As the autumn approaches, the peak selling season is coming closer and closer. That is a time of the year when most of the retailers make their bread and butter for the rest of the year, as the sales during the peak season can’t even remotely be compared to the rest of the year. Simply put, this is the opportunity no retailer has the luxury to miss out on.
This is why preparing an effective and functional sales strategy is of paramount importance as this part of the year comes closer. The things in digital marketing change quickly, and simply repeating what you did last year might not, and most probably will not be enough.
What to pay attention to?
The most important part of devising the right strategy for the peak season is to identify the right channels for advertising. Basically, there are 3 major channels every retailer should consider:
• Search engines
• Social Media
• Mailing lists
For a very long time, search engines, and Google especially were the key to success. Given the fact that there was an option for text, display, video, and direct shopping ads, it was pretty much enough for every retailer to engage in these and the results would come. Nowadays, things are quite different.
Each retailer needs to identify the right channel in this segment, as the results may vary heavily from option to option. Pushing search campaigns was once quite enough, but these in the latest years don’t produce too spectacular results in most of the cases. Simply, a piece of text is not a very engaging option compared to other options available, and that often results in slim results. The reason behind this is a quick move from desktop to mobile options, and most of the shoppers simply don’t see the text ads as too convenient for purchasing. It is a multi-step process to purchase anything in this way, and that really hampers the efforts to sell anything. Modern users like to shop with as little effort as possible.
Display campaigns are producing somewhat better results, but they also require some graphic design works in order to be organised properly, and that is something that will bring initial expenses on a level that is not acceptable for most retailers.
The things with video campaigns are pretty much similar, with the addition of lower yields, and even higher expenses, so this should be an option to be considered only by the established brands with a lot of financial power behind them and with very high brand awareness amongst the general population.
Finally, Google Shopping campaigns are ideal for pushing hard during the peak season. This provides a quick and easy way to generate results, but it requires shopping feeds to be impeccable and the bidding strategies optimised to follow the value of sold goods and the competition’s bidding strategies. This could be quite a task and could cause a whole myriad of problems, but if carried out properly, it could pay off in a big way, generating sales that are enough to cover the expenses of running your operations throughout the entire following year.
Selling via social media was until a few years ago quite an exotic option, but it increasingly becomes a very important channel that generates more sales than search engines and any other option.
The only problem in this department is that the relevance of social media channels is quickly changing year on year, and things that worked like a charm the previous year might produce quite disappointing results the year after.
There are several social media platforms that will be the mainstay of any successful online marketing endeavour this year:
Facebook was the main advertising platform for a very long time, but it is losing some of its value and potential in the past year. Still, it will be again one of the key sources for generating quality traffic and significant sales during this sales season.
The key to successful advertising via Facebook this year would be to identify the bestsellers and push them in a way that will reach the customers in the best possible way.
It can be done via testing various angles and various graphic approaches, but one thing is certain – you should push the best-selling products, and make sure that the graphic elements are adjusted to the audience. It is possible to push the selection of products via slideshows that are made available on Facebook but make sure that the landing pages are in line with the advertised images. This is a powerful tool that could make wonders for your advertising campaigns.
It is also very important to push the products to the exact audience you wish to engage. This is relatively easy to achieve as you can easily narrow down the audience by several parameters including geography, language, age, gender, and interests. Not all of the filters work equally well and produce equally good results, and you need to find the right balance in order to avoid narrowing down the audience too much.
Video ads could be also quite handy, but there is a certain danger of those being ineffective, or too costly to create and run. Also, any format that you intend to use should be on point and not time-consuming. The attention span of average shopper is rather short, and you simply have to keep things simple if you wish to succeed.
Instagram was not a major advertising platform for a very long time, but it becomes increasingly important as the number of users soars up and the checkout options as well as the general approach are designed with mobile-first approach in mind.
Additionally, Instagram is heavily visual platform and it guarantees top results if you use it to a full extent. Simply said, it is the tool of the future that is here to stay. It is expected that it will generate over 10 billion in sales by 2021, and that means you as a retailer need to take it seriously!
The good thing about it is that the Instagram account can be easily connected to your Facebook account and that you can run advertising campaigns from the Facebook, using its targeting while expanding to Instagram as well. Since it requires no additional resources or effort in this form, this approach should be considered even by small and medium-sized businesses. It brings a lot without sacrificing anything.
Twitter was a rather important sales-generating channel before, but it quickly loses its appeal in retail due to the expansion of other social media networks. Most of the retailers use it as a platform for organic and viral reach, and that is the approach that should be followed.
You should think twice before dedicating any significant budget to running your ads here, and you should not make any significant move without conducting a test prior to it. Still, in most cases, this will prove to be the option that is not really the best of them all and most of the smaller retailers will simply avoid it.
Although Pinterest is a social media network that is not nearly as popular as the rest we have mentioned here, it could prove to be a real golden nugget, buried deep beneath the layers of misunderstanding when it comes to marketing.
One good thing about Pinterest is that the pins can be shoppable and that it is a network that uses visual media to their fullest extent. Also, targeting is much better than in previous cases as the entire network is based on the user’s interest. It could result in a huge ROI if it has been set up properly and if your ads are generated in the right way and your wares are competitive in quality and price.
The downside of this approach is the lack of a huge audience available on other social media networks, and the relative inexperience marketing managers show when it comes to Pinterest. Additionally, you shouldn’t forget about the competition that will be extremely aggressive during the peak season via other channels.
It leads us to the conclusion that Pinterest, although it could be quite handy, should be considered only if you have the resources and the experience to engage it. It is best to stick to the channels that have been tested and proven and leave experimentation for other time of the year.
Mailing lists are definitely a real gold during the peak season. They provide a direct and immediate way to reach potential customers, but there are 2 things to keep in mind when organising these:
• Targeting the promotions
• Staying in accordance with GDPR
Targeting via newsletter campaigns is rather easy. Once you have created a newsletter it will go to all of the users from the list. Still, you need to figure out what to push exactly, and that is an entirely different matter.
The first point of emphasis should be on special promotions and discounts. Most of the retailers have special offers and discounts for Black Friday, Christmas, Halloween and New Year. Make sure your emails are adjusted for those events and that your special promotions and discounts are easy to understand and properly highlighted. Also, the landing pages behind the links within these emails need to be refined in order to allow shoppers the fastest way to the promoted items. This part is tricky and requires a lot of attention to detail, but it will produce results that are simply amazing compared to any other means of advertising.
The only trouble with this is the fact that the GDPR is currently creating real chaos in digital marketing and that there are millions of ways to breach the EU policies and get yourself in trouble. On top of that, Google is also notorious for its flagging of email accounts they identify as spam, and that can easily happen when running the email campaigns. Of course, if this occurs, everything you do in the future will most probably land into the spam inbox of your potential customer email clients, and you will fail to reach any of them.
The only solution to this problem is to pay attention to every single detail, react immediately if the problem occurs, and hope for the best. It is simply impossible to omit this advertising channel as it is arguably the best and the most cost-effective option out there, so it is definitely worth the hassle and the trouble.
In the end, it is pretty clear that the following period will be quite dynamic and will require a lot of thought and effort from the retailers in order to maximise their sales and put their businesses on healthy foundations.
The problem is that many of them don’t have internal resources to run these campaigns in a way that will be effective enough.
The answer is rather obvious – if you can’t do it internally, you should look at the option of outsourcing these bits of marketing campaigns to professionals.
We at Studioworx have all the knowledge and the expertise to help you run your marketing campaigns during the peak season in the best way possible. Our services are available both as the full outsourcing option where we can do everything for you, and within our consultancy packages, in cases where you wish to do things internally, but need certain guidance in order to make your campaigns effective. Give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you with your marketing in any way you see fit.