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November 5, 2021
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The Holiday Shopping Season | Is your business ready?

Last year’s holiday shopping season was a bit unpredictable, to say the least. Retailers did their best to communicate business updates related to the pandemic and meet the needs of consumers. Curbside pickup was in full swing, e-commerce solutions were being implemented, in-store shopping policies were updated to allow for social distancing and so much more. In 2020, small businesses worked to discover the best ways in which to reach their customers in real time.


The pandemic has certainly caused a quick evolution in the way consumers discover businesses and products and purchase goods and services. As we are on the cusp of the 2021 holiday shopping season, retailers find themselves incorporating practices they learned in 2020 into their business plans to once again best serve their clients and customers. However, this year, the addition of supply chain problems pose new challenges for retailers.


As such, local businesses must work to ensure that they are reaching local consumers early and often in order to reduce pressure as we draw closer to the holidays. Below, we’ve highlighted some findings that provide insight into how to best acquire and retain customers – two business elements that are crucial for any organization.


Acquisition + Retention


In the business-to-consumer (B2C) world, customers have more shopping options to choose from, more research channels to utilize to evaluate organizations and their products and more flexibility to choose the medium on which they ultimately purchase products. As a result, organizations need to become well-versed in a customer-centric approach to both earn new business and maintain their current consumer base.


According to a recent Borrell survey, local businesses felt that social media (65%), search engine marketing (52%) and community partnership development (31%) were the most effective ways to acquire new business. This is in order of the percentage of local businesses who used these tactics to acquire new business. However, while digital advertising channels are at the forefront of many marketing plans, we would be remiss not to note the value in diversifying your online ad strategy and the value in developing offline marketing collateral.


As brands adapt messaging for different advertising goals, marrying online and offline channels achieves both authenticity and top-of-mind relevancy. As consumers are beginning their holiday shopping earlier and earlier, retailers have the challenge of maintaining their marketing and branding efforts for a lengthier period of time. According to Statista, 43% of consumers are most likely to begin their 2021 holiday shopping before the end of October, 25% are likely to begin before Thanksgiving, 19% are likely to begin on or after Thanksgiving and 12% are likely to begin in December.


As 31% of consumers in the U.S. reported that they are more receptive to ads during the holiday season, this is a fantastic opportunity for organizations to increase brand exposure, leverage a consumer’s interest in a topic or product via data analytics and connect repeatedly with local consumers. Incorporating print and offline marketing collateral into an advertising campaign allows companies to reach different pools of potential customers for extended periods of time as the shelf-life of print products are seemingly infinite.


Content Creation + Emotional Connection


In addition to a targeted approach to generate leads, businesses looking to increase brand exposure can work to do so by creating an emotional connection with a target market. According to the results of Iterable’s Holiday Quick Poll, 83% of respondents indicated that they were more likely to purchase from a brand that they have an emotional connection with.


Successful marketing campaigns are frequently built from content that is valuable and relevant. Within the Times Union’s upcoming Shop Local initiative, our native Brand Spotlight package affords businesses more control over the message and the story they can tell through multiple channels. Through a print advertorial, a digital advertorial on, social media promotion of the story and native ad positions on, a company’s custom content will reach different subsets of people, expanding overall reach. Brand Spotlights include metrics that paint a full picture of how a campaign performed. We track not only total impressions, but clicks, click-through rate, and the total time on page.


Interested in sharing the unique elements of your business? We encourage you to learn more today about the ways in which the Times Union’s Shop Local initiative helps to provide insights into local establishments that in turn highlight the immense value such organizations have on our community.


In Conclusion


Before launching your holiday marketing campaign, we recommend considering your organization’s needs – both in the present and in the future. As with any other marketing strategy, breaking down and analyzing goals is the first step to launching a successful advertising campaign.


While adapting to the changing times and leveling up your marketing game is challenging, there are numerous platforms at your disposal to reach your target audience and do so in a unique way to differentiate your business from the competition. The Times Union Media Group is here to help your business attract consumers early and often as we head into one of the most exciting times of year for retailers and consumers alike.



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