight: Everlane

Everlane is a direct-to-consumer clothing and accessories line that’s made a name for itself by selling quality goods at reasonable prices. They’re all about “radical transparency” and communicate openly with their audience about their supply chain, pricing, and other aspects of their business.

While Everlane has cause marketing as a root principle of their business, their holiday campaign is about giving back to their fans and customers instead. They’ve launched a “Dear Everlane” promotion, in which members of their community are encouraged to write to the company with a wish that Everlane may just grant.

dear everlane 1

One Everlane fan wrote in, saying that her mother–a cancer survivor–admires the brand’s cashmere sweaters, and has never owned a cashmere sweater before. Just like Santa, Everlane’s team is granting her holiday wish.

dear everlane 2

For a consumer’s and marketer’s point of view on Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, don’t miss “Where Black Friday Went Wrong: A Personal Take.” Also, click here for lessons from Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2016.

Holiday Marketing by Taking a Stance: Pamela Love

Cause marketing isn’t too risky when environmental or social issues are involved, but things shift when politics get into the mix. Nonetheless, throughout this November and December, many brands have come out to support potentially divisive groups and missions, including the anti-pipeline protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota as well as Planned Parenthood. It’s been especially common for mid-market and independent retailers, who don’t have as broad a customer base to risk alienating.

pamela love womens march

Jewelry designer Pamela Love, whose wares are sold in stores like Barneys, has been one of these sellers making a statement. Her business recently ran a promotion during which 5% of all sales were donated to support the Women’s March on Washington.

While there definitely are consumers out there who admire Love’s jewelry but dislike her politics, her alignment creates a stronger sense of identity and community among those shoppers who do share her opinions. This is a move that builds long-term customer loyalty while–depending on your opinion–doing good as well.

Vital Cyber Monday + Black Friday Lessons, 2016 Edition

black friday lessons

Much to the relief of many marketers, this year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday sales have displayed a spectacular performance. Thanksgiving online sales posted a 17% gain to $1.3 billion, while Black Friday jumped 19% to just under $2 billion pushing holiday season-to-date growth rate to 12%. Cyber Monday, meanwhile, broke e-commerce records with $3.45 billion! The numbers aren’t as readily available yet for in-store results, however. But amidst the clamour of all the numbers and success stories, Black Friday lessons deserve contemplation. So, let’s understand what exactly they are.

Black Friday Lessons: Mobile Has Become Even Bigger

Let’s get the most obvious takeaway over with: Whether it’s customer service, promotions, loyalty programs, buying activity or product search from the customer’s side, mobile is inevitable. The two main holiday events of Black Friday and Thanksgiving has reaffirmed that inevitability and the growing clout of mobile in the shopping scenario. 39% of online purchases made this year were done so via mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Mobile sales totaled an incredible $449 million, an increase of 58% from this same time last year.

It was a reflection of the fact that people increasingly try to shop online from the comfort of their own homes. Plus, they often shop on the sly. In 2014, a full 10% of respondents in a Paypal survey admitted to shopping during their Thanksgiving dinner in order to find the best deal on a product online. Now that two years have passed and mobile technology is even faster and more ubiquitous, that percentage must be higher!

Certainly, mobile emerges as the best candidate to fulfill both the above-mentioned demands. And that’s why this lesson of becoming mobile-friendly is not something that must be utilized only during the holiday season. This should be like an ever going act from the marketer’s side.

Black Friday Lessons: Creativity is Crucial

All throughout this week of promotions, marketers kept trying to outdo themselves with richer content.  It was much beyond the traditional ways of discount offers, coupons and vouchers. Marketers went ahead with interactive and gamified campaigns not just to differentiate themselves from the competitors, but to attract the customers who are vulnerable to get swayed by the competitors counter-campaigns.

Many online sellers used video and GIFs in their marketing emails to get attention. Forever 21 even used GIFs instead of static images for certain products on its category pages to boost click-throughs!

And this trend wasn’t only observed during the American holiday season. Even Singles’ Day in China experienced brilliant creative ways of giving one-of-its-kind experience to the customers. Alibaba launched an AR game to market the electronics it sells, in which customers can chase its mascot cat around their cities to find discounts.  Watch an example of a customer playing it below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEchxT4C7Jw

Black Friday Lessons: Don’t Hide Your Deals

Today’s shopper is inundated with price-comparison apps, alerts, browser add-ons and sites. Within a moment, they can know which retailer is offering a better offer…and those who are price sensitive will make a move towards a retailer who is offering a better bargain. This leads to a significant dent in the customer footfall. That’s why we saw that most of the retailers posted Black Friday specials on their websites ahead of time.  It’s one of the most important Black Friday lessons to follow throughout the year as even when we’re saving money, we still want to make sure we’re saving the most money.

Black Friday Lessons: Timing Does Matter

Along with the creativity and messaging in the Black Friday communication, the equally important factor is the timing of the promotion of the Black Friday offers. It has always been a conundrum for many retailers. If they start to post about the offers too early, they risk the chance of missing the excitement…and if they begin to post too late, there is a fear of getting lost in the noise. But this season has shown that the best time to post information about Black Friday sales is about 10 days before Black Friday. Marketers should repeat it several times over the next week and a half. It sounds logical as shoppers begin the research about the products that they want to buy at least 2 weeks before the Black Friday. And if your communication meets the shopper somewhere in between his research journey, he may finally end up buying from you.

Black Friday Lessons: Capitalize on FOMO

FOMO (fear of missing out) has always worked well irrespective of the product segment, market conditions or holiday season. This is because people generally like to have best things at the lowest price possible and they have the fear that others might be having rewarding experiences from which they are absent. They don’t want to miss out.

Thus, it didn’t surprise us to see that Black Friday promotions were also designed in the same fashion. Lands’ End’s subject line of the offer email, hence, was like this. “Today only: 50% off sweaters + 40% off everything else.”  And really people fall for such offers. Otherwise we wouldn’t have seen people waiting up in a long queue in the middle of the night to grab a Playstation, Hatchimal, or iPhone.

Black Friday Lessons: Tap into Downtime

It’s not a rare sight that the marketing machine winds down once the big holiday events end along with the year. The excuse for this lethargy is that not many are going to buy now. But this is actually naive thinking.

Due to the multimedia nature of the current business world, shopping journey has become more complex than ever and it can be a bit longer sometimes. That’s why the engagement with prospects need to be ‘always’ on. There is no dearth of customers who like to take time to think and let the dust of the fury of holiday season settle. Meanwhile they take note of the stock and go for it after the holiday season.

We understand how much importance the holiday season has for marketers like you. And that’s why we have created this blog where you will get to know what millennial holiday shoppers want. We have also documented The Biggest Holiday 2016 Retail Trends here. And, for a consumer’s and marketer’s point of view on Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers, don’t miss “Where Black Friday Went Wrong: A Personal Take.”

Where Black Friday Went Wrong: A Personal Take

fall path

Hi! I’m Eliza Fisher, Annex Cloud’s Marketing Strategist and Editor. I live and breathe retail, and I have tons of thoughts about how I, as a female millennial consumer and too-frequent online shopper, should be marketed to. For another blog post from my personal perspective, check out “I’m a Female Millennial and This is How eCom Sites Need to Market to Me.” Now here’s my take on how Black Friday went wrong, and what retailers can do to fix it next year.

Black Friday broke e-commerce records this year, with online sales up 21% year-over-year according to Adobe. Beyond that, mobile sales contributed to $1.2 billion of that on Friday the 25th alone. Needless to say, there’s a lot to celebrate here, and as I write this Cyber Monday is still in full swing, promising even more profit for thousands of businesses. Even sellers outside the US are benefiting, with spending and in-store traffic at UK chain stores up across the board.

Of course, all is not well in the land of pumpkin pie leftovers and 60% discounts. By now you’ve probably heard of the ransacked Nike store near Seattle.

nike-black-friday

In terms of metrics, the numbers aren’t very clear yet for in-store traffic in the US, but it looks like the overall trend is that online is “cannibalizing” in-store sales, and with good reason. Here’s where my story of where Black Friday went wrong starts.

Ulta Online: Not So Ultimate Beauty Deals

As you’re probably aware, many companies took the route of offering promotions all week long, or at least Thursday though Monday. Ulta Beauty, a large cosmetics retailer and arguably Sephora’s only real competitor, was one of them. I was perusing their online offers on Sunday morning, and found myself intrigued by some of them and baffled by others.

While some items were legitimately discounted, e.g. 30% off, many more were crafted for the upsell and had tons of preconditions. Buy one, get one 50% off; free gift with purchase; spend $35 on X brand and get a free sample…

Some of Ulta's Cyber Monday offers.
Some of Ulta’s Cyber Monday offers.

Some of the “free” gifts with purchase were so unrelated to the purchase it was almost laughable…

I suppose if you're in the market for a bathrobe it's a useful addition, though...
I suppose if you’re in the market for a bathrobe it’s a useful addition, though…

There was one very smart offer that I noticed, though: if you spent $75 with them on Cyber Monday, you qualified for a bag of samples. While beauty product samples can be totally free if you look in the right places, businesses like Birch Box and Ipsy have lasted for years on just them. Ulta’s offer is totally mindless, just a collection of minuscule-margin items of which I’d use about 50%, but it’s placed at just the right price point to tempt shoppers.

The main difference between this offering and the other ones mentioned are that this one is site-wide and doesn’t apply to a specific brand or product. It’s general enough to be vaguely useful.

ulta beauty bag

Despite my complaining here, I ended up putting about a dozen items in my cart on Sunday morning. They were mainly a combination of purely discounted products, as well as buy one get one 50% off deals on products I already use and know I’ll need to replace in the somewhat near future.

Because I’d already spent so much money on gifts for others and myself this past week, I decided to stave off the purchase, but ended up going to the closest Ulta store later that day. This is where their Black Friday went wrong to a whole new degree.

Ulta In-Store: Where Is Everything?

I went to Ulta’s store to try on products, which is one of the major limitations of beauty e-commerce. As soon as I walked in, I was struck by the towers of pre-packaged gift sets, which are generally not good gifts due to the smaller size of the products and the fact that you have less choice in what you get.

This set has a dozen different components, plus 10 different eye shadow colors and 3 shades of blush. For me, this is paralysis by choice.
This set has a dozen different components, plus 10 different eye shadow colors and 3 shades of blush. For me, this is paralysis by choice.

Really, they’re only good presents for (1) friends who legitimately love these sparkly gift sets (I don’t know very many), (2) people you don’t know very well, or (3) when the set happens to include or be based around a product you really believe in.

Other than these types of sets–and their “free” luxury bathrobes–Ulta’s store really didn’t have anything in the way of Black Friday discounts. I noticed a set of hand moisturizers from Bliss that I’d been eyeing online. It turned out they were twice as expensive in-store due to a seemingly misguided online-only special.

Beyond that, I was on the lookout for two products that they didn’t even carry in the store. I walked out after about 10 minutes, confused about why Ulta wouldn’t want to have a more exciting in-store experience that matched up more with its online presentation. Maybe their numbers will be fantastic, but this potential customer was disappointed.

Takeaways: Where Ulta’s Black Friday Went Wrong

In essence, Ulta’s missteps boiled down to two major factors. Their offers weren’t straightforward, and their in-store deals weren’t nearly as good as their online ones. Like I said earlier, perhaps the labyrinth of buy two get one free, free 5-piece travel set with $50 purchase, and so on attracts tons of shoppers who pay a little less attention to what they’re actually getting when they reach those purchase thresholds, or who just have more money to spend. For me, though, there are too many products but paradoxically too little choice and not enough value.

Furthermore, if Ulta’s aim is to drive online purchases over in-store ones, they’re probably doing a good job. However, if they’re concerned about foot traffic, it seems like a simple enough fix would be to at least get rid of the online-only promotions, if not to go further and heavily market exclusive in-store deals. While Black Friday went wrong for Ulta, I was impressed by certain other retailers’ approaches to it.

Where Black Friday Went Right

As both a consumer and a marketer, I was attracted to companies whose promotions fell into a variety of categories…

Cause-Based Marketing: You probably heard of how Patagonia donated all the proceeds of their Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations. This is highly laudable and I’m positive that it boosted their social capital and trust factor, priming shoppers for future, full-priced sales with them.

Not all companies can afford to take this approach, though. I was struck by the amount of small- and mid-sized businesses that I follow who were practicing some sort of Good Karma Friday approach on a smaller scale. Many retailers were advertising that a smaller portion, usually 10%, of their profits were going towards the charitable organizations of their choice.

Milwaukee boutique and online retailer Bona Drag put their politics on their sleeve for Good Karma Friday.
Milwaukee boutique and online retailer Bona Drag put their politics on their sleeve for Good Karma Friday.

While this probably put off certain shoppers who don’t agree with the stores’ chosen causes, other consumers were definitely emboldened to spend more.

Straightforward and Sitewide Discounts: I also noticed a fair amount of sellers doing a very straightforward sitewide sale, often 20% to 30%. If I’m curious about a new brand, 20% may not be enough to fully pique my interest. However, if I’m already a loyal customer, this range of discount will assuredly motivate me to shop.

British fashion site ASOS did 30% off their whole site from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. I’ve been buying from them for at least about 8 years, and at this point it’s a given that I’ll buy something from them any time there’s a sale. The selection is always spectacular, and I know I can find show-stopping clothing and shoes there. I actually ended up making two purchases this past weekend!

Direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier also had a sitewide sale, but only for 20% off. Loyalty definitely drew me in, as I like their products and think that they’re fairly priced even when they’re not on sale. However the biggest motivator here is that Glossier never, ever does sales.

Pure Necessity, With an Upsell: The only successful in-store shopping I did over the weekend was at Target. It’s right next to my local Ulta, and I wandered in there in search of beauty products after being so disappointed by them. While I would have made a certain amount of purchases at Target regardless of any promotions, I was definitely encouraged to buy more due to a 15% discount on all in-store purchases that day.

I wasn’t even aware of the promotion before I came in, but it’s one that I’m sure helped increase average order size at their brick-and-mortar locations. 15% is the sort of discount that usually doesn’t make a huge difference for shoppers at the end of the day, but it seems sizable enough to encourage additional purchases.

Furthermore, many people, despite having their smartphones with them at all times, aren’t great at doing the math for 15% off either in their head or on the go, so they don’t have a great understanding of how insignificant it is. And let’s be honest, I kind of fell for it!

Honorable Mention: Discounts for Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store: Last and pretty much least, Macy’s gets an honorable mention. My mom and I were looking at Tempur-Pedic mattress pads online on Friday, and they had the best price. Beyond that, they had an offer to take off an additional 20% if we picked up the mattress pad in-store. It seemed too good to be true, especially for a product that’s normally quite expensive. And, it was: It turns out that no Macy’s in Los Angeles had one in stock. Still, if this is cost-effective for your business’s logistics, it’s a really alluring offer for customers and could also prompt more in-store shopping.

Going back to our earlier topic of irrelevant gifts with purchase, though…My friend bought a Chloe perfume at Macy’s over the weekend and ended up getting a free…set of plates!

chloe gift with purchase

For more information on holiday 2016 shopping trends, check out Unwrapping What Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want in 2016, 6 Vital Holiday Retail Drivers for 2016and 5 Black Friday 2016 Trends that Retailers Need to Know. And when you’re planning for 2017, don’t forget about these guides!

6 Vital Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022

holiday retail drivers

The holiday shopping season is just a few weeks away. All retailers, including you, will be immersed in the gigantic preparations to make this holiday season a real treat for your customers. But all those preparations may fail to yield great results if they are not in line with what customers actually want and which trends are expected to hit the e-commerce industry. That’s why we’re laying out the most important holiday retail drivers for 2022.

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: Higher Budgets

Due to better economic conditions or growth in job creation, according to PwC’s new Holiday Shopping survey, this year’s holiday spending will be increased by 10% as compared to the last year. Besides, consumers with annual household incomes less than $50,000 will increase their percentage expenditure levels even more than the overall consumers. But it’s also important to note that 42% of holiday spending will go towards travel and entertainment, leaving 58% for gifts. And that 58% is the sector where e-commerce retailers will have to focus. Naturally, they’ll have to compete with smaller, independent retailers and local artisans who are offering consumers unique and personalized products.

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: Flash Sales During the Holiday Season May Disappear

Time and again, it has been proven that customers who seek out “flash-sale” deals fail to deliver long-term value.  According to research by Retention Science, Black Friday shoppers churn 274% faster than other customers. Frankly speaking, it’s not at all shocking. Through these sales, retailers are utilizing their customers’ current need to shop. But they don’t understand that the shopping season can be used to nurture and extend the buying habits of these shoppers beyond the holiday period. What it means is it’s always logical to get associated with them as completely and as personally as possible instead of having a mere need base association. Thus, we may see that retailers will start viewing their Thanksgiving customers as “holiday shoppers”, and consider this period as their first engagement with holiday shoppers.

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: Mobile, Once Again, Becomes More Important

M-commerce is hardly a new thing now. It has dominated holiday seasons for last few years. But its grip will become even tighter. With stats like 43% of mobile shoppers in consumer electronics have purchased products on their phones while looking at those products in the store, it’s not even a question whether mobile will hold a key in holiday sales. The question is how much impact it will exert on holiday shopping. I am not just talking in terms of plain buying and selling activity. I am considering how mobile plays an important role in promoting your products and deals via ads and how “anywhere, anytime” shopping access that mobile guarantees affect the buying decision of a customer. The following chart will show a relationship between phone and shopping decisions during the holiday season. Holiday Retail Drivers   Due to apps, beacon technology, SMS, mPOS, and click-and-collect, this holiday season will see an unprecedented rise in m-commerce.

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: Visual Content Reaches a New High

Shoppers who used to go through oversized catalogs looking for gift inspiration are now turning to the internet. It’s time-consuming to go through various thick books, which will always be limited when compared to the internet. That’s the reason why YouTube has become the prime destination for getting gift ideas. According to a June 2022 study by Google/Euromonitor International, 64% of smartphone shoppers turn to YouTube for ideas about what to buy in the Home and Garden industry. I won’t be surprised if we see more and more retailers will come up with more and more content on Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram, and so on, which might help buyers in deciding what to buy.

Visual Commerce on merchants’ sites will also become crucial in inspiring shoppers during this time of the year.  Sellers should use their visual galleries to merchandise items based on different categories, like gifts for men, women, fashionistas, frequent travelers, parents, children, pet lovers, and so on. For more ideas on how to best implement and display your Visual Commerce, check out our best practices ebook, A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words!

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: Unification of Online and Offline Data Collection

Today, customers don’t interact with your products through only one way. There are multiple channels available for customers to explore your product range and it is true for both online and offline modes. This shopping season will see more and more retailers are investing in analyzing online and offline data together. By doing it, retailers will be benefited immensely as they will have a clear cut picture of their buyer’s journey.

Nordstrom just launched a new omni-channel feature, for example, in which mobile shoppers are allowed to reserve and try on clothing, shoes, and accessories in brick and mortar locations before purchasing them. Other sellers are going all-out with their data tactics. JC Penney recently invested in buy online/pick up in store, a new mobile app, and mobile POS, among other technologies. While the chain is still struggling, total sales during Q2 2022 grew 1.5%.

Holiday Retail Drivers for 2022: A Craze for the Best

Today, holiday shopping is more than just choosing between the red or white scarf. The customers are overwhelmed by the immense heaps of items and various varieties of the same item.  Amazon sells roughly 225,000 scarves. Once customers know what they want to buy, they filter their choices by searching for the “best” products. According to Google, searches related to “best” products have grown by more than 50% in the last year (May 2015 v May 2022). And naturally, it will be at an all-time high during the holiday season as customers don’t just look to shop for themselves only. They also want something nice to gift their near and dear ones.

You can easily take the benefit of this trend. You can brainstorm with your content team and come up with blogs like “Best Gift For Parents” or “Give The Best Gift To Yourself In This Holiday Season”. Understand that by doing this you are not just promoting your products, but you are giving a reason for your customers to buy from you.

In A Nutshell… If you closely look at the above-mentioned trends, you will realize that most of the trends deal with three main things: Use of technology, customer journey and ways to find a connection with customers which go beyond the holiday season. And that will differentiate a retailer with a successful holiday season from someone with a failed one!

Note: We understand how much importance the holiday season has for retailers like you. We’ll help you discover what millennial holiday shoppers are looking for this year. We have also documented The Biggest Holiday 2022 Retail Trends here. 

More interested in strategy for 2017? Don’t miss these white papers…

Unwrapping What Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want in 2016

millennial holiday shoppers

September is ending, and before we know it the holiday season will be in full swing. Retailers like Target and Michael’s are already selling Christmas items! Various studies have suggested that millennial holiday shoppers will spend $1,427 on average in this holiday season—up 33.1% from last year. It’s quite clear that they will emerge as the ultra-influencers. Here’s the full rundown of their shopping preferences.

Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want Digitally Native Credit:

Millennials are moving away swiftly from the traditional credit cards used by their parents. In fact, 63% of millennials now say they do not have a credit card. As they dwell on digital platforms almost all the time, they want a payment option that is digitally native. PayPal and Koski Research has also confirmed that online credit may be a way to help encourage more holiday purchase volume and win over millennial holiday shoppers.

A closer look at is also revealing the fact that millennials are the fastest rising segment of PayPal Credit shoppers. Consequently, retailers should integrate digital credit options into the online buying experience to attract millennials. This generation is smart enough to know the ways to save money by keeping fees to a minimum, which is never the case with credit cards, while engaged in shopping. Digital credit is a great and feasible way to achieve that.

Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want to Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store:

There is no doubt that online shopping has become an integral part of the way millennials shop, but that doesn’t mean that physical stores are completely out of fashion. In fact, an Accenture study found that millennials actually prefer to shop in stores, where they can touch and feel products before deciding to buy them. They also enjoy the immediacy of the in-store experience. Besides, errors such as shipping and handling mistakes or inventory problems also get nullified. That’s why, according to eMarketer, 50% of shoppers ages 21-39 are planning to use in-store pickup as a method for shopping. Thus, you must provide a streamlined shopping experience across both your online store and your brick-and-mortar shop. Millennial customers expect to see the same merchandise — at the same prices — in both places.

Millennial Holiday Shoppers Want to Buy More Gifts – For Themselves:

Of course, gifting a present to your loved ones has always been part of every holiday season. But there is a shift in this trend. Now millennials want to buy something for themselves too. 43% of all shoppers said they planned to buy something for themselves this holiday season, while 64% of millennial holiday shoppers reported that they’ll get at least 1 gift for themselves.

Indeed, it’s a huge opportunity for marketers. This gifting to one’s own self needs to be capitalized. Marketers can do this by creating extremely personal and relatable communication around their products or brands. A targeted way of marketing may work well where you can study what customer likes and dislikes and through emails or mobile messages you can increase the visibility of the products which are closest to their likings.

Millennial Holiday Shoppers Respond to Strategic Pricing:

Millennials are very touchy when it comes to pricing. The Accenture study pointed out that 41% of respondents said that they “shop around” for the same product at a lower price point at various retailers before coming to the final buying decision. It doesn’t need any special business acumen to understand that marketers will have to be very, very strategic and clever while deciding the prices.

If you don’t want to play around your prices, the other way is to think how to make your pricing structure more appealing and attractive, like a discount for in-store pickup or extra savings and perks for spending above a certain threshold. After all, 88% percent of millennials say that they would consider buying online and picking up in the store to save $10 on a $50 item.  So, you can devise a system which will reward millennials from all the touch points.

Millennial Holiday Shoppers Live and Breathe Mobile:

According to the Rubicon Project’s second annual Holiday Consumer Pulse Poll, 58% of millennials said they plan to shop on their mobile devices. Even though the importance of mobile commerce is hardly new, its impact is still growing. As per Rakuten Marketing, m-commerce grew 10x in a year-over-year analysis from 2014 to 2015. Sales went up 162% from 2014 to 2015 during Black Friday, compared to just a 69% increase in sales on desktops. And that was just Black Friday – Cyber Monday (93%), Manic Monday (107%), and Boxing Day (170%) all had significant increases in sales within the Rakuten Affiliate Network. But you can further enhance the utility of mobile phones by pushing it out from the boundary of a mere shopping destination. App tracking and mobile-optimized content are the two most important factors to keep in mind for mobile this holiday season. Till now, more or less, marketers were concerned about tracking web activity only. But with the help of tracking in-app activity, marketers as well as advertisers will understand how millennials are engaging with their apps and the products listed on apps. Naturally, mobile friendly content helps in reaching more millennials and it can have a strong positive impact on your brand during the holiday season.

But you can further enhance the utility of mobile phones by pushing it out from the boundary of a mere shopping destination. App tracking and mobile-optimized content are the two most important factors to keep in mind for mobile this holiday season. Till now, more or less, marketers were concerned about tracking web activity only. But with the help of tracking in-app activity, marketers as well as advertisers will understand how millennials are engaging with their apps and the products listed on apps. Naturally, mobile friendly content helps in reaching more millennials and it can have a strong positive impact on your brand during the holiday season.

To Conclude… The way millennials think, function and shop is different than their previous generations. There is no guarantee that shopping ploys that worked for their parents, will work for them too. They want more ways to interact with your brand along with the touch of technology. Listen to these requirements and try to implement them in your scheme of things. Believe it or not, millennials are going to become the major driving force during this holiday season!

To get a complete picture of how this holiday season will turn out, take a look at the hottest retail trends for holiday 2016!. You can also read here to enhance the loyal behavior of your customers during the holiday season.

5 Vital Tactics for Wayfair’s Marketing Success

wayfair's marketing

Wayfair isn’t yet a household name like Walmart or Amazon, but it looks like this scenario is rapidly changing. As per Internet Retailer, the web-only furniture store saw 770,000 new customers last quarter—the most in any quarter to date. Sales on Wayfair’s websites increased 85.5% to $2.04 billion, up from $1.10 billion. Not just that- for the five-day holiday period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, its gross revenue from online orders increased 130% year over year. Wayfair’s marketing strategy has five actionable steps that can be implemented by any business. Apart from Wayfair’s marketing strategy, it includes logistics, business model, and more.

To reap such awe-inspiring results, it’s quite obvious that Wayfair must have planned and executed many things with the precision of a surgeon. Then be it quality products, supply chain, good and robust business model, or a technical decision like merging their over 200 websites into one…the list can be long. But despite all, this success story was impossible without the support of marketing. Let’s take a look at how exactly Wayfair’s marketing strategy has helped them achieve such tremendous growth.

Wayfair Marketing Strategy Uses Various Social Media Platforms

Pinterest Prowess
Wayfair currently sells more than 7 million items from over 12,000 brands. How can one make all these products easily discoverable? Well, Pinterest–which has become the de facto social channel for home decor–helps a lot.

wayfair's marketing

Wayfair’s marketing team is using Pinterest to enable people to share and comment on the content, which obviously raises engagement and brand visibility. Though it’s very common nowadays to see the “Pin It” button on many retailers’ pages, Wayfair was one of the first retailers to use this feature on its site. Each pin includes a direct link to the product on Wayfair.com.

Since its inception, Wayfair has always been overly visual and image-driven. That means it was a snap to promote its wares on Pinterest. Today it is the most active company on the social site, with the highest number of boards. What is noticeable in Wayfair’s marketing on Pinterest is their sound understanding of target customers. Most of their sales come from middle-aged women…and Wayfair is pitch-perfect with related boards. Boards about after school snack and other recipes may not directly relate to their products, but they are unavoidable in generating engagement of this category of women buyers. Wayfair is wise enough to figure out that sales will not be in sight without this sort of engagement!

Similarly, Wayfair devised a Thanksgiving contest for their Pinterest followers. They asked their followers to create a Thanksgiving table board and repin at least 5 pins from Wayfair. The winner was rewarded with a $100 Wayfair gift card.

wayfair-2

The results of these efforts were more than satisfactory.

  • Wayfair found that Pinterest referrals are 10% more likely to make a purchase and they also spend 10% more on average.
  • The Thanksgiving contest resulted in a 5x increase in sales, a 60% increase in web traffic, and an 89% page view increase.

Excellent SEO optimization
The massive reach and monopoly of Google have made one thing clear: If people can’t see your website, you are out of their sight. Just recently Wayfair announced the launch of a proprietary search engine marketing platform in Europe. Known as Athena, it has been the axis around which Wayfair’s search engine marketing success in America revolved. Needless to say, it has brought significant revenue growth for the business.

Ed Macri, Chief Product & Marketing Officer, Wayfair, commented, “With the development and deployment of Athena in the U.S., Wayfair has dramatically improved its ability to reach customers across a long tail of search terms, bring those customers to the products they are searching for, and, as a result, drive greater revenue and profitability”.

The gist is, with more than 7 million products, Wayfair was in a dire need of a customized approach that could have enabled them to connect effectively with people to achieve the long-term goal of customer acquisition. As Athena is built on Wayfair’s big data expertise, it allows Wayfair to increase return on ad spend, streamline workflows and improve overall marketing campaign performance. And this is exactly what is needed to create, manage, and monitor marketing campaigns.

Add More Advertisements
Wayfair’s marketing team has always relied heavily on display, retargeting, and search ads. As of June 2015 they were spending at least 50% of their monthly display budget on programmatic ads. They’ve also seen great results with Google’s In-Market Audiences. Not long after the launch of Athena this year, the furniture giant leveraged its in-house engineering, data science, and marketing teams to launch Magellan, a proprietary display ad platform. According to Marketing Dive, “Magellan will deliver highly relevant product recommendations across Wayfair.com and within advertisements, leveraging consumer data insights to enhance the personalization.”

On-Site User Generated Content
Wayfair’s on-site marketing is highly dependent on several forms of user-generated content (UGC), including idea boards, questions and answers, and ratings and reviews. These tactics make use of customer curiosity and passion to inform and inspire other shoppers. UGC can increase site revenue by up to 20%, and Wayfair’s idea boards drive 31% of mobile app revenue.

Superstars as Brand Ambassadors
Wayfair really exhibited its spark of innovative marketing skills when it collaborated with both Ashley  Monroe, country singer-songwriter and interior designer, Brad Ramsey, to redesign her Nashville-based writer’s room—the place where she gets her creative vibes. The idea was to redesign it with a variety of Wayfair products. The choice of celebrity was just right for Wayfair’s target audience, and it was a slightly more subtle promotion than many types of ads and endorsements. Plus, to add the element of attraction and exclusivity, Wayfair.com was the only place where fans could have listened to Monroe’s new track, for an exclusive 24-hour period before the song was officially released elsewhere.  Wayfair’s marketing team has worked with other celebrities, too, like HGTV stars Joanna and Chip Gaines.   Indeed, not the marketing plan, but innovative and interesting marketing plan is going to save you. The tried and tested methods will be as successful as your competitors’. Because they are implementing the same methods and you will lose the essential element- brand differentiation.

Design Your Own Marketing Strategy Just Like Wayfair

Wayfair has certainly infused new and exciting blood in the veins of marketing and its superiority is proven by the overwhelming results. No wonder that Wayfair was ranked as North America’s Best E-Retail Marketer this year by Internet Retailer.

Maybe that’s what has boosted the confidence of Niraj Shah, co-founder of Wayfair to say, “You can’t build a consumer brand overnight. But in a year or two, if you ask people where the best place to shop online for home goods is, can we get them to say, ‘Wayfair’? We think that’s very possible.”

Design Your Own Marketing Strategy Just Like Wayfair

Since every business is different, Wayfair marketing strategy must be optimized for every business. If you are looking to implement Wayfair marketing strategy to your own business with precision, or just want to know more about the marketing strategies to grow your business, contact our experts at Annex Cloud now!

The Biggest Holiday 2016 Retail Trends

Biggest Holiday

We are heading towards the holiday season slowly but steadily, and markets are buzzing with the excitement. To really win this upcoming holiday season, it’s a must to know how and what customers are buying, what their preferences are, what sort of personalization and messaging they like, and more. Without further ado, here are our picks for the biggest holiday 2016 retail trends.

A) Arrival Of Single’s Day In America:

Single’s Day is an entertaining festival widespread among young Chinese people, to celebrate the fact that they are proud of being single. This day already been considered as one of the largest online shopping days in the world, with sales in Alibaba’s sites Tmall and Taobao at US $5.8 billion in 2013, US $9.3 billion in 2014, and over US $14.3 billion in 2015. Considering the total number of Chinese people living in America, more retailers will focus on Single’s Day, which falls on 11th November. Besides, it also opens up new opportunities for retailers to target a diverse market along with the expansion of international sales and Single’s Day is a perfect platform to do that.

Alibaba's Single's Day 2015 sales counter, courtesy of Forbes
Alibaba’s Single’s Day 2015 sales counter, courtesy of Forbes

B) Shopping Starts Earlier:

Though Black Friday and Cyber Monday have long been considered as the crowns of holiday sales, there are signs of a shift in holiday 2016 retail trends.  As per a Google/Ipsos Media CT study, shoppers are starting earlier. In 2014, 61% began gift research before Halloween and 48% completed shopping by Cyber Monday. It’s a reflection of a fragmented shopping behavior which is the outcome of digitalization. Now, people can browse the product categories and decide on a whim what to buy…but when to buy depends on multiple factors like needs, store vicinity, waiting for more discounts and sales. We can say that, in 2016, retailers will have to think about year-long strategies to capture more of those shopping moments.

Selfridges opened their Christmas 2016 shop on August 1. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Selfridges opened their Christmas 2016 shop on August 1. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

C) Social Commerce May Flourish:

Brands and well as social media platforms are under the pressure to find new ways of monetization. Though 2015 saw a push in social commerce efforts as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest promoted their respective “buy buttons” and some brands did experiments with social media buying activity, they didn’t yield a massive response which could have been noticed. This holiday season may change it. But its success will depend lot on how easily users in a social mindset can be converted to buyers, but brands (and the platforms that support them) are motivated to monetize these critical channels.

D) Mobile Mania:

4 in 5 smartphone holiday shoppers used their phone during spare moments or while doing other activities last year, and 43% of mobile shoppers in consumer electronics have purchased products on their phones while looking at those products in-store. Given stats like these, it’s not even a question whether mobile will hold a key in holiday 2016 retail trends. The question is how much impact it will exert on holiday shopping. Of course, we’re not just talking in terms of plain buying and selling activity. Mobile plays an important role in promoting your products and deals, and the “anywhere, anytime” shopping access that mobile guarantees affects the buying decision of customers in different ways. The following chart shows a relationship between phone-viewing and shopping decisions during the holiday season. statistics   With enhancements in mobile use due to apps, beacon technology, SMS, mPOS, and click-and-collect, an unprecedented rise in m-commerce will be one of the key holiday 2016 retail trends.

E) Omni-Channel Shopping Experiences:

The success of retailers during this holiday season will be tied up with the mechanism that focuses less on the transaction and more on the interaction.  Nearly 7 in 10 holiday shoppers say it’s important that a retailer offers multiple ways for customers to interact with it. Again, it is not just related to the core and cold buying experience across all the channel. It deals with uniform and unique brand promotion, communication and transaction experience across your website, social media page, emails and print material.

The wholeness of this approach goes beyond seasonal holiday shopping. It serves as an important raw material in building brand loyalty and great rapport with your customers, which ensures that your holiday shoppers will stick with you after the season is over. This is primarily because stores aren’t just places that sell products. They sell a customer experience too!

F) Technology Upsurge:

Many online businesses have grappled with a weak link of being not able to give customers a full view and feel of products that they sell. This holiday season may see technology doing its best to overcome this hurdle through experimentation with VR, which will move beyond gaming and into other territories such as virtual social gatherings, data visualizations and even entirely new ways to experience ecommerce, as stated by Brent Shroyer.

Wrapping It Up:

What customers want for this holiday season is very clear. They need seamless, simple, super-interactive ways to purchase what they want. But there is not one or a perfect way to do it. The answer lies in the customized combination of the above-mentioned trends that suit your business, product segments, and target customers such as customized referral programs or contests for Instagram just to name a few. Regardless of whatever strategies you devise, the common denominator will always be there–mobile.  It lets marketers be everywhere at every moment. It can become your lucky charm this holiday season!

Holiday Loyalty Program Marketing: 12 Ideas for 2016

holiday loyalty program marketing

It’s hot outside, but everyone in e-tail & social commerce knows that now is the time to start planning for the holiday shopping season. You’re probably also well-aware that it’s much more cost-effective to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. That’s why you need to use your customer loyalty program to both nurture repeat shoppers and to target your most loyal customers. Indeed, holiday loyalty program marketing should be an essential part of your year-end strategy.

In this day and age, a good loyalty strategy should move far beyond mere points for purchases, or running double-points promotions during the holidays. You should use your program to incentivize advocacy for your business. That is, reward your customers with points for doing things like referring friends, sharing photos, writing reviews, participating in contests for Instagram, FB and more.

Annex Cloud client Bebe rewards shoppers for purchasing, referring friends, hashtagging photos, and even visiting their website!
Annex Cloud client Bebe rewards shoppers for purchasing, referring friends, hashtagging photos, and even visiting their website!

 

Your loyalty program–which is already a treasure trove of data–will you even more useful information about your customers when you tie in these advocate marketing actions. You’ll be able to figure out who’s returning to buy, who’s rooting for you on social, who’s sharing your brand over email, and more. This information is particularly helpful around the holiday season, when competition for a share of shoppers’ wallets is so fierce.

That said, let’s look at 12 ways you can take your loyalty program above and beyond this winter.

Promotions with Points Before the Holidays

1. Create a dedicated holiday website and give users points for visiting it. Similarly, you could also give them points for visiting a specific section of your site that has holiday content and promotions.

saks holiday site

 

2. Run a special Visual Commerce campaign for the holidays, and reward users with points for contributing. Perhaps ask for images and videos of your products being given as gifts, with a hashtag like #ChristmasMorningWithBrand or #AVeryBrandHanukkah. Save these images for promotional efforts next year, too.

3. On your checkout page, highlight the fact that registered users get points. Remember, 53% of all US retail mobile revenue comes from guest users — use your holiday loyalty program marketing to hit two birds with one stone and scoop up some of this data!

4. Reward users for creating and sharing holiday wish lists. Give them more points if someone on social media clicks on the list and/or ends up buying.

anthro holiday wishlist
Anthropologie did a wishlist initiative on Instagram last year and randomly awarded participants with prizes. If you do a contest like this through a loyalty program, it’ll be easier to track and manage.

 

Segment Your Loyal Customers

5. Identify, segment, and email your customers by variables like average order value, location, actions taken (e.g. customers who’ve reviewed products or shared photos), and so on.

6. Segment your customers by points standing, and tell them how they can earn enough points by purchasing or taking special holiday actions in order to get to their next reward.

7. Send a points standing email to customers right before your shipping cut-off date.

Ulta Beauty added a shipping deadline reminder to their December points statement email last year.
Ulta Beauty added a shipping deadline reminder to their December points statement email last year.

 

Treat Your Biggest Fans

8. Use your program data to identify your biggest spenders, most frequent purchasers, and most vocal advocates, and then throw a holiday party for them.

nordstrom rewards party
Nordstrom throws holiday parties for its loyalty program members.

 

9. Give your loyalty program members early access to your holiday sale, or to new products.

After the Holidays

10. Use your holiday loyalty program marketing to push sales and/or abandoned carts into Q1 with segmented emails. Remind users of all the points they accrued over the holidays and show them how to spend them in the new year.

11. Analyze your data to discover what types of shoppers responded to these strategies. How did your big spenders interact with your loyalty program? How did your advocates share your brand?

12. If you ran a Visual Commerce campaign during the holidays, email out some photos to your loyalty members and to the contributors to thank your them for spending the holidays with you.

With any luck, your loyalty program will be the perfect holiday present for both you and your customers!

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