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In our ongoing “Questions from the Client” series, we dig into our grab bag of client queries to answer a question that current and potential SocialToaster clients have asked us. Today’s question: Help! I run a seasonal e-commerce store that focuses on Halloween costumes, candy, and decorations. Can integrating advocacy marketing into my Halloween marketing efforts help my store drive online sales? – Signed Eve Hallows (name has been changed to protect identity).

Our response: Absolutely!

Whether your goal is to drive sales via a short-term campaign or through an evergreen program, advocacy marketing can work wonders for your Halloween marketing campaign. Success comes from HOW you use advocacy marketing to help you meet your short-term sales goals.

 

Advocacy Marketing: Your Secret Spooky Sales Force

Before we dive into how to use advocacy marketing to help drive e-commerce sales this Halloween, let’s talk about why you’d want to use advocacy marketing in the first place. Advocacy marketing converts your shop’s biggest fans into brand ambassadors, sharing your Halloween marketing messages (including product launches, promotions, sales and other news) with their friends and family across social media. They provide word-of-mouth credence for your brand and your products.

The main reason to use advocacy marketing? To capture your share of the billions of dollars spent on Halloween related goods each year. In 2017, Halloween spending reached a record $9.1 billion. This year, more consumers are expected to participate in Halloween (179 million compared to last year’s 171 million), which means 2018 consumers are going to blow past last year’s spending.

That’s the market as a whole, but what about e-ommerce Halloween Sales? 2017 online sales of Halloween costumes increased 29% in compared to the previous year. Candy and decorations sales also saw a correlating lift. Simply put, more people are turning to e-commerce stores to fulfill their Halloween needs. This trend shows no sign of slowing down for 2018.

Advocacy marketing is perfect for helping e-commerce brands cash in (literally) on this lift in online shopping:

  • On average, brands see a 129% higher customer conversion rate when a new site visitor comes from a social channel compared to other paid media channels
  • Social customers are 4x as likely to spend MORE than customers without a social interaction
  • Small and medium online businesses get 60% of their sales thanks to referrals

 

Add Advocacy Marketing To Your Halloween Marketing Campaign

Don’t get spooked! Launching a successful advocacy marketing campaign is easier than you’d think. Below are some best practices and key tips to get you headed in the right direction.

1) Timing is Everything

It may seem like it’s already too late to launch an advocacy marketing program in time for the 2018 season. Not true! You still have plenty of time to launch a program in time to drive 2018 Halloween sales. Here’s the short-list on how to get started:

  • Decide whether to use an advocacy marketing platform (like SocialToaster) or if you want to handle the logistics of the program manually.
  • Contact SocialToaster and be assigned one of our expert Account Strategists who will work with you to build and design your program.
  • Launch your advocacy marketing campaign and start recruiting your biggest fans into your new program.

Regardless of whether you choose to work with SocialToaster or go the manual route, getting your program off the ground in the next few weeks is critical to ensuring your program is ready to go when your prime selling season is in swing.

2) Create and Publish Great Content All Month Long

While your program is being built, start creating and compiling the content you plan on sharing during the month of October. Remember, while some consumers will wait until the last minute to do their Halloween shopping, most e-commerce customers are purchasing their costumes and supplies early-to-mid month, so your shop should be pushing out Halloween marketing content all month long.

When creating content, focus on creating pieces that inspire, entertain and educate your advocates and the people they share with. Be sure to link any products featured in your content directly to their correlating product page on your store. Some content ideas to inspire you:

  • Create Halloween costume guides for all demographics – men, women, kids, couples, etc.
  • Create lists of the year’s most popular costumes
  • Share tips and tactics for trick-or-treating
  • Provide candy recommendations
  • Inspire party-throwers with decoration advice
  • Curate fun Halloween-themed recipes

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out this post.

3) Invite Your Customers to Show How Their Halloween Spirit

In addition to creating content on your own, you can also leverage your advocates to create content on your behalf! This type of content is known as user-generated content (UGC). We’ve talked before about how effective UGC can be at driving content sharing and engagement, but a few key stats to always keep in mind:

Get your advocates and fans involved by hosting a UGC contest through your advocacy marketing program. Encourage your fans to take a selfie or picture that shows how they get into the Halloween spirit or what costume they’re going to wear. Then have them hashtag that content with a unique tag you create just for this contest.

If you’re using an advocacy marketing platform like SocialToaster, you can automatically pull the hashtagged pictures directly into your account. From there you can easily monitor, moderate, and publish your favorite posts.

4) Use Your Advocates to Market Discounts, Freebies and Gifts w/ Purchase

Whether it’s free shipping, extra candy, or a steep discount on couples’ costumes, consider your advocates as a Halloween marketing megaphone for sharing your offer with their world. A quick discount code can be just what’s needed to take someone from considering a purchase to pulling out their credit card.

In addition to saving a certain percentage off their purchase, many Halloween retailers have seen success in offering gifts with purchase and shipping guarantees. Getting some extra candy or offering inexpensive 2-3-day shipping can help your store stand out in the crowded space of online Halloween retailers.

5) Tie Advocacy Marketing into Your Other Halloween Marketing Efforts

An advocacy marketing program is all about three things:

  • Driving content visibility and engagement
  • Sending qualified traffic to your online store
  • Building trust in your brand through social proof

As powerful a tool as it is, the reality is that most people don’t buy from an online store the first time they visit. This is why you need to be sure to incorporate your advocacy efforts into your other marketing initiatives:

  • Email – Include a call-out to capture a site visitor’s email address. Then include them in your email marketing initiatives moving forward.
  • Display Remarketing – Be sure any visitor that comes to your site through an advocacy marketing program is included in your remarketing and retargeting efforts.
  • Social Advertising – Create social audiences based on content engagement, then dedicate a portion of your media spend towards reaching those individuals.

Integrating your advocacy campaign into your ongoing Halloween marketing efforts helps you to continue to expand your list of retargeting leads, making your remarketing efforts more powerful.

The sooner you start building your advocacy marketing program, the sooner you can start driving online sales. Don’t be scared; our team stands ready to provide you with the strategy and services you need to succeed this Halloween season.