Posts

The holiday season may still feel like it is far in the distance, but most studies show consumers start their holiday shopping in November – if not earlier. That means now is the time to start preparing your holiday marketing efforts.

To help, Facebook is releasing a wave of new tools aimed at assisting businesses with their holiday marketing. 

Customizable Story Templates

Facebook is releasing a number of customizable templates for ads in Facebook Stories, Instagram, and Messenger. 

The templates are simple, visually pleasing ways to showcase products and brands throughout the shopping season, with customizable backgrounds, music, and CTAs. 

These templates will be available this week.

Improvements to Instagram Direct and Messenger

Closer to the Holiday season, Facebook says it will be bringing a number of new features to Instagram Direct to improve communication between businesses and customers.

As the company says in the announcement:

“From fulfilling orders to keeping up with customer requests, we know staying on top of customer communications is important, so we also created new messaging tools like labels, search and folders to help businesses stay organized.”

Within the coming weeks, Facebook will also be launching an ‘instant replies’ which lets businesses create custom automatic responses for when they are not immediately available. 

These “away” messages can be useful for days when your business is closed or when no one will be available to respond to messages for a prolonged period of time. 

Along with these improvements, Facebook is also introducing a new ‘saved replies’ feature which will allow you to respond to common questions with pre-written responses.

christmas-desk

A new study published by ad tech company Fluent shows the holiday season is looking to be more mobile than ever.

According to the report, nearly 40% of all US consumers are already planning to make at least one purchase this holiday season from a mobile device. Unsurprisingly, younger consumers appear to be more likely to make purchases from mobile devices compared to older individuals.

fluent-3-800x369

For the survey, the company asked almost 2,000 US consumers questions about their holiday shopping plans in late September. The responses showed 39% plan to make at least one purchase on a mobile device, with younger shoppers being increasingly likely to go mobile.

Just less than half of consumers between the ages of 18-44 say they plan to shop on mobile devices, compared to 33% of those 45-years-old or older.

fluent-1-800x363

The survey also provides insight into how consumers will be researching their purchases ahead of time, both online and offline. In total, approximately 54% will do the majority of their research online, while 47% will continue to do their research in traditional physical stores.

fluent-2-800x349

While online research is becoming a big part of the holiday season, brick-and-mortar stores will still be where shoppers are spending the majority of their money. The survey results show 78% of consumers will do at least half their shopping in stores, while 22 percent said they will do at least half their shopping online.

The survey shows a small discrepancy between genders, as well. Fluent says men are slightly more likely to research products online compared to women.

Facebook Holiday Logo 640x224

If you’re looking to boost your share of holiday customers at the last moment, Facebook and Instagram have a new feature that will be of interest to you.

The companies are rolling out a new ad-targeting segment aimed at helping brands focus in on shoppers who are engaged with content related to holiday shopping, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The ad segments, which will run from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, act like any other ad format on their advertising networks.

Facebook says it will compile this audience by watching for holiday-related keywords in posts that people publish, like, comment on, and share. From there, the audience is aggregated and anonymized, like all Facebook ad-segments.

The holiday ad segment is available now within Facebook self-service ad dashboards, in the “Behaviors” section under the “Seasonal and Events” category.

With Halloween in the rear-view mirror we have officially entered the holiday season, and Google is rolling out new features to help businesses prepare. Google My Business announced it is launching a new feature that allows businesses to set their holiday hours in advance, so shoppers will always know when you are open.

In the past, businesses had to manually update their hours manually if they changed their hours for the holiday season, and when the season is over you had to go back in and change the hours back.

Now, if you know ahead of time when you will start running your holiday hours, you can schedule your Google My Business page to automatically update your opening hours when the time comes. Google will also tell shoppers if what they are seeing are special holiday hours.

If your closing hours are flexible, there is also a new option to have a message displayed saying “hours may differ.”

The feature will stick around, so if you have regular special hours for other events or holidays you can also set those up ahead of time.

How to Schedule Special Hours on Google My Business

  • Log in to your Google My Business account and select the location the hours will apply to.
  • On the “Location details” page, scroll down until you see the “Special hours section” and click the link.
  • Select the date when the hours will begin and enter the opening and closing times for that day.
  • Click the box next to “Closed” if your business will be closed on a specific day. You can also set your hours to 12:00am-12:00pm if you are open 24 hours.
  • Click “Add another” to add more special hours for the location.

For more information on the features or setting up your special holiday hours ahead of time, check out Google’s help center article.

HolidayEmailHeader

Retailers across the country are preparing for the upcoming holiday season, but you never want to waste your efforts on marketing practices that won’t produce results.

According to a recent report from Campaigner, social integration, mobile optimization, list segmentation, and personalization are the keys to running a successful holiday email campaign this year. The report comes from a survey of 198 internet retailers conducted in August of this year.

Social integrations were the breakout star of the survey, with almost three-quarters (71%) of the respondents identifying these as the most important add-ons for your holiday email campaigns. Similarly, 70% predicted mobile sales would continue to rise this year.

Over half (57%) of the participants said they would be prioritizing email list segmentation this holiday season, with 40% planning to prioritize personalization.

The infographic below shares these insights and more from the Campaigner survey.

HolidayEmailInfographic

As September begins many retailers are kicking off holiday promotional campaigns, which means the Christmas season is coming even earlier than normal this year. According to ChannelAdvisor’s 2015 Online Retail Survey, over half (59%) of retailers in the US and UK have already begun their holiday campaigns.

It’s not uncommon for holiday promotions to begin early in the year, as consumers begin holiday researching and shopping months ahead of time, but the survey shows retailers are beginning their holiday promotions even earlier than last year. The survey also shows that retailers say their top strategy this year is to offer more holiday sales in an attempt to boost sales.

retailers-most-profitable-day-channeladvisor

As with every year, most retailers are depending on strong holiday performances, with over a quarter (74%) of retailers saying at least 20% of their annual sales come from the holiday season.

While Black Friday sales were lower than expected last year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain key sales days for the holiday season. Among US retailers, 41% reported Black Friday was the most profitable day of the year, while 47% of UK retailers said the same.

Retailers have high hopes for this year’s holiday sales performance, with 82% saying they expect sales to increase. Of those, 21% said they expect holiday sales to rise more than 15% from last year.

For the full survey, click here.

google-christmas13-1356442914

The holiday season is a busy time for local businesses, but many local companies have noticed a steady drop in customers as the internet has made home shopping increasingly more convenient. The good news is that you don’t have to keep bleeding business so long as you have a reasonable internet presence and you are willing to invest the time to optimize your online business presence.

Jade Wang from the Google Business Help team just offered a list of tips local businesses who have already established themselves online can do to improve their conversion rates and draw in more foot traffic. If you want to score a bigger piece of your market, now is the time to do it by following these simple tips:

Got special holiday hours?

Let your customers know that you’re open for business extra late and update your hours as needed. You’ll want to update hours about two days before they should go into effect. If you’re open 24 hours a day, enter 12:00am – 12:00am.

Highlight your holiday spirit

If you’ve got a holiday promotion or special information that you’re sharing on Google+, you may want to make it a pinned post. That way, you can keep that content front and center.

Expand your reach to sleepless shoppers

Our data shows that consumers will be even more restless, with one third of all shopping-related searches now happening between the hours of 10pm and 4am. Take a look at our blog post for tips on how AdWords can help you cover your bases.

Check your list (twice)

Remember to log back into Google My Business (Locations) regularly to make edits as needed and let us know that you’re actively managing. You can also check up on any updates to your business information from other users and ensure that it’s accurate and updated.

Wang shared the advice via the Google Business Help forums, which can be viewed here.