A couple of times a year, I reach out to my network of consumer brand experts and agency owners to ask them what they’re telling their clients right now. As consumer brands prepare for the holiday shopping season, my SEO, PR, Content, and Web Development colleagues are urging their clients to give themselves an edge given the competitive nature of the fourth quarter.
1. Prioritize and Plan
Organic & SEO do take a bit of time to kick in, -Jason Berkowitz, Break the Web
Given that organic & SEO do take a bit of time to kick in, starting on this fully now allows you to get the heavy lifting out of the way, without stressing when the season hits.
“If an increase in non-branded organic traffic is a marketing goal, then strategizing the plan of attack today,” says consumer brand expert Jason Berkowitz.
-Jason Berkowitz, Break the Web
“Paid media …doesn’t need to get started until September.” -Steve Krull, Be Found Online
Consumer brand digital marketing expert Steve Krull is urging brands to review their content and SEO strategy now. “There are two things I will typically work with clients on as we approach the holidays – Strategy & SEO with Content. Paid media …doesn’t need to get started until September.”
Krull recommends reviewing your holiday strategy to ensure it’s keeping up with the latest online changes, and your brand’s evolution. For a well-defined strategy, start with the questions:
Define your goals & metrics?
Identify your best revenue channels?
Ask: what’s different about this year?
Are there new ideas or channels you might test NOW in order to be prepared?
For SEO, update your existing content. If you’re an eCommerce or DTC brand, update your Category & Sub-Category pages as “Pillar Pages” to attract and distribute users and organic traffic.
-Steve Krull, Be Found Online
2. Improve UX with the Latest Data
Data-backed strategies can make a big difference during the holiday season in 2023. -Travis McAshan, Glide Design
Travis McAshan is wildly passionate about the consumer shopping experience, “As someone who spends my days thinking about user experience design, I have a few recommendations to consider as we gear up for the holiday season in 2023,” he says.
“While there’s a list of usual suspects you’d typically hear about – improving site performance, enhancing the user-friendly aspect of your consumer brand design, focusing on mobile-responsive elements, dialing in your site security, refining your CTAs, simplifying the checkout process, and so on, I’d rather shed light on a few often-overlooked, counter-intuitive aspects,” McAshan continues.
“From understanding decision-making behavior to using design elements strategically, each of these less obvious, data-backed strategies can make a big difference during the holiday season in 2023.” McAshan encourages consumer brands to update thier website using data and improving the UX experience with these seven tips.
1) Limit Choices: According to Hick’s Law, decision-making time increases with the number of choices available. A study by the Neilson Norman Group supports this, showing that you can improve conversions by curating your offerings instead of overwhelming users with options.
2) Emphasize Negative Space: Google’s research found that visual complexity negatively affects user perception. An ’empty’ or negative space can make your website feel clean and draw attention to key elements, improving the overall user experience.
3) Intrigue Users with a Delayed Reveal: Consumer brand experts love to leave them wanting more. A Harvard Business School study discovered that adding a slight delay or hurdle before revealing a discount or special offer increases user engagement and satisfaction.
4) The Paradox of Image Size: CXL Institute’s A/B test found that smaller product images can sometimes outperform larger ones. They allow users to see the product details and the purchase button simultaneously without scrolling.
5) Design for the Impatient: A study by Columbia Business School revealed that customers tend to choose options that promise shorter waiting times, even over more beneficial alternatives. Optimizing your estimated delivery times can, counter-intuitively, boost conversions.
6) The Psychology of Colors: Maxymiser’s study found that ‘warm’ colors like red used for CTA buttons can increase conversion rates. Color choice is more than just aesthetics – it can drive actions.
7) Leverage Social Proof: The principle of ‘Fear of Missing Out’ (FOMO) can be powerful. Software company Figleaves, for example, increased their conversion rate by 12.5% just by showcasing how many people were currently viewing a product.
-Travis McAshan, Glide Design
3. Prepare for the Holiday Season: Integrate Operations, PR, and Social Media
Prepare and stay flexible; that’s what Jive PR and SEO’s consumer brand experts recommend. Brittany Robertson and Jalila Singerff recommend these five steps to prepare for the holidays for consumer brands.
Anticipate and prepare for potential challenges, – Brittany Robertson + Jalila Singerff (Director of Social Media + Director of Public Relations), Jive PR Digital
1. Evaluate Objectives and Past Performance: Assess the brand’s current objectives and review the performance of the previous holiday season. This analysis will help identify successful strategies and areas that require improvement, allowing the brand to align itself optimally for success.
2. Engage in PR Activities: From a public relations perspective, prepare for holiday press placements by pitching to print press in July. This aligns with the time when editors are sourcing products for their holiday issues. Pitch to other channels such as online, broadcast, podcast, and radio during the fall leading up to the holiday season.
3. Assess Social Media Presence: Review the social media presence of competitors during the previous holiday season and evaluate your brand’s social media performance. Analyze what strategies worked and what didn’t, and implement improvements for the upcoming season. In particular, leverage influencer marketing as a crucial component to generate sales and create gift-related content. Plan budgets and identify key products for collaborations with influencers to ensure an effective campaign.
4. Optimize Website and Social Media Channels: Update the consumer brand’s website and social media channels to be optimized for the holiday season. Create new content and promotions to attract new customers and keep existing customers engaged. This can include refreshing product images, conducting lifestyle shoots, incorporating user-generated content, and utilizing influencer-driven content.
5. Prepare for Potential Challenges: Anticipate and prepare for potential challenges such as supply chain disruptions or staffing shortages. Develop contingency plans to mitigate any adverse effects and ensure that the business can continue to operate smoothly.
-Brittany Robertson + Jalila Singerff (Director of Social Media + Director of Public Relations), Jive PR Digital
4. Create SEO Advantage with Long-Tail Content and Lesser Celebrated Holidays
Ross Johnson, SEO expert for consumer brands is recommending ambitious consumer brands use these six tips to stand out in search.
While long tail keywords have lower search volume individually, they often have MORE search volume in aggregate. -Ross Johnson, 3.7 Designs
1. Consumer Brand Experts: Start your content marketing now, update later
You could publish articles on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday buyers guides now and update them as you get closer to the holiday season.
2. Optimize for holiday-related keywords
Incorporate the following keywords into your content article titles, for example: Cyber Monday 2023 Gifts for New Fathers.
– Holiday Gifts 2023
– Black Friday 2023
– Cyber Monday 2023
– Holiday Shopping 2023
– Gift Ideas 2023
3. Focus on long-tail keywords
In a competitive niche, it’s challenging to rank for generic keywords like “shoes” or “weighted blanket.” Instead, aim for more specific and detailed phrases like “colorful running shoes for women” or “gifts for people who love weighted blankets.”
While long tail keywords have lower search volume individually, they often have MORE search volume in aggregate. Be aware that this approach requires publishing significantly more content than generic keywords.
4. Leverage non-text media
Holiday shoppers are more likely to search for images, videos, Google shopping, local search, and podcasts. Optimize your images, create video reviews or buyer’s guide videos, explore podcast interviews, or even launch your own podcast to engage with your target audience through different channels.
5. Optimize your mobile experience
Prioritize optimizing your mobile experience as mobile shopping continues to grow, especially during the holiday season. Ensure that your website provides a seamless and intuitive mobile experience, allowing shoppers to browse and make purchases easily on their mobile devices.
6. Don’t sleep on lesser celebrated holidays
Consumer buy presents for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, and even Thanks Giving. These Holidays typically have much less competition while still having high purchase intent.
-Ross Johnson, 3.7 Designs
5. Make Your Brand Differences Your Consumer Brand Strength
Brand expert Chris Lam reminds consumer brands to polish up their brand. Lam says two of the most important ways consumer brands can prepare for the holiday season is understanding the customer and their pain points.
Incorporate your competitive advantage into existing content and copy -Chris Lam, Chris Lam Connects
- Brands really have to understand their customer. We hear this all.the.time, and there’s a reason for it. What exactly are those pain points that customers are facing and that your service or product can provide a solution or ease a pain point? (It’s not always literal or point-blank obvious.) Take the time to get to know your customer. Poll them. Engage them. Ask them. Get that feedback from the people or orgs that use your product or service.2. Emphasize How You Help the Customer. I also think consumer brands also need to remember what their competitive advantage is against their competitors and highlight it, especially if it appeals and (again) alleviates a pain point for their customer. Among all the other brands that a consumer can go to, why should they choose your brand? Flesh that out, maybe even consider this as a campaign by itself. Or incorporate your competitive advantage into existing content and copy.
-Chris Lam, Chris Lam Connects