7 marketing tips to boost e-commerce sales this holiday season

e-commerce holiday marketing tips

The 2020 holiday shopping season put retailers to the test like no other. The competition was fierce and converting shoppers into paying customers became increasingly challenging. This peak season is shaping up to look no different. The pandemic is still impacting e-commerce through increased online traffic and supply chain disruptions while customer expectations remain high.

Globally, holiday e-commerce sales are projected to hit USD 910 billion, an 11% YoY increase. Cyber Week, which lasts from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, is expected to reach USD 36 billion in online spending, a 5% increase YoY, with Cyber Monday alone making up USD 11.3 billion in online sales.

To help brands and retailers rise above the tide and maximize their peak season ROI, we’ve unfurled seven effective holiday e-commerce marketing tips for driving increased sales: 

1. Start a holiday referral contest

Customers are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. What’s more? Referral leads are 30% more likely to convert than leads from any other channel. Plus the LTV of a referred customer is 25% higher than others. One of the best things about referrals is that they also serve as positive feedback by building your brand’s reputation in a trustworthy manner.      

Here are a few steps to get started:

  • Create a contest that counts each time an entrant’s unique share URL is shared (by a friend). Whoever receives the most referrals wins.
  • Organize a contest offering a discount for participants who get their friends to enter. The more the friends that participate, the greater the discount. Offer a set discount for all entrants whether they win or not. This increases the chance of someone’s friends entering, even if they recognize they don’t have much of a chance of winning.

Don’t forget to send your participants a reminder email a day after they enter to encourage them to share their unique URL with their friends and loved ones. Here’s a pertinent referral contest example.

e-commerce holiday marketing tip

2. Impress with interactive ads

Special seasons call for extraordinary efforts to impress your audience. Here’s where an e-commerce holiday marketing tip like rich media ads can prove effective.  Rich media ads produce a higher clickthrough rate than banner ads by 267%.  A gamified ad campaign by Lacoste nudged visitors to play a quick Pacman version game in the quest to find their perfect gifting fragrance. This helped them not only boost engagement levels but also drive better brand recall.          

e-commerce holiday marketing tip

Elf yourself by Office Depot is another great example of an interactive ad. It basically lets users create an elf version of themselves and others through its site and mobile app. The gimmick grew so popular that it created over a billion elves and counting, out of its users’ photos. By making something fun and engaging for users, you can create a unique and memorable buzz about your business without aggressively advertising. Interactive video ads can increase the amount of time consumers spend with your brand by 47% more than static non-interactive ads.

3. Use video in its multiple formats

Users spend 88% more time browsing websites that have videos. On social networks, videos with holiday messaging had 58% higher engagement rate than those without. So it goes without saying that videos offer an immersive experience and are highly effective in captivating your customers if leveraged correctly. As a marketer, there are a galore of formats to explore with a holiday theme in mind, right from how-to guides, last-minute gifting ideas, lookbooks, personality-based gift guides, etc.

Plus, here’s an interesting e-commerce holiday marketing tip a lot of brands will be betting on: YouTube is making its videos shoppable through YouTube Holiday Stream and Shop. Viewers will be able to take advantage of limited-time offers, be among the first to see new products, and interact directly with creators and other viewers during these sessions. The platform has already piloted shoppable livestreams with creators and retailers such as Raven Elyse, Simply Nailogical and Target.

Source: The 2021 Holiday Commerce Report – Criteo

4. Use holiday hashtags for social giveaway campaigns

Hashtags help you get involved in conversations about trending topics and events. When linked to a social giveaway campaign you amplify your chances of being promoted organically. Through the course of the campaign, you can leverage holiday hashtags effectively to –

  • Increase post engagement – A giveaway campaign will spread the word among your audience’s connections in no time. Only keep the contest sign-up simple.
  • Expand your organic reach – Draw in people outside of your current target audience who are searching for those terms.
  • Sort content into categories – Make your content easy to find. A hashtag helps identify opportunities to boost engagement as well as track a campaign’s content.

Source: Wishpond

5. Promote product bundles to increase average order value (AOV)

Savvy e-commerce players eager to proactively increase their sales never overlook the power of a good product bundle. One estimate from McKinsey suggests that 35% of all Amazon purchases come from recommendations (at least some of which qualify as “bundles”) and that recommendations have a success rate, according to Forrester, of around 60%. Product bundles can be of various kinds: products that are obvious next-buys (a tablet and a protective case) to products that you could more or less anticipate to be on your customers’ list (icing paper bags and nozzles).

A few key things to consider while developing and displaying product bundles:

  • If you intend to position certain bundles as gifts, keep track of their size and price. A bundle of a smartphone and a set of earphones is great, but if the price point is too high, gift-givers might be prompted to take their budgets elsewhere.
  • Savings don’t have to be huge, but they must be noticeable. If you want to avoid big discounts, a free product always works as a good alternative.
  • Consider providing options when creating clothing bundles – Allow customers to pick their own combinations of size, color, etc., for each item, as far as possible. Also, try and offer a variety of product combos.
  • Closely monitor the inventory levels of products in your bundles – After all, you don’t want to be caught up in a fix where you can’t fulfill one of the products mentioned in your bundle.

In case you are wondering what’s in this e-commerce holiday marketing tip for you, think of how much you will save on sales, marketing, and distribution of inventory that was at one time not budging off your warehouse shelves.

6. Leverage social proof    

98% of customers cited at least one type of social proof that increased their likelihood to buy. At each milestone of your customer’s journey with your brand, along with on-brand creative content like product images, consider including one or two of the most impactful social proof signals. Here are a few examples to help you get started:

Organic customer reviews go a long way in bolstering your brand reputation. Since they act as authentic advocates for your brand, it is wise to spend some concrete time ensuring the most relevant ones are strategically positioned on your product pages.

7. Leverage segmented offer tiers, and surprise with the most-impactful holiday purchase drivers

A great way to turn your passive customers active is through retargeting cart abandoners. By incentivizing their return with exclusive offers based on products in their cart you can effectively influence their reason to buy. You could even bucket your discounts based on frequent shoppers, first-time shoppers, pre-orders, students, in-store pickup, and more.

Another way to induce sales is by wielding time as your strategy. Try running a 24-hour flash sale. This could either make this a surprise event or do a countdown until the event. Also, 9 out of 10 people say free shipping is the number one reason for them to shop online.

The next in line is free-gift wrap· 40% of customers would consider making a repeat purchase from a brand that used ‘gift-like’ packaging. Platforms such as Shopify now offer a gift-wrap option for their customers to add to their sites. Fulfillment centers are also stepping into the game; noissue partners such as ShipBob make it stress-free for businesses to integrate gift-wrapping into their wider 3PL.

Another incredible e-commerce holiday marketing tip is localizing your promotions. This shows you understand the needs of a certain locality or community during a specific period of the holiday season. Savvy marketers use custom photos of local, recognizable landmarks in that region, and use them in their marketing across channels like email, SMS, and social media dialogue. Price-point guides like under USD 50 etc. are another marketing tactic that draws a certain pull for customers looking for value deals essentially buying gifts for friends and family.

Up to 30% of a brand’s annual sales can occur during December and January. By segmenting your customers to offer a more personalized experience, developing and marketing consistent holiday deals across all of your channels, and making your campaigns shareable, you are setting yourself up for maximum success. To know how we can support you in this direction with unparalleled, research-backed e-commerce marketing content, analytics and insights contact us.

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