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Video Ecommerce: Getting up close and personal with products

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

Creating an engaging experience for online shoppers is key to increasing conversion. Time and time again, we have seen case studies from in-the-trenches marketers who improved a user experience with engaging content, better catered to their customers’ needs, and ultimately, achieved revenue gains.

Videos are a treasure trove of opportunity for ecommerce marketers. Rather than static product images with bland descriptions, videos convey how a product looks, feels and works much better when a customer physically cannot touch a product.

At this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, MarketingSherpa hosted the official Media Center at the event. Ecommerce marketers and industry experts shared their insights into what works, and what the future of ecommerce will look like.

Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, CEO and Founder, Joyus, stopped by the Media Center to share her story along with some tips for effective video marketing.

 

Joyus is an ecommerce site where fashion, beauty and health experts find the latest and best products, which can also be purchased directly from the site. The videos are brief, showing  products in action with highlights from the experts on their unique features. Videos are also time stamped, so users can skip ahead to what they want to know about a product, whether it be sizing or color choices.

Here’s an example of one of Joyus’ product videos:

 

But Joyus doesn’t stop there.

Users can also see what other products were featured in a video, and join the community conversation via a Facebook embedded Q-and-A section.

In a way, Joyus has transcended video marketing and uses videos as content marketing. High-quality, informative videos that are easily sharable engage users incredibly more for Joyus.

All of these efforts have earned impressive results. Joyus reported that its video viewers are buying 4.9 times more than those that do not watch the product videos, according to a news release.

Sukhinder, who was named one of the “power women who are reinventing the way you shop fashion online” by Forbes, explained how Joyus effectively uses videos to sell products.

“Regardless of what you’re doing, I think you want to create a sustained relationship with your audience,  find the person who represents the brand voice and use them repeatedly,” Sukhinder said, referencing the various experts that appear on Joyus.

As for messaging, “you’ve got to keep it really tight, so when we talk about product messaging, we’re typically seeing a single video about a product. Why? Because you can focus peoples’ attention.”

Watch her interview to learn more about improving your social media efforts, and how to showcase videos via email marketing.

 

You might also like

Download the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study [Learn what's working in ecommerce from 4,436 marketers]

Ecommerce: 3 test ideas to optimize the customer shopping experience [More from the blogs]

Ecommerce Research Chart: How can companies increase conversion rates? [Video]

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Ecommerce: Why going global really means going local

July 8th, 2014 No comments

Global ecommerce is growing.

With that growth comes two insights:

One is satisfaction on my part in seeing fellow anthropologists land jobs at Microsoft and Absolut Vodka to aid in marketing research.

The other part of that growth is the realization among savvy ecommerce marketers that delivering a consistent brand experience in a multi-cultural global marketplace is not going to be easy.

I say this in light of the recent interview between MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko and Rob Garf, Vice President, Industry Strategy, Demandware, in the MarketingSherpa Media Center at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition.

Rob, who spoke at IRCE this year in Chicago, shared his thoughts on how preserving brand value and relevance across multiple cultures will be vital to delivering a consistent brand experience in new markets.

 

Brands looking to expand their reach into new cultures need to understand: It’s not about you; it’s about the locals.

“It comes down to really being entrenched in how consumers behave and how they want to interact with the brand,” Rob explained. “One key aspect is to have a local presence.”

If you want to see more interviews from ecommerce experts and in-the-trenches marketers, visit MarketingSherpa.com/IRCE.

Want to dig deeper into what’s working in ecommerce today? Download the MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study for insights gathered from 4,346 marketers on everything from what’s happening to the ecommerce landscape, to which strategies successful ecommerce companies are employing.

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Social Media: Marketing to millennials

June 11th, 2014 No comments

This week, MarketingSherpa is reporting live from the exhibit floor of the Internet Retailer Exhibition and Conference in Chicago. With a projected 10,000 attendees, IRCE is the world’s largest e-commerce marketing event, and we’re hosting its official Media Center, right in the middle of bustling McCormick Place.

We’ve interviewed IRCE speakers and attendees to get the pulse on e-commerce marketing in 2014. Interviewees have sat in  the hot seat to share what they’ve discovered on topics such as email, social, mobile and much more.

 

 

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, watch this video with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, talking with Carlos Gil, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, Save-A-Lot, on engaging with millennials on social media.

 

“Social media is not advertising; social media is relationship building,” Carlos said.

In his interview, Carlos stressed the importance of engaging with millennials on social media, rather than trying to sell them. According to Carlos, millennials behave differently online than other demographic groups, such as baby boomers, and marketers should adjust their efforts accordingly.

A great example of a brand doing social media right is Taco Bell, Carlos explained.

Watch his video to learn more, as well as insights on developing a personal brand and why picking the right social media platform for your own unique brand is so important.

Throughout IRCE, we’ll be posting the latest interviews from the Media Center, as well as live streaming straight from the set on MarketingSherpa.com/IRCE. You can also see alerts of the freshest content by following @MarketingSherpa on Twitter.

Want to dive deeper into e-commerce data? We recently conducted a nine-month editorially independent research study, made possible by a research grant from Magento, on the state of e-commerce marketing. With insights gathered from 4,346 marketers, download your complimentary MarketingSherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study to learn:

  • What is happening to the e-commerce landscape
  • What strategies successful e-commerce companies are employing
  • What marketing tactics successful e-commerce marketers are leveraging
  • And much more

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Multichannel Marketing: 3 tips to help take your e-commerce global

June 6th, 2014 No comments

Achieving e-commerce growth in a global marketplace is tough for any organization.

This is especially true when you consider the increasing complexity of global e-commerce coupled with the challenges of reaching new regional customer bases that are different than your existing customers.

These were some of the challenges facing Tom Davis, Global Head of E-commerce, Puma. In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, he revealed how Puma used an omnichannel marketing approach to successfully position the company’s e-commerce initiative worldwide.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to identify where we fit in the marketplace,” Tom explained.

In this MarketingSherpa Blog post, we’ll take a look at three tips you can use to help take your e-commerce efforts global.

 

Tip #1. Love your customer data

successful-brands-data

 

According to Tom, diving into your data to discover how your business will operate (and potentially grow) in new regional markets is paramount.

“I think it’s imperative for brands, especially retail brands that may have a wholesale part of their business, to really embrace the data,” Tom said. 

 

Tip #2. Focus on delivering a mobile-first experience to stay ahead of the pack

mobile-growth-global

 

One interesting point Tom mentioned was how different regional markets are in different stages of smartphone tech adoption, which will, in turn, impact both online user experiences as the mobile migration continues and the organization’s market penetration strategy in different regions.

In sum, there are a lot of smartphone tech adoption opportunities yet to occur in markets outside of the U.S.

Tom also explained that the gray bars are last year’s mobile penetration (percent of unique mobile visitors) for Puma’s Web properties versus the blue bars, which were just for Q1 of 2014.

“You can see that in almost every market, our mobile penetration is growing,” Tom said.

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E-commerce: 3 test ideas to optimize the customer shopping experience

April 4th, 2014 3 comments

Last weekend, I was able to see the dichotomy between gathering valuable customer information and risking customer conversion play out before my very eyes.

I had roamed into a local Sears department store on a Sunday afternoon when I came across just the type of skirt I had been coveting.

Better yet, in my favorite color – and wait, 50% off?!

My motivation to have that skirt was high. As I sailed to the checkout line in the women’s apparel section, my shopper’s high began to dissipate as I observed an alarmingly long line. Although I wasn’t in a particular hurry, I promptly determined my time might be better spent searching for a shorter line in a different department.

As I walked swiftly past the stainless steel refrigerators and lawn mowers, I reluctantly joined a slightly less daunting checkout in the men’s department. As I waited patiently, I began to realize why my fellow bargain-hunters and I were not moving along as swiftly as one might project:

And can I have your ZIP code, please? And what is your phone number? And your email address? Yes, ma’am, an email address. And would you like to use your customer rewards today? Do you have any coupons? Would you like to sign up and save 20% today? It will just take a minute; we just need your driver’s license.

I continued to hear this same barrage of questioning to each and every individual ahead of me, young and old.

Many of the elderly shoppers appeared visibly anxious after the request for an email address, resulting in further delay while the cashier clarified what it was for.

“I thought I could just nip in and out of here!” groaned the lady behind me. “I’m putting these shoes back, I don’t need them that badly and my husband is waiting in the car.”

Another shopper in front of me commented, “I hear them asking about coupons, was there one in the paper today? Maybe I should come back later.”

As I watched these shoppers abandon their quest, I wondered if the benefit to gathering all of this wonderful personal information comes at too high of a cost. How does this same experience play out online?

 

How to transfer discoveries from brick-and-mortar peers to your website

Clearly, there are some important distinctions to be drawn between brick-and-mortar shopping experiences versus shopping online from the comfort of your couch.

However, visualizing how a website would play out in a physical store may help digital marketers develop their strategy for a more optimal experience for their visitors and spark testing ideas.

 

Idea #1. Test a guest option to speed up checkout

Providing a customer with the option to check out as a guest and forgo establishing a username, password and other non-vital fields may be advantageous to accommodate a visitor seeking to make a speedy transaction.

Research from Toluna found 25.6% of online consumers would abandon a purchase if they were forced to register first.

walmart-checkout-register

 

Idea #2. Cut out email overlays on the homepage

Would we have an employee posted at the entrance to a store requesting an email address before they can come in and shop?

Many of you savvy marketers are hopefully shaking your head. Of course not. I just want to come in and browse; why do you need my email address? However, many popular companies continue to greet visitors in this manner.

levis-sign-up-email

 

Idea #3. Coupon code boxes may be a conversion killer

When the shopper ahead of me at Sears heard there were coupons available, she quickly made the decision that her perceived value of the item no longer matched its cost without first hunting down that elusive coupon.

Many websites use coupon code boxes, but what is the effect of the field on conversion?

I imagine there are many customers like me who will halt at the sign of a coupon box and leave the page to commence a separate coupon search first.

If there’s a chance to save money floating around out there, I want to find it before I buy something for full price.

This begs the question: If customers can’t find that coupon, do they return to complete their purchase?

Perhaps it would be worth testing a coupon field that is de-emphasized to help deter the visitor from leaving before they complete the checkout process.

trade-in-promotion

 

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E-commerce: Does your website appeal to hunter-gatherer instincts?

March 7th, 2014 No comments

For thousands of years prior to the advent of agriculture in 8,000 BCE, our ancestors survived as hunter-gatherers. I would say we are still, at our core, hunter-gatherers.

This idea becomes really interesting when we stop and consider some of our shopping behaviors.

Think about the last time you went shopping – where did you go?

My favorite place to shop, for example, is about 20 minutes from my house. After I park my car and walk into the store, I’ve committed maybe 30 minutes of my time to the shopping experience.

Once inside, I generally walk around the store counterclockwise. I look high and low, feeling fabrics, examining products and “hunting” for the items I want to buy. If I go without a specific need in mind, I generally end up buying the coolest, newest item that catches my eye. I also see many people wandering around just looking to buy something.

They have a perceived need; it’s just not clearly defined.

 

Hunter-gatherer instincts go beyond the bounds of brick-and-mortar

For an example, I need a new pair of jeans. As I walk over to the men’s department, I scan up and down. Retailers have a knack for placing impulse buying items where people will normally look. By the time I get to the jeans area, I may have invested 45 minutes in my quest to buy a pair of Levi 550 jeans.

When I arrive at my goal, I find out they have one pair of 550s that are the correct size, but they are perhaps too faded, or too dark or otherwise not quite right.

Now I have a decision to make and a few options: go to another store and search there, go home without any jeans, or buy the jeans that are there.

In this case, I buy the jeans and head home happy, having spent a total of about 90 minutes in total.

Now, what happens when I go hunting online?

My trip is likely going to begin with a search engine, where I enter “Levi’s 550 jeans” in the search bar and 324,000 listings are shown in to me in about 0.45 seconds – a little faster than my trip to the store.

As I scan the different listings, I see Levi’s, Amazon, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s.

So I click on Levi’s first, and it has my 550s front and center. But for some reason, before I can shop with the  company, it wants my email address first. 

 

Now don’t get me wrong here, Levi’s is taking some interesting and creative approaches to engage customers, as one of my colleagues recently shared.

But in this particular instance, the experience is not so welcoming as the perceived cost for hunting here is rather high right off the bat, so I immediately back out and search elsewhere.

 

When the hunt is overwhelming, choice becomes paralyzing

Amazon is next. Now I must admit, I am not a regular shopper on Amazon, so I’m a little overwhelmed by all of my choices. All I want is a pair of jeans.

 

One more click and I am back out again.

Although my lack of Amazon savvy is no fault of the company, I like this example because it highlights the paradox of consumer choice: While consumers want choices, having too many options can lead to indecision.

So the challenge in building a fantastic customer experience is in finding the right balance of options to make consumer choices easier whilst plentiful.

 

When you’re loaded for bear, nothing else will do

My next stop was J.C. Penney and although the hunting here is a little less overwhelming, there was one interesting thing I noticed.

 

In this shopping experience, I was offered alternatives to the Levi’s I wanted first, which made me a little confused and uncomfortable.

To play the devil’s advocate here, the research manager in me think’s it’s absolutely plausible that J.C. Penney’s could be doing some testing, you just never really know.

Ultimately, the distraction I experienced here prevented me from moving towards the ultimate “yes” and here’s why.

The psychological investment required to discern between my perceived need for Levi’s and the alternatives offered was much higher than I expected.

So I backed out and continued hunting.

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Web Optimization: How The Boston Globe used customer insight to test value proposition

February 14th, 2014 No comments

The time period just before you dive into testing can feel like peering into a beehive. While the hive is abuzz with activity, the commotion seems overwhelming and, perhaps, a little dangerous.

What should you be paying attention to? Where do you even start?

In a testing and optimization program, test plans seek to give you order, helping to communicate what you’re trying to accomplish and when you’re going to take action. For The Boston Globe, testing certainly had the potential to get messy.

At Optimization Summit 2013, the media giant unveiled that it ran more than 20 tests to help market its new digital access website, bostonglobe.com.

But The Globe had to start somewhere.

The news hub was already armed with an established print subscription base which helped direct the brand’s evolution digitally. In this excerpt of the presentation, “Boston Globe: Discovering and optimizing a value proposition,” Peter Doucette, Executive Director of Circulation, Sales & Marketing, The Boston Globe, provides us a deeper look into the development of the company’s  testing plan.

“We’re managing this total consumer business, but it’s also about understanding the unique groups, the unique segments,” Peter explained. “Building this knowledge of our customer base kind of set the stage for how we went about testing.”

 

Peter told Pamela Markey, Senior Director of Marketing, MECLABS, that the team utilized customer lifestyle stages as the “foundation” to build testing and optimization, as understanding the differences between its print and digital audiences was key.

Testing was formed around the following customer lifecycle stages and goals:

  • (Potential) prospects — attract
  • Prospects — engage
  • New customers — convert
  • High-value customers — grow
  • At-risk customers — retain
  • Former customers — win back

“We think about customers, where they are in that cycle and then that naturally bleeds into, ‘OK, so we know we have to target customers in this stage. What are we going to do? What’s the biggest opportunity? How quickly can we go to market?’” Peter asked.

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Mobile Commerce: 4 creative approaches for using Flipboard

January 28th, 2014 No comments

Creating an awesome experience that engages users across desktop, tablet and mobile devices is tough.

When you factor in additional research projecting significant growth in Internet usage among mobile users, the need for brands to build a presence in the mobile marketplace is also increasing.

In short, the mobile monster is growing and the race is on, so what do you do?

 

Creativity drives mobile engagement

Mobile apps are a powerful tool to help bridge the gap in connecting with mobile users, but the trick is taking a creative approach to using them.

Flipboard, for example, is an app that helps users turn aggregated Web content into customized magazines. Other users can subscribe to your magazine, creating a captive audience for your curated content.

In today’s MarketingSherpa Blog post, we will take a look at how some brands have incorporated Flipboard into mobile marketing to provide examples that will hopefully inspire your efforts to tame the mobile monster.

 

Cisco’s “The Futurist Feed” aggregates tech news from around the Web

 

Cisco’s “The Futurist Feed” is an aggregate of tech content from around the Web.

In my view, this is one of the easier approaches to marketing on Flipboard, as aggregating content is really a core part of the app’s functionality. Consider this approach as a gateway tactic to help get your feet wet and experiment a little while keeping brand top-of-mind.

 

Levi’s Jeans uses fashion news to create a social catalog

 

Levi’s Jeans Flipboard magazine was an early adopter of using the app for e-commerce. Its magazine launched in late 2012 as part of a larger campaign. I like this approach as it has helped pave the way for integrating cart functionality into a social content experience.

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E-commerce: 10 case studies to help you excel in content marketing, social media and website optimization

November 26th, 2013 No comments

Shopping from your seat is a beautiful thing.

Customers relish the convenience and ease of online shopping, but those on the other side of the screen know the process isn’t so effortless. E-commerce can present itself as a multidimensional demon, frightening marketers with shopper abandonment and confusing consumer behavior.

However, there are plenty of marketers who have slain the beast on their way to success. Our MarketingSherpa reporters know this because they have penned many of these marketing heroes’ tales of triumph.

Let’s take a look back at the lessons we learned from these 10 e-commerce case studies.

 

Case Study #1. E-commerce: Edible Arrangements’ countdown ad lifts same-day orders 8%

Lesson: Don’t assume your company’s existing features or services are on the customers’ radar.

The basis for a stellar marketing campaign doesn’t have to revolve around a new service, product or feature. Your company could have a pre-existing item that could use some additional awareness. Take Edible Arrangements’ same-day delivery service. Kaitlin Reiss, Vice President of E-commerce, Edible Arrangements, told MarketingSherpa the service was the company’s “hidden gem.”

“A lot of people don’t realize that we have same-day delivery, even though it is not something new for us, so we realize that we will need to do even more to promote it,” Reiss said.

The hub of tasty fruit bouquets utilized simple promotion through a variety of channels to increase both email open rates and its same-day orders, too. Are your company’s pre-existing services being promoted to its greatest potential?

Doubtful. Despite the fact that those features may not be new to the company, it could be new to consumers.

 

Case Study #2. E-commerce: Moving beyond shopping cart abandonment nets 65% more checkout conversions

Lesson: Targeting customer abandonment is worth it.

We’ve all been there. Perusing products on the Internet when the phone rings, it’s time for dinner or the dog is barking for a walk. No matter what it is that pulls us away from the computer, distractions are inevitable.

As an e-commerce marketer, understanding and reeling your consumers back in is crucial for garnering conversions. Many e-commerce companies have found success recovering customers through abandonment emails.

The case study above examines how Envelopes.com targeted category, cart and checkout abandonment with emails sent less than a week after the customer left the site. The campaign lifted the company to net 65% more checkout conversions.

Examine why your e-commerce site isn’t earning those sales. Is it internal, or could it just be the busy lives of your consumers? Sometimes, all it takes is a little reminder.

 

 

Case Study #3. Email Marketing: How an e-commerce site eschews discounts in favor of eco-friendly content

Case Study #4. E-commerce: How Wine Enthusiast increased organic traffic 154% with content marketing

Lesson: Content can help you connect with consumers while building trust, too.

As an e-commerce marketer, you’re not face-to-face with your consumers — your computer screen is. Establishing trust and connecting with them is a feat of its own. In these two case studies, e-commerce companies utilized content to increase traffic and awareness of their brands to stand out in a crowded Internet space.

PoopBags.com – yes, you read that right – built an email marketing strategy on eco-friendly content. As a biodegradable bag for pups’ – er – business, the brand developed email content emphasizing environmental causes, charities and pet-related issues.

“It makes it easy to bond with people … knowing that we write about things that are so important, and we care passionately about, makes [writing email content] pretty easy to do,” Paul Cannella, Owner, Poopbags.com, told MarketingSherpa of the company’s content strategy.

Retailer Wine Enthusiast also put content into play to earn trust with consumers. The company’s website features wine reviews, articles and videos to help build an audience. The content helped yield a 50% increase in monthly email opt-ins.

“We put time into creating helpful content that helps people either make a buying decision or entertain them,” said Erika Strum, Director of Internet Marketing, Wine Enthusiast Companies. “Even if they aren’t making that purchase in the moment, we feel that they will come back to us as a great source of information.”

Do you have something to offer your consumers other than a great product or service? Look to content to form valuable trust and relationships in your market.

 

Case Study #5. B2B E-commerce: Redesigned online form increases quotes 67.68%

Lesson:  Your website must align with the way people shop online.

A website is never a finished product – it’s forever evolving. After all, it has to. Think about what would happen if you kept your website the same year after year. You couldn’t do that and be successful. The Internet is constantly changing as is the way customers expect to shop online. Failure to take this into account with the structure of your website has the potential to lead to your company’s downfall.

Take our case study on Company Folders, a company that provides businesses with custom folders. Prior to its marketing efforts, the company’s website was out-of-date and had a quote form that wasn’t conducive to the ease-of-use online shoppers expected.

By redesigning the website and online form, Company Folders experienced a 67.68% increase in total quotes.

The old online form: 

 

The new online form:

 

Company Folders CEO Vladimir Gendelman explained to MarketingSherpa how crucial it was for his company’s website to keep in the consumer in mind.

“In order to tackle this, and do all this, we had to think just like a customer would,” Gendelman said. “A redesign is not just like making [the website] look pretty. It is about making it extremely easy for [website] function.”

 

Case Study #6. E-commerce: Adding trustmark boosts sales conversion 14%

Lesson: Small changes can lead to big differences.

Optimization doesn’t have to involve some huge website overhaul. Even the seemingly smallest of things can make a huge difference for your company and our case study on Modern Coin Mart certainly demonstrated that.

The self-described “Modern Coin Superstore” added a simple trustmark to its e-commerce site to ease customers’ anxieties about the purchasing process. A tiny graphic produced monumental results, boosting sales conversions to 14%.

What can you as an e-commerce marketer take from this? Don’t think you have to exhaust yourself to yield impressive results – even small changes can lead to big successes.

 

Case Study #7. Social Media Marketing: How a small e-commerce site attracted 293,000 Facebook fans

Lesson: Social media fosters marketing by the consumer.

What’s on your mind? Facebook gives its users a platform to speak their minds, share their photos and  promote your products. Yes, promote your products.

It may not be what Mark Zuckerberg initially had in mind, but Facebook can offer huge boosts to your company. It’s so simple for a customer to take a photo of your product, which provides your company with a testimonial, review and super sharable content that is free.

Does the product or service you’re selling suit the Facebook realm? In other words, is it sharable? Could it be? This can lead to impressive results. Look at our case study on Diamond Candles, a company that features rings beneath the wax of its candles. By utilizing customer-contributed photos on its Facebook page, Diamond Candles upped conversion rates and attracted more than 290,000 new Facebook fans.

For minimal effort, your e-commerce site has the potential to produce maximum results. Determine how your product can start a conversation in consumers’ social networks and then capitalize on it.

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E-commerce: 3 tactics retailers are rolling out for the holidays

November 12th, 2013 2 comments

This holiday season might be another tough one for retailers. According to The National Retail Federation, sales could rise 3.9% to $602.1 billion. Not great when compared to the 5% gain seen in 2011 and 2010.

This means that competition among retailers just got tougher. For instance, it has been reported that close to 50% of retailers will start their holiday campaign sooner than usual.

So, I decided to browse around 20 top online retailers’ sites and explore whether they had launched any holiday campaign or not. To my surprise, my small sample more or less confirmed the forecast.

Out of the 20 retailers I checked, seven had some sort of holiday campaign going on.

So, how are these seven retailers getting a head start with the holidays? Mainly by using one of these three tactics.

 

Tactic #1. Sneak peek-terest Black Friday board

 

Lowes is running an interesting and unique Black Friday campaign using Pinterest. Many items have been added to its new Black Friday Deal Reveal board, but they are disguised.

Followers are asked to guess what the items are, which in turn generates good engagement and excitement for the shopping day.

The nice aspect about this campaign is how it leverages the core value of Pinterest as a social network. People in this channel are interested in collecting pictures with a purpose: their lifestyle, seasonal or tactical. By tactical, I mean that Pinterest is slowly becoming the holiday shopping list of online consumers.

Why keep a list on paper when you can pin the items you like or want for the holidays? Even better, you can share your board with family and friends.

 

Tactic #2. Email sneak peeks

There’s nothing tactically new here, except the campaigns are rolling out just a little earlier than usual due to the lackluster sales I mentioned earlier.

But, there is something to be learned from these front-runners. 

 

In these cases, The Home Depot and Target are asking visitors to give up their email address or mobile phone number to receive updates on special offers.

 

There is no clear value of what customers will receive beyond exclusive offers. Even worse, the disclaimers clearly suggest they will be targeted to receive any type of offer year-round, not just Black Friday offers.

That is disappointing.

Starting holiday campaigns sooner than your competitors is one thing, but putting out a campaign without clear value because it’s too far ahead of the crowd is another.

By launching holiday campaigns sooner, some retailers may feel the illusion of a head start.

But how will that illusion hold up as the Black Friday creep controversy continues to push shopping further into Black Thanksgiving territory?

 

Tactic #3. Holiday gift guides

This is also not a new tactic, but there are some interesting new spins on it.

Amazon.com, Nordstrom, West Elm and Barnes & Noble are all running holiday gift guides. Visitors can search products by price, gender, interest and other filters. Only Amazon.com and Nordstrom have added some features to generate engagement with their guides.

 

Amazon.com offers a holiday-specific forum where visitors can solve any type of concern they might have. There were already 316 discussion strings when I was writing this post and the list was growing! To me, this reflects that people are indeed not just thinking about what to buy, but actively researching the best buys.

 

Nordstrom, on the other hand, is trying to go viral. The company is running a sweepstakes that requires visitors to create their wish list and share it with friends and family in order to be eligible to win a $5,000 gift card. Pretty nice incentive.

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