We don’t know how it happened, but somehow we got through most of the year and are knocking on the door of the holiday season. Go us (and go you) for making it this far!
In an unprecedented year, holiday marketing in 2020 may seem like a shot in the dark. In some ways it is — no one can say for sure what the next couple months will be like. But using what we know about consumer trends since March, combined with holiday trends in past years, we can gather a pretty good picture of how to set your business apart in 2020. Here’s how to approach holiday marketing this year.
Online Sales are Key
Remember at the beginning of quarantine when you bought a pair of roller skates online? Well, you may not have taken them out of the box, but the way you bought them will stay the same this holiday season. Online sales have been trending upward every year, and this year will continue that trend in a major way.
And be transparent with your customers about shipping times and other logistics. If your shipping speeds are longer because of the pandemic, on top of increased holiday sales, let your customers know. You don’t want them expecting something in two days if it’s gonna take two weeks. So, be upfront with your customers; they’ll appreciate you and your brand.
Between March and June, online sales jumped $77 billion from what was expected pre-pandemic.
Customer Service Can Set Your Brand Apart
Searches for customer reviews see a spike in the fourth quarter of every year. Customers trust reviews — they want to see what other people are saying before trying your product for themselves. And what do people mention in their reviews most often? Customer service.
“Excellent service” and “Customer service” showed up more than any other two-word phrase in four and five-star reviews during the peak shopping months of 2018-2020. Maybe even more important, “Customer service” appeared in 20% of one and two-star reviews in the same period. That means customer service will make or break your company in this year’s holiday stretch. So, make sure your employees know they can’t yell at some crazy Susan, even if Susan is being difficult. One bad review from Susan could turn off other customers. (Be nice to Susan.)
One way you can wow customers is by replying to their reviews. Customers love to see that your company is compassionate and caring enough to respond to both positive and negative reviews. It will remove your corporate facade and show customers that your company is made of real people, just like them. Even if your company has a bunch of old reviews you haven’t responded to, take a day to go through the backlog and reply. Like wrapping presents: better late than never.
Acknowledge the Hardship of This Year
Got empathy? Now is the time to use it. This year has made consumers more tuned in than ever to how brands adapt to the current cultural climate. Avoid messaging that reads “business as usual.” In order to appeal to customers this year, you need to be empathetic to the hardships many have faced — and continue to face, despite the coming holiday season. The pandemic has driven consumers to want to buy from businesses that care.
So, try marketing your holiday deals with that in mind. You don’t have to make your online store a perfect candy cane palace; it can be a candy cane palace that also shows understanding. Try going for a restrained celebratory tone. Sweetened melancholy. Cautiously festive. You get the picture.
Utilize Google Shopping
As of April, Google Shopping no longer charges businesses to sell their products through its service. This is huge because it means you can get additional exposure through Google without paying a cent more. Google Shopping is incredibly convenient for your customer; they can compare a variety of products all at once, without visiting every website. Aim to make their shopping and purchasing journey as seamless as possible by having your products visible through Google Shopping.
Remember: living in this age of COVID-19 is an experience we all have shared. Show your customers that you know what they are feeling this holiday season. Show them that you care about their experiences. Every year, the holidays offer a welcomed distraction from the humdrum of daily life. This year, offering a little hope and cheer, even in the midst of struggles, will be more welcomed than ever.
You don’t have to manage holiday marketing in 2020 alone. Trust Ardent and our team of creative professionals with your strategy this year. With experience in e-commerce, seasonal marketing campaigns, and messaging strategy, our team knows what to do to ensure your brand hits all the right notes this holiday season. Contact Ardent
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