What Search & Social Advertisers Need To Know

Is your marketing and advertising strategy for the upcoming holiday shopping season ready yet?

It might seem like holiday talk is premature, but really, we’re just a couple months away from when the spending spree begins.

Last year’s data prove it: some sellers will need to start ramping up as soon as October in order to capitalize on their industry’s holiday sales trends.

With competition as fierce as ever and new marketing touchpoints to consider — from paid placement on Google, Amazon, and Social to emerging advertising platforms like TikTok — the challenge can seem as great as the potential reward.

To help merchants hone their holiday shopping strategies and maximize the potential for success, the award-winning digital marketing agency Tinuiti surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers to anticipate holiday shopping behaviors and trends.

They shared with us some unique data that will greatly help you achieve your business goals during this upcoming holiday sales season.

We all know that the second half of Q4 can be the most lucrative time of the year for most businesses.

Customers are looking to do their Christmas shopping and grab a bargain, especially around the Black Friday to Cyber Monday weekend.

But if your strategy is not on point for the peculiar scenarios that your business will face during the last three months of the year, your advertising effort can turn out to be disastrous!

Why? For many reasons, one for all: advertising will be more expensive.

Learn How To Maximize Your Holiday Shopping Season Results

This holiday season -experts say- is likely to see record-high prices for digital advertising, so you MUST find a way to get your Facebook and Google ads to stand out from the crowd.

In this free live training, our Ads Specialist Paul Fairbrother will run through tried and true strategies that he uses every holiday season to generate millions of dollars of revenue for AdEspresso clients.

Click the Image and Reserve your Seat for our New Free Webinar

Join AdEspresso for this exclusive one-hour live training, sign up today.

And if you can’t make it or want to watch it again (and again), we’ll send a free recording to all the registered participants that you can keep forever!

Once you have the general goals of your holiday season strategies covered (and you surely will after attending our webinar), you need to laser focus your choices on reaching the holiday shoppers.

And this is when you need the data found by Tinuiti, a top digital marketing agency that helps businesses identify, engage, acquire, and retain customers across the digital ecosystem.

By understanding who’s shopping and how much they’ll spend on what, as well as when, where, and why, merchants across multiple platforms (including Search and Social) can position themselves for holiday sales success.

Are you curious now? Let’s dig into the survey results then! And if you want to download the whole study (and you do 😉 ) click here.

2019 Holiday Shopping Prediction and Behaviors Report

Click the image to download the whole study by Tinuiti

This survey was commissioned by Tintuiti and conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco.
Survata interviewed 2,003 online respondents between June 19, 2019, and July 16, 2019. Respondents were reached across the Survata publisher network, where they take a survey to unlock premium content, like articles and ebooks.
Respondents received no cash compensation for their participation. More information on Survata’s methodology can be found here.

Here’s an hand-picked selection of their findings.

  • Shoppers are spending more than ever before.

Anticipated spending has shifted up the scale, with 10% more shoppers than last year saying they’ll spend at least $500.

The percentage of shoppers who anticipate spending $250 or less has dropped by close to 8%, but still represents 43% of the total — making for a sizeable segment of bargain hunters.

  • Browsing behavior will begin early this year.

The majority of consumers anticipate starting to hunt for holiday gifts before Thanksgiving, giving merchants a potential opportunity to engage shoppers early and often.

  • Social media connects with consumers under the age of 35.

Nearly 43% of Generation Z say Social Media is “somewhat influential” for holiday shopping.

Another finding shows 6.5% of Millennials and Gen Z say social media is “very influential” — 140% higher than those over 35.

  • Holiday returns are the new normal.

We found that 40% of shoppers returned at least one gift they bought or received in 2018.

As a result, consumers scrutinize returns policies carefully, with three-quarters saying a hassle-free, clearly-stated policy is a purchase differentiator.

  • Top shopping categories include electronics, clothing, and gift cards.

The consistent top-3 gifting categories across age groups include clothing, electronics, and gift cards.

Electronics appeal to online buyers, while those who start gift shopping in stores prefer home goods.

We also discovered that gift cards should be promoted extensively across touchpoints — from social media to search ad placements — including late in the season, when e-gift cards offer salvation for last-minute shoppers.

  • Brands with a corporate responsibility matter, especially to the young.

Among those under 45 years old, 55% are willing to pay a premium for products whose proceeds benefit a good cause.

Specifically, younger women tend to support brands with a philanthropic cause.

Fully 55.9% of women under 45 are willing to pay a premium to benefit a cause, compared with just 48.2% of women over 45 — a gap of 7.7 percentage points.

  • Shoppers Expect Omnichannel Fulfillment Prowess

One of the most surprising discoveries is that brick-and-mortar stores are rising in popularity with nearly every age cohort.

Shoppers have come to expect omnichannel fulfillment prowess, with more than 40% saying they plan to use buy online, pick up in-store services.

Even as stores are gaining ground on online and omnichannel experiences as the primary source for holiday gifts, more consumers than ever are relying on the Web to inform their purchases.

Just 5.3% of survey respondents say they don’t plan to use the Web at all for holiday shopping — a drop of 74.8% compared with 2018.

With an uptick in interest in stores and the percentage of shoppers who say they’ll shop both online and in-store holding steady, retailers should showcase all their paid offerings across online touchpoints (including Search and Social Ads), with a focus on promoting convenience-boosting services such as buy online, pickup in-store, which more than 40% of consumers plan to use during the peak season.

Holiday Shopping 2019: 4 Pro Tips For Advertisers

As holiday execution kicks into overdrive, merchants still have time to fine-tune promotional strategies to make the most of the season.

Here’s what our experts recommend:

#1: Start advertising promotions early.

With Thanksgiving falling late on the calendar, it’s no surprise that a sizeable portion of consumers plans to start holiday shopping earlier in November — including 45% of those planning to spend $500 and up.

These early shoppers are more likely than average to visit individual retailer and brand manufacturer Web sites on their quest for gifts, making them ripe targets for small- to mid-sized merchants.

#2: Don’t overlook the shopping power of Millennials.

Shoppers ages 25 to 34 prefer to start researching gifts on Google versus Amazon and return a higher proportion of gifts than average.

They’re also working within tight budgets — nearly 4 shoppers in 5 forecast spending less than $500 — even as they make allowances for an occasional splurge.

But merchants who tailor marketing efforts to reach Millennials have the opportunity to forge a potentially valuable bond with a generation that is approaching its peak earning potential, as well as establishing their own households and families.

#3: Visibility is a must on Amazon and Google.

Amazon now rivals stores as a starting point for holiday shopping, and outranks all other online gift sources — making a presence on the platform all but mandatory.

To gain visibility during the peak period, merchants should formulate a coherent marketplace strategy enhanced by paid placements.

At the same time, Google remains a valuable holiday shopping tool, with traffic and revenue on its Shopping platform poised for further growth; continued investment in paid search advertising remains critical for the holiday period.

Survey data showing Google and Amazon vying neck and neck is underscored by aggregate analytics data from Tinuiti customers.

The data above show steep year-over-year gains in revenue, conversion, and average order value for Google ad formats during November and December—particularly on mobile devices, which saw a 64.4% year-over-year revenue jump in November of 2018 and a 52.8% jump from 2017 to 2018 in December.

#4: Leverage the power of Google & Social.

Shoppers rarely buy in a linear format—they bounce around to multiple channels and those frequently include social and search.
If you’re prospecting and selling products on Facebook as your main channel, and you’re not considering investing in Google, you’re going to miss out this holiday season.

On Facebook / Instagram, you’re generating a lot of interest–whether it’s a Facebook page or great content but the real benefit to Facebook is it builds up all of your other marketing channels.

Google is the low hanging fruit here and its main strength is in closing the deal via Search and Shopping.

Our suggestion is to start answering branded, low-funnel queries.

Google has the power to capture the demand that social platforms generate. Even if you don’t want to be on Google, you can bet your audience is probably there.

And if you don’t show up where they prefer to shop, they may settle on a competitor’s product.

Final Takeaways and a Chance Not-To-Be-Missed

Omnichannel prowess and a wide presence across shopping touchpoints — from social media to Google search and Amazon — are now essential to connect with holiday shoppers and meet their rising expectations.

Armed with a diversified, targeted, and responsive marketing strategy, merchants can engage shoppers with relevant products and offers and make lasting impressions.

And if you want to learn how to maximize your results in the holiday season with Facebook & Google Ads, join our expert Paul Fairbrother September 26, at 10 am (Pacific Time) for an exclusive one-hour live training!

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Tara Johnson currently represents the leading voice behind Tinuiti’s blog. She has published hundreds of articles, case studies, eBooks, & webinars, covering a variety of ecommerce-based topics including: Google, Amazon, Social Media, Search Advertising, and Influencer Marketing. Today, she lives in San Diego, California, where she enjoys paddle boarding with her golden retriever, Jack.

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