When business becomes crazy during the holiday rush, companies are prone to making the occasional mistake. Luckily, in retrospect, these problems often become teaching moments that influence future improvements and programs. For many, social and mobile tactics still lack the strength necessary to garner loyalty and engagement. These tools offer vast opportunities, but while most brand recognize the potential for success, many have yet to integrate these channels into their overall marketing and sales strategies.Here, 1to1 Media speaks with Brian Smith, founder and CEO of BizBrag, to explore the social and mobile mistakes companies typically make during the holiday season and how these lessons will impact their loyalty and engagement efforts throughout 2014:
1to1 Media: What mistakes do brands often make during the holiday season in terms of social marketing and sales?
Brian Smith: The biggest mistake brands make during the holidays is ignoring the huge marketing and sales opportunity in local-social. It can be difficult for large corporations to interact with consumers in a meaningful way, leaving consumers feeling lost in the crowd on a corporate social page. Studies have shown that local pages, though having a much smaller number of fans and followers, have a much higher engagement rate. Consumers prefer a dialogue, even on social, with their local source--whether it's the Starbucks down the street where they get coffee each morning, or their favorite clothing store where they always shop--rather than a corporate entity to which they have no connection. These local social pages, though, are often blank, or lack quality, consistent content, because they don't have the marketing might that the corporate level does. Corporate branded messaging, marketing, and sales content needs to be shared out to the local pages. It is a huge opportunity for revenue and a chance to show true ROI from social.
1to1: How can companies learn from these mistakes in order to improve their social strategy in the New Year?
BS: Each experience is helpful to improve social strategy. There is no holy grail for social media--it's a matter of trial and error, and collecting data. Companies should keep a close eye on engagement, taking note of what content sparks shares by consumers and what gets click-throughs to purchases, to determine what worked this season. Building on this data and starting early for next year's strategy planning will ensure success. Too many brands go into the holiday without a real plan for social marketing. They're prepared to respond to customers on social, but they also need to plan to be proactive about it. Having an organized plan in place in terms of topics, posts and media makes engaging consumers much easier. It's easier still if the plan is informed by experiences and data from previous years. This data collection is not limited to the holidays, either! Though the numbers may be lower during the rest of the year, staying up to date on social trends, updates, advancements, and new tools all year will make the next holiday season stronger.
1to1: In what ways can companies embrace and integrate mobile sales for further success in 2014?
BS: Mobile sales are huge, and are getting larger. According to data acquired by IBM, mobile sales accounted for over 17 percent of sales on this year's Cyber Monday. That is a 55 percent increase over last year, and this growth trend is expected to continue, so brands need to be operating in this space.
Online shopping on tablets and smartphones is all about convenience. Consumers want to be able to make purchases wherever, whenever they want from a variety of devices. Companies that don't have their online stores designed to be compatible and user-friendly on mobile devices are missing an enormous opportunity. Customers will eventually leave them for companies that do focus on mobile accessibility. Focusing on a convenient, user-friendly design for mobile sales is key.
1to1: What steps can brands take to ensure they remain on the customer's radar after the holiday rush?
BS: A well executed social strategy during the high volume sales time will have no doubt brought in new customers, and brands need to keep them engaged. Don't fall off the map as soon as January hits! Continue content strategies that keep your brand relevant to your customers, making sure they know you haven't forgotten them simply because they aren't buying as much as they were in December. Utilizing those local-social channels is an important way to stay engaged with loyal customers. Offering close-out specials or loyalty deals are great ways to keep your brand at the forefront of your customer's minds, so that next holiday season, they won't be shopping around--they'll already know where they're going to make their purchase.
1to1: How can these companies build and encourage loyalty that lasts the whole year through?
BS: Social media is a tool that can be utilized and leveraged for high quality, consistent interactions with consumers year round, not just during the holidays. A strong content marketing strategy distributed to social feeds is integral to building customer loyalty, as they will have a place to give direct feedback on a brand and/or product. Using data collected from previous strategies, a company can tailor content to a precise audience, and use what works.
Leveraging local social is another key component, because of the personal connection. No matter how excellent the quality of content coming from the corporate office is, the average customer probably will not feel connected to such a large entity. They will, however, enjoy interacting with the local shop where they got their nephew his favorite gift this holiday season. It is essential that the local pages offer content to these followers so that the most engaged consumers have a chance to share, connect, and buy from their local spots.