Summer is in full swing, but at Mason Interactive our focus is already on Black Friday and the upcoming Holiday season. 2020 has been an interesting year this far, to say the least, and while things are still not “back to normal”, it is more important than ever for businesses to start planning their holiday strategies well in advance. 

We spoke with Mason’s Director of Media, Adrian Padron, about Holiday trends and why this year is shaping to be different than others. He also shared insights on how his team is preparing for the busiest sales period of the year. 

Adrian, what is 2020 looking like in the digital advertising world? 

The Coronavirus certainly flipped our lives upside down, and for advertisers this meant quick strategic shifts, or even pausing advertising all together. This year has also created new opportunities when it comes to eCommerce. Since the pandemic first hit in March, we saw significantly higher add-to-cart activities and online interactions with our clients’ brands and products. The leading eCommerce platform Shopify recorded higher traffic volumes in March compared to the traffic normally during the Holiday season. The trend has continued throughout the Summer while people are still spending more time at their homes and browsing online. 

With all the uncertainty, it is impossible to predict what the second half of 2020 will look like. If it is anything like the first half of the year, the 2020 Holiday season can become the biggest online sales event in history. Essentially, this can be a huge opportunity for online merchants. On the other hand, when digitally-native brands and brick and mortar retailers are all competing in the same marketplace, the market will become more competitive. Even more so, retailers must have a robust strategy in place in order to stand out. 

Does the increased online traffic mean we are going to see record-breaking sales volumes?

It is important to understand that increased traffic doesn’t always lead to increased sales. In fact, while we have seen the online traffic grow since the pandemic, the conversion rates have decreased. This happens when consumers are in a “browsing mindset”, and add products to the shopping cart without an intention to buy. My recommendation for retailers is to put emphasis on effective cart-abandonment programs, VIP customer nurturing and remarketing tactics in order to drive conversions.

How is the changing consumer behaviour going to impact the Holiday sales?

Without a doubt, the pandemic will affect consumers’ ability and willingness to visit physical stores, and while some retailers have chosen to offer curbside pickups, fast and easy home delivery will be the primary choice for many. 

When we think about the traditional “holiday shopping experience”, it is often associated with busy stores filled with Christmas songs, flashing lights, last-minute shoppers, and big promotions. Now that the in-store experience is less accessible, retailers must find new ways to create digital experiences that embrace the spirit of the season. 

74% of US holiday shoppers said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons

Google Survey, June 2020

What are consumers looking for this Holiday season?

Typically, consumers are more willing to explore new products and buy from new brands during the Holiday season, and businesses often take this time to introduce themselves to new audiences. Promotions are one thing driving the buying decision, but the 2020 Holiday Shopper selects brands that have values. They want to know where the product comes from, how it is being sourced, and is the brand giving back to the greater good of everyone else. 

Social responsibility is going to be really important this Holiday season, just like it has been increasingly important during the first half of the year when the pandemic hit, and when the BLM movement became more top of mind. When planning a Holiday strategy, think of how you can incorporate that level of authenticity, and add value to your customers’ lives. Avoid one-off “I care about this” campaigns just for the sake of grabbing shoppers’ attention. Instead, focus on consistency and rooting those values to your business model. Social responsibility matters, but it has to be authentic.

When should you start thinking about the Holiday strategy?

The sooner the better! At Mason Interactive we start talking about Holiday strategies in July, and schedule meetings with our clients for August to get projections on what their goals are. Consumer behaviours start shifting in September-October, so this is the time to kick-start campaigns in order to build brand awareness and sales intent. When November hits, it is important to have a calendar of planned marketing activities finalized, and shared with your marketing partners so they can build your campaigns around important sale events. Finally, November and December is the big push that determines the success of your campaigns. It is crucial that all strategic decisions are made before this peak sales period. 

Additionally, it is always a good practice to start building your audience months leading up to the season in order to keep your customer bucket full of good-quality customers who are ready to buy from you when Holiday promotions begin. Don’t get caught waiting and preparing a last-minute strategy.

You talk a lot about planning, what’s the first step to get started? 

Setting up realistic goals and expectations are the key to a successful strategy. Start by reviewing your sales and inventory reports from past years, look at the data to identify what worked and what didn’t, what products sold the most, and how well your marketing campaigns performed. Keep your past experiences in mind as you think of this year’s plan. Once you have written down clear goals, you can start talking about the strategy in more detail with your team and marketing partners.

“Setting up realistic goals and expectations are the key to a successful strategy.”

What does the Holiday season look like at Mason Interactive?

It is no secret that Q4 is the busiest period for any performance marketing agency. The Holiday process is rooted in our annual workflow, and we are fully equipped to provide the additional time and resources that are needed to grow our clients’ businesses. The Mason team always goes the extra mile, and during the Holiday season we double that mile while working on daily forecasts and last minute creative swaps, and tracking data in real time in order to maintain the highest performance. 

We are prepared for unpredicted issues, and during the peak days our team is on-call 24/7 to solve queries that require our immediate attention, such as a website going down due to high traffic volumes. It is crucial that we over-communicate with our clients during the sale days, and get their approval to stretch further if we see an opportunity to scale their campaigns. Our clients may receive a text from me: “your performance is good, do you want to do more?”

Furthermore, Q4 is all about reaching the goals together, and our team takes great pride in helping our clients achieve 4X ROAS, or grow their revenue by 100%, if not even more. 

Lastly, how do you win the Holiday Shopper?

Simply put, you win by planning. There is no one-size-fits-all Holiday strategy that would guarantee results for every business. Planning in advance, however, is crucial to everyone, no matter how big your budget is, or what your end goals are. You don’t want to make important, strategic decisions on the fly when you are in the middle of November and risk slowing down the sales. Start the conversations with your marketing partners today, plan your promotions and get ready for the 2020 Holiday success.

Need help with your Holiday strategy? Schedule a free call with our experts, we have been running holiday campaigns for all-size businesses for over 10 years and can help you build a killer strategy.

Mira Valjakka

Author Mira Valjakka

Mira is a Director of Growth & Marketing at Mason Interactive. She's a big believer in content marketing, well-executed design, and marketing technologies that improve efficiencies.

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