In the immortal words of Andy Williams, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — especially if you’re a retailer! The holidays are well upon us, and your clients are likely in higher demand than at any other time of the year. This can be both a blessing and a curse — it’s as important as ever that your clients’ locations are as discoverable as they can be. As a Geomarketer, the holiday season is an unparalleled time to bring to your clients’ customers a message that is immediate, relevant, and targeted to their proximity to your client.
Some of this will feel familiar to longtime readers; other aspects will be new methods that have risen with the advent of the semantic web. After all, people are more likely to search by category than for a specific item. It makes keyword-targeted search less useful; you’ll want to rely more on semantic techniques.
Discounts at this time of year are an easy way to entice shoppers, and most of your retail clients will make up the discount in volume of sales. However, discounts do ultimately chip away at your clients’ profits. Perhaps suggest segmenting customers into buckets and offering them conditional discounts (e.g. 20% off if they spend more than $25 in-store or online) that are scaled by prior purchasing behavior.
My personal favorite is product bundling, which is a great way to not only move inventory, but also for a retailer to get better margins on both products than they’d be able to achieve on each product individually. For more ideas about how to offer promotions without bankrupting yourself or your client, please see 4 Profitable Promotions to Attract Holiday Shoppers over at Search Engine Land.
More importantly, it’s imperative you take a data-driven approach to the holidays; it’s easy to get swept up in the spirit of the season, but your clients are relying on your expertise to offer them solutions that make them visible but don’t require major sacrifices in their level of service.
If you choose to go the keyword route, note that search frequency of certain keywords varies considerably through Q4, with last-minute purchases (e.g. gift cards) peaking in December. By contrast, things like decorations peak earlier in the quarter.
Also recognize which landmark shopping day is most important for your client; some lean heavily on Black Friday, with the midnight and early-morning deals providing ancillary or direct traffic into their stores. Others have more traction on Cyber Monday or on Thanksgiving Day itself. Look at historical data from your client (if it’s available) or see if you can do market research. Invest in where your clients’ customers are already coming from, and act in accordance with their timing. For more tips on using data in your holiday marketing strategy, see: Best Gift Ever: The Right Data Delivers Holiday Search Campaign Success over at Search Engine Land.
Last but not least, recognize that mobile advertising is increasingly impactful, especially for retailers with a strong online presence. The Bing Ads Team has a podcast episode dedicated to holiday promotions and using (their platform’s) mobile advertising well. Also recognize that a smartphone is ever-present, meaning that consumer shopping habits have shifted away from their desks and laptops and increasingly to mobile — meaning they’re shopping at odd hours and starting their shopping earlier in the year.
Last but not least, recognize that a number of Yext features have applications for holiday-specific purposes. Below, I’ve recreated last year’s forum post about the Yext Advantage:
Lots of locations will have abbreviated and/or extended hours for the holidays. Leverage Yext’s “Update Once, Updates Everywhere” capability by staying on top of your clients’ hours during this chaotic time.
Don’t forget that there is a special “Additional Hours Info” field that you can use, as well, to let your clients’ customers know about early closure and special opening times.
Use the Featured Message field to highlight special offers, free shipping, and other deals that your clients have going on during this season. Examples include:
- Free shipping on items over $X.
- Gift-wrapping services on-site.
- Shipping cut-offs.
- Links to circulars / local ads.
- Special landing pages.
- Links to special offers / coupons / loyalty programs.
You can improve customers’ user experience using your site / listing by incorporating content lists into their information. Because Yext pushes these lists to all our participating publishers as well as to any web widgets your client is using, you can see these lists go live (near-)instantly on numerous platforms for your clients’ customers’ use.
For example, Calendars are a great way to demarcate any special events the store is hosting during this seasons, such as an in-store Santa, holiday train rides, special holiday classes, gift-wrapping services, story time and/or performances, and other unique programming.
Product Lists can also be customized to highlight special Holiday Products and Top Sellers your client would like to feature. Any catalog items, special orders, and other products specific to the end of the year should be placed in a unique Content List that you can deactivate once the season has passed. Yext makes it easy to highlight these items for the duration of the season and take these featured items down when the time has passed.
Yext has a number of special-occasion categories for your clients to use, especially if they’re a specialty seasonal business (e.g. Christmas tree pop-up shop, roasted chestnut seller, etc.) that is only around temporarily:
- Shopping > Costume Rental & Retail
- Retail Stores > Holiday & Seasonal Boutiques
- Shopping > Toys
- Shopping > Gifts
- Shopping > Corporate Gifts
- Shopping > Fruit Baskets
- Shopping > Gift Certificates
- Shopping > Novelties
- Shopping > Ribbons
- Shopping > Gift Baskets
- Shopping > Christmas Decorations & Lights
You can add photos and video to your clients’ listings to highlight special holiday events and goings-on they may have, special foods or decorations they may have put up, and/or carol singers they may have in-house for the holidays. You can also highlight top sellers, exclusives, and promotional items.
You can alter your clients’ business description to include targeted keywords, top sellers, hot items, and other seasonal items.
As you can see, using promotions cleverly, keeping an eye on trends in the data, and using Yext’s sync-and-lock with near-instant update on my partner publishers, your clients can be perched on the precipice of triumph.