If your online store hasn’t pivoted to accommodate The New Normal, you’re running out of time before the mother-of-all online sales challenges: Adjusting your strategy to compete during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Die-hard brick-and-mortar purchasers are now buying online because “die-hard” isn’t just a turn of phrase in the age of COVID-19: Retail’s been on a ventilator since before the pandemic, for one thing. The big brands might be all that and extra, but their target audience doesn’t plan on a full-contact assault on fellow shoppers at their favorite mall or big-box store to get it. (And if they are, they’re probably not going to be long-term loyal customers anyway, if you get our drift).
That’s a good thing for you; if you’re the little scrappy outfit with limited distribution channels, or if you’re operating out of a single online storefront: You’re in your element. You’re agile. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.
How do you get your brand and website ready for Turkeygeddon?
Check your Buyer Persona’s pulse
If you haven’t figured out by now that your target customer’s situation might have changed just a wee bit since all hell broke loose, you’d better get on the ball. We’ve already covered the obvious: Social distancing is driving science-savvy customers to make more of their holiday purchases online. But how are your target markets faring, economically? Has the pandemic altered their values and media consumption habits? Price points and promotions that worked last year might not be as attractive for most, but at the same time, circumstances open new opportunities if you’re ready to pounce.
Incentivized surveys gather intel on your base while encouraging early bird sales. Here’s what you need to know well before you tailor your strategy:
- Has lockdown boredom prompted your audience to explore new (or haunt old) favorite social media channels? (Hopefully not 8chan, ffs).
- Are your customers more or less likely to seek financing options for major purchases?
- Does your audience seek Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals more for gift purchases, or for personal and household products?
- Should you add riot helmets and gas masks to your urban clothing line?
Based on what you already know about your buyer persona; develop questions, and test theories that will help you tailor your marketing efforts according to the effects the pandemic may have had on their habits and preferences.
Eliminate obstacles to conversion
This season, let’s all agree to skip the phrase, “the buyer’s journey”. It sounds like a casual meander through the aisles when right now, you need to grease up your customers and shove them through the sales funnel before they get distracted by all the added shiny things on their media feeds. And yes, there’s a LOT of white noise as everyone’s upping their online game to make up for shuttered retail outlets, belly-up affiliates, and this year’s hellish sales figures.
Co-opt the Operation Warp Speed slogan
Ecommerce sales were up 55% to $66.3 billion in July compared with July 2019, so you’ve got to be ready for those virtual crowds. Upgrade your servers and test your loading speeds now! You don’t want your site to crash and burn from crappy development and unexpected traffic.
Optimize mobile responsiveness and shopping carts for fast conversions.
Most customers use their phones and tablets for tire-kicking and price comparisons; moving to their laptops and desktops when they’re ready to pull the trigger. Can your shopping cart entice those mobile lookie-loos to cut to the chase and complete an order with the fewest steps possible? Your online store MUST be seamlessly responsive with phone-friendly search functions and payment options.
Offer one-stop shopping options
Shopping carts that allow purchasers to send items to multiple addresses in one transaction will give you the edge, especially if you run promotions for discounted shipping and advertise these deals all over your site and off-page campaigns. This is a huge deal now that families and friends aren’t as likely to exchange gifts at holiday get-togethers, and let’s be clear: many of us are playing catch-up for slacking on important events like Mother’s and Father’s Day, graduation, or National Right Testicle Day. (Yes, that’s a thing).
Crowd your audience’s personal space
No matter the device your audience is using, you’ve got to get your brand right up in their faces. Like, a dance party on a Florida beach close. Maskless-mouthbreathing-jerk-
Use (and possibly abuse) retargeting
If you hit up a couple of adults-only websites looking to combat the lockdown blues, and suddenly you’ve had sex toy ads pop up on every site you’ve visited since then, congratulations! You’ve been retargeted! It’s tough to ignore the constant appearance of hot-pink silicone dildos on your computer screen (just ask your kids when they hop online for their remote classwork) and that’s exactly the point. Retargeting is designed to keep a shopper’s mind in your particular gutter and appeal to their need for satisfaction.
Personalize your content and buyer’s journey
Expose your site visitors to products and content relevant to their most recent searches and on-site navigation. “you might also like” suggestions, package discounts, demo videos, and embedded user reviews give your audience the incentive and confidence to make a purchase without going elsewhere for the deals and information they want.
Don’t forget to fine-tune your mailing lists through segmentation!
Up your social media (and social proof) game
This is the time to invest in social media ads, reward loyal customers for retweets, shares, and reviews, and beef up your Instagram stories. Use social proof—confirmation by those whom your audience views as peers or influencers that your brand is bona fide—to back up claims you make in your paid ads and on-page content.
Feverishly tend to your off-page, third-party review profiles. Effective reputation management includes engaging with your audience, responding to both good and bad reviews, and letting them know you’ve got their backs.
Get started now for the Thanksgiving Weekend Blitz
Need help prepping your brand for the Black Friday/Thanksgiving Hordes/Cyber Monday mashup? Contact us to talk turkey about positioning your brand for this year’s competitive holiday buying season—and, let’s face it, the future of online sales.