3 Killer Content Marketing Insights for the Holiday Season

You may still be coming to terms with the end of the summer, but, believe it or not, the holiday season is just around the corner. This may stir up different feelings for everyone, but marketers share in at least one thought : it’s time to prepare a content marketing strategy for one of the most pivotal times of the year.

To help you get on the right track, we dug into our data from the 2012 holiday season and uncovered some key insights that can be put into action in 2013.

Consistent with the extended shopping hours, frantic crowds, and often full-blown chaos of the holiday season in the U.S., our data shows that Americans consume content twice as much late at night and 3 times as much on their mobile devices when it’s related to holiday shopping.

This study looked at how Americans consumed holiday-related content from CPG, retail, and electronics brands during the 2012 holiday season, relative to all other paid content running in our network during that time. Here’s what we found in more detail:

1. SMARTPHONES [251% More Clicks!]

During the 2012 holiday season (Nov.1st – Dec.31st) in the United States, 32% of all holiday content was clicked on from smartphones. For all other paid content running in our network during the holiday season, this number was much smaller (only 9%).

This should not come as a surprise since holiday shoppers are often on the go and are likely to research products while shopping for them in stores. According to this survey by PewResearch Center, “28% of cell owners used their phone while inside a store to look up reviews of a product to help decide if they should purchase it or not” during the 2012 holiday season. A study by Deloitte indicates that smartphone shoppers are 14 percent more likely to convert and make a purchase in the store than non-smartphone users and predicts that mobile-influenced in-store sales will amount to $689 billion (or 19% of total in-store sales) by 2016.

Further, a rapidly growing number of consumers are actually making their holiday purchases on their mobile devices. Retail sales on smartphones accounted for 4.4% of U.S. e-commerce sales in 2012 and, according to the study by eMarketer, this number is expected to grow to 5.3% in 2013. This number rises when we zoom in on the 2012 holidays, particularly on the season’s two biggest shopping days: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

On Black Friday, smartphones accounted for 25% of all clicks on holiday content and 7.1% of all ecommerce sales. On Cyber Monday, smartphones accounted for 24% of all clicks on holiday content and 6.8% of all ecommerce sales. The proportion of total clicks on Black Friday and Cyber Monday that came from smartphones was much larger for holiday content than for all other content on average (14% and 8%, respectively).

Key Takeaways: Be sure to have high quality mobile-optimized content prepared for this holiday season. Whichever amplification channel(s) you’re using, remember to take advantage of mobile-targeting options. Third party reviews and earned media are also excellent types of content for engaging smartphone shoppers in the right place at the right time.

2. LATE NIGHT [136% More Clicks!]

Our study also found that late night hours (12am to 4am) account for more than twice as much of total daily clicks on holiday content than total daily clicks on the rest of the paid content in the network (13% vs. 5%). This could be related to the extended shopping hours of the holiday season, both in-store and online (e.g., online coupons and deals launching at midnight).

This finding is consistent with comScore’s analysis of spending by time of day on Cyber Monday in 2010 and 2011. According to this study, the percentage of total US Cyber Monday spending that took place between 9pm and 9am grew from 3% in 2010 to 12% in 2011. When we looked at the percentage of 2012’s total US Cyber Monday clicks that fell within this time interval, we saw that it reached 32% for holiday-related content.

Key Takeaways: Let data inform your decisions as to when to push out your holiday content. As the hourly consumption chart above shows, consumption patterns for content related to holiday shopping differ from the typical patterns seen for other content. Rather than waiting until the morning, you might benefit from getting your content out there the night before. There is a much larger proportion of consumers than usual that you could potentially miss out on by prolonging the content push until the morning.

3. WEEKENDS [16% More Clicks!]

Weekends typically account for 21% of content consumption, which makes sense, given that they comprise 29% of the week but tend to see smaller traffic volumes than weekdays. However, weekends accounted for 24% of holiday content consumption during the 2012 season.

Key Takeaways: While weekends typically fall victim to content consumption drop-off, our data suggests that this is much less of an issue when it comes to holiday shopping related content. Instead, the weekends offer an opportunity that should not be overlooked when mapping out this year’s holiday content strategy. Moreover, the weekends of the holiday season precede some of its most crucial shopping (Mon)days: Cyber Monday, Green Monday, and Free Shipping Day. In the U.S., the Sunday before Cyber Monday (11/25/12) was the 6th highest day of the month in terms of the number of clicks on holiday content in our network, despite the fact that it was not a weekday. Take advantage of the fact that holiday shoppers are consuming more content on these weekends than you might have expected by getting your content in front of them before Monday’s purchase decisions.

We hope that sharing these insights with you has been helpful as you plan for the holidays. Remember: As researching online prior to making purchase decisions becomes the norm, investing time in a holiday content strategy will be well worth your while. Baynote’s “2nd Annual Baynote Holiday Shopping Survey,” found that online research had a significant influence on in-store purchases, with online ratings and reviews influencing the in-store purchases of 24% of those surveyed and online purchases of 33% of those surveyed. On that note, happy holiday content planning!

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