Create Your 2015 Holiday SEO and Content List – Think Next Year Now!

If holiday marketing is important to your business, you probably started planning as early as August – or even as early as the last holiday season! In fact, according to a newly published report by Experian Marketing Services, 84 percent of marketers in North America started planning for the holiday marketing season in August, and some reported starting as early as last December.

Right now, you’re in the thick of it and have your strategy in place. So in this post, we’re going to look at holiday marketing trends year-over-year, and what to watch for going into 2015, so you can put ideas on your holiday marketing list for next year, right now.

Holiday Marketing: Past and Present

Channels: Search Marketing Remains Strong

Today, marketers have many channels on which to touch their potential customers over the holiday season – organic search, PPC, email marketing, social media, etc. But when it comes to driving targeted traffic to websites throughout the buying journey, search engine marketing comes out on top.

When allocating budget for the 2015 holiday marketing season, consider the following:

  • Search engine marketing is the most effective acquisition channel for 85 percent of retailers, according to Shop.org.
  • Organic search is the largest driver of traffic for all sectors, including retail media and entertainment, business services, technology and hospitality, according to BrightEdge data from Q3.

b2b-traffic-by-channel-and-industry-brightedge

Image source: “Organic Channel” Report, BrightEdge

Trends: In-Store/Online Mobile Usage

It’s probably safe to say that mobile has gone beyond a trend, and is now becoming the norm. But marketers are still catching up.

Data from Experian Marketing Services (linked to previously) shows only a quarter of marketers around the world are working with mobile-optimized sites, with North American marketers comprising 35 percent.

As websites become more mobile-friendly, it’s no surprise that mobile conversions are growing, and the holiday season comprises a big percentage of that growing number.

According to data from IBM ExperienceOne:

“U.S. sales over mobile devices on Black Friday 2013 leapt nearly 43 percent year-over-year, to 21.8 percent of all site sales. Cyber Monday 2013 saw similar gains, with mobile sales up more than 55 percent from the previous year to 17.2 percent of total online spending.”

While some businesses are still trying to figure out what mobile configuration is best for their site, others are moving on to more advanced mobile marketing – like tying mobile to in-store conversions, and vice versa.

For example, with new ways to pay (think Apple Pay) on the market, consumers of retail also are interested in mobile payment options for in-store purchases. According to Experian Marketing Services, 21 percent, or roughly 43 million U.S. adults, said they are interested in mobile payment in store.

percent-of-cell-phone-owners-interested-in-mobile-payment-options

But that just scratches the surface of how people use their mobile devices on the buying journey; “webrooming” and “showrooming” continue to be trends to watch if marketers want their retail brands to be present for the entire shopping journey, which usually starts with the organic search channel.

A brief reminder of those concepts: Showrooming is when a consumer visits a store to examine a product before buying it online, often at a lower price. Webrooming, on the other hand, is when customers research the product online, but buy it in the store.

Today, there is a lot of data that supports how people are using mobile from the couch to the register. Google came out with a study in 2013 that showed 84 percent of shoppers used their phones while in a store, and performed activities like using mobile as a shopping assistant instead of a store clerk, or learning more about a product.

google-in-store-data-mobile

Image source: “Mobile In-Store Research” Report, Google

Some brands are already responding to this behavior, like Target and its Cartwheel app, which brings mobile coupons to the in-store checkout. Innovations like these will help marketers move from marketing to performance.

Timing: Supply and Demand for Deals Shift

With terms like Black Friday and Cyber Monday now ubiquitous with holiday consumerism, trends indicate that businesses are stretching holiday deals to stay competitive outside of those two specific events, according to this article on Reuters.

In fact, according to Google data, Black Friday gave way to “Gray Friday” last year, as businesses began offering deals earlier than normal (causing some to ditch family holiday events to shop, says Google.)

Watching these trends year-over-year helps marketers time campaigns in a way that meets demand. According to Experian Marketing Services, the planning and launch dates for global holiday marketing most commonly occur in August and November, respectively.

holiday-campaign-launch

Image source: “Illuminate Your Holiday Marketing Campaigns,” Experian Marketing Services

As a search marketer, that also means watching the demand for important search queries related to the holidays, what they are and when they begin. For example, last year, Google reported terms related to Black Friday grew 27 percent from 2012, and started days earlier than the year prior.

holiday-shopping-searches-yoy

Image source: “5 Holiday Shopping Trends Marketers Should Watch,” Google

As many of you know, Google Trends is a great place to mine trending keyword data year-over year. In your search query research, get creative beyond just the Black Friday/Cyber Monday terms and think about what sort of deals people are looking for around the holidays in general.

If you’re a retailer, it might be trending products (according to Experian Marketing Services, UGGs is topping the charts yet again), or if you’re in another sector, like travel and hospitality, it most definitely will be getaways, flight, and hotel deals – sometimes simply around winter activities. The travel and hospitality industry is not immune to the demand for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

top-product-searches-november

Start Making Your 2015 Holiday Marketing Wish List Now

As a marketer, you can start planning for next year’s holiday season by understanding the trends of years previous, and coming up with creative ways to stay on the leading edge.

Watch your profitable channels in 2015, and pay close attention to how the organic search channel can help you lead up to the holiday season in a meaningful way by offering content that aids your buyers in their journey.

Finally, time your campaigns with the demand of the consumer by using trending search and shopping demand to fuel your launch dates. Implement what you can now, collate data and utilize the insights to prepare for your next campaign right now.

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