Five Consumer Holiday Shopping Trends That Will Affect Your Business in 2016

Consider Google’s recent insights on shopping for the holidays:

  • More decisions are made in micro-moments throughout the day—like when waiting, walking or commuting.
  • More decisions are made on the phone—up to 30%, according to Think With Google. In fact, shopping-related searches have grown more than 120% in the last year. And 82% of smartphone users will consult with their phone while they are in the store.
  • 32% of shoppers plan to use video for holiday purchases.
  • 64% of smartphone viewers would rather watch a video to answer questions than pick up a phone or read a manual.
  • Sundays are the biggest shopping days. And yet, the day when more businesses have shorter hours or are closed altogether.

Perhaps the biggest shift is that we have gone from focusing on a given task to splintering tasks into hundreds of bite size moments, according to Lis Gevelber, VP Marketing at Google.

Gevelber says these moments “are increasingly where hearts, minds and dollars are being won and lost…. And companies that measure and respond to micro-moments are gaining a very big edge on the competition. Mobile is the new from door to your brand and your stores. Are you at the door, ready to help?”*
So what does this mean for your business—even if you aren’t in retail? Often, the service industry will lag retail trends, but retail trends are a harbinger of consumer behaviors that will come your way. Here’s what you can do right now to respond to these:

  • While mobile must be a central part of any marketing strategy, having a mobile-friendly site is not enough. The content that your customers most crave must be available and easy to use on mobile.
  • Attention spans are shorter, so content you want to convey has to be delivered as snackables—short messages that fit between a myriad of other tasks.
  • Consumers want content in video form—and frequently will choose it over “reading”.
  • Can your customers find what they want on weekends and evenings—when they have discretionary time?

Now’s a good time to think about how these trends will affect your business, and to ask what your competitors are doing better than you are in each of these categories.

* Source: Micro-Moments and the Shopper Journey

Create Micro-moments for Your Clients

Whether or not we like it, we are increasingly people of the moment—or even the micro-moment. We hear about a book and want to order it right then. We see a plant and want to identify it, or spot those fabulous boots and want to buy them.
What does this mean for marketers? You already know that mobile use is sky-rocketing. But it also means that your digital presence is vital. How you look and feel in the first seconds of a customer interaction determines if they’ll stay or go.
Good writing, good design and having a mobile-friendly site isn’t optional any more. It’s imperative. If your company is already there, hooray. But if they’re not, learn to create the moments your clients crave—and see what happens.

8 Tips on Getting People to Read your Emails: Part 2

In our last blog entry, we talked about how hard it’s getting to get others to read your emails, and gave you the first four tips on making yours more likely to get read. Here are the final four tips:
5. Avoid mitigated language.
Go from words like “it’s important that this is finished by June 10” to “You’ll recall there’s a trade show on June 15, and if we don’t have this finished by June 10, we’ll miss the chance to showcase this product to 50,000 potential customers.” So often we assume people will realize these unspoken things, yet often a reader’s time constraints don’t give him or her the chance to make those connections.
6. Make the connections for the reader.
Providing brief context helps the reader link your request or comment to something bigger that is important to them.
7. Shorten, shorten and shorten.
After you write an email, try to cut it in half. A long email makes it more likely yours will go in the “I’ll get to this when I have more time” bin—and ultimately may not get read at all. Remember too that many readers will decide whether or not to read your email on their phone, which requires even more scrolling to get through the message.
8. Don’t send it.
Sometimes the best thing is not to send it at all—so you don’t get marked as someone who sends too many emails. The busier the recipient, the more they’ll appreciate your ability to include them only on things that really require their attention.

8 Tips on Getting People to Read your Emails: Part 1

Some people get hundreds of emails a day, and don’t even attempt to read them all. How can you see that yours get to the “read this” status?

1. Start with the main point in a single sentence.
We’re sometimes tempted to start at the beginning to tell the whole story, thinking that a reader needs to understand what led to the point. In some cases, this requires too much work for the reader to get to the point, so they jump ship. Start with a summary statement that gives them enough information if they go no further—or a reason to proceed.

2. Invest in writing a good subject line.
This not only helps someone decide if he or she should read it, but helps them find it later. Retrieval of emails later can be time-consuming and downright frustrating if the subject line isn’t clear. Examples:

  • Need your review on the Smith case by tomorrow
  • Potential delay in shipping of the direct mail for Anderson & Evans, Inc.
  • Cost increase on ad space for Henderson Windows account

3. Make it easy to browse.

  • Use subheads to help the reader find the section pertinent to him or her.
  • Use bullets instead of paragraphs.
  • Underline, highlight or change font colors on the key point (deadline, cost increase, action needed).
  • Make action items and next steps stand out visually (in the subject line, when appropriate).
  • If more detailed back story is imperative, indicate where the reader can find it. Title it clearly and put it at the end, so only those who want it can find it.

4. Give your reader just-in-time information.
Many readers prefer to focus on just the next step, rather than the next 10 steps. Most don’t have time to save it and review it over a period of months as it becomes relevant.

One Easy-to-Fix Reason Your Ads Don’t Work

You’ve put together an elegant campaign—all the right messages, all the right media. And then it happens.
You drive the reader to your website, and lose them.
This occurs too often, but there’s a simple solution: the campaign microsite.
A campaign microsite is a website that is exclusively developed to support the campaign. It allows you to control the user experience, deliver on your ad promises, and curate the strategic messages you want your viewers to see—without any advertising messages that you can’t control.
It also keeps the viewer from having to dig through your website to find the promised message—which often ends up losing them if the content can’t be found fast.
Want to see a microsite that’s working in action? Email us at for one of our latest examples.

Combat Negative Publicity

Is your company misunderstood? Are myths about your industry hurting your own organization? When the media doesn’t report your story accurately, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you simplified your message down to its essence?
  • Is the message relevant? 
  • Is your message being delivered in a compelling, memorable way that stands out from your competitors’? 
  • Are you reaching the right people? 
  • Are you delivering it over and over? 

Being proactive in telling your story is imperative when your company’s story isn’t understood.

Need some inspiration? >>

A national association used this video as part of a campaign to refute some of the myths about private higher education.

9mythsap copy.png

This app was developed to pair with a national association's video to get their key messages into the hands of policy makers in a mobile-friendly format.

Executives for Hawaii’s largest health plan used this PowerPoint presentation to personally take their message of innovation to community leaders.

A state-wide association takes their message to the people in this video that showcases little-known facts about their organization. The video serves as a versatile and ideal tool for social media, websites and presentations.

3 Ways to Help Your E-message Get Read

Using targeted email, e-letters or e-blasts to get heard? Then you already know that unsolicited messages, or those that you initiate, play by different rules than messages that readers seek out.

Here’s why. Today’s email reader:

  1. Decides within the first few seconds whether to keep reading. So if it isn’t relevant or looks too overwhelming—with lots of grey text and no visual interest—your reader won’t go further.
  2. Doesn’t want to work hard to see if there’s something of interest to him or her.
  3. Gets too much communication. If the spam filter doesn’t filter it out, they’ll attempt to triage it quickly—based on those first two to three seconds. First impressions are everything.
  4. Scans, rather than reads. And does so in this order:
       •  Pictures
       •  Headlines
       •  Subheads and captions
       •  Bulleted lists
       •  Last of all, blocks of text
    If you can’t interest them with the first few, they won’t go further.

Today’s e-communication has to get past obstacles to get read. Here are three tips:

  1. Get the reader’s attention and keep them from leaving. Make an offer, offer content they relate to or show a picture the reader will connect with.
  2. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Don’t bury it inside long paragraphs, but giving them directional signs—like captions, subheads or bulleted lists.
  3. Make a call to action that’s easy to spot. Link to more information, a phone number or an email address.

Remember that when you initiate the communication, it’s up to you to make it interesting enough for the reader to commit time to it. And that begins by knowing how your readers will take in information and what obstacles will prevent them from getting your message.

Can You Tell Your Company’s Story in Two Minutes?

It’s true, we all want to hear the short version. So give it to your audience in video form—a two-minute or less rendition of what you’re about and why they should support your company.
In this video, we worked with the Independent Colleges of Washington to refresh their story for their 60th anniversary.
What would you want your clients to know about your company if you had two minutes of their time?

Do More Digital Marketing

Looking to deliver more of your message electronically? Consider the following ways to extend the reach of your message:

  • E-letters
  • Mobile apps
  • E-cards
  • Digital outdoor boards
  • Banner ads
  • Blogs

Need some inspiration? >> 

Mobile Apps

This mobile app for a national association was designed to reach policy makers and was paired with a video to deliver facts that refute common misconceptions about private colleges and universities. A mobile app is a good way to keep important information in the hands of your customers, as it can be deployed and updated quickly.


Sent via an email link, an e-card is a popular and affordable way to connect with your customers in a fresh way.


The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities put a fresh spin on their annual meetings invitation by commissioning this motion graphic—which was posted on their website and distributed via an email link.

WBC Screen4.png

Point-of-Purchase Electronic Boards

This revolutionary new business used a point-of-purchase electronic display to deliver brand messages.


Web Banner Ads

This hospital banner ad targeted specific customers and paired a holiday message with a subtle message of health—and linked viewers to their website.


Digital Outdoor Boards

This electronic outdoor board placed on well-travelled Los Angeles corridors increased awareness for this regional law firm.