4 Coal-Worthy Marketing Mistakes Retailers Need to Avoid This Holiday Season
For many retailers, the holiday season is their busiest time of the year. To beat the competition for customers, many companies begin touting sales and special promotions weeks or even months in advance. However, being first out of the gate isn’t enough to ensure success. Here are four of the top marketing faux pas that retailers should avoid this holiday season:
Hoarding the Holiday Cheer
The old axiom on friendship holds true for retail: Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver the other’s gold. Nothing beats a loyal, long-time customer. But if you’re not out looking for prospects this holiday season, you could be missing out on a huge amount of potential revenue.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, invest in display and paid social, using data-driven insights on browsing behavior, interests and other traits to target likely buyers and boost brand awareness. And don’t forget about your almost-customers — i.e., the ones that stuffed their carts full of items before clicking off your site. With the holidays right around the corner, chances are some of these shoppers are ready to make a purchase. Remarketing and time-sensitive promotions are both effective strategies for reminding would-be-buyers of what they left behind.
Missing the Mark on Local Searches
The quickest way to a stocking full of coal is to ignore the opportunity that local searches present this holiday season.
According to Google, “near me” searches have increased 34 times since 2011, with more consumers leveraging digital tools to discover new stores in their area. However, because of the historical difficulty in tying in-store performance back to digital marketing efforts, many retailers neglect the online portion of their business. Luckily, new technologies that allow companies to more accurately assess the in-store impact of their digital marketing strategy means retailers no longer have an excuse for committing this common mistake.
Although shoppers spend a lot of time researching gifts online, many still seek an in-store experience. By not optimizing your website for local searches, you may be missing out on the chance to convert browsers to buyers. This is particularly inexcusable when you consider how simple it is to create local landing pages and update your company's location and contact information on Google My Business. Even these small steps can make a huge difference. Remember: We all gripe about holiday crowds and chaos, but sometimes going to an actual retail location is the easiest way to finish last-minute shopping. So let customers know you’re there!
Understocking the Sleigh
Managing inventory is another crucial piece of the holiday puzzle. Who wants to spend hours scouring half-empty shelves looking for that one toy their daughter can’t live without? By letting locals know that your shelves are stocked, you can beat out other retailers for coveted wallet share.
Accurately managing inventory is also crucial for maintaining happy customers and building a reputation for reliability. With items flying off the shelves, it can be hard to stay on top of your product, but ensuring that digital orders are filled on-time and that online inventory accurately reflects in-store availability will promote loyalty and keep customers from leaving your store empty-handed. Local inventory ads also help you to take advantage of holiday-shopping procrastinators. Once online retailers have reached their holiday shipping cutoff dates, last-minute gifters will turn to brick-and-mortar stores for final purchases. If these shoppers know you’re nearby and have fully stocked shelves, you’ll take advantage of that eleventh-hour push.
Just because your family sends hundreds of identical holiday cards each year doesn’t mean you can get away with form messages in the retail world. By crafting customized messages that reflect your individual customer’s interests and preferences, you’ll be infinitely more likely to convert browsers into happy holiday customers.
Of course, even personalized messages won’t work if you send them at the wrong time. Make sure you’re considering the when as well as the what for holiday advertisements. How long does it take the customer to make a purchase after seeing your ad? How long does he or she typically spend researching a gift before pulling the proverbial trigger? Leveraging data to answer these questions will help you to identify the most important — and profitable — advertising days on your holiday calendar.
Laura Scott is senior strategy lead at Merkle|RKG, a full-service digital marketing agency.