Online Purchasing Behaviours To Capitalise On This Winter

Finally, December has arrived.

Each passing year the countdown to Christmas appears to be getting longer as city centres and high street shops decorate storefronts in September/October to jolt sales.

Hands reaching out from PC screens
Photo credit: Mediamodifier

There is also the small matter of Black Friday and Cyber Monday which continues to grow both in terms of the number of retailers but also in the length of sales. Cyber ‘week’ anyone?

While the majority seek to take advantage of these sales to get all their Christmas shopping wrapped up by November, there are some of us (personally, not professionally speaking of course), which equate December and that first door on the advent calendar as the start of Christmas.

Everyone loves a bargain; therefore, it is not surprising to read that multiple reports have found that for roughly 70% of shoppers, price is the most important factor in the run up to Christmas

At Christmas, more so than any other time of the year, there is a strong temptation by marketers to make sweeping statements based on micro data or personas to explain trends. However, in the modern day, it is more important than ever to have a clear Christmas marketing strategy and to understand the seasonal consumer behaviours.

Researching But Not Buying

It would be easy to assume that every user searching online in the build up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday was ready to purchase there and then.

However, aided by the recent reports that state 87% of Black Friday prices are not the cheapest of the year, there is growing data to support that many users are simply researching wished-for Christmas purchases with the intention of buying in the coming weeks.

Armed with this information, it is vital that marketers are aware of different triggers which have the potential to cause different shopper segments to engage with their offerings, regardless of whether it is months or days before Christmas.

Therefore, do not read too much into weekly return on investment and decide to reduce advertising/marketing spend. Instead realise that you are paving the way to capture the attention of the seasonal researchers. Take this opportunity to remarket to this select website traffic by creating audience lists in Google Analytics and capture their attention when they are ready to buy.

Snapping Up A Bargain

Item being scanned in shop
Photo credit: rawpixel

Everyone loves a bargain; therefore, it is not surprising to read that multiple reports have found that for roughly 70% of shoppers, price is the most important factor in the run up to Christmas.

Yet, this does not mean you have to discount everything or attempt to be the first to offer a discount. From our experience of running integrated SEO and PPC marketing campaigns, users are happy to wait it out until they feel most offers are in.

However, if you do not discount, consumers will find a competitor who does, and you will lose the customer, potentially not only for Christmas but for the foreseeable future.

Last Minute Purchasing

As alluded to above, the festive season might be starting earlier each year but there appears to be no reduction in the number of people who will still be frantically trying to fill stockings all the way up to Christmas Eve.

Our internal data from across a range of clients reveals that online search queries do not slow down, in fact many see an upturn. It is important to use this data to generate strategic insights on individual audiences and how best to target these late shoppers.

For many in this segment, shipping options become less appealing the closer you get to Christmas – nobody likes to deal with the stress of waiting for that last Christmas gift.

But can you offer next day delivery? Click and Collect? Or even gift vouchers? If so, then tell your shoppers loud and clear by making it a key call to action in ad copy. Use location and site link extensions to guide the shopper to that last-minute present.

The Extra (Forgotten) Gift

At Christmas, did your Mother ever buy one extra and very generic present just to be sure? This tactic growing up was my Mother’s failsafe method of making sure we were covered for the 11PM Christmas Eve discovery that we had forgotten our cousin.

Ironically, this consumer behaviour is now being targeted online, as brands are holding back some of their budget for the eleventh hour to ensure that they can capture these shoppers. Think about allowing Christmas campaigns to run for a couple of extra days or even run specific belated campaigns to encourage those seeking the extra or forgotten gift to purchase.

Christmas Day Shopping

Wrapped up present
Photo credit: Samuel Holt

Christmas Day. The time when shoppers put their feet up and relax in front of a fire with the family to watch that classic movie.

Not so much.

Each year we have seen a growing consumer phenomenon of people undertaking online shopping on Christmas Day. An estimated £895million was spent online in UK on Christmas Day in 2017, as well 34% more shopping searches than Black Friday and they are both expected to rise in 2018.

A combination of gift cards, Christmas money or too expensive gifts ensure that part of those December wish lists will become January shopping lists. Therefore, it is important to ensure you have a strategy in place to prevent sales from dropping-off after the last shipping date.

Keep this behaviour in mind when building remarketing lists and campaigns to target and re-engage past searchers. Just be sure to have it all set up well ahead of the big day!

All Wrapped Up

Christmas will vary from business to business, but for the vast majority, Christmas plays a vital role in the eCommerce calendar.

Understanding and capitalising on these trends will help to increase your return on investment this year but bear in mind that it could all be different in 2019. You need to continue to be vigilant to trends and changing patterns in consumer behaviour. But by staying informed and reviewing your search engine marketing strategies ahead of time, Christmas will continue to bring your brand success for years to come.

Follow my contributions to the blog to find out more about digital marketing trends or sign up to the ThoughtShift Guest List, our monthly email, to keep up-to-date on all our blogposts, guides and events.

Merry Xmas
Photo credit: Tom Rickhuss

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