With the busiest shopping season of the year quickly approaching, most advertisers and publishers are carefully crafting and implementing their holiday campaigns. They have researched shopping trends and planned accordingly keeping last year’s successes in mind with a goal to exceed sales in 2016.

It is never too late to fine tune your holiday marketing strategies. Now is the time to take a step back and look at past seasons’ successes as one way to anticipate this year’s trends:

  1. Timing of Offers
    Consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier so it’s important for advertisers and publishers to promote deals and offers earlier in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday to grab the attention of any potential customers. Publishers should work with their advertiser partners to make sure deals are ready to be launched. These deals don’t necessarily need to be live at that time, but simply giving consumers the “heads up” that a deal is coming, can be very effective serving as a reminder to ensure they return to your site to make a purchase. When planning your offers, Kim Read, Vice President of Operations at RetailMeNot encourages brands to be competitive, “more frequent offers with shorter duration periods will keep your customers coming back to check out that next promotion. The average duration we typically see across our site is 3.5 days.”Even though last year saw a significant increase in Thanksgiving as a major shopping day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are still the days to watch. Digging a little deeper into the data, we found that 9am on Black Friday was the peak hour for both traffic and sales. Customers are shopping in the morning and utilizing in-store pick-up options in addition to other delivery options to get their products before leaving to shop in-store. On the other hand, the peak hour on Cyber Monday was 9pm. Consumers are shopping after work and waiting until night to make sure they have seen the best deals throughout the day. Knowing when customers are most likely to convert is crucial for both advertisers and publishers planning to promote their holiday shopping deals and discounts.
  2. Mobile
    Mobile shopping is now an integral part of the customer journey. Based on Rakuten Affiliate Network’s data, mobile sales grew 59% year-over-year (YoY) from 2014 to 2015 and generated 40.5% of holiday traffic during 2015. The convenience and accessibility of smartphones has made it easy to shop anytime, anywhere, making it effortless for customers to research last minute deals, find flash sales, explore different offers and select a product to purchase. Publishers should make sure that all content is up-to date and mobile-compatible to boost site visits and conversions.
  3. Mobile Browsing to In-store Conversion
    The increase in mobile shopping has also influenced the rise of in-store pickup. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, 32% of holiday shoppers made a purchase online for in-store pickup. In-store pick up is becoming increasingly popular because it provides the convenience of online shopping with the immediacy of getting same-day merchandise and avoiding any shipping costs. The best part is that the customer can shop online on their own time, buy the product when they’re ready and pick it up whenever they choose.
  4. Strong Partnerships = Success It’s important to cultivate and strengthen publisher partnerships as early as possible to take some of the stress off an already demanding season. Building and maintaining these relationships is crucial for success throughout the year, especially during this critical shopping period. This is also the time to expand your network and seek out new publishers that will allow you to expand your audience. And, remember to assist and thank your partners for what we expect to be a very prosperous holiday season ahead.

Utilizing past years’ information is important to gauge potential success for the upcoming holidays. This statement stands true for your affiliate marketing program as well. Just as you should evaluate the previous year’s retail and placement trends, you should also review last holiday season’s affiliate marketing strategy and performance. Ask yourself who your top partners were, what your marketing strategy looked like and if there were any missed opportunities to provide insight for this year’s holiday strategy. And after that…go shopping!

About Rakuten Affiliate Network

Rakuten Affiliate Network, connects content sites and social influencers directly with their favorite brands, enabling them to earn commissions by promoting products they already use. Our network works with the top brands and publishers from around the world and offers vertical expertise, white glove service and the tools and technology to help you outperform your revenue goals. Advertisers and Publishers alike have voted Rakuten Affiliate Network the #1 Affiliate Network five years in a row. Find out why by contacting us today.