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Brits to shell out up to £1,000 this Christmas, with local retailers set to benefit

Over 45% of Brits will be spending the same this Christmas, with 33% spending more, despite ongoing cost of living concerns.

That’s according to new research from local gift card champions Town & City Gift Cards, which surveyed over 1,000 consumers, employees and organisations.

28% of people said they’ll be spending £751-£1000 this Christmas, with the need to purchase gifts for friends and family given as the reason for Christmas spend staying the same or increasing.

But finding the perfect gift isn’t always easy with a huge 73% of Brits worrying about finding the perfect gift. The research also revealed a move towards more ‘useful’ gifts that offer choice with 89% planning to buy at least one gift card this Christmas. 92.9% prefer giving a gift card to cash with 77% saying this is because it encourages the recipient to treat themselves.

And, naturally, gift cards are a Christmas present that people want to receive too, with 89% saying they would like to receive a multi-store gift card that can be spent at more than one business and 94% preferring gift cards that can be used in various sectors, such as retail, hospitality and leisure.

Support for local is higher than ever with 98% keen to support local this Christmas and 87% saying supporting local businesses helps to keep them open. 60% say shopping local offers a better experience.

Colin Munro, MD at Miconex, the firm which provides the technology for the Town & City Gift Card programme and said: “The research revealed changing attitudes towards gifting with a greater emphasis on gifts that can be used in a practical way and offer the recipient choice.

“There’s also a really strong awareness of the need to shop local because people realise the impact it has on their community. Local gift cards wrap up choice and support for local in one gift card, reducing the pressure and worry of finding a perfect gift as the recipient can choose exactly what they want from all types and sizes of local businesses.”

Marketers warned to expect changing holiday shopping trends

Only 9% of consumers reported that they plan to spend more this holiday season, with 19% beginning their shopping in October, 29% starting in November, and only 10% waiting to begin shopping until December.

That’s according to a marketing survey conducted by Gartner, which indicates another 19% of consumers reported that they have been shopping year-round, up from 16% in 2022. This is a trend that will continue to grow.

In fact, Gartner predicts 30% of consumers will shop for winter holiday gifts year round by 2026.

The survey of 302 consumers conducted in June 2023 revealed that 28% of respondents plan to spend less this holiday season than in 2022, while 63% of consumers plan to spend the same amount this year as last year.

“This is concerning given that consumer spending during the 2022 holiday season did not meet industry projections,” said Kassi Socha, director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “Annual growth was attributed to higher prices on the part of retailers combating inflation, not an increase in consumer discretionary spending.”

“Retailers have continued to expand their year-round promotional calendar, and, in turn, consumers have followed their lead,” said Socha. “Branded summer sales are becoming more common, and while retailers don’t need to hang snowflakes in July to capture consumer attention, they should increasingly take holiday shopping into account beyond the fourth quarter of the year.”

Free shipping is no longer a differentiator, but a consumer expectation. Behind price, holiday shoppers noted free shipping (45%) as one of the top drivers in influencing a purchase decision. These were followed by value (35%), promotions or deals (33%), selection of gifts (24%), and ratings and reviews (17%) as the top reasons influencing a holiday gift purchase.

Though the majority of consumers plan to maintain most of their online shopping behaviors this holiday season, only 16% reported that they’ll shop more online than in-store in 2023, compared to 21% last year. Retailers with physical stores should market more than free shipping; Almost one in three consumers intend to utilize hybrid, same-day delivery or expedited shipping services for their holiday shopping needs.

“While CMOs need to ensure digital commerce success during the holiday season, brick-and-mortar store marketing should not take a backseat,” said Socha. “Marketers and advertisers have a critical opportunity to prevent further decline of store profitability and, in some cases, drive profitable growth by leaning into the competitive advantage that their stores have compared to digital commerce experiences: faster and more efficient fulfillment.”

Younger consumers are more likely to prioritize a company demonstrating social purpose. Among winter holiday shoppers, 13% of consumers selected an environmental, social and governance (ESG) factor as the most important factor when selecting a gift. For younger consumers, factors such as the gift being locally made or from a brand owned by a member of a historically underrepresented group are more important than access to expedited shipping.

“Marketing on cause is not without potential peril,” said Socha. “Retail CMOs concerned about taking a strong sociopolitcal stance and risking brand reputation in their winter holiday marketing should ensure it will be perceived positively and authentically by target consumers, and ensure preparedness if consumers react negatively.”

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Marketing experts crack Christmas code and reveal how to generate last-minute festive sales 

While eCommerce businesses should have planned in advance of the festive season, it’s never too late to implement new tactics to improve a brand’s Christmas marketing strategy to generate last-minute sales before the New Year ends. We spoke to marketing experts to gather the top trends eCommerce brands should be taking advantage of NOW before the end of 2022…

Digital PR 

For eCommerce brands with Christmas discounts and deals galore, taking advantage of shopping journalists is a good way to generate last-minute coverage and referrals to your site. Mollie Haley-Earnshaw, Account Manager at Wild PR, highlights: “The festive season is the peak period for gift guides, with journalists covering the best gift picks from a range of brands and across various budgets. For the eCommerce industry, it’s important to maximise organic efforts to support sales of hero products.

“Gathering the best discounts and products and forming a press release which covers off key details, such as product information, creating a bespoke media list and sharing this content with relevant journalists looking to pull together gift guides is a sure-fire way to place yourself in the festive online conversations before it’s too late.”

Being reactive to the news agenda is another tactic eCommerce brands should consider ahead of the New Year. Communication experts at Wild PR recommend paying attention to the news cycle during the lead-up to Christmas, considering how you could comment on topics relevant to your eCommerce business.

Twitter is also your best friend during this period. Monitor the #journorequest hashtag, and you can guarantee you will find an opportunity to get your business featured in the media.

For example, an eCommerce brand that sells ethical products should consider commenting on how to be sustainable during the Christmas period, when the plastic and packaging waste produced is considerably higher.


Integrated marketing agency, Fishtank, comments on the last-minute PPC tactics brands can take advantage of before the year ends. Fishtank highlight that the time between Christmas and January is called Q5 and is statistically the cheapest time to go big on social adverts whilst achieving outstanding results.

Fishtank adds: “High-quality visuals, including images, gifs and videos, are key to success during the holiday season. With so much competition, make sure your brand stands out from the crowd.”

Another PPC tactic to consider before year-end is reviewing past data. If eCommerce brands can analyse past performance and understand what worked best last year and what didn’t, this will help narrow down your focus and help optimise your budgets better.

Fishtank also recommends creating bespoke ad copy and implementing A/B testing for various Christmas-themed messaging, ensuring that target keywords are mentioned in the headline and description to increase the relevance of the ad copy.

Creating scarcity is another way to tap into last-minute shopping stress. In the PPC ad, an eCommerce brand should aim to emphasise fast shopping options paired with a product deal. Additionally, adding a timer to a display ad with a countdown to Christmas will help create a sense of urgency among consumers, encouraging them to buy.

Commercial Director at Circus PPC, Ahmed Chopdat, expressed how important Q4 is for eCommerce brands. The paid media specialist commented: Push PPC as a key marketing channel as this is where you can get instant results. The one channel you can rely on to be able to manipulate to help make up for lost sales in other channels is PPC, so it’s essential that not only you have it switched on during the Advent period, but that it is appropriately optimised.”


Usually, when customers are browsing your site in December, they’re taking part in some last minute shopping. For some, this could be considered stressful. To make the user experience stress free, eCommerce brands should drum up content that provides concise information on the products they’re interested in.

Examples include taking gift guide press releases and turning them into blogs, utilising user-generated content to drive campaigns to make them relatable, and making content shoppable; particularly on social media.

When drafting gift guides and blogs for a site, eCommerce brands should ensure that they’re keyword-rich to boost organic traffic. Engaging in on-page SEO will help search engines understand the content of pages so they can provide shoppers with the appropriate results. User intent should also be considered when drafting copy.

For example, if an eCommerce business knows its customers will be looking for inexpensive gifts or shopping last minute, then drafting gift guides with headings such as ‘gifts under £20’, ‘last minute Christmas gifts’ or ‘gifts with next day delivery’ would be catering to the users intent.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a powerful tactic to get your online store in the spotlight. Many might believe that SEO only works when a strategy has been in place months ahead of the festive season, however, there are SEO techniques that can support last minute exposure.

Keywords are key players in SEO, and are pivotal in bolstering eCommerce sales. Ideally, brands will begin to work on their Christmas SEO in the summer. However, while updating your online store with last minute  festive content, optimising landing pages, product pages, and blogs with seasonal keywords will assist in getting your eStore in the search results.


Landing on a website during the festive season and seeing pages come to life with Christmas-infused branding is a great way to engage potential customers. Fishtank suggests: “Add interactive seasonal elements to your website e.g. a Christmas gift hunt or falling snow across your website, adding a Christmas hat to your logo, adding festive website banners that feature holiday exclusive discount codes.

“An eCommerce brand could also add a holiday landing page that can feature exclusive holiday discounts and products for that season.”

Social media

Lastly, ramping up social activity is a foolproof tactic to undergo to generate those extra Christmas conversions. In December, potential customers love to engage with Christmas-themed content, such as advent giveaways and competitions and Christmas countdowns. To drive traffic to the site, it’s important to include a clear call to action (CTAs) with delivery deadlines, so it initiates a sense of urgency within the customer.

Running paid ads across social media platforms should be another consideration for eCommerce brands. During December, shoppers will be looking for the best deals and information on the products, and by setting up social advertising, an eCommerce store will expand reach and target people at the right place in the buying process.

Other festive social ideas include creating engaging visuals, utilising reels and video, incentivising UGC, and collaborating with influencers.

Wild PR also highlights that engaging in off-page SEO with social media is an effective way to generate leads, yield brand exposure, and engage audiences. Using social media will support the reach of your new festive content and will encourage more clicks to the online shop.

Ahmed adds: “Some channels, such as SEO, take longer to get desired results, so the earlier you have an idea of the messaging you’ll be using, the better!”

Katrina Cliffe, managing director of Wild PR commented: “Online exposure doesn’t happen overnight, which is why businesses need to crack the Christmas code early and ramp up their festive marketing campaigns before it’s too late. Ideally, this would be done during the summer months in the first instance, but sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Ultimately, these tips are the fundamentals to leveraging that extra bit of festive exposure while you still can.”

“If your Christmas strategy is already well underway, but you’ve forgotten about prepping for 2023, it’s time to get started. Before the end of the year, we really encourage eCommerce brands to tackle their large dev tasks, delving into technical SEO, optimising content and nailing your PR, social, and PPC strategies with the aim of getting ahead of competitors to kick off the New year.

“Another quick win to take you into 2023 is offering first-time buyers of your eCommerce store a unique discount that only activates in the New Year. This is a great way to generate repeat customers.”

Half of consumers will turn to Amazon for their Christmas shopping this year

Just under a half of UK shoppers (44%) plan to complete their Christmas shopping online this year — with a majority (42%) looking to turn to Amazon first.

That’s according to findings from the Episerver report “An Interview with The Couch Shopper: The Episerver Holiday Ecommerce Report 2020,” for which the firm surveyed 4,050 online shoppers across the world and performed 1.6 billion website sessions to uncover the behaviors and trends shaping the future of e-commerce.

The survey revealed that 42% of UK shoppers plan to buy most of their Christmas presents on Amazon this year, and 8% say they plan to buy all of their gifts on Amazon.

The study found that in general, 37% of UK online shoppers visit Amazon first when they have a specific product they’re looking to purchase, and 35% begin their shopping journey on Amazon even when they do not have a specific product in mind. 

Whether it’s with Amazon or another retailer, there will be an exponential increase in online Christmas shopping this year, amid the ongoing pandemic, and a majority of which will occur through mobile devices. In its analysis of web traffic, Episerver found that 2020 e-commerce traffic overall spiked 18% year-over-year, and mobile traffic specifically ticked up 5% year-over-year — now accounting for 59% of all traffic to retail websites. 

Episerver’s survey of consumers revealed the most active shoppers are also the most likely to use their smartphones: 53% of consumers who said they shop online every day primarily rely on their smartphones to do so. When viewed as a whole, the report’s findings indicate the need for retailers to tailor their content to consumers across all types of channels and to deliver a mobile-first shopping experience this Christmas and beyond.

“As Amazon claims an increasingly larger share of the market, retailers and brands can no longer compete by using broad promotions to stand out or catch consumers’ eyes,” said Josh Schoonmaker, senior director of strategy, commerce, at Episerver. “Instead, retailers must draw consumers in with intuitive online shopping experiences, compelling content, and personalised recommendations or offers.”

You can download “An Interview with The Couch Shopper: The Episerver Holiday Ecommerce Report 2020” here.

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 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 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.”