If only the world of marketing came with a little respite once in a while. As a chaotic, tumultuous holiday season packed with desperate brainstorming sessions for new holiday slogans, themed ads and special offers draw to a close, marketers find themselves tasked with campaigning their way through the new year lulls.
While the transitional months from winter into spring are typically quiet for many businesses spanning retail and eCommerce, more companies are assembling marketing campaigns in order to win customers and maximise profits during the spending downturns of January, February and March.
As we can see from the chart above, drops in retail sales from the build-up to the festive season into the new year can amount to a 30% fall in purchases among consumers. The chart, which has plotted out the recent history of retail sales in the United Kingdom, shows that while spending has steadily increased, peaks in spending around Christmas time have been consistent until 2020.
The arrival of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, however, pointed to a significant disruptive influence in retail sales online in the UK. With more citizens facing more time spent indoors while social distancing and isolating away from the pandemic, it appears that more online shoppers chose to spend their money on goods and services.
With the pandemic culminating in a widespread shift towards workers transitioning away from office commutes and towards working-from-home (WFH) and the continued prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic around much of the world, marketers may be facing a fresh opportunity to create successful marketing campaigns during this traditionally slow period for sales.
Realizing The Greater Roles of Social Media in the WFH Landscape
The rise of WFH looks as though it’s here to stay, and this could carry significant ramifications for the world of marketing – especially as social media campaigns continue to gain traction among marketers aiming to generate greater brand awareness and loyalty alongside advertising campaigns.
(Image: Marketing Charts)
According to the metrics above, social media usage in the US was set to accelerate significantly in the wake of COVID. With more citizens across the world unable to interact with friends and family in person, social media usage became more prevalent. With one social network, TikTok, experiencing a huge increase in users.
(Image: Marketing Charts)
The height of the pandemic saw more marketers take to tapping into the potential of this huge new network of active social media users. In fact, as much as 84.2% of CMOs looked to use social media to build brand awareness online, while customer retention and acquisition both ranked high.
While businesses can certainly tap into social media for continued campaigning following the conclusion of the festive season, one of the most significant drawbacks of this time of year amounts to how best marketers can utilize their social media campaigns to draw in new and returning customers.
With this in mind, let’s explore some of the key ways in which CMOs are looking to keep things fresh when it comes to content in the new year:
Champion Community Interactions
There are few better ways of entering the new year successfully than to work towards championing community-driven content. By opening your business up to its community, you can not only share their content but also build a significant level of brand loyalty and awareness online. It’s even possible to build a space for dedicated users to interact with each other and share their experiences and ideas using platforms like Mighty Networks or Zapnito.
Kristen Baker, a marketing manager at HubSpot explained that “in today’s highly digital and connected society, it’s funny to think people can still feel disconnected from others. This goes for personal relationships as well as business relationships – specifically between brands and their customers as well as brands and their employees. So, what is it that has people feeling a disconnect to others and the companies they do business with? It’s a lack of community.”
One key example of an organisation building a huge cross-platform community through marketing can be found on Netflix. When the company teamed up with content marketing agency, Mustache, the result amounted to a series of new social media accounts using the @NetflixIsAJoke handle to post funny videos, memes and other forms of content.
The campaign prompted a vibrant community across a range of platforms and generated around 3.5 million new followers for Netflix in the process.
By spending the quieter months following the festive period working on building a community and engaging more with your social media followers, you could not only establish more brand loyalty but build a deeper understanding of who your customers are and the sort of content they would like to see. You could even invite them to create content on your behalf and share the best entries in return for a prize.
As marketing budgets tighten following the holiday season, user-generated content can pay dividends in keeping your social media followers engaged and continually clicking on your brand for updates. This, in turn, can lead to a healthy boost to website traffic, conversions, and much more engagement later on when new promotions kick-off.
Work on More Organic Promotions
There are many reasons why the new year is a good time to start interacting more with your customers. In the age of WFH, it’s likely that they’ll have more time to spend on social media, and in those long drawn out winter months, they may actually crave some interaction with people – even if that ‘someone’ actually turns out to be a brand.
You can help to foster a sense of loyalty by introducing a more evergreen promotion in the form of a loyalty scheme. As a new year arrives, customers may be looking for new challenges, and a loyalty or referral program could be perfect for keeping them engaged in those early months.
There are plenty of ways in which you can introduce a loyalty program specific to your business. The classic approach made popular by both coffee shops and bookshops is a stamp card where every purchase equals a stamp. After a pre-determined number of stamps, the customer can receive a free product or service – or a freebie.
If your business is more heavily dependent on service subscriptions, then it’s possible to run a referral program where customers get discounts for referring friends. You could also introduce tiered loyalty schemes where customers can move through tiers based on the purchases they make. The higher the tier they’re in, the greater the discounts.
Naturally, these more organic and evergreen promotions encourage customers to convert more often, knowing that they’ll be rewarded for their loyalty. At a time that’s traditionally much more tranquil following the frantic festive season, loyalty rewards can bring a significant boost to conversions.
Promote Self Improvement
The rise of the pandemic has led to a widespread increase in self-improvement measures. Whether it’s eating healthily, regular exercise or mindfulness, it seems that these trends are likely to continue in the age of WFH.
This could be a significant opportunity for social media marketers who are looking to increase brand loyalty in the new year. Your social media marketing efforts can resonate with consumers more by promoting self-improvement.
Be sure to generate trust in your brand by sharing your expertise, creating tutorials to share across social media (these can be video-based or textual), or even creating online courses central to your content.
These approaches can add value to your business on social media, and followers will feel emboldened in following you and taking on the information that you share.
The notion of self-improvement can be a significant tool for businesses to use in their marketing campaigns in January and February, where New Year’s resolutions remain fresh in the minds of consumers online. Position your online self-improvement materials on your social media accounts as a means of offering your followers the opportunity to learn through your company’s expertise.
This social media marketing approach can be created as a freebie or as a paid service, but as long as it demonstrates value to your customers, it’s an effective way of resonating with their mindsets following on from the festive period. This boost in loyalty and awareness among your social media follower will lead to more click-throughs on to your landing page and subsequently more conversions from users who were content with your self-improvement content.
Content Trial and Error
Of course, it’s vital at this time of year to continually monitor the performance of your campaigns. Raw metrics are likely to show drops in the number of conversions being made with your company, so it’s important to look elsewhere for key indicators surrounding how your campaigns are taking shape.
By running links to your website’s landing pages from social media, you can actively review each step of your sales funnel through dedicated analytics engines like Google Analytics and Finteza. Both platforms are capable of providing rich insights into the causes of page and cart abandonment and various bouncebacks.
At a time of year where consumer spending is largely frantic, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your funnels are kept squeaky clean and free of any potential sticking points for non-committal visitors.
Be sure to regularly monitor your social media links and posts, and always compare and contrast your performance by looking into the various impressions you’re getting and the click-through rate that they’re generating.
It may even be worth setting up different landing pages for each social media platform so you can better identify the best-optimised campaign for each network.
As the frantic festive period and the huge marketing pushes of companies become a memory, it can be much more difficult to generate campaigns that can see similar levels of traction. In markets with a little less consumer spending power, the process of trial and error can really pay dividends in spotting newly emerging trends and capitalizing on them.
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