Now that the holiday season has passed, online marketers can sit back in the calmer aftermath and assess what went wrong and right. Did you pay attention to intelligent marketing stats before it all started? You should because the stakes are high. The estimated number of consumers shopping between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday exceeded 165 million. Alongside this, Black Friday Sales hit a record high of 7.4 billion US dollars. These numbers get even higher over the Christmas holiday week.

To understand how retailers have driven these record sales, you have to look at the data from small to midsize retailers across the United States and uncover which avenues of marketing they’re investing in the most.

The holiday season allows some avenues to distinguish themselves more than others.

1) Social media has no rival for capturing potential holiday shoppers

Email Marketing on Black Friday: A Plateful of Holiday Marketing Stats - The Social Media Monthly

In our research into business’s marketing spend across the holiday season, we’ve seen that social media commands most of the budget. Successful retailers report that social media has been the backbone of their most effective marketing campaigns.

Social media has distinguished itself as the unrivaled marketing tool for attracting new customers, promoting products, driving engagement, and bringing in sales both inside and outside of the holiday season.

This level of performance has not gone unnoticed by marketers. 2018 saw companies spend almost $27 billion across social media marketing campaigns and designated a quarter of their entire annual budget for the holiday seasons social media marketing campaigns. In particular, the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

Additional studies have demonstrated the power of social media marketing. One study by ODM Group reported that over 70% of consumers use social media to make purchasing decisions.

Dominant social media companies like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter give marketers with more modest budgets access to a much broader base of customers at affordable costs. To say nothing of increasing their traffic. Likewise, for consumers, these same companies give them access to brands and consumer advice that is tailored to their interests.

2) Email marketing is still a mainstay in top-performing holiday marketing strategies 

Email marketing’s continued performance is perhaps best demonstrated by its close pursuit of social media in results. Provided it is undertaken securely, email marketing can provide businesses with consistent ROI.

One study by the Data and Marketing Association showed that businesses can look to receive a typical return of $32 for every $1 spent on email marketing.

Likewise, a report from Emarsys showed that 80% of SMBs choose email as their main avenue of customer acquisition.

Naturally, finding a reliable email marketing tool helps to both provide you with a mainstay tool and the impressive results listed above. Two decades ago, many online businesses made due with the email capabilities included with any of the top web hosts at the time. Today’s marketing world requires more sophistication than what you can achieve with an add-on service, which is why specialized email marketing services like Mailerlite, MailChimp, and many others have sprung into existence and created an entire industry.

As over half of all subscribers spend up to an hour reading their marketing emails throughout the week, the importance of businesses getting their first email marketing campaign right is paramount. Not only is the audience interested in their products and services, but it is an audience that is actively reading the marketing driving them to buy.  Businesses only need to take the time to test what they respond to most.

3) The most effective strategy for driving holiday sales are deals, discounts, and coupons

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

It probably comes as no surprise that offering a discount is the top strategy used by retailers to stay competitive and boost sales during the holiday seasons. Followed by deals and coupons, discounts on popular products is a tried and true strategy for increasing seasonal profits.

A 2018 survey by the NRF showed that three-quarters of holiday season consumers reported that sales, discounts, and similar promotions were highly important. In fact, the vast majority of consumers said that over a third of their purchases were on discounts.

Additionally, the survey discovered that -incredibly- 85% of consumers reported that they had canceled purchases of items upon discovering it wasn’t under a sale or discount, regardless of how much they desired it.

On top of remaining competitive, providing consumers with discounted prices is a great strategy for showing appreciation to your existing customer base, while helping to boost sales in the holiday period. 

4) Free delivery and shipping is essential throughout the holidays

Free shipping is increasingly becoming less of a customer requirement than it is an expectation. Likewise, a free return policy and two days or less delivery are key differentiators. 

If free shipping -often considered the benchmark by holiday season consumers- can’t be provided, then customers can be expected to look for competitors who can.

This has been demonstrated in a number of reports. One survey by Shippo showed that over 30% of consumers only purchase from retailers that provide free shipping. Likewise, an NRF report discovered that three-quarters of buyers expect free delivery even on sub $50 orders.

Such statistics have been noticed by marketing platforms as viable strategies to boost sales. In July 2019, Etsy stated that it would prioritize the search placement of retailers who could ensure free delivery to U.S. consumers on orders exceeding $35.

In regard to free returns, consumers also demand an easy and efficient service. As reported by the NRF, 75% of consumers check a business’s return policy prior to making any purchase. Additionally, 22% of consumers canceled a purchase because they didn’t like the policy.

Putting it all together

That wraps up the most important holiday marketing stats. In order to plan the most benefit to your own business in the 2020 holiday season, it is essential to select the right blend that reflects the most effective strategies -social media and email marketing- but also one that reflects the customer’s desire for discounted prices and free delivery.

The businesses that achieve this blend see themselves increasing their sales performance in the holiday period as well as generating new customers for the quarter ahead.

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