Christmas Planning in July? If you’ve not started in some capacity, guess what, you’re behind already!

As part of our initiative to get digital marketers and retailers thinking about their strategy and campaign plans on Search and Social Media platforms ahead of the festive season, we hosted a Christmas 2012 Conference last Thursday, 5 July. 

We brought together  a panel of recognised players in the space - Facebook, Google+, Criteo, Hydra, Kred, Sysomos and YouTube, who gave the audience critical insight on why planning Christmas campaigns in July is absolutely not a moment too soon. 

Greenlight's #Christmas12 event which was well attended - 120 registered delegates from a cross-section of industries including Grocery, Fashion, Hospitality, Travel and the Finance sectors, offered huge amounts of valuable insight into how retail brands should prepare their Christmas digital marketing strategy.

Below are some of the key takeouts from the #Christmas12 conference that should impact your social strategy, as a brand.

Key lessons learned

There were several stand-out pieces of data that have the biggest impact to social marketers:

 ●     Fab.com found that more than 50% of its sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday came from people who joined via social sources [Source:Facebook]

●     53% UK social networkers were more likely to look up information about a brand if a friend had recommended it [Source: Facebook]

●     425 million of those 845 million Facebook users use Facebook on their mobile devices [Source: Facebook]

●     Retail queries increased by 15% on the Desktop compared to 147% on Mobile [Google]

●     20% made an in-store purchase after performing a local search on their smartphone, whereas 22% went on to make an online purchase [Source: Google]

What is the impact?

Two questions:

●     Are you making it easy for your customers to share what they most love about your brand?

●     Are you mobile?

It's absolutely clear from the stats above, that the actions of your 'fans' and 'followers' have an influence on the purchasing behaviour of their networks. Is your site prepared and optimised to make it as easy as possible for your customers to share what they've been buying, or thinking of buying, with their friends? For example, how does your content look when a user shares one of your images on Pinterest? Getting this right could really make a difference

It's worth noting at this point that you must be measuring the impact of your changes, directly correlate these with your own key performance indicators (KPIs) i.e. if increasing your fanbase is your biggest priority, then measure the impact of each change. If you're not measuring the results of your changes, then you'll never know if a particular improvement (e.g. moving the position of the sharing buttons from the top to the bottom of your blog post) has a significant effect on your main KPI, essentially reducing your chance of understanding the reason for the success, limiting your ability to repeat it in the future as it will just be guesswork.

Change in purchase behaviour on smartphones

The other most striking pieces of data from the conference relate to the change in purchasing behaviour on smartphones. Considering that mobile and social are intrinsically linked (almost half of all Facebook users are accessing the site from a mobile device), understanding the need to reach mobile users with location specific information, and at the right time, is becoming increasingly important. For example, if a consumer checks-in to your restaurant and a friend picks it up on mobile and wants to take a look at your menu, is your site optimised for mobile so that it can deliver on that premise? Can the user book a table straight from the mobile site, or call you to make a reservation?

Reaching these potential customers is no less important for a retail company; can you publish targeted marketing, or offers to somebody as they pass your shop? If you pursue this strategy and implement it, you must ask the question; how is the experience for the potential customer if they then chose to check out your clothing line on their phone, whilst stopping for a coffee which was where they were heading before they were distracted by your offer.

A lot of questions, but it really is how you should be thinking when planning your engagement strategy (both social and mobile, or 'nonline').

(Any questions, thoughts or opinions greatly received in the comments box below)

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