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Holiday Marketing 2016 Trends and Tools

The appearance of pumpkin-flavored everything on every menu and every shelf in Trader Joe’s means one thing – Fall is finally here. (Sure, it’s 80 degrees here in Santa Barbara, CA, but I’m determined to to wear sweaters, scarves, and leggings because it’s November and I am ready for holiday weather.) With pumpkin spiced lattes comes the inevitable – a countdown to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, the various celebrated holidays, and other annual winter events.

We all say it every year, but doesn’t it feel like the holiday season has started earlier this year?? Halloween certainly crept up on me. I didn’t even have time to buy candy for myself, er, I mean…the neighborhood kids. At this point I won’t even be surprised if stores start stocking Easter decorations as soon as the ball drops on 2017.

Click here to download the complete guide to timing your holiday campaigns.

As a consumer, I really hate the holiday infiltration in department stores, grocery markets, and online advertisements. I can really do without the overplayed songs, the chaos of the malls (if I’m feeling brave enough for a shopping trip to the nearest mall), and the flood of holiday-themed advertising. But as a marketer who happens to be a huge organizing and scheduling freak, I love the early planning aspect. I encourage companies to plan holiday campaigns early. Because campaigns take time to plan and implement. And, truthfully, the holiday season isn’t something businesses should ignore.

Take a peek at what retailers experienced last year:

Source: http://www.windsorcircle.com/resources/infographics/2016-holiday-marketing
Source: Windsor Circle

If you haven’t already started prepping for the holidays, now is the time to start.

Black Friday is less than a month away but shoppers begin their buying well before that. In fact, consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier each year. According to Nielsen, 36% of Americans had already started their holiday shopping by the end of September in 2015. One third of the 79% of online shoppers have reported starting a few months early as well. The holiday shopping schedule shift (into an earlier and longer period) indicates the timing of your holiday campaigns also needs to change.

Want to make the 2016 holiday season your best one ever? Flashy new tools are exciting but sometimes you also need to rely on the tried and true methods (such as email marketing and offering amazing deals)! You can build off the success of trends from 2015 while recognizing that digital continues to shift consumer behaviour, thus it should impact your marketing strategies.

Take a cue from last year, with these 5 holiday trends that aren’t changing:

  1. BE VISUAL: Video and image remain vital players in holiday marketing and are considered the best ways to engage audiences and drive sales.
  2. OFFER SEASONAL DISCOUNTS: Consumers are eager for those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, discounts, and coupons. (Gift cards for the last-minute shopper are a great thing to start promoting early, too.)
  3. OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE: Last year, more people shopped online than in stores. People shopping online are looking for a simple, seamless experience so it’s important to provide one (even if the majority of your sales doesn’t come from e-commerce). Slow sites often mean fewer sales; people tend to abandon a site if it hasn’t loaded a page in three seconds.
  4. UTILIZE MOBILE!: We’re in the midst of mobile mania so make sure your mobile platform is up to speed: loading speeds need to be up to par, the mobile site needs to be user friendly etc. It’s an omnichannel world and shoppers use multiple devices now so it’s imperative that the experiences from online to mobile to in-store are seamless.
  5. INVEST IN NATIVE ADVERTISING: As we’ve mentioned before, native ads feel more natural because they mimic the format of whichever platform they appear on. There are lots of advertising tech options and native continues to be the trend in social media and content marketing this holiday season.

New ad tech is your holiday marketing elf.

Many major ad platforms have rolled out new features this year. Facebook has made some changes that make its retargeting capabilities more powerful, including expanding its video ad platform. As we know, video is an especially lucrative way to engage with customers. Google ads are only getting more powerful as well. Google Adwords has new user interface and you’ll want to be aware of where the features are as this holiday season rolls on. In addition, Google now shows four text ads at the top of organic results. More real estate dedicated to ads? Yes please.

Be sure to fully understand these innovations before embarking on your 2016 holiday marketing journey.

 

Keep in mind, the most social marketing success often comes from running evergreen content and seasonal campaigns simultaneously. There are numerous ways to capitalize on the holidays so stay on top of it and try to get a jumpstart on your competition by starting NOW.

This year is the time for simple, interactive ways for consumers purchase items. Finding the right combination of tools and trends that fit your brand, products, and audience will be the ribbon on the wrapped present. Don’t forget: the season is here to be mobile. Feel free to reach out if you need assistance in going digital!

 

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