- Ecommerce has become an increasingly important element of any business, but heading into the 2020 holiday season is more important than ever.
- With so many brands vying for ad space online, companies need to get the most out of their marketing budgets by adapting their digital strategies.
- Owen Loft, CEO of Socium Media, offers four tips on how to beat the noise to reach your customers and increase sales this holiday season.
Retailers already set up to sell online had an immediate advantage, but others quickly fell behind. Instead of generating profits from consumers who have chosen to shop from home, retailers with no online infrastructure have missed out on booming sales opportunities. Online shopping was already on an upward trend before the pandemic, but the pandemic has spurred the shift from physical to e-commerce by five years.
Businesses can’t afford to be digitally overlooked. However, one question remains: How can you strengthen your online presence and assert yourself in the current landscape in front of your target customers?
2020 holiday season: a perfect storm of competition
Reaching customers who have gathered online has become more difficult (not to mention the high cost) as large retailers take control of valuable ad space. And big box stores aren’t the only ones driving up the cost of digital advertising – political candidates poured more than $ 3 billion into campaign advertising this year.
Big retailers like Best Buy and Walmart are taking more online-centric approaches to vacation shopping this year. Many have already announced that they will keep their physical stores closed for Thanksgiving. Some even stay closed on Black Friday or have limited shopping hours so customers have to stay home and shop online.
With the coronavirus pandemic well into the fourth quarter of 2020, the big elections, and the holiday season, marketers have a lot of competition for valuable online advertising space.
Revamp your digital marketing strategy to reach customers at home
To get out of the noise and get the most out of your marketing budget in the current environment, you need to adapt your digital marketing strategies. Here’s how:
1. Prepare for the early rush
In the past few years, Black Friday was the beginning of holiday shopping. This year, however, Amazon’s annual Prime Day – usually in the summer – has been postponed to early October due to the pandemic. Some experts predict that this will be the starting point for vacation shopping in 2020, which is roughly an additional month and a half for vacation-related advertising and offers.
Another reason to start early? Estimated shipping delays. Some companies have already felt the coronavirus load on shipments. Combine that with additional demand, and customers will likely start shopping early to ensure their gifts arrive on time for the holidays. It will be more important than ever to start marketing your vacation early. You also want to clearly state the shipping cut-off dates on your website so customers can plan their purchases accordingly.
2. Use your email lists
When major events converge at the same time – COVID-19, the 2020 elections, and the holidays – consumers are bombarded with advertisements over the internet. Given this perfect storm, it might be easier to reach your target customers in their inboxes. And when they subscribe to your company’s emails, it means they have had a positive experience and trust your brand. They are more likely to order a known amount from you than the thousands of other retailers fighting for their attention.
3. Highlight gift items in your ads
Some items in your company’s inventory just don’t pack well, while others are convenient as gifts. Analyze your inventory and determine which products fit into a gift guide for your business.
Use the existing data for this. Which products are popular with your customers? What were your top sellers during the 2019 holiday season? You should also research consumer trends to see which emerging products will be popular this year so that you can highlight them in your marketing.
When you are armed with this knowledge, make sure you have a sufficient inventory of these products – even if these items are not typical bestsellers – and use this knowledge to plan your marketing strategy. With high quality pictures and videos and an updated ad copy, these products are sure to fly off the shelves.
4. Be flexible
While online shopping is by no means new, e-commerce is unprecedented in the era of COVID-19. Retailers – even big ones – cannot predict how consumers will behave this year. With a multitude of retailers closed during traditional vacation shopping hours, some consumers can switch to e-commerce for everything. Others may choose to play the waiting game in hopes that the physical stores will reopen before the holiday season gets going.
Since it is impossible to know exactly what consumers will do, your best marketing practices may not work. If you haven’t already, prepare some emergency marketing plans in case you need to switch quickly and try a new strategy to reach your customers.
Ecommerce has become an important part of doing business, but it’s absolutely critical this year. With a true trifecta of competition due to the pandemic, elections and the holiday season, marketers need to rethink their digital marketing strategies to ensure they can reach customers and increase sales.
Owen Loft is the co-founder of Socium Media, a performance-driven digital marketing agency specializing in paid search, paid social networks and SEO. He can be found on LinkedIn.