Four ways retailers can enhance their digital strategy for Christmas

Using search and social insights from seven major Australian retailers from Xmas 2015, Matthew Bakmaz reveals how marketers can succeed with strategy this Christmas.

Every year, right after Father’s Day, the first Christmas decorations begin appearing in stores and ads start appearing on our screens. Without fail, this is then followed by a stream of complaints about ‘Christmas Creep’ and the commercialisation of Christmas.


It is a fine balancing act for retailers, with the festive season being the key period for the industry.

Not only is December the largest month in terms of revenue for the clothing and accessories industries, it is also the largest month in terms of total visits to their websites.

Retailers need to be adequately equipped to take advantage of this peak period otherwise their largest opportunity of the year is missed. This means understanding the market, consumers and most importantly, the trends.


Click to enlarge

For retailers, Christmas 2016 has well and truly started and for those looking to beef up their strategy for this year, here are some insights about Christmas 2015 and how they apply to Christmas 2016:

To assist marketers plan their Christmas 2016 marketing strategy, Hitwise, a division of Connexity has put together a Christmas Insights Report and wanted to share their top 4 tips.

We analysed traffic to the apparel and accessories industry and did a deep dive into Cotton On, Boohoo, Country Road, Forever New, Culture Kings, H&M and UNIQLO (referred to as competitive set).

  1. Boxing Day isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer the ‘one and only’ day to bag an incredible bargain
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

It is slowly turning into Boxing Week and some retailers are even trying to stretch it into a Boxing Month, keeping their sales going well into January. However, Boxing Day isn’t the only key sales period as data shows that Australian’s are looking for bargains well ahead of time through Click Frenzy (17th November) and even looking internationally to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period in the USA (27th and 30th November). Perhaps we are willing to forget about “Christmas Creep” when a bargain is on the line?

One client who is making use of this insight is Cotton On. They are taking advantage of these special sales periods (Black Friday and Cyber Monday in particular) to drive traffic to their site, using OzBargain and Email as key traffic drivers. In benchmarking their performance against their top 7 competitors, we saw that their traffic peaked in line with these key events in the industry.

  1. Year of the Mobile (Again?) Now it’s time to be serious when it comes to Mobile.
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Mobile/Desktop Split of Traffic to the Competitive Set – 12 weeks ending 26 Dec 2015

For experienced digital marketers, it may seem that every year since 2010 has been the year of the mobile, but looking at a custom industry of some key retailers, almost 60% of traffic in Q4 2015 was from a mobile phone or tablet.

The technical optimisation of your website for mobile is key, but so is the amount of spend and type of ad you target towards this device.

  1. Social – Different channels at different times. In a now cluttered social environment, understanding where and when is a must.
click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Social is a key channel for retailers but the strategy is different for each site and time of year. Instagram and Pinterest saw the largest growth in referral traffic to our custom industry in October and November while Facebook and YouTube saw the largest growth in December.

Use Instagram and Pinterest early on to drive engagement with visual posts. Use Facebook and YouTube close to Christmas to secure the purchase. 

  1. Menswear is on the rise

click to enlarge

Overall visitation to the competitive set category is unsurprisingly dominated by females in the 25-34 age bracket. However, segmenting this audience by specific products can help marketers create or enhance personas.

Searches for ‘menswear’ are consistently high from the beginning of October and peak in early December, indicating a highly organised audience, and isolating the people that are searching for ‘menswear’ provides a picture of young, tech savvy professionals who can be targeted on sites such as Gizmodo. The spike post Christmas is from those bargain hunting men looking for those post-Christmas deals.

Although there are many more aspects to planning a Christmas campaign, by analysing the actual digital behavior and search patterns of Australians, we can gain insights into what drives and motivates them, as well as the strategies that key retailers have successfully implemented to take advantage of this important period in the industry.

Matthew Bakmaz is an insights analyst at Hitwise


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.