Michelle Urwin, Sr. Marketing Manager @ Kenshoo
2019 holiday planning for marketers is wrapping up right now. It’s one of the most important times of the year—especially for retailers—to cash in on the giving season. But, with so much competition and clutter, brands need to put their best foot forward. And that all starts with having the best plan.
Even though many of us have just finished our summer vacations and are busy making Labor Day plans, the 2019 holiday season is right around the corner. And since more and more customers are looking for holiday deals right around the same time they’re purchasing Halloween candy, planning for a holiday strategy that stretches over the entire season while setting brands apart from the crowd is more important than ever before.
If it seems like the holiday season is getting longer—that’s because it is.
A recent study by Facebook found that one in five consumers actually began their holiday shopping in October. But just because shoppers are getting started earlier doesn’t mean that they are finishing their shopping any sooner. Now that 1-2 day shipping has become standard for go-to’s like Amazon, the holiday season starts before Halloween and lasts until a couple of days before Christmas.
So, brands, your holiday plan of action needs to be pretty much set to begin right after Labor Day.
In 2018, shoppers spent over $850 billion dollars over the course of the holiday season, up 5.1% from the previous year, according to Reuters. Online sales also set new records; they were up 16.5% for a total of $126 billion.
And consumers weren’t the only ones spending big last year. Last year’s Digital Advertising Trends report for the 2018 holiday season from Kenshoo in partnership with ClickZ found that 46% of companies planned to increase spending for the holiday season from the previous year, while 46% remained the same. It seems like those strategies paid off.
So now is the time to start planning budgets and strategy for what is set to be another banner year for sales. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts growth in retail sales for all of 2019, meaning that the holiday season should be another record-breaker.
The “Cyber 5” has come to refer to those all-important days from Thanksgiving, November 28, through Cyber Monday, December 2. And while it is important to recognize the Cyber 5 as huge shopping days, adopting a more holistic approach to holiday search and advertising could lead to a more consistently effective campaign, especially for those consumers beginning their shopping well before Thanksgiving.
In 2018, marketers devoted 19% of their search budgets to Cyber 5 spending, though the days make up for just 9% of holiday shopping. According to our recap of the 2018 holiday season, this year, more marketers might just be looking for a strategy that encompasses the Cyber 5 but also covers the entire extended holiday season, catching both those October early-bird shoppers and the last-minute deal seekers alike:
“While more mature channels such as Search and Social saw spend spike heavily during the Cyber 5 compared to the growth of the rest of the season, Ecommerce advertising grew 82% year-over-year (YoY) for the entire season and 55% YoY for the Cyber 5,” the report found. “What this indicates is that marketers invested in the Cyber 5 last year but this year they wanted to have better coverage across the entire shopping period with an “always-on” approach.”
With every retailer around fighting for attention during the holiday season, shoppers are overwhelmed with choices. The only course of action to help one brand stand out over another is to go bold. Adopting a unified holiday strategy that embraces the entire holiday season–focusing on building brand awareness very early on, building email lists in the early autumn, and focusing on holiday SEO right after Labor Day–could be a bold way to make the most of those holiday budgets.
A holistic approach to holiday campaigns shouldn’t involve guesswork. Luckily the numbers from Q4 from the past few years can be an excellent indicator for where to begin preparing for 2019. When did volume pick up last year from shoppers interested in buying for the holidays? Look at web traffic in addition to both conversions and CTRs on holiday messaging.
Consumer behaviors from previous years left important clues as to when buyers are ready to begin their holiday shopping. Using those clues to prepare for 2019 is an excellent way to make sure 2019 is your best holiday season yet.
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