‘Tis The Season for Planning Your Holiday Promotions!

According to Deloitte’s annual holiday sales forecast, Americans are expected to spend between $981 and $986 billion during the months of November, December and January, representing an increase of 4 to 4.5% over last year’s holiday shopping season.

Deloitte’s research also showed that 84% of shoppers will use digital tools before and during their trips to the store, confirming what many in our industry already know: consumers rely heavily on their computers, tablets and smartphones to help them make decisions about their holiday purchases.

Another interesting fact? The shoppers who turn to technology, before opening their wallets, make purchases at a 40% higher rate than those who do not use such devices. Based on Deloitte’s findings, it is believed that the use of computers, tablets and smartphones will directly impact half of all retail store sales this holiday season, resulting in over $340 billion!

So, what does this mean to you? As a business owner, how can you benefit from these statistics, increase your sales, and capitalize on the way in which consumers will be shopping this holiday season?

The answer? Online promotions!

While there are many online promotions to consider that will help prompt holiday spending (including contests, giveaways, sweepstakes, free gifts with purchase, BOGO, and other holiday-specific discounts), the most important thing to determine is how to best communicate the special offer to your customer base.

One obvious tactic would be to place the offer in a prominent position on the home page of your website. While this sets the stage for the promotion (depending on the number of people who visit the website each day), it really doesn’t create any type of interaction with your customers. There’s no call to action. There’s no give or take. We have found that the best promotions are those that encourage the customer to act and respond.

One of MRI’s most successful campaigns was conducted on Facebook for our client, Color Scents trash bags. While trash bags may not be the most popular holiday gift, the strategy we used to promote them can be applied to almost any business or product.

The goal of the promotion was to increase awareness for the product, encourage consumer use of the bags through our trial program, and to make users fall in love with the product – ultimately turning them into loyal, return customers. To do so, we created a unique online sweepstakes on Facebook. Once consumers engaged with the page, they could register for the promotion, which was a full year of free house cleaning, and request a free sample of the product. In one day alone, we received almost 30,000 entries (getting 50% more total entries than we expected)!

As you evaluate your own businesses, your target audience, and the products you want to promote this holiday season, consider leveraging Facebook and your built-in audience as a way to communicate and share your special offers. Knowing that consumers are searching the Internet and making buying decisions based on their online research, a promotion on Facebook (that targets online and mobile users), is a strategy that will tap into consumer online shopping habits from home. It also has the potential to grab them while shopping on Black Friday, as they check their phones while they wait in lines!