We are mid-way through September. That means that the 2020 Shopping Season is almost here. And it is time to start checking to make sure that your business is ready for the moment. I am sharing the following tips to get your business online for the 2020 Shopping Season to help you position yourself strategically and maximize what this year’s special season offers.
According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF), 20-30 percent of annual sales for small businesses are generated during the end of year holiday shopping season, which takes place during the last two months of the year.
This year, the 2020 Shopping Season comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with the resulting social distancing requirements. As you can imagine, the shopping season will not be the same. Unemployment rates in the United States and in most other countries reached unprecedented levels this year.
As a result, people have less disposable income. As a result, this year’s Shopping Season is going to be a moving target for brands. Over 70% of adults surveyed said that their holiday traditions will change this year and they plan on spending less on gifts. So, the focus of the shoppers will be on price primarily. Shoppers will also be more scrutinizing and conducting lots of research before making a buying decision.
Another change that you can expect this year is a significant increase in mobile app shopping. According to a new report from App Annie, mobile app shopping will be experiencing its biggest shopping season ever. Shoppers are expected to spend over 1 Billion hours on Android devices alone during the fourth (4th) Quarter of 2020. This represents about a 50% increase from the same period last year in 2019. Originally, this increase was expected to occur four to six years from now. But the pandemic has shifted that to this year.
Increasingly more and more people are relying on online shopping. The question is, when they are looking for what you offer, will they find you? How are you preparing your business digital presence to create a visible footprint for your audience and also ensure your customer journey and provide them with the best user experience in an unusually highly competitite shopping season of 2020?
In addition to the likely disruptions already caused by COVID-19, this year’s presidential elections have added additional uncertainties to this year’s annual holidays shopping. Most people are therefore planning to order their gifts earlier. In fact many have already started doing so.
History has shown that each year the shopping season starts earlier than in the previous year. And this year might be particularly more so. The key to success for your business is for you to understand the anticipated shoppers’ behaviors.
Based on what we have been observing, I have put together a list of best practices and tips to help get your business ready for the 2020 holiday shopping season. Our goal is to help you maximize the opportunities available throughout the season on specific shopping dates.
These tips cover everything from marketing strategies and tactics, user generated content (UGC), design, user experience, quality, traffic, conversion, etc. My goal is to help you attract more traffic to your website and turn them into buyers.
Here’s what you need to do to prepare and get your business ready for this year’s holiday shopping season:
Obviously, the first step is to have a solid digital presence built around your website. This is the time to check your website and get either a website refresh or simply get a new professional website designed.
Prepare your 2020 Business Holiday Marketing Plan. I will share more on what to do below.
Prepare your 2020 Holidays Marketing Campaigns.
Schedule your 2020 Digital Marketing Campaigns.
Establish The 2020 Shopping Season Calendar
Christmas and Thanksgiving Day are the generally expected big shopping days. But they are not the only days. You need to identify the other days that come between September and January 2021 that are also special and offer great shopping opportunities. Here are some of the dates that you must consider for the 2020 Shopping Season:
Historically, the fourth quarter of the year has always been the target for holiday shopping. But as competition is increasingly tightening, businesses must prepare all year-long. But it is not too late. The corona virus pandemic has impacted and continues to cause changes to the holiday shopping this year. For example, Amazon has delayed its “Prime Day” – Annual Sales Event – from July to October because of the COVID-19 crisis. Amazon has advised sellers to plan for the week of October 5th, 2020 as a placeholder for the marquee Prime Day promotions and coupons
August And September 2020
Shoppers are already intensifying their research of brands and sellers. This is the time for you to prepare your business to capture the attention of your target audience and position your business for the shopping wave starting in October.
So, launch your UGC (User-Generated Content) collection campaigns to present fresh reviews and other UGC.
Buyers’ research activities are at their peak in October. Starting from Columbus Day (Monday, October 12th, 2020), shoppers will begin considering products and brands in anticipation of the heavy 2020 shopping season of November and December.
Shoppers are increasingly examining customers comments, reviews and other UGC for the products and brands they are interested in.
During the days leading to both Thanksgiving Day (Thursday – November 26th, 2020) and Black Friday Day (Friday – November 27th, 2020), shoppers are reported to research and read customers’ reviews and other UGC of the brands and products they are interested in.
Cyber Monday this year will fall on Monday – November 30th, 2020. American workers are known to be returning to work and doing their shopping on their computers or online, thus the name Cyber Monday.
The first two weeks of December are full of shopping activities.
By the mid-December, as Christmas approaches, shoppers are wrapping up their activities. While there is generally a drop in online shopping at Christmas, there is generally an increase in mobile shopping on Christmas Day.
The day after Christmas – December 26th, 2020 is known as Boxing Day in Europe. It is a very busy day both in Europe and in the US.
Key Dates For The 2020 Shopping Season Calendar
Create Your 2020 Shopping Season Digital Marketing Strategy
Here are a few Best Practices to help you determine the dates that matter to your target audience during the 2020 Shopping Season. This is to be a year-long process. But it is not too late. You can use existing data plus research to gain proper intelligence in your customers’ behaviors.
Collect And Analyze Your eCommerce Data
Get to know your customers and target audience. This should be a year-long process. Analyze your data. The more you know and understand your audience, the better you will understand how they engage with these events. These insights will be the foundation for your Digital Marketing Strategy.
Analyze Your Website Traffic Data
Consolidate your knowledge from lessons learned from past holiday shopping data for your business and your industry. Then combine with current research to prepare a workable Digital Marketing Strategy for the 2020 Shopping Season.
Consolidate Your Knowledge
Gather all your eCommerce and traffic data on your website. Analyze traffic spike trends. Examine different pages and products or services on your website for traffic patterns. Analyze the indicators such as time-on page and traffic patterns for product pages. You then can adjust your Digital Marketing Strategy and plan.
2020 Holiday Shopping Season Marketing Preparation
To succeed in your digital marketing campaigns, you must leverage a variety of digital marketing tools channels that your target audience use. This will ensure your marketing campaigns success.
Here are some of the big things that you need to keep in mind for your strategy:
Create Great Holiday Shopping Marketing Offers
Study your competition and target audience. Then create a compelling offer that your target audience cannot resist.
Leverage Relevant Marketing Channels
From your knowledge of your target audience, position yourself in the right channels where your audience is waiting for you.
Because shoppers are very busy in this season. You need to reach both your existing customers and potential customers. This will require you to optimize your online presence – your website, social media channels, email listings, etc.
You must now optimize for organic as well as paid traffic to maximize on your opportunities during the 2020 Shopping Season.
Get Organized & Create A Workable Plan
Get your messages ready for each channels. Organize your marketing assets and plan your marketing campaigns around your Digital Marketing Calendar for the 2020 Shopping Season.
You will have a unique message for each marketing channel.Your message must be refined for your audience per each marketing channel to engage with both your existing customers and potential customers.
Build Relationships & Stay Connected
Reach to and connected with real people on all your channels. Then encourage them to join your Email List. Then reach out to them with emails during the 2020 shopping season and beyond.
Fully Optimize Your Digital Presence
It is time to fully optimize your website: both on-page and off-page optimization to maximize your digital marketing effectiveness. Leverage both your organic traffic and paid traffic in order to achieve success online.
Update Your Directories & Review Site Listings
Update your listings in every directory and Review Websites that shows up when users search for your business or products / services. Ensure that all your information is accurate. This includes your Social Media Pages.
Ensure that information is consistent everywhere across the web, especially your Name, Phone and Address. Also ensure that your Brand is consistent in all listings.
Social Media Accounts
Update all your relevant Social Media profiles and pages and ensure that they properly linked to your website. Share relevant content with your social media audience and drive traffic to your website.
Set up automatic posting system to share your content across all relevant Social Media platform to reach your target audience with the right messages. Encourage and invite your Social Media audience to join your Email List so you can also reach them with your 2020 Shopping Season promotions, news, updates and tips.
On-Page SEO includes all the things done directly on the website to improve its performance, such as ensure improved rankings in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).These measures include content, internal links, image optimization, etc.
Optimize Your Content
Your content is the reason why your website exists and what you are offering to your audience. Update and optimize your content, especially your products pages.
Content is King. It is the corner stone for the rest of your marketing and sales strategy. Good content is what makes your website useful. It attracts and keeps your visitors on your website and compels them to take the desired actions, such as purchase or subscribe to your Email List.
Ensure that all your offers, contact information and holiday hours are up-to-date on your website and consistent with all your listings across your Digital Presence around the web.
Execute Your 2020 Shopping Season Strategy
Successful execution of your 2020 Shopping Season Marketing Strategy requires proper planning. Have clearly defined tactics and actions and train your team accordingly. The shopping season is a very busy season and things can easily get out of hand without a workable plan with clear milestones and goals. You must also have a measurement strategy and reporting mechanism that enables you collect relevant data for analysis.
Here are a few steps that you need to take to get your business ready for the season:
Gather User-Generated Content
In this digital era, and especially during the pandemic, more and more shoppers will turn to the Internet to find and buy their gifts. Product reviews and other forms of User-Generated Content (UGC) are increasingly fueling the customer journey.
Shoppers are increasingly relying on product / service recommendations by real people to inform their buying decisions. As the pandemic and the resulting social distancing requirements force buyers to turn to online shopping, customer reviews and other types of UGC must become an integral part of your marketing strategy to ensure success in the 2020 shopping season.
According to many researches, over 60% of buyers consider customers’ ratings and reviews, together with customer-submitted questions and answers, and customer submitted photos as important elements of their customer experience. And product pages with at least one review have been determined to experience over 300% increase in conversion rate and revenue lift per customer.
That’s why generating and displaying user-generated content (UGC) on your website must be a key part of your e-Commerce Digital Marketing Strategy during the 2020 Shopping Season. The biggest challenge generally facing buyers online during the holidays shopping season is deciding between brands and product options.Watch the Google Webmasters video from May 19th, 2020 to hear what John Mueller has to say about how how Google search engine approaches user generated content on websites, how to block this content from being indexed (if needed), and how to flag links within user-generated content (UGC).
UGC Best Practices During The 2020 Shopping Season
The goal of your UGC Strategy is to have enough User-Generated Content on your website. Visual UGC such as photos and videos of your customers wearing or using your products can be most effective in achieving your UGC goals. As videos are becoming increasingly more effective in online marketing, you should also gather and display videos of your customers giving a live review of your products and / or services. Visual UGC help bring your products and / or services to life on your website.
You should also include Social Media posts showing your customers visual testimonies. Over 60% of shoppers are more likely to buy when your product or service page contains such visual User-Generated Content (UGC).
Request Customers’ Ratings & Reviews
Send emails to your existing customers and asked them to provide ratings and reviews of your products and services. Encourage them to provide visual UGC. Connect with them on Social Media as well.
Always include A Call To Reviews
Include online and off-line Calls To Action for Reviews with all your communications with your customers, including after every Technical Support interactions. Add visible Call To Actions for Reviews with every product packaging and other mailings.
Request Customers’ Ratings & Reviews After Every Purchase
After every purchase, send an interactive email to your customers requesting them to provide a rating and review of the product and / or service, and the overall user experience.
Send Your Customers a Review Request After Every Support Interaction
After every interactions between your customers and your Support Team, immediately send an email requesting their ratings and reviews of their customer experience.
Launch A Sampling Campaign
Launch a sampling campaign for your products. Then request participants to provide host reviews and ratings for your products.
Launch A Hashtag Campaign
Ask your customers to tag their photos and / or videos with your products. Then, request their permission to curate and display their images and videos on your product pages and across your website.
Now, create your 2020 Shopping Season offer. Create and send your holiday shopping season email offers. Use your email to announce your holiday season plans to your Email List Subscribers. Share your important dates and opportunities with your subscribers.
Actively engage your audience on Social Media platforms and encourage them to visit your website and also subscribe to your Email List.
Amplify your holiday season marketing with paid ads. Share special discounts and promotions to add value to your Email List Subscribers. Use segmentation to make your marketing messages more relevant to your audience.
Increase your paid ad effectiveness with keywords, geo-location and also demographic targeting to better monetize your ads.
I hope that these tips have been helpful. I will publish additional articles to discuss further in details various topics to help you be more effective in your marketing during this 2020 Shopping Season. Therefore, I encourage you to join the conversation in the comments section below with your ideas, suggestions, questions and comments.
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