As we head closer to the end of the year, it’s essential as a business owner to consider consumer behavior during the holiday season.
Regardless of the year’s circumstances, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still up ahead. As a business owner, these are still a huge opportunity to shower your prospective customers with well-planned sales, deals, and gift-giving ideas in new, creative, and very virtually-focused ways.
How do you target your holiday customers effectively?
Looking ahead to the 2020 holiday season, Numerator shares insights on customer shopping and spending, showcasing that for the final holidays of the year, roughly an average of 40% of customers are expecting to spend less than the previous year.
However, the vast majority of customers surveyed on spending for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, do expect to meet or exceed last year’s spending behavior.
According to an email brief from Digital Marketer, marketing forecasters predict that holiday retail sales will actually GROW between 1% and 2.6%, even considering what the 2020 year has been like.
On top of that, engagement is happening earlier than anticipated. (More on this, but expect that customers are planning early, and businesses are delivering offers ASAP in the spooky season.)
Answering the question of how to consider holiday customer habits in your holiday promotions, involves interlacing the holiday buyer mentality to your ideal customer or buyer persona you’ve built out.
Before we get started:
Types of Holiday Ecommerce Buyers You Need to Know
Having the strong foundation with the buyer persona that you’ve created, what are some holiday buyer habits that your target customer exhibits?
Need an idea of what these habits might look like?
Here are 5 different holiday personas, along with tips in considering how to best market to each in your business strategy marketing strategy.
The 11th Hour Shopper
This is the buyer who does a break-neck dash to the mall and surfs online like a tsunami, trying to find the PERFECT gifts to give at the very last second of the holiday shopping season. It might even be the night before Christmas or Christmas Day, and they’re. still. shopping.
They appreciate speedy shipping options and oftentimes will hunt through their inbox to find last-minute deals or availability of stock – up until it’s time to exchange gifts.
They also like gift guides with ready-to-go gift ideas when it comes to finding gifts for that particular person – it serves them ideas quickly and easily.
Finally, for this customer, consider clear directions in email and gift guides about where to go for a clear call-to-action (CTA) about what to do and how to purchase that product.
The First-Time Online Shopper
On a recent webinar, media buyers at Smart Marketer shared that the percentage of all store cart sales belonging to online sales is seeing increasing numbers that were not expected until 2030.
Essentially, online cart sales have risen dramatically.
With that resulting from an already game-changing year in business operations, is it any wonder that your online carts will be seeing numerous new faces to online shopping?
Overall, this newbie online shopper will be seeking an easy cart-to-email confirmation journey. They aren’t familiar with this virtual landscape in making the majority of their purchasing decisions.
Prior to this season, they’ve been familiar with in-person fitting rooms, scent cards, fabric swatches, and chances to sample at every turn in brick-and-mortar locations.
It’ll be essential for businesses to be able to translate in-person choices and experiences to online sales pages with crisp images and videos, tantalizing descriptions, and a similar wealth of product options.
These buyers will also need straightforward declarations of shipping costs and fees, upfront discounts and deals, clear coupons, and hassle-free refunds and returns fully spelled out.
The Traditional Holiday Planner
This person is aiming to find the essentials to make the “magazine spread and Hallmark channel” holiday setup.
They want the family together, the house fully decorated, and all the traditional dinner plate fixings.
They want the holiday setup to be the same way each year. This makes this buyer’s habits important in being better bet in being a return buyer.
If you hit them with the right product that suits their needs to make a warm, familiar holiday gathering, they’ll have the potential to routinely come back every year.
That being said, this traditionalist will also have similar expectations on products and services. Repeatable quality is important to them.
You also want to target this buyer early, as they are often planning anywhere from late summer to early fall.
This means your holiday content should start going out anywhere from late August to mid-September. (Bookmark this post for next year.)
The Loyal Customer
This customer profile is very vocal about what they like and will leave raving reviews and purchase from you continually afterward.
They deserve an amazing and personalized holiday discount, and if they are buying continually, it would be smart to make suggestions about related products that might be right in their zone of interest.
A great way to stand out from the crowd is to promote related recommendations in a personable way. SMS messaging or direct mail can be prime real estate to reach out to customers. If using direct mail, I highly recommend a company to help outsource this task quickly and easily with Share Local Media.
It also benefits you to notice and promote their loyalty in any way you can. A great way to accomplish this is by including a snippet on your home page sharing their user testimonial to highlight their thoughts.
You can also entice this buyer with a members-only experience on your site or with a particular product to give them an exclusive buying experience.
The Penny Pincher
This person is seeking a deal.
After a difficult year like this one, can we blame them?
This person is seeking a deal to chase after, and will typically follow the lowest prices in the marketplace.
They want discounts and great deals that pull their attention from a mile away.
Consider creating a spicy discount, or a discount that differs from the traditional 20% discount for a first-time email opt-in. Can you spice up your discount in any way? Can you offer part of your service for free for the first X number of users?
Here are other ways to draw in the Penny Pincher:
- Showcase savings prominently in product pages and communications
- Offer a loyalty rewards program (check out Yatpo)
- Build out a cart and/or a checkout upsell with a discount
- Offer a freebie product related to the one that the user purchased
- Create a product bundle deal
- Create a first-time user survey that automatically enters them to win a free gift
If you can couple an enticing discount with competitive pricing for quality goods, you’re in a place where you can target this individual even more so.
However, don’t take it personally if they shift their attention to the next person with the best deals.
When Should You Start Your Holiday Sales and Promotions?
A good majority of shoppers will do their shopping earlier than you might expect.
For 2020, trending searches on Pinterest showed individuals searching for holiday parties, gifts and preparations, as soon as early August.
According to research in a post done by WooCommerce, around 40% of shoppers will start their purchasing journey before Halloween, while the latter majority will typically devote time in November to start their purchasing.
Early 2020 searches aside, you should generally aim to brainstorm and prepare your promotional strategy and initial offers at the very end of the summer season and early fall in late August and September.
Getting holiday content out early is especially crucial if you rely on Pinterest traffic through manual pinning methods to gain free, organic traffic.
If you’re a business owner or blogger relying on SEO practices in your content, the same advice applies to put content out a few months in advance to gain traction on Google.
By September and early October, consider pushing out blog posts, social posts, Pinterest pins and, other content that starts to tease “early bird” offers, holiday countdowns, and other light and fun content to get your audience to start thinking about gift-giving and holiday planning.
If you’re a clothing brand, consider a short post on tips for DIY “ugly Christmas sweaters”. If you’re a mom blog, craft a post to speak to planning your baby’s first Christmas and how to plan in advance as a new mom.
Early Virtual Presence is Best in Your Approach
In any niche and product case, building out your promotion strategy early on will better help fit your offers to your audience’s needs and their typical end-of-year buying habits.
If you can show your audience base that you can clearly speak their holiday preparation language, you’ll be in the best spot to showcase your products and offers and how they are a best fit.
While the holiday shopper habits of 2020 may see a slight shift toward being price conscious and deal-savvy, know that many customer habits stand the test of time, whether it’s making a mad dash to the mall last minute, or a loyal customer returning to purchase again.
As the switch to digital practices become more apparent, translating the customer buying experience from the department store fitting room and in-person sampling, to the product page on your website, will be more crucial than ever.