The holiday shopping season is around the corner, and marketers are left frantically identifying how to approach it given the insurmountable events that took place in 2020.
For years, thousands of people would line up for hours at a time on Thanksgiving Day, in the hopes of scoring their most desired items at great prices — and continue their shopping sprees through the winter.
However, due to the pandemic, some retailers are actually opting out of a physical Thanksgiving shopping experience all together, while others hope to successfully pull off a hybrid model: in-store, curbside-pickup, and online experience.
There are a number of critical variables retailers must consider in the forthcoming months, notably consumer safety, trends in online shopping, engaging customers, and how to ensure data sets are actually useful for this year’s marketing efforts.
While it sounds simple — and is talked about at nauseum in the digital media space — every data provider and retailer needs to make sure their datasets are updated.
Interestingly, a recent global survey from Statista found that 70 percent of respondents use their smartphones or mobile devices more as a direct result of the pandemic. It’s clear to see that the knowledge marketers had about their audiences a year ago might be drastically different compared to now.
Once datasets are updated, marketers can cross reference their new data with historic data for a well calculated approach.
Specifically, we’ve found that both historical and current data around dwell time, average distance traveled, and brand affinities provide an excellent look into which consumers live in regions where shops opened up, and which consumers are personally comfortable with physically venturing to a store.
This is important to know, as it lets marketers better tailor their messaging to a respective consumer.
When it comes to dwell time, these insights help marketers distinguish between consumers who simply pass by a retail location (e.g. curbside/in-store pickup), and those who intentionally spend time shopping at a specific retailer. As for average distance traveled, this ensures marketers know the ideal geo-fence for campaigns (both on mobile & digital out-of-home).
By understanding how far consumers are willing to travel to a location, marketers can better allocate resources targeting only the consumers likely to travel to a brand’s location. The combination of dwell time and average distance traveled lays the foundation for educated and optimized targeting this unique holiday season.
Regarding brand affinities, this lets marketers see the other retailers a given brand’s audience is likely to visit.
For example, one retailer can identify their competitor’s audience, and target them with specific offers to drive conversions. These insights are very helpful to gain additional prospective customers, or potentially show relevant shoppers an ad about why one store is better or more unique.
Marketers should look at all insights from the last holiday season, in addition to changes that occurred across their target audiences since the pandemic began. That will help marketers recognize shifts in behavior, and better understand who should receive remote or on-site holiday shopping messages.
When it comes to identifying the right messaging for this holiday season, we find themes positioned around increased convenience, safer shopping experiences, and special discounts perform best.
For example, a national retailer with a storefront in a city that isn’t allowing in-store sales can notify their customers that they’re working hard to offer curb-side pickup or same day delivery.
Alternatively, for cities that do have in-store sales, that same retailer can let consumers know about their in-store availability, how they’re ensuring everything is clean and germ free, and any special offers they have.
In regards to engaging consumers not near physically-open stores, or for those not comfortable traveling to a store, retail marketers should position messages around the online conveniences they’re offering — and incorporate innovative creative ad units that drive ecommerce.
For example, marketers can implement a campaign utilizing augmented and mixed reality ad units. This brings a great benefit to consumers, like the ability to virtually see what furniture looks like in their home, or digitally ‘try on’ different shades of lipstick. From there, the consumer can be driven to the purchase page seamlessly.
The combination of consumers’ varying comfortability with shopping, and retailers’ ability to host people in-store, makes for a unique holiday shopping season. However, hope isn’t lost on making this year a success.
Retailers need to utilize current and historical insights to guide their strategies this year. Marketers that ensure their target audiences are refined and their messaging and creative is relevant for each market will experience better campaign results, and that let’s consumers know their holiday traditions can continue even in a COVID World.
Ken Harlan is the Founder and CEO of MobileFuse, one of the largest U.S. in-app and digital out of home advertising platforms. He has more than twenty-five years of experience in the ad-tech scene. Founded in 2010, MobileFuse leverages a number of data feeds to understand not only who someone is, but also what is going on in the world around them. By combining environmental data with personalized creative, MobileFuse reaches a receptive audience for a brand’s marketing content at scale.
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