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What Australian retailers can do to overcome the Thanksgiving threat


Christmas is more than a month away but time might be running out for Australian retailers.

That is the message from Responsys, a global marketing consultancy. The reason: Americans’ Thanksgiving, which traditionally marks the peak for shopping bargains.

“Aussie retailers should be planning to get ahead of the competition and rework their marketing calendar so they don’t lose out on sales,” said Tim Beveridge, director of Insights at Responsys.

Beveridge says Australian digital marketers have until Monday, 19 November to start their Christmas campaigns, or risk being buried by the avalanche of Thanksgiving offers, many available online to global shoppers.

“The number of emails combined with weight of chatter in social and mainstream media about Thanksgiving sales will entice Aussie consumers to spend. Smart Aussie retailers will start aggressive marketing campaigns in advance of this to avoid losing sales off-shore in this key retail period,” he said.

The USA’s biggest retail weekend includes Thanksgiving (22 November), Black Friday (23 November) and Cyber Monday (26 November).

“Global retailers are targeting Australian consumers every day, which means the tried and tested marketing calendar may need some adjustment,” Beveridge said. “Local retailers can use their natural advantages of being a trusted brand, offering fast or guaranteed delivery, pick-up and returns at local stores and having local call centres and in-sync seasonal ranges to out-manoeuvre the international monsters.”

Beveridge also offers the following eight “golden rules” for retail marketers this holiday season:

#1. Study browsing habits: Subscriber preferences don’t count for much now because people are buying gifts for others. A more accurate way of sending targeted emails is to base them on web browsing habits.

#2. Spruce up emails: Tests show images in emails can lift revenue per click by up to 25%. A Santa, snowflake, turkey or bauble could increase conversion rates.

#3. Make click-through easier: Get your user check out with less than four clicks, or risk consumers dropping off.

#4. Mobile is a no-brainer: According to Nielsen, the use of mobile has grown 189% over the past year. Mobile SMS messages tailored for Christmas are a must for marketers.

#5. Test, test, test: Start your seasonal campaigns early so that you have plenty of time to discover content that resonates best with the audiences.

#6. Time is key: Use milestones in your campaigns. Reminders such as ‘12 Days left until Christmas’ and ‘last day for free delivery’ lift conversion rates. Offering guaranteed delivery dates and in-store returns gives Australian retailers an edge over U.S. competition.

#7. Get a content plan: Content needs to be fresh and exciting to make sure open and click-through rates don’t tail off. Some brands will be sending up to one email a day in the run-up to Christmas. So including a range of different promotions such as dollar and percentage discounts is important.

#8. Responsive design is key: Marketers need to ensure their emails are formatted correctly for mobile devices with varied screen sizes and resolutions. Responsive design can raise response rates by between two and five percent.