Holiday Shopping Trends

By: Grace Estle

32 million people have already begun their holiday shopping.

For small businesses looking to increase their end-of-year revenue, now is the time to develop a solid marketing strategy that aligns with this year’s holiday shopping trends.

eMarketer expects to see 3 holiday shopping trends this year:

  1. Significant lifts in eCommerce sales
  2. Increases in purchases made from mobile devices (mCommerce)
  3. Social media having a stronger influence on shoppers

Each of these holiday shopping trends present your small business with a big opportunity to boost your year-end sales.

Keep reading for marketing tactics that capitalize on these three holiday shopping trends, so you can attract holiday shoppers to your local business and ring up more sales.

TREND: Shoppers using eCommerce

TACTIC: Digital Marketing and Advertising

Experts predict that 2015 will be the strongest holiday retail season since 2011 with a 14% increase in eCommerce sales. That being said, convenience plays a big role in where shoppers choose to spend their money. Online shopping is the most convenient way that consumers can shop — they are able to bypass traffic jams and long checkout lines at brick and mortar retailers, while still getting a deal.

Small businesses of all types (with or without a brick and mortar location) can capture the attention of online shoppers and provide them with the convenience factor they are seeking by using digital marketing and advertising.

Digital marketing and advertising strategies you can use to capitalize on the eCommerce trend:

holiday shopping trendsSearch engine marketing (SEM)

When the time comes to research gift ideas and find a place to purchase, holiday shoppers turn to search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing). To capture the attention of these searchers, your business needs to show up in their results’ pages. However, getting to the top of Google organically takes time. The solution: search engine marketing.

SEM is a marketing strategy that places an ad for your small business at the top of search results. SEM is a form of pay-per-click advertising, meaning you only pay for the ad when someone clicks on it. Besides being an affordable option for small businesses looking for high visibility on search engines, SEM also lets you define who sees your ad. You can target on factors such as location, time of day and device used.

If your small business doesn’t show up as the first two organic results of Google, SEM is a great way to ensure that you are seen by eCommerce-minded holiday shoppers.

holiday shopping trends

Email marketing

Email marketing is another way your small business can reach shoppers using eCommerce platforms to make holiday purchases.

Position your small business as an expert by delivering a holiday shopping guide to their inboxes. Everyone has that one person that they struggle finding the perfect gift for (if that person is a coworker, check out our own gift guide). When it comes time to make a purchase, your small business will be top-of-mind with holiday shoppers who read your guide — making it more likely they’ll choose to buy from you.

holiday shopping trends

Reputation management

It’s a fact that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Moreover, 92% will choose a local business if it has a 4-star rating on a review site.

To capture the sales of holiday shoppers on the fence about where they are going to purchase, be sure that your business’s online reputation is top-notch.

If you’re concerned about not being able to find all of your reviews or proactively manage, there are reputation management solutions you can use to protect your image without having to scour hundreds of review sites. A strong online reputation will help build the authority of your small business with holiday shoppers, many of who might be first-time customers.

TREND: A rise in purchases made on mobile devices

TACTIC: Be mobile-friendly

71% of online buyers will use their mobile devices to make a purchase during the holiday shopping season. With 11 million more consumers using mobile devices to research and buy holiday gifts, your small business needs to be mobile-friendly if you want to increase your holiday sales.

Being mobile-friendly is actually fairly simple.

Use the strategies below to maintain a strong mobile presence for your small business across all your different marketing channels:

holiday shopping trends

Have a responsively-designed website

A responsively-designed website will display your website in the best light possible to holiday shoppers, no matter what type of device they are using (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.). In addition, using responsive web design ensures that your site is also mobile-friendly — so you aren’t penalized by Google’s search algorithm.

By displaying your website correctly, you make it easy and convenient for holiday shoppers to spend more time on it, increasing the likelihood that those visitors will turn into paying customers.

holiday shopping trends

Push notifications (text messages)

Staying in touch with customers via text messaging has become a popular way for local businesses and retailers to boost sales, by taking advantage of the widespread use of mobile phones. In the past, big-box stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond, were the only businesses using push notifications to talk to their customers because it was costly to acquire the technology.

However, thanks to technology developments that have made push notifications more affordable, small business can now take advantage of this instant communication method to stay in touch, share coupons and deals and increase sales.

Text messages create a sense of urgency on a device that holiday shoppers are increasingly making purchases on. Incorporating push notifications into your holiday marketing strategy will certainly drive more sales for your small business this holiday season.

holiday shopping trends

Social media

47% of holiday shoppers turn to platforms, like Facebook, to find gift ideas, creating the perfect opportunity for you to showcase your small business’s products and services to an audience ready to buy.

Encourage holiday shoppers to move from browsing to purchasing by sharing special promotions on your social media pages. You might also want to highlight different products and services to get holiday shoppers excited about their purchase. Product demos and how-to online videos (posted to your YouTube and Facebook accounts) will help turn potential customers into paying ones.

TREND: Social media influences shoppers

TACTIC: Communicate with shoppers on social media

Holiday shoppers rely upon social media during the holiday season.

In fact, they do a lot more than simply hunting for the perfect gift on social:

  • 45% search for coupons, discounts and sales information
  • 41% read reviews about products/companies
  • 40% browse products
  • 32% check with friends and family on gifts they want

Social media provides you with a perfect opportunity to connect and engage with shoppers. Last year, major retailers, like Amazon, Target, Macy’s and Kohl’s, harnessed the power of Twitter to capture the attention of shoppers during this busy shopping season.

While you might not have a huge marketing department and dedicated social media team like the major retailers, there are ways that your small business can use social media to stand out from the crowd and boost sales.

Social media ideas your small business can use during the holiday season:

holiday shopping trends

Run a sweepstakes

T.J. Maxx ran a successful sweepstakes campaign which encouraged shoppers to post pictures of gifts they purchased at the stores on social media. Shoppers who used the hashtag #BestGiftEver would be entered to win a $1,000 gift card from the bargain retailer.

Take a page out of T.J. Maxx’s marketing book and encourage your customers to share their experiences with your small business on social media. Bonus points for images — social media enthusiasts love to post pictures of their experiences.

By participating in a sweepstakes, both you and the customer win. The customer is entered into a sweepstakes and you win because the customer is silently endorsing your small business to all his/her followers on social media.

holiday shopping trends

Create a deal of the day

Create a stronger sense of urgency for holiday shoppers by featuring a limited-time sale on social media.

To take your standard deal of the day to the next level, use a hashtag. In addition to fostering excitement and encouraging shoppers to share your deals with their friends and family, hashtags have the added bonus of being searchable.

holiday shopping trends

Participate in community drives

If you donate goods and services to local charities during the holiday season, encourage your customers to give back, too. Not only are you spreading awareness about your small business’s charitable nature, but you’ll also be helping a good cause during this special season.

To tie your charitable efforts to a hashtag campaign, use #GivingTuesday on Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Giving Tuesday is the equivalent of Small Business Saturday for charities and nonprofits.

Holiday shopping trends are more than just passing fads; they provide insights on how your small business can attract and engage with shoppers, so you can ring up more sales. Incorporate these three holiday marketing trends into your marketing campaign and finish the year off strong.

Which holiday shopping trends will have the strongest impact on your business? Share your feedback in the comments box below.