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christmas

Don’t trick your customers this Halloween, treat them with spooktastic content

By Katharine Biggs, Content and Marketing Manager at parcelLab

When I read that notonthehighstreet.com searches for Halloween are up 889% and already features in its top five search terms, I had to stop and think for a second: it’s still only just September, right? And we’re talking about 2020 – the year when Covid-19 turned the retail world upside down and left many bricks and mortar stores with no other option but to shut their doors for good. And then of course there is the long-term economic impact which last month saw the UK declared officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years. 

As summer draws to a close, I’m sure many of us find ourselves in this position every year, asking ‘Where has this year gone?’ But this has been a year like no other and now we find ourselves with 79* days left until Black Friday and 107* days left until Christmas for brands and retailers to navigate what the “new normal” will look like, adapt and prepare for what is traditionally the ‘peakiest’ season in the retail calendar. 

But Halloween is usually a slightly different story. Generally, this high level of searching and buying activity isn’t expected until October but still with 52* days to go until Halloween, it seems that consumers are already planning out their frightful activities. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise; for three-months, families were confined to their homes and staying in has become the new going out. So if you can’t go out trick-or-treating under social distancing rules, what better way for families to celebrate than in their own haunted house? 

According to Leanne Osbourne, Commercial Director at notonthehighstreet: “Customer searches for Halloween products such as unique food and drink, partyware, decorations, games & activities and clothing/accessories traditionally increase around mid-September, but this year searches began in early August as customers are planning further ahead for special occasions and celebrating key dates in the diary with loved ones at home.”

Yet the almost 900% increase that notonthehighstreet has reported wouldn’t usually be expected until the week before Halloween itself. 

Where are shoppers turning for inspiration? The digital screen in their home or pocket, of course. Great news for ecommerce, multi- and omni-channel retailers! Well, yes. But only if you are making the most of this opportunity by maximising value for your customers, and that includes after they have checked out. The post-purchase phase of the customer journey, where customers are tracking their delivery via email and text updates, is a prime time to put all your Halloween marketing efforts to good use. 

With open rates as high as 75% – significantly higher than the standard marketing emails that brands and retailers might put out – these email updates are a great opportunity to engage your customer and offer them something of value – which, in the spirit of Halloween, could be anything from how-to video tutorials, decoration inspiration, candy treats or ghoulish recipe ideas and other themed content that shows you, as a brand or retailer, care about your customer beyond the sale. That’s the foundation of long-term brand loyalty right there. As well as letting them know how, when and who will be delivering their items, it’s an opportunity to up- and cross-sell complementary products that will add to their Halloween festivities and ensure that they don’t go looking elsewhere for it. 

It’s all about communication. Create an open dialogue through this channel with your customers and give them an exceptional customer experience. Show them that you’ve got this covered and they’ll be coming back for more, well after the fake cobwebs have been dusted from the party – in prime time for the peak season to come. 

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

VIDEO: John Lewis paid Elton John £5m to be in its Christmas ad

When we see it, we’ll probably think it’s either another piece of creative/marketing genius from the Partnership, or a depressingly early opening salvo in this year’s retailer Christmas TV ad wars.

Either way, you’ll not be surprised to learn that Elton John’s cameo in the upcoming John Lewis Christmas 2018 TV ad cost at awful lot of money (fresh from the awful lot of money he was paid for a cameo in the recent Kingsmen sequel). £5 million pounds, in fact.

That’s half the ad’s reported £10 million budget. Ouch. To be fair though, he does provide the soundtrack.

And if that’s not enough, John Lewis last week dropped another high-budget ad in the form of a Bohemian Rhapsody-themed school play re-branding exercise (John Lewis becoming ‘John Lewis & Partners’ and Waitrose ‘Waitrose & Partners’).

You can watch the whole thing in its two and a half minute glory here:

Which Xmas TV ad was the most ‘emotional’?

There are a few traditions we have all become accustomed to in the lead up to Christmas, from Black Friday to the Coca-Cola truck, but the one that generates the most debate in marketing circles now is the Christmas TV ads.

We all have our opinions on the ad we find the funniest, most emotional, most Christmassy, but who REALLY made the best Christmas commercial last year?

Leading Conversion Optimisation agency Endless Gain specialises in using biometrics and psychology to understand human emotions and behaviour, and has apparently discovered the answer.

Garret Cunningham, Chief Operations Officer at Endless Gain said: “We focus on understanding consumers’ emotions when they engage with our customers’ websites. By understanding their emotions, we can then optimise them, reducing negativity and helping our clients be sure the experience consumers have when visiting their website is positive.

“With the ability to measure an individual’s emotional response to stimulus, such as websites, images and videos we thought it would be fun to turn this to the Christmas TV ads and stretch our analytical muscles to see what we can uncover.

For the study, Endless Gain chose six ajor retailers (Asda, Aldi, Argos, John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and very.co.uk) and analysed which ad created the greatest emotional response from the UK public – whether that reaction was positive or negative – and how that influenced their brand recall and preference.

Results covered:

  • Who created the most engaging ad
  • Was this driven by positive or negative emotions
  • Which ad made us feel good for the longest
  • Who failed to ignite the hearts of the audience
  • Who achieved peak joy

Analysis found that Aldi had the most engaging advert, 30% of the ad’s length the audience registered a significant change in emotions. M&S had the second highest level of emotional arousal (22%), followed by Asda with less than  15%. Regarding memorable ads, Aldi, Asda John Lewis and M&S all rated highly, while Argos and Very failed to make an impression.

The full report can be accessed below.

Who made the best Christmas TV advert this year? Biometrics has the answer…

Will Argos ditch its print catalogue?

British retail giant Argos is conducting digital-only trials to test the demand from customers to browsing and shopping online.

The glossy catalogues have been removed from a number of stores around the UK, with the initial response from customers being that they haven’t been missed.

If the trials continue with this, Argos could opt to pull all print catalogues from its stores in the UK.

The retailer publishes two catalogues a year – a spring/summer edition and autumn/winter edition. Stores are equipped with tablets allowing customers to browse and shop digitally in-store, with the print catalogues available to take home for additional browsing – especially popular with parents and children in the run-up to Christmas.

But it’s not all bad news for traditional print, as Argos has launched The Totally Awesome Toy Guide, a 152 page catalogue that focusses on gift inspirations for children and parents.

Speaking about the decision to launch the guide, chief toy buyer, Linzi Walker, said: “It can be hard to pick out the perfect toys for children at Christmas with so many new products to choose from – so the catalogue has a number of handy features all in one place; a user-friendly format, top toys for Christmas predictions and links to our YouTube unboxing videos.”