#PPCFright2014 Day 5: Beware The Walking Dead

You’ve seen the tell-tale signs of a zombie in an account, right? A change history with next to nothing in it, automated rules carrying the bulk of recent updates, or maybe just an account structure that lacks consistency and strategy? There are different types of zombies but I’m referring to the “Walkers”.  They perform basic functions based upon instinct but they don’t strategize or think critically.  They are habitual and reactive. They are a danger to your performance.zombie-identification-chart-20101202-163721

The zombie apocalypse isn’t the only thing looming on the horizon.  One of the nation’s largest (if not the very largest) shopping days is exactly 5 weeks from today, followed by roughly 3.5 weeks of holiday shopping.  That’s not all, folks! According to the National Retail Foundation, the average shopper is predicted to do 44% of their holiday shopping online, the highest in the 13-year history of the study.  Now, maybe more than ever (or at least YTD!), it’s important that you remain mortal because we have work to do. Now is not the time to become a Zombie.

Calling Out to the Land of The Living

By this time, you likely have your holiday offers scheduled but you might not be as digitally prepared as you think.  Here are some things that you should consider:

  • Platforms
  • Channels
  • Your Reputation
  • The “Extras”

Multi-Platform Strategy (Because Many Mortals Like Mobile)

It’s not enough just to have an online presence. 55.7% of The National Retail Foundation’s survey respondents said they would use their smartphone for holiday shopping. More specifically, 35.8% of survey respondents intend to use smartphones to research products and prices, 23.91% will redeem coupons using a smartphone and 19.1% will make purchases on their phone. Needless to say: mobile is important.

Based upon the same study, 63.2% of tablet owners will use their device to research and purchase holiday items, 47.4% will research products and 33% will purchase items.

There are a few things we can garner from this data: firstly, it’s important that your holiday strategy is multi-platform and, secondly, tablets are neither phones nor desktop computers. As such, they should be treated as their own entities. (Ya heard, Google?)

The best case scenario would be to have a responsive design site with layouts optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile.  If that isn’t already in motion at this point, it’s probably too late.  At minimum, you should strive to have mobile landing pages that are easily navigable with fingers and thumbs, load quickly, and don’t require too many steps in the funnel.

Between The Crosshairs

Carefully consider what your goal is. Is it to bring people in store? To help people shop online? Both? Next consider your launch calendar. When will you release your promotional details online, how and to whom?  Too often we see zombies aimlessly roaming the holiday season, wandering in one direction hoping to grab a few customers and then reactively changing direction to try to grab a few more.  Your plan should be deliberate, proactive, and cohesive.

There are some great platforms for mobile and display.  For instance, you might consider using geo-fencing to target consumers near your store (or near a competitor’s store) to share your promos. If you’re an e-comm, Shopping Campaigns, Bing PLAs and Amazon product ads are great for individual product promotion.  Retargeting is a beautiful thing for both e-comm and leadgen, and there are many different options including Google, Facebook and Twitter among others (including Bing, “soon”)!

There are so many tactics and channels to consider but the most important thing is to ensure that they’re all working in sync to move consumers through the funnel.  This is why it is important to have a well-defined plan.  A proactive plan also allows you to set up your campaigns and tracking in advance, leaving less room for error.

Look Alive! Your Reputation Matters

Your reputation precedes you.  This is especially true when mobile devices are involved.  Whether your patrons are shopping online or in-store, they’re reading reviews about your team, your products, and the overall experience. In fact, your reputation affects both the likelihood that a consumer will transact with you and the amount they are willing to spend. Consider this: there are two knife sets on Amazon, one is worth $85 with a 1 star review and the other is worth $100 with thirty 5-star reviews. Which one do you buy?

If you aren’t already monitoring and responding to reviews regularly, you should at least be taking this into consideration as we enter the holiday season. The key is to generate as many positive reviews as possible.  Of course the foundation for this is to provide high quality products and services (read: make sure your employees aren’t in zombie mode!). The second step is to proactively ask happy customers for reviews. Occasionally, you’ll receive a bad review. That’s okay! Don’t ignore your bad reviews – respond and try to make amends.  This way, future potential-customers will see that you are genuinely serving customers and feel comfort in knowing that if there is a problem, you will make it right.

The “Extras” – Curing Zombie Consumers

The “Extras” are that extra little selling point that help tip the scales.  Consider these almost like a P.O.P kit for your web site! These are the conveniences and incentives that make the purchase decision between you and a competitor a little easier. These are the things that can snap a Zombie shopper right back to life.

  • Pre-ordering/Reserves – Exactly as it sounds, this means allowing customers to pre-order or reserve items at the sale price. Many Black Friday shoppers plan their morning based upon which stores have the best deals with enough in stock that they won’t have to camp out to be one of the lucky few. It’s important that you don’t have everything up for pre-order, or you might not get as big of a crowd.
  • Free Shipping—Free shipping goes a long way. Even if you have amazingly good deals, the cost of shipping can quickly negate the savings.  Free shipping might be the quickest tie-breaker between you and a competitor.  
  • Length of shipping—It’s not just the price of shipping, anymore. We are spoiled rotten (no offense, zombies!), so we want our shipping to be free and FAST. A guaranteed arrival date is a big help, especially when holidays are involved.
  • The Add On—Everybody likes the add-on. For instance, Applebees throws in an extra $10 with the purchase of a $50 gift certificate. They don’t give you a $60 giftcard. No. It’s the $50 giftcard you bought for someone else and a little something for yourself.  Hallmark often has collectibles and other companies do books and toys that can be re-gifted.
  • The Payment Options—Your payment options on important. It’s important to provide options on a desktop but even moreso on a handheld device.  You want to make your checkout process so easy, that even a Zombie could do it!
  • Earning Points & Rewards– Consider implementing a rewards system throughout the holiday season. This one speaks to your loyalists. These are the people that are looking for a good deal and possibly a gift during the holiday season. They could be swayed to buy elsewhere but typically frequent your store and would appreciate the opportunity to earn future savings, since they plan to return anyway.

If you’re reading this, it likely means that, thus far, you have avoided the Zombie Apocalypse and for that, I applaud you! Keep your eyes peeled for “Walkers” and future #PPCFright2014 posts!