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Why You Need to Make a Plan for Your 2020 Holiday Shopping Season – Here’s Why #250

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behaviors in numerous ways. As the 2020 holiday season is fast approaching, we surveyed over 150 marketing executives to find out what they think is likely to happen this holiday season and how they’re preparing for it.

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge reveals some insights from his 2020 Holiday Season survey and shares some tips on how marketers can prepare and adapt for the upcoming holiday season.

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Hi everybody, Eric Enge here. I’m the Principal for the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit at Perficient. Today I want to talk a little bit about how you can plan for your holiday shopping season, because this one’s going to be different. It’s been changed in significant ways by the pandemic. At Perficient, we did a survey of 154 senior executives from large enterprise organizations that were B2B, B2C, B2G—across all business types. And what we’re trying to get at and learn from them is what they saw during the process of the pandemic—but also how they expect things going forward so that we can, in fact, talk about how to plan for this holiday season.

So, one of the big things, of course, is to start with what are some of the things that changed the market. I mean, there were some really big differences. Of course, delivery options changed—buy online, pick up in-store, home delivery, and things like that. We also saw a lot of people who hadn’t really fully embraced online shopping—maybe they did a little but not that much—that went much, much deeper with it, particularly among the elderly. You might have seen people who were just kind of used to doing it the old way, who didn’t want to embrace the new way. And then they were forced to do this new way and so many other changes—virtual everything—from wine tastings, happy hours, education, to telemedicine. What does this mean going forward and what is likely to stay the same?

If you think about it, a lot of times when you have a disruptive event like this, in this case a pandemic, it can cause people to change their behavior patterns. And when the driving source of those changes in behavior patterns goes away, it doesn’t mean that people will go back. Those people who really took online shopping to a new level might continue to do that going forward. I know, for my part, there are a lot of things that I never would have bought on Amazon in the past, and now I’m going to have them delivered from Amazon all time. I probably won’t change that back. It’s actually easier. My habits changed, and just became a thing. There are lots of things like that, but let’s step back and talk a little bit about what it means for how we operate our business and what we need to do differently to stay successful in this new environment.

One aspect of this is how agile your organization needs to be. I’m showing a chart right now and our data show that 76% of businesses said that they could implement significant changes in their organizations within days or weeks.

How Quickly Businesses Prepared To Adapt

If you’re not able to do that, you could be in a situation where you could get left behind. To feed into that line of thinking, it’s also important to think about another aspect of how this holiday season will be different. Given that the drive or the increasing importance of your website went up so dramatically, there may be some other aspects of shopping behavior that will change. And there’s another trend that feeds into that, which is that major players like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and folks like that are already moving away from focusing all of their marketing energy on this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And with the level of interest in online transactions having gone up so much, we expect that trend to continue. In fact, at Perficient, we talk about the notion of a cyber quarter that won’t really be all just about those two days. And, to be fair, Cyber Monday and Black Friday are still going to matter, but it’s not going to be an all or nothing bet like it has been over the past few years.

How 2020 Holiday Season Will Be Different

And then, personalization of experience is going to matter more. If people are more focused on being on websites, then the level which those experiences deliver value to those users and help them find what they want is critical. Certainly, there’s Google’s Core Web Vitals, Site Speed, and not throwing pop-ups in people’s faces and things like that. But it’s also what the level of personalization that you have within your website is and how you handle that. Are you doing persona-based, or are you doing customer journeys or segmentation? The chart I’m showing now shows a very large percentage of people investing in one type of personalization or another.

Types Of Personalization Businesses Planning To Add

We even saw 14% of respondents talking about doing individualization, which is really a very, very high level of customer service, if you will.

And then last, but certainly not least, and I’ve alluded to this already, everybody or a great majority of our respondents saw the importance of their website go up dramatically as a result of all this.

Increase In Investment Ratio In Response To The Pandemic

And the data that we’re showing now actually shows the ratio of those who were increasing their investment in a particular digital marketing discipline over those who were decreasing it. You see a crazy numbers. Five times as many people committing to invest more in SEO versus decreasing—almost six times for CRO, and so forth.

With these kinds of numbers—and even though I didn’t show that in this chart—keep in mind that the number of people in our survey who said that they were having no change in their level of investment was actually relatively small. It’s like a four to one net ratio of those increasing versus staying the same or decreasing. That’s going to put a lot of extra pressure on your business just to keep up. And you have to invest very heavily to stay competitive. And don’t just spend more, but really put some effort into optimizing those campaigns and maximizing your results from them to make sure that you get a good result during this holiday shopping season.

But, really one of the most important things I want to emphasize here is that the market is just going to stay more dynamic. I think we’re going to have an extremely fast-moving holiday season, and if you’re in a position to respond to changes quickly, really measure what’s going on in the market, make those tweaks, constantly optimize, not be overfocused on Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Look at the broader picture, be wise about your digital marking investments. It’s going to be the key to your success.

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Eric Enge

Eric Enge is part of the Digital Marketing practice at Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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