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How to gain an edge in pre-christmas Online Retail

Giles White - Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I’ve been analysing online retail trends and wanted to share some insights and key trends... 

Let’s start with the obvious. A long-held shopping tradition sees retailers thrive in the lead-up to and aftermath of Christmas, with bricks and mortar stores experiencing massive spikes in foot traffic and sales. 

·         What about online?

·         How do consumers behave online during November, December and January?

·         What should retailers be doing to cash in on this behaviour?

Looking at the data from the past two years, there is obvious growth in visitor numbers to the category in November, December and January – with a clear spike in December.

 In December 2011, for example, there were half a billion visits to sites in the category. With an Internet population of 19 million in Australia, this equates to about 26 visits per person – almost one a day. The increase in visitation to online shopping sites during this period represents a huge opportunity for retailers.

We are predicting that 2012 will see 25 million more visitations to online shopping sites over the holiday period compared to last year.

So how do marketers best leverage these great opportunities? As search, email and social are the top three drivers to the Shopping and Classifieds category over the holiday season,

 Driver #1: Search

Search is the strongest driver to the Shopping and Classifieds category. It is a key tool in attracting people that want to buy to your website; and is valuable in giving consumers the confidence that they will be able to find what they are looking for on your site. As such, marketers should ensure that their websites are better geared for SEO, and that a carefully calculated pay-per-click plan is in place for the holiday period.

Key search tips:

• Take into account that Sundays are the peak visitation days in the two months leading up to Christmas, with a slight drop in traffic in the third week of December.

Boxing Day represents a huge peak in search traffic, with the time spent per visit increasing by almost 30 per cent on this day, as consumers seek value on big ticket items like electrical goods.

• Strong baseline activity: Don’t just plan for the peaks. You should have a strong baseline SEO/PPC strategy in place to capture the overall rise in traffic during the holiday season.

• Incorporate smartphone and tablet ‘friendly’ search methods - ensuring that your campaign incorporates mobile and/or tablet executions could lead to major sales this year.

• Make your campaigns ’Pinteresting’ - Pinterest is one of the hottest names in social media right now perhaps the hottest. And it’s looking to be particularly effective for some retailers, as it provides opportunities to entice consumers with beautiful product images. Retailers running a rich media campaign can use Pinterest to enable users to scroll through holiday products, choose their favourite items, pin those directly to their own boards, and of course follow the retailer’s Pinterest boards.

What about social?

While a recent Experian whitepaper showed that social networks are on the up and up – with Australians typically spending 14.5 hours per month on Facebook and co. – the holiday season is not the best time for marketers to capitalise on this phenomenon.

Over the holiday period, social network usage declines across the board. Along with this decline in overall usage comes a shift in how people are using social networks – the focus is on sharing photos, connecting with friends and sending holiday messages. In short, over Christmas, social networks are used for socialising.

Given that social doesn’t play as significant a role in driving traffic to the shopping and classified category in the holiday season as search and email, marketers should review their spend in this period accordingly. Overall get started now.

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and most marketers will have already done much of the hard work in developing campaigns around driving more traffic to online stores and boosting conversion rates. A lot of campaigns can take months to prepare, so if you’re not ready early, chances are that you will miss out.

So, what should you do? Contact Whiteclick and let's start planning your Christmas search engine marketing now!

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