Marketing to Women: 7 Tips for Selling Gift Cards Right Now!

November 17, 2012 § 1 Comment

Gift cards are set to reach an all-time high in sales this year.  National Retail Federation’s 2012 holiday consumer spending survey  shows that 81.1 percent of shoppers will purchase at least one gift card and will spend an average of $156.86 on gift cards, the highest amount in the survey’s 10-year history.  Total spending on gift cards will reach $28.79 billion.  We have put together seven tips on marketing gift cards to women right now!

How do you get the most from your gift card business?

1.  Sell an experience.  Maybe you could package a special experience for the shopper – a set of cooking lessons, a day at the spa, a day fly-fishing or a set of special bed linens.  It makes the gift card more personal for the giver and the recipient.  The recipient gets to pick the time or the sizes.

2.  Sell a popular package or specific amount that covers a popular item.  Don’t assume the shopper knows your store.  The shopper may have budgets for spending and may not know what an appropriate amount buys in your store.  A man may need help to know what to spend in a cosmetics or lingerie store.  Almost anyone needs help knowing what to buy a teenager.  And nothing is worse than getting a gift card to an expensive restaurant that doesn’t even cover the cost of the appetizer.

3.  Put together suggested gift lists.  This is another way to let customers know what a appropriate gift card amount might be.  A list of items for $25, $50 and $100 should suggest the right amount for the buyer.

4.  Make sure your website is gift card friendly.  Some 77% of retailers sold gift cards online last year. We know that consumers buy gift cards for convenience so the ability to buy gift cards on your website is extremely important.  Research indicates that many times gift card purchases come from outside the state where you are located.  Make the gift cards prominent on the website and make sure that buying a gift card is extremely easy with as few clicks as possible.  Allow people to share their experience online as well.  Make sure gift cards can be purchased on those smartphones as well.

5.  Make Gift Cards a Main Message.  Restaurants and department stores have long known the value of gift cards but other industries have lagged.  It’s not too late.  Get messages up in your store and at your check-out areas promoting gift cards.  Think about corporate sales and incentives.  Use social media to promote gift cards and the ease and convenience of them.  Put a voicemail message on your phones to promote gift cards.

6.  Send well-timed emails for more online sales.   Time your emails to land in inboxes on appropriate days like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.  This year Hanukkah begins December 8 and ends December 16.  Kwanzaa begins December 26 and ends January 1.  First class domestic mail deadline this year is December 20 and parcel post is December 14.  Research has shown that 50 percent of instant gift card sales take place within 48 hours of Christmas, with December 24 being the top day to purchase a gift card online.

7.  Treat the buyer as well.  Promote a creative offer that rewards the buyer as well.  “Buy $100 in gift cards and get a $20 gift card for yourself.”  Not only do gift cards help your after Christmas sales, but a bonus may cause the buyer to create another occasion for using your business.  Offer specials for people in your neighborhood who may not get out to shop often.  Think about other business owners, first responders and retail workers.



Marketing to Women: Daily Deals Losing Their Allure

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

It looks like daily deals are being dealt a double blow – their business model is flawed and consumers are losing interest at the same time.  The average revenue per customer at Groupon  fell to $63.96 in the 12 months ending September 30 from $76.49 a year earlier. Merchants are finding out that their effectiveness is waning. A  recent Raymond James survey of some 115 merchants that used daily deals services during this found that 39 percent of merchants said they were not likely to run another Groupon promotion over the next couple of years.

Reasons cited by businesses not choosing to run deals again were:

1.  high commission rate

2.  low rate of repeat customers gained through offering a promotion

3.  losing money on the promotion

4.  daily deals seen as less effective than other forms of advertising

As retailers cool on daily deals and are turning to other methods of marketing to women, companies like Groupon and Living Social are trying to reinvent themselves  through ventures such as Groupon Goods and LivingSocial’s Shop that offer more traditional offers.  Currently Groupon holds about 50% of the daily deals market.

Marketing to Women: How to Avoid Daily Deal Disaster

November 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Restaurant Hospitality provided a great checklist to use when running a daily deal (Groupon, Living Social, and the 100 others available in your community).  There have been some businesses overwhelmed with daily deals gone bad.  The two categories that seem to benefit the most from daily deals are restaurants and beauty treatments/products.

Best Advice:  Set an objective for what you want the daily deal to accomplish.  Do you want incremental business during a down time?  Do you want to encourage trial of a new product or a larger purchase?  Do you want to encourage frequency? Do you want to appeal to a new target audience. Match your offer to your objective. 

Some tips for Daily Deal marketing –

1.  Payment.  Find out from the daily deal provider when you will receive payment.  The big players usually take at least 20 days to deliver the first payment.  Smaller providers might provide better terms.

2.  Targeting.  Who or what are you targeting?  Dayparts such as lunch business or dinner business?  Locals versus tourists?  New products or core inventory?  Most daily deals should be to enhance your business and encourage additional sales.  Do you have a plan in place to convert users into an additional visit or purchase?

3.  Promotion.  Daily deal providers can do additional promotion for their offers like television and print advertising. See if your provider will provide extra promotion.   And you might want to make sure you broadcast your offers on social media. Daily deals and social media like each other.  A recent study by Edison and Arbitron found that daily deal users are more likely to use social networks. The study reports the average daily deal user had about 255 friends on Facebook.

4.  Pricing.  I really like the example given for restaurants.  Look at your average check or  transaction. If your objective is to stimulate sales during a down period and the average check is $40, you might run a $15 offer for $30 worth of food and drink.  If you are a provider of beauty products, you might offer a new high margin service/product with a low product cost.

5.  Service.  The last tip is making sure all of your employees are knowledgeable about the offer and provide the customer with personalized service and high quality.  Nothing turns off a customer more than a server or sales associate that is indifferent,  knows nothing about the offer and seems put off by the redemption offer.

6.  Engage New Users.  Make sure you track your new business, making sure you get their emails so you can continue to communicate your offers to them.

Daily deals may be still by growing but it is among the big players.  According to BIA/Kelsey, United States spending on daily deals, instant deals, and flash sales is expected to hit $2 billion in 2012 and continue to grow to more than $4.2 billion in 2015.  However, one-third of all daily deal sites have disappeared.  Research by Foresee, conducted in November and December 2011, shows that 60% of visitors of the top 40 websites were enrolled in at least one daily deal site. That’s a decrease from the previous spring, when the figure was 65%. And the percentage of subscribers who had purchased a daily deal over the last 90 days was shrinking, from 67% in the spring of 2011, to 63% in the early winter of 2011.

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Marketing to Women: Just in Time Emails

October 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Holiday marketing has begun. Does it matter when your email arrives in your target’s email box?  Well,  a new survey sheds light on how timing of an email reaching a recipient’s inbox affects engagement and purchase behavior.  Conducted in September 2012, the StrongMail Email Delivery Performance Survey 2012 included more than 700 business leaders participating in the global survey.  Some of the survey highlights include:

— 80% have seen performance increased for emails delivered during a particular time of day

— 61% cite a decrease in performance when emails don’t arrive at scheduled time

— 74% would like more control over the arrival of their campaigns

— 53% are not currently testing for an optimal delivery window for their email campaigns

— 61% are not currently doing any segmentation of email campaigns by time of day

When Consumers Prefer To Get Emails

Most consumers have a preferred time of day to shop online, but  research shows retailers are not aligning their email campaigns with those preferences, according to an October 2012 report from Yesmail. Here’s the kicker.  This report shows consumers (39%) preferring evenings between 6PM and 10PM as their preferred online shopping time, while just 5% of the email campaigns by top brands tracked over a 3-month period were delivered during that time window. The research suggests that the night time preference might be attributed to commuters shopping on mobile devices. Every target audience and geography has a preference of is own that should be determined by the marketer.   The majority (41%) of retail email campaigns are sent between 2AM-6AM, with another 31% from 6AM-10AM. These two time periods were preferred by just 5% of the consumers surveyed.

Marketers should consider timing their email campaigns based on subscribers’ channel preferences, as consumers who shop in-store indicate very different patterns than online shoppers. For example, 79% of in-store shoppers prefer to shop over the weekend, versus 31% of online shoppers. Among those online shoppers, 47% who identified a day-of-week preference selected a day between Monday and Wednesday.

What Consumers Want in Promotional Offers

What type of promotions get our consumers’ attention?  Consumers say the promotions that most influence them are percent discount, free shipping, money off, buy-one-get-one-free, gift with purchase and rewards points. When actual email promotions were tracked for a 3-month period, they measured up to consumer desires.  Discounts were the majority share (54%) of email promotions, followed by free shipping (30%), money off (13%), rewards points (2%), and a gift with purchase (1%).

For those of you who have not sent your first holiday season email, here’s some news that might give you pause.  Fifteen percent of top online retailers sent their first holiday email campaign in September this year.  That 15% is up from 11% only two years ago.  Everyone is vying for holiday dollars this year.

 Shopping Begins in October.  

Most consumers (51 percent) start their holiday shopping in October or November.  Twenty percent start their shopping before October, though 24 percent wait until December.

Marketing to Women: More Connected with More FOMO

October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

New information released from My Life shows that while women are more likely to be a member of Facebook and login more frequently,  they also exhibit a “fear of missing out (FOMO)”.  The study also reinforces the fact that women are more likely to check their e-mail accounts more often.  We are all living in “real time”.  Social media and email brings the world to us on a constant basis.  The world is increasing our interactivity constantly.  As I write this the first Presidential Debate is airing.  It was the most tweeted and Facebooked political event in history.  Social media has become the proverbial “water cooler” and “backyard fence”.

Facebook Fascination

Lots of studies have shown that women are more active in social media so what’s the news here?  Well, not only are women more likely to be a member of Facebook but they also check-in with more frequency.

  • 95% of women surveyed belong to Facebook vs. 86% of men
  • 67% of women login to Facebook once a day or more as compared with 54% of male Facebook members
    • 21% of women login 2-3 times a day vs. 15% of men
    • Only 13% of women say they login to Facebook less than once a week. One in five (20%) of men said the same

Women are also checking into their email more regularly than men.

  • 83% of women check their primary email once a day or more vs. 75% of men
    • This goes up to 90% of females age 35-44 as compared with 85% of men the same age

Why the FOMO Funk?

Why do women have this fear of missing out on things?  For email, could it be that women are constantly in charge as the Chief Operating Officers of their families?  They are dealing with children, family, spouses.  Women are juggling work expectations and dealing with family schedules.

In connecting to their social networks, women are looking to their friends for the news they can use.

  • 65% of women (vs. 59% of men) say they keep an eye on their social networking profiles because they don’t want to miss news or an important event or status update
  • One quarter of female respondents (25%) said they typically visit or log-on to their social networking profiles when they wake up, before they check their email accounts. Only 18% of men report checking social networking profiles before e-mail
  • 47% of women wish there was a solution to help them manage all their social networking profiles (vs. 40% of men)

Marketing to Women: “Christmas Creep” is Here

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Have you had your first Christmas sighting yet?  We know retailers are already busy and shippers are coming out in the stores.  Consumers are already planning their ho-ho-holidays.  My Pinterest friends are busy posting Halloween and Christmas ideas at the same time.  So “Christmas Creep” is here.  “Christmas Creep” is the term for retailers who begin promoting Christmas earlier every year.

And here is the proof:  Fifteen percent of top online retailers have already started the holidays in their email campaigns as of September 6, according to the 2012 Retail Email Guide to the Holiday season study released by Responsys. That’s up from 11 percent at this same time in the past two years.

What about consumers?  A survey done in late October by YouGov BrandIndex found that nearly one-third of shoppers had already started shopping for holiday gifts. Nearly half expected to start before Thanksgiving, according to the survey.

Layaway is the first letter to Santa.  In 2011, Walmart reintroduced layaway for the holidays, after getting rid of layaway five years earlier. While last year’s layaway program began on October 17, this year’s layaway will start with electronics and toy purchases of at least $50 starting September 16, 2012.

Christmas merchandise is arriving in the stores now.  Retailers have a schedule of special promotions in the “preseason” before Halloween, then again with “early Black Friday” sales in November, and finally with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and what’s traditionally been peak holiday shopping season.   Some started as early as July with Black Friday in July and Cyber Mondays in July.

For those of you who don’t have your plan in place, here are some trends for the 2012 Holiday Season.

1.  Thanksgiving has replaced Black Friday as the kick-off of the season.  More stores will open on Thanksgiving Day this year, along with special online sales. Last year, 75% of major retailers sent at least one promotional email campaign to their subscribers on Thanksgiving Day, up from 60% in 2010 and only 45% in 2009.

2.  Express shipping and Free shipping are expected– all up to December 21 which is affectionately called “Last Sleigh Day”.  Fifty-five percent of major online retailers offered free shipping last holiday season.

3.  Santa’s helpers are mobile.  The days they are most likely to be away from home are as follows:

— The day before Thanksgiving, which is the busiest travel day of the year

—  Thanksgiving Day, when most consumers are with family with a smartphone in their purse or on the couch watching TV with a tablet on their laps, or out shopping with their smartphone in hand

—  Black Friday, when many consumers are out shopping at brick-and-mortar stores

—  Christmas Day, when consumers are flush with gift card cash and shop online because stores are closed

—  Weekends during the height of the holiday season in December, when weekend email volume is about 50% higher than at other times of the year.

Marketing to Women: Showrooming and the Holidays

September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Showrooming” is all the talk among retailers as the holiday shopping season approaches.  Showrooming is the practice of shopping in a physical store and then buying online.  It has become a concern for retailers because of the proliferation of mobile devices that allow comparison shopping to be as near as your smartphone.  A fact for those marketing to women:  some 45.9% of online shoppers have engaged in showrooming.

Recent research by Exact Target says that 44% of customers use mobile to shop in-store, and a similar number (45%) said they would leave the store to buy online when the online price was 2.5% lower.  At 5% lower, 60% said they would leave.

But retailers with mobile sites and apps should take heart.  New research from Foresee surveyed more than 4,000 customers who had visited the top 20 retailers’ mobile site or used their app within a two-week period.  Research showed that 59% of the mobile devices were being used from home and 16% while preparing to visit a store.  Those most likely to use mobile sites or apps   are those more familiar with the brand.  So brand is still important no matter where the shopping is taking place.

What can a retailer do to prepare for this retail season?

1.  Remember that your brand is still important.  Many things make up a brand. A differentiated shopping experience is a draw to consumers.  Unique product selection, smaller stores, unrivaled customer service, personal shopping, pick-up service, in-store demonstrations/classes and personalization can be important components of your brand.   Target pushes its suppliers to offer exclusive products that can’t be found elsewhere. It also has quadrupled the number of items available online and is sending special coupons directly to customers’ mobile phones.Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is emphasizing in-store pickups for online orders—many available the same day they are purchased—allowing customers to avoid shipping fees.  Lululemon offers a unique lifestyle brand.

2. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.  Do you have a website optimized for mobile?  Do you have a full selection of your products and services online?  If comparison shopping is going on, you must have a full complement of products for that comparison.  Email and text messaging are strong methods of communication.  Big box retailers like Target, Walmart and Home Depot are developing indoor navigation tools for shopping.  Walgreen’s customers can make a shopping list and the items will be spotted in a store map.

3.  Pricing and Value.  Okay, so you know that the real competition is online.  Is it all about pricing?  Well, if your goods are not unique, curated to your shopper and part of a branded look and feel, then yes, it is all price.   Online sales still represent only about 8% of total retail sales in the U.S.—but that is up from just 2% in 2000. Amazon ranked as the 13th largest retailer in the U.S., up from 19th one year ago. By the end of this year,  retail analysts expect Amazon to rank 10th, replacing Best Buy on the top ten list.  And Amazon prices are 9-14% lower than most retailers.

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