July 18, 2012 Leave a Comment
In last week’s post, we discussed the need for merchants to fine-tune their holiday strategies now to set the stage for success during the crucial final weeks of the year. Based on new data from the MarketLive Performance Index, it appears that merchants are in a good position to generate sales growth.
Second-quarter Index data shows strong year-over-year revenue growth of more than 15%. Traffic is on the upswing, surging 8.53% compared with a year ago, and merchants took advantage of the opportunity, improving conversion by nearly 5%, abandonment by just over 3%, and the add-to-cart or engagement rate by 2.5%.
But the “1-and-out” or bounce rate continued to lag, rising for the sixth straight quarter and signaling that merchants stand to reap even greater gains if they can better match the right products with their targeted audience.
One key area of weakness continues to be social networking. The percentage of shoppers linking to eCommerce sites from social networks has stayed nearly flat from a year ago – rising to 1.04% this year compared with 1.00% in Q2 of 2011. Moreover, retailers and brand manufacturers are flagging in their efforts to drive social traffic, while catalogers – the weakest segment in this regard – are improving, but can still only attribute less than a percent of their visits to social networks. The stagnant performance suggests merchants must continue to find new ways to engage this audience, which is a potential source of not only lucrative sales but also powerful word-of-mouth clout during the holidays.
In response to the Index numbers, we suggest adding social as a holiday priority. Consider these tactics:
Give Facebook followers the ability to browse and buy. Unless you’ve enabled a Facebook shopping cart which allows followers to make purchases without leaving the social environment, your fan page should actively be directing traffic to products and categories on the eCommerce site. Consider creating displays targeted to the social audience that showcase the latest seasonal items, sought-after gifts and exclusive deals — and use deep links to the eCommerce site so that shoppers connect directly with the relevant content. Women’s recreational clothier Title Nine features a “Shop T9” link at the top of its page, and offers followers a selection of popular tops and shorts for summer. Shoppers who click on a product image are taken directly to the product page on the eCommerce site.
Develop a social discount strategy. Social followers are on the lookout for deals, so develop a plan for offering exclusive discounts that synchs with your other campaigns. The Twitter audience is especially deal-hungry; according to data from eMarketer, 48% of Twitter users who follow brands do so expressly to receive discounts.
Plan a Pinterest contest. As noted in an earlier post, Pinterest is now the third-largest social network. During the holiday season, look for this image-rich site to be full of wish list pinboards; encourage shoppers to showcase your products by running a “win your wish list” or other sweepstakes contest — and cross-promote it via email and other social networks. Last year, Land’s End invited Facebook users to create Pinterest boards featuring its products, and picked 10 winners to receive $250 gift cards.
Download the full Index report to view more holiday tips plus data by industry and business type. Meantime, what social strategies are you planning for the holiday season?