From decorative department store windows to Starbucks’ festive red cups, the holiday season is officially underway, prompting consumers to seek new, nifty gift ideas for friends and family. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday shoppers plan to spend an average of $805 during the 2015 season – a 3.7% lift compared to 2014. So, how can you win your share?
As the number of channels where consumers go to discover products and engage with brands grows, so too will the competition. To reach and inspire consumers during the holidays, digital innovation will be key, and unsurprisingly, analysts predict that mobile will be huge.
While emerging channels of engagement and tools for transacting pose new challenges for marketers, forward-thinking brands have an opportunity to leverage fresh ideas and technologies to drive success and sales – whether creating interactive Instagram experiences or planting shoppable images throughout look books and blogs. In the spirit of giving, here are some of the brightest, most unique holiday campaigns.
1. ‘Tis the Season for Travel Tips
Travel brands like Kayak aren’t just hawking hot getaways. To provide value for consumers throughout the holidays, their latest campaign—Travel Hacker—aims to assist travelers with all aspects of vacationing. Categories like “Top 10 Holiday Escapes,” “Travel Tips for Christmas,” and “New Year’s Eve Trending Destinations,” provide inside information on where to travel, how to nab the best fares, and what to do once there. Kayak’s content lives across channels too, so while a shopper might find an inspiring photo on Instagram, they can continue exploring relevant content on Kayak.com.
2. Opt for Spirit Over Spending
Retailers like Nordstrom and REI are bucking the system, appealing to shoppers by making a point to disassociate the holidays with spending.
Nordstrom, for example, placed signs throughout their stores reading: “At Nordstrom, we won’t be decking our halls until Friday, November 27. Why? Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time. From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving. We will be closed Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, our doors will open to welcome the new season.”
While perhaps counterintuitive, amidst endless holiday campaigns, sales, and promotions, Nordstrom manages to stand out by embracing the quiet repose of the holiday season. So far, the brand has received praise from shoppers on social media for breaking away from the holiday madness.
A brand that shares similar values is REI. Rather than targeting shoppers just as the tryptophan sets in, REI launched their #OptOutside campaign, encouraging customers (and their employees!) to spend Black Friday outdoors – not in stores. By doing so, REI has been able to communicate their values boldly and in an on-brand capacity. As with Nordstrom, REI’s customers have responded positively; one million fans “opted out.”
3. All in One Place
If there’s one thing consumers appreciate during the busy holiday season, it’s convenience. Brands that make shoppers’ lives a little easier will be sure to win big.
One way to do this is by creating a dedicated digital microsite for the holidays. Saks Fifth Avenue does this well. For the 2015 holidays, Saks is conveniently housing all of their campaigns within a single, central hub. A few of the features that make it shine:
- An inside look at the creation of their iconic holiday windows
- A holiday hashtag to encourage sharing
- Branded Saks emojis (they’re a must for any social savvy fashionista!)
- One-stop shopping that makes it easy for consumers to search for products by category, price point, department and popularity (i.e. ‘top gifts’)
To drive discovery, Saks leverages Curalate Like2Buy, which allows the brand to drive shoppers from any image or video on Instagram to any landing page on their microsite. Talk about convenience!
4. Create a Conversation
Whether you’re a retailer, a publisher, or a CPG brand, a great way to take advantage of heavy holiday traffic is to create seasonal content that sparks conversation.
Real Simple is an example of a publisher that does this well. Reader-centric articles such as ‘How Do You De-Stress During the Holidays’ balance tips and ideas with authentic fan feedback. Readers weighed in on what keeps them sane during the season, and answers ranged from how to manage large family gift expectations to the benefits of sending party invites through evite.com. If you’re a publisher, this is a great way to incorporate user-generated ideas into the body of your content.
5. Deck the Blog with Shoppable Images
While brands are using timely imagery and promotions to generate holiday traffic, there’s another way to drive engagement with products – your blog. It’s a powerful awareness (not to mention SEO) tool, and provides a platform for a variety of content styles, from look books to product roundups to inspiration from around the social web. While promotional to an extent, blog content is first and foremost helpful; consumers that identify with the content are more likely to consider certain products or ideas when planning their own holiday events.
Brands can take this a step further by posting shoppable images of their products using Curalate Reveal. With Reveal, readers can easily identify the products they want in the blog pictures they love. One more tap takes them to the corresponding product detail page, where they can get additional product details, images, and reviews.
Take this example from Crate and Barrel; the home and design retailer partnered with Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest to create a post featuring the blogger’s delectable recipes for holiday appetizers and cocktails alongside their own tableware and Christmas ornaments. By leveraging Reveal throughout the blog post, Crate and Barrel ensures that every image is shoppable, allowing users to get their party planning fill by simply pointing to products in blog pictures.
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Brands can take advantage of the holiday season from late fall until a few weeks after the ball drops on New Years, but the influx of holiday-themed content will require marketers to think outside the box. By understanding what your customers value and which channels they are most likely to consume content on, you too can connect with holiday shoppers on a creative, personal level.