Are you ready for the Holidays? Summer might seem a little preemptive, but if you are part of the e-commerce sector, you need to literally plan for Christmas in July, August and September, not November. Whether you sell high-end electronics or sexy lingerie, these figures will inspire you. A market study by research firm comScore shows that in 2012, U.S. consumers spent $42.28 billion in November and December. This represents an increase of 13.7% or $37.17 billion over 2011. The Holiday Spending Report, targeting shopping trends from November 1 to December 31, identified 12 days of online spending generating over $1 billion in a single day. This figure is also up in comparison to 2011, with 10 days. We’re talking about creating a robust content strategy now, including product pages, category pages, buyers guides, together with a comprehensive keyword research strategy.
What are the top spending days? In 2012, a record-setting Cyber Monday alone contributed a total online spending of $1.465 billion, a 17% increase from $1.251 million the previous year. Does this whet your appetite? If so, you need to know all the basics of digital marketing and how consumers make purchase decisions. It’s not a simple sale, but an entire experience, from research, to comparison, to final selection. Online Holiday sales accounted for 24.37% of total e-commerce sales in 2012. Quite a chunk. However, as technology changes, so does the shopper’s buying experience. In 2012, 14.6% of Holiday sales traffic and 11% of retail sales were driven by mobile device users. Further, your average consumer is well-versed on using technology to inform their purchase cycle. About 46% of Holiday shoppers in 2012 researched their purchases on their smartphones.
It gets better. The forecast for the 2013 online Holiday Season sales presents a fruitful environment for merchants. This year, comScore predicts another record-setting spending projection of $43.4 billion over the 2012 Holiday Season, a 17% increase. This is also the biggest growth projection since the recession struck.
Do you want a piece of this market? Then you must prepare. It’s not as simple as just a promotion on your site or even offering the lowest prices. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has completely changed e-commerce. When a potential customer researches a product with keywords, the search engine returns with the top choices based on your site’s content. If your product does not have the right description, you will not be ranked at the top of a search. In fact, you are lucky if you make it to page seven. This constitutes the reality of online transactions right now. Studies show that the top three natural search results on Google receive more than 65% of all search engine clicks.
Optimize to high heaven. If you are writing product descriptions without considering SEO, you are already losing money.
Another major area of concern for e-commerce sites deals with customized and personalized content. The richer and more specific the content is, the higher the chances of product purchase. Consumers are shifting from mass-market impersonal transactions to lifestyle-centered merchants that can offer personal service and specialize in a particular product. When creating content, the consumer’s needs and the way they research a purchase are crucial to your bottom line. Generic content no longer works. Consumers desire to deeply engage with the content on your site, not just a one-line description that leaves them in the dark about the product or service they want to purchase.
Social and mobile commerce should constitute a significant part of your digital marketing strategy. Ads do not represent the motivating factor for a purchase. Consumers have a wide range of networks to learn about products aside from the merchant’s Web site. Take advantage of social media, which does not add a penny to your budget and can bring concrete revenue increases. For instance, on Facebook, consumers interact with brands by printing online coupons, providing a “like” or commenting on the brand’s social page and visiting the brand’s site to learn about other products. That is how you get traffic. When planning your 2013 Holiday digital marketing strategy, join the conversation through as many social media outlets as you can.
A sale is not just about purchasing a product, but comprises an entire experience. With the increased availability of smartphones and other mobile devices, you must ensure that the shopper’s experience on your site accessed through a mobile device is as good as the one they would have on a PC. Companies like Apple allow merchants to create applications specifically for mobile device use. The application ensures that the content is readable, accessible, and that the duration between clicks remains minimal. If you have not already done so, e-commerce merchants must embrace mobile integration. It will only continue to become more popular among consumers. Get on this bandwagon now!
What happens once a customer clicks on your site? We are bombarded by advertisement from all possible angles. If you fail to capture your customer’s attention, forget making a sale. E-commerce sites have become aware of how to present content in a stimulating manner. More and more merchants are utilizing infographics and video to complement product descriptions. These enhance the shopping experience, simplify the product information and offer novel marketing that informs the customer in more than one medium. Not everybody is a reader. With limited time, many shoppers might be more enthusiastic about watching a quick video or looking at different images of the product enhanced for optimal viewing. Mix up your content with stimulating graphics. You need to be seen before anything even happens.
This is a lot to take in at once. However, the reality of e-commerce trends demands that you are prepared and functioning at the highest possible level, both with the front-end and back-end of your site. At eZdia, we specialize in creating high-end content for agencies and companies. We create SEO-friendly and specialized content, put all the bells and whistles on your customer’s online purchasing experience, and advise you on the untapped potential of your current site to attract more visitors and increase sales. It’s a pretty easy ROI calculation with our innovative approach. With the rosy projections for the 2013 online Holiday Season sales, you cannot afford to be behind your competitors. Taking some time to upgrade your site right now becomes essential if you want a piece of that projected 43.4 billion-dollar pie. As with Holiday shopping, if you do it at the last minute, you might have to settle for what you can get. This means your gift-giving stamp will be below awesome. You don’t want to miss out on that special something for that special someone.
For more information on a Holiday Season content checklist, contact us anytime. For more info on the data behind this story, you may visit comScore at www.comscore.com.
About Ryan Walton
Ryan is the Director of Customer Experience at eZdia. With the CEO, CTO and founder, Ryan runs the product experience at eZdia. Ryan has a passion for developing fun and delightful content creation strategies at scale.