Beautiful woman shopping online for Christmas.As the business shopping season of the year approaches, most retailers are setting carefully crafted campaigns into place. They have researched the holiday predictions and planned accordingly with a goal to exceed last year’s sales and successes in mind.

It is never too late to make adjustments to your holiday shopping marketing strategies. Sometimes, it makes more sense to take a step back and look at past seasons’ successes as the best way to anticipate this year’s trends:

  1. Timing
    In 2014, Tuesdays or Wednesdays became peak shopping days instead of the previously popular Monday. The addition of these peak days reveals that retailers now have even more opportunity to reach their customers.
  2. Mobile
    Last year, mobile devices accounted for 45% of the holiday season web traffic which was a 26% increase from the previous year. The use of mobile will only increase – this is true for both traffic and sales. Last year tablets still led smartphones in terms of purchasing, but this year, mobile phones are on track to outpace tablets. With the upward trend of mobile shopping, retailers should make sure their site is fully operational and optimized for smartphone use in order to see these results.
  3. Mobile Browsing to In-store Conversion
    75% of consumers use their smartphones while shopping in-store to research products, read reviews or make sure they are getting the best possible deal before purchasing. Digital strategies should crossover into brick-and-mortar stores in order to accommodate consumers looking for relevant discounts – after all consumers now rely more on their mobile devices than retail sales associates.In addition to personalizing the mobile-to-store consumer experience, retailers also have the increasingly popular “buy online, pick up in-store” option. More and more consumers are looking to indulge in this convenience throughout the holiday shopping season compelling retailers to adapt or risk falling behind.

Utilizing past years’ information is important to gauge potential retail success for the upcoming holidays. This statement stands true for your affiliate marketing program as well:

  1. Evaluate the Past to Advance the Future
    Just as you should evaluate the previous year’s retail 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 how to plan 2015.Utilize the data to plan your placements on days with high traffic and high sales. Begin to reach out to your top performing partners now in order to make the implementation as seamless as possible. Since publishers are already planning their holiday schedules, it will gradually become more difficult to strengthen and optimize partnerships the closer we get to the holidays.
  2. Modify Placements to Align with your Publishers
    As history shows, sites that offer discounts are the most popular for shoppers looking to maximize their savings, followed by loyalty and rewards publishers leading the majority of conversions. In order to maximize your sales and exposure, it is important to provide publishers with accurate product information, early notice of best-of-web pricing and options to opt-in early.Incentivize your placements by presenting longer-term offers and increased commissions especially for publishers with high engagement and conversion. It is also beneficial to preview your deals as soon as possible to become part of the research phase of the product buying cycle.Deal sites will experience a surge in traffic around Thanksgiving and Black Friday since many retailers leak exclusive deals while blog and content publishers have the ability to promote offers quickly throughout multiple social channels. Make sure to develop strong and specific content for these partners to ensure you are targeting the correct audience.
  3. Strong Partnerships = Success
    Cultivate and strengthen partnerships as early as possible to take some of the stress off of an already demanding season. Make sure all of your affiliate partners understand your message and expectations. Building and maintaining these relationships is crucial for a successful holiday shopping season.Do whatever you can to assist and thank your partners for what we expect to be a very prosperous holiday season ahead.

By Jamie Rademacher of Rakuten Affiliate Network.

About Rakuten Affiliate Network
Rakuten Affiliate Network was voted the #1 affiliate network four years in a row and is one of the only affiliate marketing networks to facilitate long-term, profitable partnerships between advertisers and publishers.