The 2021 holiday shopping season is expected to be the biggest yet. eMarketer predicts that the total US holiday retail sales for 2021 will rise 2.7% to $1.09 trillion, with e-commerce accounting for a record 18.9% of all holiday retail sales. This holiday season will bring a significant return to all things holiday in 2021. Here are five ways to make sure your brand has a successful holiday season.
The process of ensuring that the holiday shopping season is a boom time for a brand starts long before the traditional holiday season. Research indicates that over 40% of US consumers begin their holiday shopping before November, and a solid 20% start before October even begins. This means brands are no longer reliant on a 72-hour shopping frenzy. Take advantage of early holiday revenue opportunities by starting early, building anticipation, and marketing consistently and progressively.
Data is going to be your driving force. With recent and looming changes to cookies and consumer data collection, brands must collect and understand key metrics at every stage of the customer journey.
SMS marketing may be an effective strategy given m-commerce's increasing popularity. Yotpo reports that SMS has a higher and more immediate open rate than email — upwards of 95%. Brands should start growing their SMS subscriber list by offering early access to BFCM sales.
Adapt your creative ad messaging for each phase of holiday shopping. November and early December remain the only times in the year where you could see a higher average click-through rate (CTR) for ad creatives that reference “holidays” compared to other promotions. As always, ads that include promotions of any kind remain the top performers when it comes to engagement.
To attract new shoppers and build brand awareness, take advantage of early season lower CPMs (cost per impression). As the holiday season progresses, shift your focus down the funnel and retarget existing shoppers. To capture these consumers, mix short-term sales with emotional brand-building messaging to ensure your brand continues to grow well past the holidays.
Focus on Retention
One of the biggest mistakes brands make during the holiday season is not focusing on retention. It’s a great time to reactivate lapsed customers. Focusing on retention will also support navigating upcoming privacy challenges. On BFCM, there’s an opportunity to acquire new customers, but you don’t want them to be one-time buyers. It is critical to have strategies in place to ensure they’ll stick around and continue to buy from your brand post-holiday.
A great way to ensure you retain customers is through a loyalty program. Consumers have become more loyal to brands since the pandemic hit, according to a Yotpo survey. By creating a loyalty program, you can turn first-time customers into loyal brand advocates, and the holidays are a great time to do it.
Embrace Value-Led Shoppers
Many consumers will be buying with intent this holiday season, especially among younger generations. Consumers will be interested in gifts made locally, sustainably, and environmentally. They’ll shop brands that celebrate diversity and inclusion and share their values.
It is crucial to emphasize diversity in holiday content this year. It is more important than ever to recognize the wide range of attitudes and practices that make up our collective human experience. Consider teaming up with cause-focused influencers and other brands that authentically describe their reasons for supporting your brand. Consumers want to feel that you understand issues they care about and their everyday needs.
Reclaim the Holiday Magic
During this season, consumers want to make up for lost time and attend gatherings they missed in 2020. Traditional practices will be celebrated again, along with the joys and challenges of in-person gatherings. Focus will be on gratitude, loss, and a change in perspective about what really matters. Consider how your brand can make this year even more memorable. Use nostalgia/holiday traditions as a theme; invite influencers to share their favorite holiday traditions and stories.
Consumers will be drawn to authentic stories. Avoid one-size-fits-all messaging. Social media can be ideal for attention-grabbing holiday visuals and engagement. Utilize Influencers to weave your brand into authentic, personalized content and recommendations based on their audience’s needs and interests in a way that feels personal, natural, and relevant. Tip: Use micro and nano influencers, as they are often perceived as more relatable than celebrities.
Leverage Gift Guides and Social Content
In the ultra-noisy holiday shopping season, gift guides are the perfect solution for the kind of curated content consumers crave. As consumers look for the perfect gift, expect to see more emotional and health-related purchases, as well as a growing interest in experiences and gifts that preserve memories.
How can your brand capture the moment or offer a personalized experience? Offer twists on standard gift-giving, create content, or work with influencers to provide creative gift exchange ideas, unique white elephant gifts, charitable gifting ideas to share across multiple channels. Use these ideas to tap into TikTok’s “TikTok made me buy it” trend by partnering with creators.
As marketers, it’s our job to meet consumers where they are. While the 2021 holiday season will stand out compared to 2020, don't be fooled - we won't return to trends from 2019. Although some consumer behaviors will change dramatically compared to last year, many of them will remain unchanged during the post-pandemic period and beyond. Use this holiday season to connect to your consumers in a year that’s been rife with uncertainty.