- Retailers need to implement a strategy that supports hybrid shopping
- Why does seasonal SEO matter in marketing?
- How to prepare and optimise your website for seasonality?
- eCommerce tips to prepare for the holiday season
Months of uncertainty and instability have left consumers yearning for festive cheer, and much like last year, this holiday season will be like no other due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although fewer restrictions will mean that people can return to in-person events during the holiday period, we expect purchasing decisions to change this holiday season amid the ongoing digital transformation.
While people are eager to return to tradition and celebrate the holidays, COVID-19 has changed the way people shop, with most completing online and mobile transactions. For example, Adobe found that more than half of their online Christmas revenue last year came from smartphones.
Separate data shows a 47% increase in eCommerce sales during last year’s holiday season, and we expect the number of eCommerce sales to accelerate in 2021.
Pent-up demand has already given way to early shopping activity, challenging brands to adapt to new ways of serving customers and connecting with audiences across various digital channels.
So, what can we learn from last year’s holiday season as we plan for the 2021 rush?
If retailers and brands want to distinguish themselves and capture a greater market share, they’ll need to level up their marketing. Here are two major trends we discovered with growth potential to consider.
Retailers Need a Strategy That Supports Hybrid Shopping
Coronavirus lockdown restrictions reduced the ability to browse stores in person. As a result, online/offline solutions such as curbside pick-up, buy-online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and home delivery accelerated.
Hybrid shopping solutions have made purchasing decisions more immersive, with people looking to imitate the in-store shopping experience at home. As a result, many retailers have leveraged new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) to meet consumer expectations and create a frictionless, omnichannel digital shopping experience.
Think how-to videos, virtual reality try-on services and personalised recommendations. The challenge for retailers now is to offer a seamless, personalised experience that resonates, engages and delights consumers at every stage of the buying process.
Ongoing changes in consumer sentiment have made A/B testing even more valuable, as it offers brands a way to measure and monitor messaging to ensure it relates to their target demographics.
Social Media eCommerce is Accelerating
The progressive shift from text-based content to visual and interactive media driven by social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have created new opportunities for brands to create a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience.
Social media platforms offer consumers a quick and convenient way to purchase. For years, people have used the digital landscape to aid their gift ideas for the holiday season, but the channels they turn to are changing amid the rise in social commerce.
A survey conducted by Adweek revealed that nearly eight in 10 consumers used at least one Facebook app or service to assist their online shopping during last year’s holiday season. More people are purchasing through social apps, too, with a Grand View Research study estimating that social commerce accounted for 11% of global retail ecommerce sales in 2020.
Instead of redirecting users to a website or sales platforms, retailers will need to offer people the ability to purchase directly through the social media network they are using at that moment to encourage consumers to make a purchase.
Seasonal SEO in Marketing: Why does it matter?
Depending on what your business sells, seasonality could play a significant role in your eCommerce business. While some holidays such as Easter and Halloween may be of little relevance, the Christmas season is a challenging time for all companies as it significantly influences purchasing decisions.
To capitalise on seasonal trends, marketers need to develop a seasonal SEO strategy that will give you a competitive edge and enhance every aspect of your business amid periods when consumers are more inclined to spend money on products.
When to Prepare for Seasonality
The right time to prepare for the holiday season varies depending on the industry.
However, tools such as Google Trends will help you identify changes in the way users interact with search engines throughout the year and serve as a guide for when to implement your seasonal campaign.
Google Trends is a free tool that monitors and analyses the popularity of search queries across various regions and languages to help marketers recognise trending searches and topics.
How to Prepare for Seasonality
Making the most of seasonality is more than just offering a Christmas sale or running steep sales during the holiday season.
An effective seasonal SEO strategy involves a lot of preparation. Marketers should start by analysing data from previous years and on best selling products to help lure customers in and down the buyers funnel.
If you’re trying to target new customers, consider the following factors to ensure you tap into the relevant audience:
- Geo-location targeting – segment audiences and send relevant, personalised content to the right people.
- UTM tagging – provide tailored, personalised holiday experiences to those interacting with your email campaigns.
- FOMO-inducing strategies such as free shipping, time-sensitive deals and reward programmes.
Display your best-selling products on your homepage and as banners at the top of the site to ensure they are visible when users navigate your website.
Optimise Your Website for Mobile
The number of people visiting a website tends to increase during the holiday season, and as a result, you need to ensure your website server can handle traffic increases.
Being unable to handle floods in traffic increases the risk of a loss in revenue, so have an emergency plan for site issues and load test web pages to manage traffic rises. Optimal site performance will result in happy shoppers who are likely to revisit your website.
It’s also important to optimise your site for mobile, which is fast becoming the medium of choice for consumers. Ensure you have a responsive website design and, if possible, integrate digital wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay to provide customers with a faster checkout experience.
With the holiday season well underway, here are five effective eCommerce marketing tips that could give your business a competitive advantage during the most profitable time of the year.
#1 Research Effective Hashtags
With consumers browsing and purchasing products across multiple channels, hashtags could help people outside of your following discover your brand. For example, research shows that Instagram posts with at least one hashtag receive 13% more engagement than posts that don’t incorporate hashtags.
Take time to research effective, relevant hashtags that you could use to support graphics, posts, and stories related to the holiday period.
#2 Work With Influencers
Social media is a wonderland of marketing potential, and influencers can be a great asset to your seasonal holiday strategy.
To increase your chances of conversion, find and work with people that will help spread the word about your business. Although big influencers come at a high cost, smaller influencers tend to have more loyal followers and are often willing to work with brands in exchange for a freebie.
According to recent research, 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations to purchase gifts during the festive season, showing the potential for increased sales due to working with online personalities.
Buzzsumo is an excellent tool for sourcing niche influencers and building meaningful relationships if you don’t know where to start. The platform also displays metrics on the number of followers and retweet ratios versus the amount of content the individual publishes to help you identify whether they are, in fact, an “influencer.”
#3 Monitor and Track Competitors
To become the go-to store of choice for shoppers, you’ll need to make the shopping experience pain-free and meet consumer expectations.
Monitoring your competitors will give your business new ideas on improving profitability. Pay attention to your competitors:
- Stock information
- Sale launch dates
- Product pricing
Price is the top priority for a financially strained consumer. As a result, the online shopper is now more likely to visit multiple websites to find the most competitive prices before purchasing.
Understand what your customers expect from you and be relatively flexible with pricing to drive traffic to your store. You could also offer custom bundles with steep discounts to help entice consumers to make impulse purchases.
Observe your customers’ buying behaviour: What products did they add to their wishlist? What products were abandoned in the cart? How many times did they enter a discount code?
The coronavirus pandemic presents smaller businesses with an excellent opportunity to compete with large corporations, especially with consumer loyalty dwindling. If you want to track competitor activity, Visualping is a great new tool to use that will notify you via email and/or text message when there’s been a change on a competitor’s homepage.
#4 Optimise for Conversions
Before launching your seasonal SEO campaign, make sure you develop a clear conversion strategy. You could consider creating a holiday-specific landing page that links to:
- A special offers page
- Product bundle pages
- Gift ideas page
- Individual product pages
Ensure all of these pages are optimised for mobile and have fast page loading speeds to prevent high exit rates and promote long dwelling times. During the holiday season, the key to success also depends on providing a good user experience (UX), with a clearly navigated buyer journey, personalised CTAs and off-site engagement methods such as abandon cart emails.
Reduce manual legwork by using AI to automate some of the processes and meet the demand of holiday shoppers.
#5 Track Holiday Season Metrics
Paying attention to metrics will help your business pull off a more successful festive season while also providing information on consumer behaviour and campaign performance to help you improve your marketing strategy for the next big shopping event.
Set up events and goals early in an analytics tool such as Google Analytics to accumulate as much data as possible. Google Analytics is a comprehensive analytics tool that lets you measure and monitor a wide range of data for SEO and marketing purposes.
You can also set up funnel navigation paths, which is a series of steps you expect the user to take when purchasing a product or service from your site. The visual funnel will also show how many people committed to purchasing and how many abandoned the cart.
So, we’ve covered the importance of seasonality and how to prepare for the holiday season, but what should you do with your seasonal content and landing pages once the festive period ends?
What Happens When The Season is Over?
Ideally, you want to do nothing with your seasonal pages. Although search terms and keywords are no longer relevant, these pages would have generated some authority during the festive season and are still ranking in search engine result pages (SERPs).
If offers and discounts displayed on the homepage are no longer relevant, you must remove those.
While you might need to delete pages that you have no intention of using again, make a note of any sold-out product pages, as this could help inform your next seasonal SEO strategy.