It’s been widely reported that retailers recovered from a slow Black Friday to come out on top this holiday season – online and in stores – both before the December holidays and between Christmas and New Years.
And while some of this success can be attributed to a bettering economy, savvy retailers that were nimble and executed multi-channel marketing strategies that included sustained deep discounts and special deals were the stand-out winners.
In fact, a mobile retail analysis my company (Steps Away) performed during the holiday shopping season revealed a nearly 65 percent increase in retailer promotions accessed by shoppers on their smartphones in December versus the pre-Thanksgiving period in November.
Retail marketers should examine the best practices that led to an upswing in consumer purchases during the 2014 holiday shopping push so they may employ these techniques to refine and improve their marketing strategies for 2015.
Play Up Time-Sensitive Offers
Retailers received a significant response to time-sensitive offers, especially those lasting less than 48 hours, our analysis showed.
Typically, offers are best received when communicated in text or via a graphical representation online or on mobile apps, as consumers feel the sense of urgency and act. Great consumer savings, combined with time-sensitive “call-to-action” messaging more than doubled shopper engagement.
Marketers can use this tactic going forward by strategically employing flash sales not only during holiday periods throughout the year like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Offer limited time deals on jewelry, flowers or chocolate around the holidays, but leverage these events to drive incremental traffic and transactions in their stores on a weekly basis.
Maximize High Mobile Engagement
This holiday shopping season saw a massive amount of mobile-based shopping engagement throughout a consumer’s path-to-purchase — both research in advance of a sale and actually completing the transaction on a device.
The immediacy and convenience of mobile has undeniably become a mainstream part of the overall shopping experience, so marketers should take a close look at how their mobile strategies align with overall marketing efforts to keep mobile consumers consistently engaged.
This includes connecting corporate headquarters’ strategies with store operations teams’ goals and ensuring that relevant offers are being served up on all fronts to drive more widespread consumer engagement—leading to increased in-store and online sales alike.
It also means offering the ability for shoppers to pay with their mobile devices via digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and others to conveniently and securely complete their transactions.
Leverage Shopper & Store Analytics
Stores that enabled data collection and analytics gathered a goldmine of consumer information during the holiday shopping season—ranging from demographics to peak shopping times and store traffic flow feedback. Applying these learnings to year-round shopping experiences can produce significant conversion opportunities.
For example, knowing which types of customers responded to which products and how well they responded to placement of items within a physical or online store can help retailers make impactful marketing changes for increased targeted sales.
They can also make more informed marketing decisions with stats such as whether they tend to attract repeat or new customers, how weather impacts shopping patterns, and whether customers responded to certain types of promotions—and from which channels.
Consider Your Audience
Retailers learned this holiday season that consumer engagement patterns vary by audience and time period. For example, StepsAway’s mobile retail analysis showed that one high-end mall was experiencing a moderate level of engagement, similar to more “average” malls with promotional offers leading up to Christmas.
However, the week following Christmas proved to be the strongest week in December for shoppers using a promotional mobile app to find sales in that same mall.
This localized trend speaks to the dynamic of certain shopping venues drawing less price-sensitive shoppers during non-holiday periods while other venues may attract consumers looking for deals during high shopping periods. Retailers that have access to detailed demographic and behavioral information at a very granular level can capitalize on this dynamic by altering their promotions accordingly to maximize sales during specific windows of time.
Ultimately, the 2014 holiday shopping season afforded retailers major opportunities to engage with shoppers consistently and across multiple digital and mobile platforms for sustained brick and mortar as well as online sales. Those brands that continue to deepen their consumer engagement strategies and apply critical lessons learned will be well positioned to launch Q1 2015 sales into a positive trajectory for the remainder of the year.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.