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Robertson: Small businesses can learn from holiday marketing

Does Black Friday still have an impact on consumer spending? Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving was viewed as Black Friday and considered the official first day of the holiday shopping season. In recent years, however, Black Friday has morphed into something else and caused some to question its relevance.

Although it is no longer a one-day shopping event, Black Friday is still an important part of the year’s busiest shopping season. This year saw businesses launch Black Friday promotions much earlier and oftentimes included Cyber Monday in the same campaign and many wondered how in-store and online sales would change.

Adobe’s recent report shows that online and mobile shopping for 2016’s Black Friday set records. Black Friday’s online shopping purchases totaled $3.34 billion, compared to $2.74 billion last year and purchases from mobile devices totaled $1.2 billion, up from $1 billion in 2015.

Furthermore, a majority of consumers will continue to shop online and in-store during the holiday season. According to Deloitte, a recent survey shows that U.S. consumers plan to spend equal amounts online and in brick-and-mortar stores, the first time that online spending is forecast to match real-world spending during the holiday season.

It’s interesting to note that millennials, the 18-34 age bracket, represented the most active shopping segment over Black Friday. On Black Friday, in that 18-34 age bracket, 56 percent were in-store shoppers and 62 percent shopped online. During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend, eight out of 10 millennials made purchases.

Given the purchasing trends, it’s important to make the right advertising and marketing choices. Consumers like to “keep it personal.” Data show that 55 percent of consumers are more likely to take advantage of targeted emails with product recommendations tailored to them, while 52 percent prefer recommendations from a retailer’s website compared to 42 percent making a choice based on a customized mobile ad.

With this data in mind, you may want to consider a digital advertising campaign for your business. As with any advertising campaign, it is important to have an ad focus, strategy and budget. In addition, know your audience and create a clear and concise ad that is visually appealing to customers. For example, think of what appeals to you when you are online. What ads pop up that interest you versus those that you find obnoxious?

Social media advertising is another great way to reach customers. Like digital advertising, you need to be focused and have a strategy and budget. Determine if your current and potential customers are more likely to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media channels.

A coordinating social media campaign can help reinforce your advertising effort. Include eye-catching images that are interesting and high quality. Consider including user-generated content from actual customers such as Macy’s “Believing is important. Join us and show the world you believe in Santa by posting a video or photo tagged with #SantaProject!” effort.

Video content also brings added value. Eighty percent of consumers over age 35 and more than half of millennials reportedly view videos as very motivating. A great example of powerful video is England’s Heathrow Airport and its “Coming Home for Christmas” ad which has gained more than four million views since first airing November 14.

Whether your marketing effort includes digital advertising, social media or and/or video content, be sure to track your analytics. Know what works so that you can modify your advertising and marketing effort to ensure its success and generate a return on your investment.

This column was compiled by Karen Robertson, director of public relations and client development at Robertson &Markowitz Advertising &Public Relations, Inc. She can be reached at karen@robmark.com or (912) 921-1040.

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