by Marko Muellner
With a singular focus on driving sales from late November through the New Year, marketers have struggled to show significant returns from their social efforts. I predict this year will be different. It will be a breakout year because not only have the platforms and tools evolved significantly, but real best practices have truly emerged. Having said that, here are a few proven tips to help you tap into those best practices and drive success this holiday season:
1. Social is Mobile
Many of us still think of Facebook as a primarily desktop experience. This just isn’t true. 80% of daily users on Facebook are on a mobile device. Over 219 million people are mobile only users, and that number is growing by 30 million every quarter.
The lesson: Whatever you do this holiday, plan mobile first.
2. Drive Consideration Early
Social media is where consumers engage with each other and their favorite brands. Generally speaking, consumers don’t go to Facebook or Twitter to shop or complete a purchase; however, they are very open to discovering and exploring products. This is the “consideration” phase of the buying cycle and is where your social efforts should focus. Driving discovery, building loyalty and moving consumers further into the sales funnel is essential.
The lesson: If you wait until November to begin driving consideration, you’ve already lost.
3. Analyze Last Holiday’s Performance
A thorough understanding of last year’s holiday performance is an invaluable resource when developing your 2013 social/mobile marketing plan. I recommend specifically analyzing and understanding overarching sales indices, seasonal trends, peaks, and troughs across business categories. This information provides a clear focus area for the coming season: How to capitalize on the highs and develop strategies to beat the lows.
Make sure to pay specific attention to data from both the top shopping days and the month leading up to them. For example, what were your best sellers or products with the most PTAT on Black Friday and what happened earlier in the month to drive that activity? Do the same exercise for Cyber Monday and so on, analyzing what worked, what didn’t work and why. Trust me, these key insights will inform and drive this year’s success.
The lesson: History is doomed to repeat itself. Or, the best indicator of future success is past success. As long as you review, analyze and assess, you can decide which path your social holiday marketing takes this year.
4. Get to Know Your Audience – Deeper
As a top-notch marketer, you already know your key audiences. However, as I alluded to before, the number of technologies and best practices are growing. And in social we now have an amazing array of targeting tools that allow you to truly embrace The Art of Social Segmentation. With new tools in hand, you really can get to know your social audience at a whole new level.
Learn how your audience(s) interact with brand messages by analyzing post reports from social properties. See which keywords and calls-to-action drive the most engagement. Assess website analytics to see which keyword or set of keywords are driving mobile and social consumers to your website. Audit your social accounts to see if there are standout demographic indicators like age, gender, household income etc. Are they consistent across your social properties? If you have time, I recommend defining the top three most important segments to your brand and deepen your current understanding of them. Go beyond your own data; research trends, make a list of other brands they might like, or even fund an ethnography study.
The lesson: Go deep now while you have the luxury of time; the more you already know about your key audiences, the more successful you’ll be come the holidays.
5. Stalk Your Competitors
There is nothing like hitting the ground flat-footed during the holidays, and if you don’t take a look at what your competitors did for holiday in years past, you may just find yourself in that position. Make sure you not only know their past strengths and weaknesses, but how your brand can use this knowledge to business advantage this holiday season.
Set yourself up for success this year, too, by knowing early of your competitors’ campaigns. You can easily do this by setting up Google alerts for “competitor name + holiday” which will keep you up-to-date on any promotions they’re running this year and any press announcing them. Go to the competition’s Facebook Timeline and look back at holiday last year. While you’re there, Like them and see what they do this season.
The lesson: Consumers are savvier now than ever and having a firm grasp on your competitors’ campaign strategies and tactics will be essential to creating a winning social strategy this holiday season.
Most consumers have a process for their holiday shopping. They make a list of people, plan their travel or meals. They research gifts, dishes, traditions, etc. and then they shop. Leveraging all the above best practices, make sure to consider how you can play a role in all phases of the holiday shopping process. Set both long and short-term goals that you can begin laying the foundation now for the best social holiday yet.
Marko Muellner is the VP of Marketing at ShopIgniter, a social marketing platform to help retailers convert mobile and social customers.