While affiliate marketing strategies should be firmly in place by now, there’s still time to tweak your content and promotions to make the most of the upcoming shopping season, which promises to be even bigger than last year. As a matter of fact, Shop.org expects online sales to grow 12 percent over last holiday season to reach as much as $96 billion.
When you look at last year’s trends and this year’s forecast, there are seven critical data points to keep in mind. Below are affiliate marketing strategies for the holidays that are aligned with these seven driving forces in e-commerce.
1. Black Friday Is Now Black November
With holiday shopping now starting as early as October, it’s not surprising that by the time Black Friday arrived in 2011, 54 percent of shoppers had already completed more than one-quarter of their holiday purchases, according to an eMarketer study.
Affiliate Strategy: If you’ve already been running holiday promotions, create a new campaign specific to Black Friday and boost incentives for publishers during the 24- hour period.
Another good data nugget to keep in mind is that men are more likely to shop on Thanksgiving night as opposed to early morning on Black Friday. This comes from the National Retail Federation and was reported by the New York Times. Depending on your merchandise, you may want to take this into consideration as you customize your online promotions.
2. Consumers Tend To Shop Before & After Work On Cyber Monday
An eMarketer study found that during last year’s Cyber Monday, consumers did their shopping before 9:00 a.m. then picked up it again between the hours of 5:00-9:00 p .m.
Affiliate strategy: Consider running limited-time promotions during the heavy online traffic cycles of Cyber Monday.
3. Daily Deal Sites Continue To Be Popular
Last year, nearly one in four online consumers purchased a gift from a daily deal site.
Affiliate Strategy: Retailers should offer their own daily deals and work with publishers to promote them. Additionally, with so many consumers flocking to daily deal sites, ensure that your business is included in their listings. What many retailers may not realize is that you can still appear on coupon site listings even if you’re not offering a coupon.
4. Value Supersedes Price
A recent study by the E-Tailing Group surveyed 1,136 U.S. consumers about their expected holiday shopping plans. The study found that when it came to selecting a retailer, 87 percent of respondents say the are looking for value while 85 percent say they are looking for price.
Affiliate Strategy: The fact that value and price are neck-in-neck for consumer attention is not a surprise. Yet, retailers should leverage their brand name and emphasize the quality of their goods over the price to attract buying customers.
5. Product Curation/Product Category Focus
Consumers are making more online purchases from more product categories than ever before. Publishers are becoming better curators of product than the retailers themselves. You will endear yourselves to your shoppers and build loyalty if you have a good eye for selecting and highlighting the best products from your advertiser data feeds.
Affiliate Strategy: Put a strategy in place for finding, sourcing and identifying products that fit the unique tastes of your audience. It’s easy to focus on price and discounts, but value can also mean finding just the right product with the right features. You can build loyalty among your shoppers if they feel they are continuously discovering unique gifts and other items on your site that they don’t easily find on other sites.
6. Mobile On The Rise But Not Yet The Dominant Sales Platform
Forrester Research finds that smartphones will account for three percent of e-commerce this year, and that number will increase to seven percent by 2016. Meanwhile, tablets are expected to generate more Web traffic than smartphones by early 2013, according to the Adobe Digital index. While it’s clear that m-commerce is on the rise, it’s not yet the dominant e-commerce platform.
Affiliate Strategy: Ensure every path to your website accommodates the needs of the shopper whether they’re on a traditional computer, smartphone or tablet.
For m-commerce shoppers, be sure you go beyond simply m-enabling your current website and are able to fully support both tablets and smartphones. This may require additional adjustments given the different screen sizes of smartphones and rich visuals you’re able to display on tablets, yet is well worth the investment.
For your traditional website, be sure that you call out your holiday deals and promotions to improve search engine results and accommodate the specific interests of shoppers when they come to your site.
7. Promotions & Free Shipping Reign
A survey conducted by Shop.org after the 2011 holiday season found that the top three marketing tools that drove sales were promotions, free shipping without conditions, and free shipping with conditions such as a minimum purchase requirement.
Affiliate Strategy: While we’ve covered promotions extensively above, let’s take a closer look at free shipping. As you probably guessed, free shipping is becoming table stakes in e-commerce.
To differentiate your business, consider offering free returns as well and extending how much time a customer has to return items after the holidays. Also, be sure to be bold when calling out your shipping policies to entice customers, especially since you know they’re comparing deals on multiple sites.
With some small adjustments, you’ll be able to reap even more from your performance marketing efforts this holiday season.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.