Q2 is here, and marketers need to be more prepared than ever to balance the upcoming holidays, rising digital marketing trends, and preparations for Q3 and Q4.
Spring has sprung, and that means Q2 is officially underway for marketers. There’s plenty to plan for with two major holidays and a big shopping season in Q2, not to mention new digital marketing trends and critical upcoming shopping periods in Q3 and Q4. Marketers will need to balance looking ahead while also staying on top of what’s coming in the next couple months. Make use of these insights, tips and strategies to get your Q2 efforts laid out and put into motion.
1. Mom’s, Dad’s and Grad’s
Q2 has three key opportunities that marketers need to be mindful of: Mother’s Day (May 13), Father’s Day (June 17) and graduation season (early May through June). Though they’re not quite on the scale of back to school or the winter holidays, this quarter does see significant spending on gifts for mom, dad, and the grads. Consumers in 2017 spent an estimated $44.7 billion in gifts between Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduation season according to eMarketer data. These holidays have a huge opportunity to boost Q2 sales.
These spending periods have all shown growth each year dating back to 2015, indicating consumers have been comfortable spending more. Marketers should not only be aware of this trend but also the opportunity it presents to try different offers and see what ways they can reach these customers. You’ll want to know what consumers have been responding to when it comes to offers and advertisements when back to school shopping hits in Q3 (and, in all likelihood, Prime Day 2018) and the winter holidays in Q4. The best way to identify that is to leverage the holidays and shopping periods in Q2.
Keep an eye out for our data-driven insights on how you can make the most of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the graduation season coming later this quarter. You can read last year’s articles on Mother’s Day or Dads and Grads now.
2. Giving Shoppers Convenience They Crave
Digital shoppers love shopping online because it’s convenient for them. This doesn’t come as an earth-shattering surprise to many, but data released by eMarketer in late March indicates that convenience trumps everything else for online shopping – even the perceived cheaper prices and better deals that can be found online versus going in-store.
Marketers need to be aware of this not because it’s new, but because its importance shares what’s most compelling for their customers. You may have great discounts or offers that can’t be beaten, but if your shopping experience is laggy, cumbersome, or confusing, customers will be quick to find a product elsewhere – even if it means they’re paying more.
Marketers shouldn’t accept cart abandonment or lost customers to a difficult online shopping experience, and Q2 is a chance for brands and publishers to make changes before the back to school/winter holidays wave hits. Try to identify consumer shopping pain points in the shopping experience, and find ways to optimize them. This may be a longer process than a single quarter, but that’s all the more reason to get started.
3. Make the In-Store Experience One Worth Having
In the same study about online shopping, eMarketer also identified why consumers preferred in-store shopping. The overwhelming top reason was that shoppers like to see and try on items in person, with 74% of respondents feeling this way.
This has been discussed in previous blog posts, especially with relation to Gen Z shoppers who love in-store shopping, but this study reinforces why consumers prefer to go in-store. If you’re an advertiser that has brick-and-mortar storefronts you should be keeping in mind what sort of experience consumers are having, and if they’re able to interact or try the products as much as they’d like. You can also take this one step further and identify some of the most popular products for mothers, fathers, and graduates and have them on display for customers to demo/interact with.
4. Know Your Situation with GDPR
GDPR is coming on May 25, 2018, and if you’re not getting ready you should be. If you’re not sure if GDPR affects you, now is the time to figure it out. This EU legislation will impact more than EU brands, extending to any publisher or advertiser who might have EU customers.
If you’re not sure what GDPR is, how it will impact you, or how to prepare, fear not: we’ve published several resources on this, from a general FAQs and basic information to the importance of leveraging consent and how consumers feel when agreeing to share their information. We’ve also published a whitepaper, which you can download for free below.
Read our new whitepaper: Defining the GDPR Impact on Digital Advertising
Don’t delay on this – make sure you’re doing what you need in order to remain GDPR-compliant while also delivering a positive customer experience.
5. The Fight Against Ad Fraud
Ads.txt has been a common topic in programmatic advertising, and why shouldn’t it be? In the effort to reduce ad fraud, ads.txt gives advertisers assurance from who they’re buying from. In the wisdom of Rakuten Marketing CTO Neal Richter, ads.txt gives assurance to advertisers the same way getting a real Rolex (and not a fake one) means knowing where to buy and what sellers are real, versus the ones who could be fraudulent. It’s the same story for advertisers; through ads.txt, advertisers know they’re purchasing legitimate inventory.
And now, after some feet dragging, marketers are starting to get on board with ads.txt. This is both on the side of publishers and advertisers. A recent Digiday article notes about 60% of the top 1,000 publishers in the United States have uploaded ads.txt files to their site. Other sources in the article have noted even higher numbers, such as one source citing 82% of the top 10,000 domains they search having the files.
The result of increased adoption is ad fraud being heavily fought against and taken more seriously. Although there are holdouts hoping that ad buyers don’t rely on an ads.txt-only policy, the fact that adoption is picking up means ad buyers can have more options about who to buy with – and with the assurance they’re getting what they’re paying for in the process.
Ad fraud is something advertisers and publishers alike should be mindful of, and if they didn’t already start taking the right steps to protecting themselves in Q1, now is the time to do so. For more information on this, check out the latest Rakuten Marketing Radio podcast where we interview Neal Richter about this very topic. You can listen to the full interview below.
6. Start Thinking Back to School Now
Yes, even though we’re only just starting Q2 and there is plenty to focus on with the mentioned holidays and shopping periods, an even bigger one looms on the horizon: back to school. Back to school shopping will start at the tail-end of Q2 and go throughout Q3. As the longest shopping period of the year (and the second biggest, behind only winter holidays) back to school is huge for brands.
Advertisers and publishers do not want to be left scrambling with trying to get their offers out the door in time to capture the attention of shoppers, but they also don’t want to jump too early. The best thing you can do during Q2 is keeping back to school shopping in mind, and getting your strategies in place now. Some of that will be done throughout Q2 (such as seeing what offers customers are responding to during Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, for example), while other strategies will simply be paying attention to trends and seeing how consumers are behaving.
You’ll also want to brush up on Gen Z’s spending influence – both what they spend on their own as well as what their family spends on them. Finally, you’ll want to understand your different back to school shoppers – from pre-K to college – what their needs will be, and when they’ll be shopping. A good place to start would be in our blog post from last year about back to college shoppers and their shopping/spending behaviors.