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Believe it or not, the holidays are right around the corner. And as we gear up for holiday campaigns, analysts are predicting that this year social and mobile will play a larger role than ever.

The stats are staggering: 66% of Black Friday purchases last year were the result of a social media interaction, and mobile is expected to have an impact on 87% of all holiday purchases.

The stakes are now higher, and brands and retailers will need compelling, omni-channel campaigns that go beyond traditional coupons and sale notices to engage connected shoppers this season.

But how do you make the transition from marketing strategy to actionable tactics in time for the holiday season?

Well, if you need some inspiration, here are three ways you can integrate social—and mobile—engagement into your holiday campaigns for that magical "snowball effect."

1. Make your customer's life easier

Interaction via a wish list can help keep your customers organized and happy, not to mention helping to ensure that your brand stays top of mind. Wish lists also encourage users to explore products, share with their networks, and provide a convenient utility when consumers are shopping for your product or when visiting a retail location.

Sephora, for example, executed such a program brilliantly with its 2009 "Sephoraclaus" holiday campaign; fans posted their wish lists of products, the social feeds were aggregated for awareness, and Sephora granted one wish per day for 30 days.

The integration of mobile throughout your holiday wish list campaign can yield even higher returns as users engage with their list during a critical phase of the purchase cycle: in the store.

Other strategic uses include location-aware coupons or sale notices for items on their gift lists, which can be deployed for added convenience when they are at or near a retail location.

Another way to assist customers when the holidays get especially hectic is with product exploration. Have fun with it, as Capital One did in 2012 with its 12 Days of Pinterest campaign, in which sponsors could feature products to be discovered, pinned and won. Just be sure that the solutions are cross-platform and device-agnostic to allow the products to take center stage while consumers shop till they drop.

2. Allow them to feel good about giving

'Tis the season for gift-giving, and there's no better way to incite action than with a promotion, offer, discount, or deal that may be just the nudge your customer needs to act.

Uniqlo, for example, launched a compelling campaign last season called GIF Box; it used humorous animated gifs with coupon codes that went viral. There's nothing better than a good laugh and a great deal to endear you to your customers this season.

Except... well, gifts are great and all, but incorporating a theme of giving back can also help cut through the clutter of discounts and coupons and strike a chord with customers, all the while doing some measurable good.

By integrating a charitable cause into your campaign, you will not only help raise awareness—for your company and a great cause—but also have a positive impact on people's lives. MasterCard did so masterfully with its Ugly Sweater campaign, which asked fans to post their craziest pictures in exchange for a donation to support cancer research.

3. Help them spread the word

Join in the conversation with content that's produced for the sole purpose of being shared with friends. Just Born demonstrated this tactic with its Peeps Offerings campaign in 2012, which featured e-cards with a cartoon marshmallow chick along with an apology for some wrong that might have been committed during the year.

Another great way to engage your most loyal audience is lightweight gaming. Brands offer promotions, prizes, and points for high scores. This approach is particularly fitting for mobile and it has the potential to spread like wildfire. Disney Club Penguin, for example, holds a campaign called Coins for Change: In that virtual world, Penguins donate their virtual coins to causes they care about.

* * *

As you can see, connections—from helpful to heartwarming—can be forged easily, just by using a little imagination. From wish lists to social promotions, games to content sharing, it's easy to see how brands now have more opportunity than ever to create meaningful interactions with consumers as they prepare to part with their purchasing dollars during the biggest season of the year. (For more specifics, feel free to check out our related e-book on the topic.)

So, what are you waiting for? Engage—meaningfully and authentically—and aim to surprise and delight your customers with irresistible content. You just may find out it's the marketing gift that keeps on giving!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Jed Singer

Jed Singer is director of client engagement at Stuzo, one of the original five Facebook Preferred Developer Consultants. He specializes in social strategy, management, and social+mobile solution development.

LinkedIn: Jed Singer

Twitter: @jedsinger