The dust is still set­tling after a pressure-filled hol­i­day sea­son for the retail indus­try. It always takes about a month or two for me (and my wal­let!) to recover and reflect on take­aways that we can apply to our plan­ning for the New Year.

Retail­ers were cer­tainly chal­lenged by the short­est hol­i­day shop­ping sea­son since 2002, with six fewer shop­ping days between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas than the prior year. We saw mar­keters rise to the chal­lenge as they got aggres­sive with their pro­mo­tions, and com­peted fiercely for dis­tracted con­sumers’ eye­balls and a greater share of their wallets.

Although key online shop­ping days such as Black Fri­day, Cyber Mon­day, Green Mon­day, and even Thanks­giv­ing Day reached double-digit year-over-year growth, in the end, the flurry of buy­ing couldn’t over­come the nearly $1.5 bil­lion loss in online sales pre­dicted in our Adobe Dig­i­tal Index (ADI) Annual Hol­i­day Shop­ping Fore­cast. Despite this short­fall, mobile and social media chan­nels per­formed strongly. Not sur­pris­ingly, these need to be key areas for retail­ers’ con­tin­ued focus and invest­ment long before we approach hol­i­day 2014.

The ADI found that mobile shop­ping accounted for 14 per­cent of all 2013 online hol­i­day sales and peaked at 26 per­cent of online sales on Black Fri­day alone. Wow!

And clearly the social media mon­ster can no longer be ignored. Social media refer­rals to retail­ers from Face­book, Pin­ter­est, and Twit­ter all saw double-digit growth over the busy buy­ing sea­son. Equally impres­sive are stats from the recently released ADI Social Intel­li­gence Report, show­ing that Q4 rev­enue per visit (RPV) on retail sites from Face­book, Twit­ter, Pin­ter­est, and Tum­blr were up 72, 131, 244, and 340 per­cent, year-over-year, respectively.

It’s not too late to fur­ther refine your 2014 mobile and social media mar­ket­ing plans to take full advan­tage of the momen­tum we saw in Novem­ber and Decem­ber. Here are six strate­gies to get you started.

Make Your Brand Ultraportable

Con­sumers demand and expect a seam­less expe­ri­ence across all of your dig­i­tal prop­er­ties, so be sure to opti­mize your web­site for smart­phone and tablet oper­at­ing sys­tems. Tablets were influ­en­tial over the hol­i­day sea­son. On Cyber Mon­day alone, $290 mil­lion of online sales came from tablets com­pared to $129 mil­lion from smart­phones. But, opti­miz­ing for tablets isn’t the same as opti­miz­ing for smart­phones, and for each group of devices, you’ll have mul­ti­ple audi­ence seg­ments with dif­fer­ent needs. In a recent blog post, Loni Stark pro­vided a use­ful chart to help pri­or­i­tize mobile devel­op­ment resources by tak­ing a customer-centric approach. Once you deter­mine who is vis­it­ing your site via which devices, what infor­ma­tion they are seek­ing, what time of day they are com­ing, and how much time they spend inter­act­ing with your prop­er­ties, you can invest in the appro­pri­ate mobile pres­ence to suit these var­i­ous stakeholders.

Bet­ter Late Than Never

Didn’t have a mobile app over the last hol­i­day sea­son? No prob­lem. Now’s the per­fect time to start devel­op­ing and refin­ing one so that come hol­i­day 2014, it will be ready to take advan­tage of the bar­rage of buy­ing. And when you do, try Phone­Gap, a free, open source mobile app devel­op­ment plat­form that sim­pli­fies app cre­ation by let­ting you develop for iOS, Android, Win­dows, and other device oper­at­ing sys­tems with a sin­gle codebase.

Once your app is avail­able for down­load, make sure you’ve planned how to drive con­sumers to it when they visit from a mobile device, oth­er­wise your devel­op­ment efforts will have been in vain. Take a test­ing and opti­miza­tion approach to this process to deter­mine what types of pro­mo­tions will help drive the most downloads.

Don’t Lose Your Cap­tive Audience

Many mobile users are out­side the home when they access your web­site and are likely pressed for time with a spe­cific task or need in mind. Help them find what they are look­ing for quickly. Place a search bar in a promi­nent place on your mobile site that offers auto­sug­gest and auto­cor­rect to keep those with clumsy fin­gers from get­ting frus­trated. And although a buyer may want to see all 1,700 of your t-shirts at some point, it’s not likely to be when they’re on their smart­phones. Allow vis­i­tors to sort and refine prod­uct search results to account for the type of device they’re using and the amount of time they have. And, always help them get back to the top of the search results page quickly.

Pin­point Peak Hours

Under­stand­ing when the bulk of vis­i­tors are buy­ing can help you man­age your online pro­mo­tions as well as your mobile adver­tis­ing spend. Over the Thanks­giv­ing week­end, online sales peaked at dif­fer­ent times on dif­fer­ent days. Thanks­giv­ing Day shop­ping peaked in the evening, around 8 p.m. EST, whereas Black Fri­day shop­pers were buy­ing en masse between 11 a.m. and noon EST. Cyber Mon­day hit a peak between 8 and 9 p.m. EST, but also saw near-peak activ­ity around 11 a.m. EST. Start mon­i­tor­ing your high and low peri­ods on a weekly basis and you’ll notice trends that may help you bet­ter allo­cate your adver­tis­ing spend now and as you ramp up to the next busy period.

No Time Like the Present

Remem­ber how you were going to start run­ning some Face­book ads last year? Well, there’s no more time to waste! In fact, as was appar­ent over this past hol­i­day, not only did copi­ous amounts of highly qual­i­fied traf­fic and click throughs to retail­ers come from Face­book, but they were also com­ing from Pin­ter­est, Twit­ter, and Tum­blr in droves. Many mar­keters still haven’t started try­ing out social media paid adver­tis­ing, so it’s def­i­nitely worth­while to eval­u­ate using your ad dol­lars on these plat­forms, espe­cially as Pin­ter­est and Tum­blr get ready to offer new mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties later this year.

Sell to Shorter Atten­tion Spans

Social media mar­ket­ing can shine dur­ing busy shop­ping peri­ods when con­sumers are hard-pressed for time or money, so give them what they need, i.e., con­ve­nience and deals. Social media net­works are begin­ning to offer more geo­tar­get­ing and affinity-based tar­get­ing capa­bil­i­ties, giv­ing you a chance to speak to spe­cific groups of peo­ple with spe­cific pref­er­ences. More­over, social media’s influ­ence on the pur­chase process is stronger than ever before, with 36 per­cent of US con­sumers con­sult­ing their social media net­works before mak­ing hol­i­day pur­chas­ing deci­sions. High-quality video, clever cre­ative, and rich imagery will help you get noticed. Become a favorite of fol­low­ers and their extended social net­works, and they’ll help give your con­tent a longer shelf life and increase click throughs to your site.

As you embark on these ini­tia­tives, keep refin­ing and opti­miz­ing your cam­paigns and bring con­sumers the highly tar­geted and per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences they now expect. Append ana­lyt­ics codes to your new links, land­ing pages, mobile apps, and high-impact pages to mea­sure and under­stand how your efforts are pay­ing off.

The shop­pers are already there, buy­ing on the go from mul­ti­ple devices and rely­ing on their social net­works to rec­om­mend and help them dis­cover new items of inter­est. Make sure you’re there too.

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