Twinkle lights, festive decorations, gifts galore…the holidays are upon us, and consumers are ready to shop.
That means advertisers and publishers should get ready, too, for the influx of traffic and sales to come. Q4 is the time to jack up your holiday advertising efforts and make sure you reach your target customers when gift-giving is top of mind. Competition among e-commerce brands is at its highest this time of year, so if your goal is to grow your revenue, you’ve got to be prepared.
That’s where e-commerce holiday season strategies, of which there are several kinds, come into play. Couple those with current information on e-commerce trends, and you can set yourself up for success when it matters most: as holiday retail sales are on the rise.
If this sounds like exactly what you need, read on. We’ve got the scoop on consumer shopping behavior, top-performing content, and more to help your brand start the holiday season strong—and finish even stronger.
2022 E-commerce Holiday Season Strategies: Best Insights We Can Get From Last Year
Let’s face it: Q4 2022 wasn’t without its challenges. Heightened inflation and elevated interest rates impacted how consumers shopped and how much they spent. At the same time, online retail sales topped $1 trillion for the first time in 2022, and the National Retail Federation reported that a record 196.7 million consumers shopped online and in stores between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (a time when more than half of American shoppers purchase a gift).
In previous years, the hot products ranged from pizza ovens and fire pits to fashion, but according to Skimlinks—which collects data from thousands of publishers to reveal which products top wish lists and generate revenue—fridges, coffee makers, and crock pots were also in high demand.
Skimlinks also reported that comfort items—think lifestyle subscription services for things like candles and gift baskets, along with electronic coffee cup warmers and mattresses—have been popular gifts in the past. Historically, streaming service subscriptions and beauty boxes have been go-to items for consumers too.
When it comes to e-commerce marketing strategies that can boost holiday sales of these kinds of items, native advertising should top the list. Not only can adding Taboola native ads to your marketing mix lift brand awareness, but it can also help you reach new potential customers, entice them to connect with your brand, and guide them down the path to purchase.
Leveraging e-commerce creative insights related to your specific industry are more likely to appeal to your specific target audience, and creating ads based on those insights is an effective technique for increasing holiday sales. Focus on creative trends and product types, which can lead to better click-through rates (CTRs).
Something else to note is that you should always prepare your holiday campaigns a few months in advance (think September or October of that same year). A lot of shoppers are now in the habit of getting a jump on gift buying (more on that below). On top of that, it takes time to develop the right strategy for your brand, and you don’t want to lag while your competitors power ahead.
Remember, you want an e-commerce holiday season strategy that speaks to the shoppers who are most likely to make a purchase, while also building affinity with your brand. This is a great way to generate repeat sales year after year, and benefit from that all-important positive word of mouth.
2022 Q4 Content Themes: Holly, Jolly Guides
Content will always be king of the internet. Why? People are hungry for information, especially if it entices them and answers their most pressing questions.
That said, not all content is created equal. The type of content you choose to produce could mean the difference between driving engagement, clicks, and sales, or falling flat and negatively impacting your Q4 goals. For these reasons, leveraging the data and insights collected last year to help you create a winning content strategy is a smart move.
Take a look at the following e-commerce holiday trends for vital insights into how consumers shop, and tips that can help you drive more online sales come November.
Top Performing Black Friday Content
Black Friday content trends include everything from gift guides to deal round-ups, and they can help your e-commerce business garner attention at a time when consumers are actively shopping. The more relevant and engaging your content is, the better equipped you’ll be to generate a purchase. In 2022, Black Friday represented $9.12 billion in online sales, so the opportunity for a large number of e-commerce sales during this time frame is huge, and not something you want to miss out on.
Black Friday is the day before Thanksgiving, but you should be launching your promotions and campaigns 4 to 6 weeks beforehand. That’s because this is a very competitive time for brands, leading to higher paid advertising prices. Since cost-per-click (CPC) is higher closer to the holiday, it’s more cost-effective to take advantage of lower CPCs and CPMs in the weeks leading up to this shopping event so you can increase your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Whether you’re a publisher or an advertiser, creating a mix of product-specific content—like gift guides designed to help shoppers hunt down the right present—can boost your brand’s performance at this critical time of year. Another option is evergreen content, which is content that never becomes outdated. This can range from interviews with your product designers to how-to guides related to your products. The beauty of this option is that you can re-use the content year after year.
2. Top Performing Cyber Monday Content
Cyber Monday marketing strategies look pretty similar to those used for Black Friday. One strategy that’s an absolute must, though, is omnichannel advertising.
Omnichannel is all about making sure your customers get a consistently engaging experience at every brand touchpoint, both online and off. That means your Cyber Monday content should include trends like evergreen gift guides that can be shared via social media, mobile product shopping lists, loyalty programs that allow shoppers to redeem points from purchases both online and in-store, and so on.
Giving consumers a chance to connect with your e-commerce brand through content wherever they are can go a long way toward securing sales. And since Cyber Monday 2022 marked the biggest online retail sales day in US history, you don’t want to miss the chance to give shoppers the kind of seamless cross-channel brand experience that turns consumers into customers. As with Black Friday, start planning—and promoting—in October to maximize your budget and presence online.
3. Top Performing Holiday Content
Generally speaking, holiday content should be both timely and relevant—and since consumers have gift-giving on the brain before and during the holiday season, content that speaks to their giving needs is more likely to convert.
Offering gift ideas for the women on a shopper’s list, or an evergreen guide that focuses on food and drink if those subjects relate to your products, can help you convince consumers to give your brand a second look.
This is a busy time for everyone, so think of ways to make your customers’ lives easier. Product recommendations are useful and can also convert into sales, and holiday-themed content can entice consumers to get their buying done early to beat the rush. Beauty brand Ulta starting adding gift guide content to its site before Halloween in order to reach early bird shoppers.
2022’s Top Performing Topic and Products
As is the case with every new holiday year, the items consumers are most interested in evolve with the times. Product features can have a big impact on what your customers decide to buy and give as gifts—but so can your brand mission, your commitment to the environment, your pricing strategy, and more.
Some of last year’s trends have major staying power, and will once again influence how and where consumers shop. The following data will provide you with key insights into what consumer behavior will look like this year, and its potential impact on your e-commerce strategies.
1. Sustainability is Key
Consumers care about sustainability more than ever; not only do they talk about it online, but they go out of their way to find companies dedicated to eco-friendly causes—including when they’re choosing which brand to gift.
Buying second-hand products—think thrifting or upcycling—is an ongoing trend, so if your brand has a program dedicated to an eco-friendly or sustainability effort like this one, it’s worth highlighting in your content. Sock brand Darn Tough promotes its dedication to creating sustainable products on its website, but this kind of content is perfect for a native advertising campaign as well, and is one of the effective e-commerce strategies you should keep in mind.
2. Consumers Buy More Second-Hand
Along the same lines, buying more second-hand products has become one of the bigger e-commerce trends. Brands like Patagonia are buying back and reselling used products from their customers. In fact, this trend is so significant it even has a name: recommerce.
To stay competitive with these kinds of e-commerce trends, brands should evaluate their business model. Determining whether the resale market is a fit for your brand is the first step toward benefiting from this trend during the holidays and throughout the year.
3. Price and Sales Discount
Price remains one of the biggest motivators for consumers considering an online purchase, and with your competitors just a click away, you’ve got to make sure your prices and sales discounts are in line with what others are offering in your product space.
There’s a lot of psychology involved in the consumer purchasing decision, which is why percentage-based discounts (e.g. “Buy 3 shirts, get 20% off a pair of jeans”) and multi-purchase deals (“buy one, get one”—also known as BOGO) tend to attract their attention. If you can convince a shopper they’re getting a bargain, you have a great shot at making a sale.
Another strategy that some e-commerce brands have adopted with great success, which also ties into the sustainability trend, is the “buy one, give one” model. Both Toms and Warby Parker have incorporated this feature into their businesses, and at holiday time, when giving back is a major theme, this sort of pricing strategy can be used to benefit your brand, your customer, and someone in need.
Consider price sensitivity and how best to price off-brand products when you’re making decisions about discounts and cost reductions. Once you decide which price and sales discount to include in your holiday e-commerce strategy, promote those savings via e-commerce marketing, using paid advertising to spread the word about your holiday e-commerce strategy and deals.
Conclusion: 2023 Q4 E-Commerce Outlook
By every indication, consumers are ready to spend this year—and they are spending earlier than ever to make sure they nab the products they want. According to the National Retail Federation‘s data for 2023, more than half (58%) of consumers report it’s important for them to spend on holiday gifts and celebrations, and 39% say they’ll start shopping sooner than usual this year. Don’t wait any longer to launch your holiday marketing strategy, because consumers are already making their lists, checking them twice, and heading online. You’ll want to be ready when they do!
Publishers and advertisers can create winning e-commerce holiday season strategies this year by taking a cue from content trends and using learnings from seasons past. The goal is to push out the content that consumers want during the holidays, whether that’s gift guides, shopping lists, or information about their sustainability initiatives. While your standard approach to e-commerce marketing strategy can inform your holiday marketing plans, there are certain aspects of holiday shopping, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and consumer behavior that differ, and therefore warrant their own custom game plan.
Whether you’re a publisher or an advertiser, leverage evergreen content, loyalty programs, and other high-performance strategies to increase both site traffic and sales during holiday times. It’s important to invest in e-commerce infrastructure and advertising strategies that streamline the purchasing process and support sales, and also to differentiate your brand. You can do the latter by offering deals that meet customer expectations in Q4 2023—and believe us, those expectations are getting higher all the time.
There are many other strategies both publishers and advertisers should look into as well, from including affiliate links in your content to significantly increase revenue, to email marketing, social media marketing, programmatic advertising, and of course, native advertising. All can work wonders for your e-commerce brand in the moment when consumers are focused on making buys. Your customers won’t forget the experience they have engaging with your business this year.