The fourth quarter has historically been retail’s busiest season, and the 2019 holiday season is shaping up to be the biggest one yet.

Data from Rakuten Marketing’s just-released 2019 Unwrapping the Holiday Shopper report shows that 72% of shoppers will spend up to $1,000 on their holiday gifts this year, and 29% of holiday shoppers will do all of their gift buying in November and December. What’s more, eMarketer projects that shoppers are expected to spend upwards of $1 trillion this season.

With that in mind, we asked Rakuten Marketing Senior Account Managers Jessica Brown and Tucker Erickson for their thoughts on what retailers should be doing in order to set themselves up for success during this crucial period.

setting yourself up for online sales success during the 2019 hoilday season, holiday marketing strategies, digital marketing holiday tipsGive shoppers a roadmap

Holiday gift guides are popular with consumers because they take a lot of the guesswork out of gift giving, and shoppers are actively looking for assistance in finding the right gift.

Rakuten Marketing’s 2019 Unwrapping the Holiday Shopper report shows that 64% of holiday shoppers will ask their friends and family for holiday gift recommendations.

Holiday gift guides can add an extra layer of convenience to that process. Create a page on your website that pulls together top products for gifting within specific thresholds, i.e. Gifts under $25, Gifts for Mom, etc. Leverage what you know about your highest converting customers to create unique guides that appeal to people with specific interests. Work with your affiliate partners to promote these gift guides through sponsored content or text links aimed at making it easier for people to find the right gift for the right person.

Learn from the recent past

Look at your sales trends and see if there are any key dates that stand out in terms of performance (revenue or traffic) and try to uncover what sparked that surge to replicate this year. Analyze past holiday search and display campaigns to determine which messaging resonated most with your audience and if you can reuse elements of those campaigns in 2019. Run a historical data analysis to see which demographics have driven the biggest surge in your business during peak times this year and work with publishers in your affiliate network to develop offers that will get those consumers to convert.

Keep an eye on the competition

data driven marketing, digital marketing strategies for the holidaysAnalyze what your competitors have been doing this year in terms of search and display campaigns during other holiday periods such as Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day and other retail holidays to make sure your pricing and marketing messaging is competitive. You can also look at what your competitors did last year if you have record of that information to determine where your competitors won and why. Monitor your competitive cash back rates and try to meet or exceed them.

Think locally, not just globally

Online gets all the headlines in retail these days, but most retail sales still take place in physical stores and shoppers prefer going to stores to buy their holiday gifts.

According to Rakuten Marketing’s recent consumer survey, 61% of holiday shoppers age 25-65 would rather buy their holiday gifts in store than online.

Promote popular holiday products that customers are searching for using local inventory ads. Encourage shoppers to reserve online and pick up in store, which creates additional purchasing opportunities. Consider working with your publisher partners to run card linked offers, giving consumers the opportunity to earn cash back with they are shopping at your storefront.

Promote your shipping offers

free shipping holiday promotions, consumer shopping holiday behaviorShipping dates and costs can mean the difference between winning and losing a sale, especially as the holidays get closer and people start running out of time to buy gifts.

Data from Comscore shows that the number of e-commerce transactions with free shipping during the holiday season ranged from 79% during the first week of November 2018 to 86% during the week of Christmas.

To help yourself stand out, stack free shipping offers with your deals as you are able so you can compete with department stores and Amazon. Consider offering expedited shipping for free as we get closer to the holidays in order to appeal to last minute gift givers. Make sure your publisher partners know when your last day to ship is as they will often post about it and consider including that information in your text links.

Jessica Brown and Tucker Erickson are Senior Account Managers at Rakuten Marketing.

Want to know more about how you can set yourself up for holiday success? Speak with a Rakuten Marketing expert today.