LinkShare today announced that it has developed a set of marketing best practices -- derived from previous years' data and the company's ongoing consumer research -- to prepare its network of retailers and affiliates for the upcoming romantic holiday.
These tips are delivered to clients following a very successful online holiday shopping season within LinkShare's performance-based marketing network, which saw a 27 percent increase in "Black Friday" same store sales this past November, versus the 1% reported for overall online sales.*
LinkShare's retailers rely on the network's affiliates to promote their brands and products to online consumers. To help its merchants overcome the current economic challenges, LinkShare distributed a series of e-newsletters to its members which included past shopping trend data as well as industry "best practices" on how to maximize online sales.
Network retailers and affiliates are urged to offer special Valentine's Day values to entice increasingly reticent online shoppers.
Past data shows a significant spike in clicks, orders and sales within the categories of flowers, gifts and jewelry the three weeks prior to the February 14th holiday. In addition, a recent study commissioned by LinkShare revealed that retailers offering value pricing, promotional incentives and leveraging a wide variety of partners to engage online shoppers will experience increased success as the economy forces consumers to become more aggressive when looking for deals.
"Valentine's Day represents a great opportunity for online retailers," said Yaz Iida, co-president, LinkShare. "Today more than ever, merchants need to start thinking differently about how they approach today's increasingly cautious consumer. We are finding that incremental, strategic changes in the way retailers reach out to shoppers can make a big difference. Brand loyalty is under assault -- merchants that give consumers a reason to be engaged are going to come out winners."
Within the LinkShare network, retailers in the jewelry category saw a sales increase of 76 percent during last year's Valentine's Day period. This year, in an effort to grab the attention of online shoppers, network jewelry merchants are offering special promotions -- and have started advertising early.
"As an online jewelry store, Valentine's Day represents a significant source of our annual revenue," said Paresh Vadavia, Affiliate Program Manager, Ice.com. "And, with consumers tightening their wallets, it's more important than ever for us to be part of a network that helps promote our brand as well as helps keep us current with consumer buying behavior.
This information is critical in keeping our loyal consumer base engaged with both our company and our products."
In addition to the jewelry industry, flower retailers typically see a tremendous increase in orders around Valentine's Day. In 2008, LinkShare's network of floral retailers saw a 149 percent spike in orders in late January and the days leading up to February 14th.
"We are aware that the economic climate means consumers are changing their shopping patterns," said Chris McCann, President of 1-800-Flowers.com. "Through the LinkShare network, we recognize there are two kinds of shoppers -- the early planners and the procrastinators. Armed with this knowledge, we have been able to target each of these groups in a way that engages their individual shopping personalities. The ability to identify and connect with our online customers is so important in establishing brand loyalty."
In addition to the standard Valentine's Day gift categories of flowers, jewelry, gifts, and food & beverage, LinkShare predicts an increase in "gifts of experience" this year, as the romantic holiday falls on a Saturday. This means retailers specializing in travel should benefit from weekend getaways; these merchants should capitalize on this opportunity by offering online shoppers special promotions as incentives.
Posted By Andrew Redfern
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