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Marketers love research. So do, it turns out, the customers we serve. Viglink surveyed 500 general consumers about their shopping preferences during the holiday season. We amplified our geek out session as the Viglink survey not only solicited data from general consumers, but also 500 publishers that currently use an affiliate marketing platform. The two-pronged survey allows us to evaluate how well publishers’ marketing tactics are fulfilling consumer needs and wants. From the results, three leading consumer preferences emerged that publishers can piggyback off of, and reap the rewards:
- It’s all about timing- give them the type of information they want, when they need it most.
- The more information, the better- but make it a mix of third party validation and traditional content.
- In the end, it’s all about the money.
The 500 general consumers surveyed represent a true cross-section of holiday shoppers. In age, those surveyed range from 18 to 60-plus. Survey responses came from individuals in every region in the US and from a full spectrum of household incomes, ranging from low-income households to households with incomes over $200,000. On the publishing side, the survey connected with publishers from a broad range of topics. VigLink surveyed publishers with fewer than 5,000 unique monthly visitors to others with over 10 million unique monthly visitors. Overall, the survey took a wide-breadth look at publisher trends and consumer inclinations.
Survey Results & Analysis
Timing is everything
44.6% of publishers said they typically start pushing holiday-related content in October or November, which is perfect because most consumers, 59% to be exact, said they are planning to start shopping for the holidays in October and November as well. That probably doesn’t come as a shock to many, but timing is everything in the publishing world. In order to feed consumers the information they need, publishers first need to know when they will be gathering information to make a purchasing decision.
- 59% of consumers said they start shopping for the holidays in October or November.
- 48.8% of consumers said they do the most gift research when they are getting gift ideas.
- 20.2% of consumers said they start shopping for the holidays in December.
While most publishers will do heavy holiday pushes in November, it’s important to note that there are still last-minute shoppers that will begin in December. To increase engagement during those last few holiday heavy shopping days, publishers can repurpose content from earlier in the year, with a twist geared towards the holidays. This helps alleviate the need for new material, and ensures consumers are still being fed the information they need to make a decision.
Also, if you’re planning to put all your eggs in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday basket, we suggest switching it up this year. Of the surveyed consumers, a sizeable 40% said they do not shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Instead, these consumers are researching, planning, and ultimately buying items online and in-stores over the span of three whole months. In-depth product specifications–including product photos, dimensions, materials, and more–spur in-store visits and boost consumer confidence for online purchases as well.
Sharing is Caring
Consumers are constantly confronting holiday-themed marketing messages from a slew of brands and mediums. With the inescapable influx of holiday marketing in emails, web browsers, and mailboxes, it’s no wonder that some consumers become wary of flashy calls to action and promises. Sometimes, messaging is about sharing a message that’s not even your own, and could be very lucrative for publishers if used wisely.
According to the survey, 46% of consumers gather information about a product from reviews on a company’s website. Perhaps more importantly, 70.4% of consumers said customer reviews are the most helpful resource when making a decision about a product. The authenticity of customer reviews and testimonials feels more relatable and trustworthy than some of the more affected marketing tactics swirling around consumers day-to-day. On the other end of the spectrum though, the survey found that publishers pinpoint affiliate marketing, gift guides and advertising as the top content strategies for the 2017 holiday season.
- 50.2% of publishers said they plan to shift their content strategies for the holidays this year
- Of the content strategies that publishers plan to increase this holiday season:
- Affiliate marketing (50.2%)
- Gift guides (37.4%)
- Advertisements (33%)
- Articles mentioning products (32.8%)
There are ways to incorporate customer testimonials into other holiday marketing efforts. Customer reviews and testimonials can be embedded and utilized within gift guides and advertising. As for affiliate marketing, allowing a third-party source to validate a product is a powerful tool. This is especially true as 38.2% of surveyed consumers gather information about a product from third-party reviews such as blogs and forums.
But, if you’re looking to have a social media influencer validate your product, the jury is still out as far consumers are concerned. In the survey, 19.4% of consumers said they are more inclined to purchase if a social media influencer is promoting a product, and 19.8% of consumers said they are less inclined to purchase if a social media influencer is promoting a product. The take-away here is to be cautious and strategic in promotions with online influencers. Consumers are savvy enough to decipher complementary brand-influencer relationships and, more detrimentally, ones that don’t jive as well.
Show me the money
Pricing, especially in terms of discounts and coupons, is where consumers and publishers sync up most. In the survey, 43% of publishers said that the number one type of content shared during the holidays is pricing information, including coupons and discounts. This dovetails with the 57.4% of consumers who rank pricing information, including coupons and discounts, as the second most helpful piece of information when making a purchasing decision. Everyone wants a discount- that’s understandable. But the question becomes, are consumers jumping on the promos publishers share? Or are they waiting it out for a bigger discount?
- 22.8% of consumers make a purchase online the day they see a company running a promotion.
- 18.4% of consumers wait to see if the price goes down any further when they see a company running a promotion.
Looking ahead, publishers can further strengthen the value of their work in this sphere by providing consumers with the foresight they crave. Help consumers with holiday shopping research by providing low stock notices, in-store promotion details, and even hints about future sales or price hikes. In many instances, sharing such details will provide an urgency to purchase.
Give ‘Em What They Want
The first items on a consumer’s holiday wish lists are actually research resources: customer reviews, clear pricing information, and comprehensive product specifications. Melt away holiday stress for the consumer and, in the process, amplify revenues by simply giving everyone what they want.