How US consumers are researching holiday gift ideas in 2015

With Google estimating that 30% of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones, this holiday season will see retailers fighting for shoppers’ attention across more devices and channels then ever before.

According to a new Searchmetrics study, 67% of 2,000 US consumers polled will have researched gifts online on their smartphones. However an impressive 20% say their phone is the only device they’ll use for researching gifts online during the holidays.

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And where are shoppers doing the bulk of their shopping research? 62% of US consumers will have researched Christmas gifts by looking on Amazon, and 44% performing searches on Google.  

It makes sense that Amazon and Google have been named as the most popular sources of gift ideas, they are after all the biggest names in digital. However social channels are fairing well too, with 27% of consumers using Facebook, and the same percentage using Pinterest, which also revealed in November that it has accumulated 17.7m holiday gift pins on its site. 

16% of the consumers said they will use Instagram for gift ideas, while 12% mentioned Twitter.

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So what can online retailers do to take advantage of the above trends and make sure they have as much visibility as possible on mobile, search and social throughout the holiday shopping season?

A few handy tips:

Pinterest

Your brand should definitely be on Pinterest, and within all those lovely, creative and diverse boards that you create you should also definitely make sure you have either Rich Pins or Buyable Pins enabled.

Rich Pins offer more details than your standard Pinterest pins, therefore making them more useful. If you’re a retailer you can include product information such as real-time pricing, stock availability and direct links to the product page.

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Buyable Pins are a more direct route to purchase, with the user not having to leave the Pinterest app to buy a product within a pin they’ve found. Instead they can just click on an integrated ‘buy it now’ button.

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At the moment, only a few major retailers have access to this, but if your store uses the Shopify platform then you can use these straight away.

Facebook

Yes it’s tough out there on Facebook, with branded pages almost dropping out of follower’s newsfeeds entirely. But clearly users are still using Facebook to research gift ideas, so don’t abandon all hope.

You can go the paid route and get content surrounding your products a guaranteed audience by investing in some Facebook promotion. But there’s no guarantee that audience will care about what you’re hawking. So you’ll have to be clever. 

Instead of individual product posts, why not try a ‘holiday gift guide’ that shows a range of available gifts from your store, like an online version of a Christmas catalogue. Or how about content on how your store can help you ‘survive the holidays’, or a list of ‘things to look forward to once the chaos is over’.

Basically anything that’s unexpected, funny or useful that will help your social posts stand out from the crowd.

Search

Make sure update your holiday hours on your Google My Business page. In November, Google launched a feature that allows you to pre-schedule specific hours for holidays or special events on your business page.

This is very important if you have longer opening hours during the holidays, as local searchers may wrongly be told that your store is closed.

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You should also make sure that all of your contact information, telephone number and address is accurate and up-to-date.

It may also be worth considering taking out some Product Listing Ads, which appear in the Google Shopping part of results pages.

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These ads will feature relevant product details, rich images, product prices and your store name. You may find they have a higher click-through rate thanks to their richer format, rather than the standard paid search text listings.

Mobile

I probably don’t need to mention that your site needs to be mobile-optimised, otherwise Google will rank you lower than your competitors, but perhaps I do need to highlight how important it is that you provide the simplest, quickest and most barrier free ecommerce experience on a mobile as possible. Things that may irritate a customer on a desktop, will enrage them on a smaller screen.

There are also lots more handy tips here in It’s not too late: 12 ways to boost sales this holiday season.

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