News Update :

Target Readies for Holiday Shopping

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

As I was writing yesterday’s post on search and social media, I was trying to recall some recent news. I thought I remembered that Target had already announced free shipping for Christmas, so of course, I searched. What I found suggests a savvy marketer who understands the changes in consumer online shopping and search behavior.

I searched “Target Christmas shipping.” I didn’t have to look for a news article; I found a paid search ad from Target as well as top organic placement for their Christmas page—ugh; Halloween was day before yesterday! But it was there, complete with a WalMart paid ad in second place. Both the pay per click ad and the organic result linked to the Christmas page on the Target site. And I was right; they have a shipping deal. Note that other sites/bloggers are already plugging the free shipping for them! I didn’t follow those to see whether it was normal buzz or whether Target was reaching out. Wonder if they have to reach out, or if they just get the buzz because they are Target . . .

It’s a well done page, but nothing particularly special. There’s email, personal pages, gift cards, and all the other holiday and gift services you’d expect from a world-class retailer. Interestingly, I didn’t see anything social on the website, so I checked out their Facebook page. Target has 567,758 fans, including some of my friends; I didn’t realize you saw people you knew when you visited a corporate Facebook page. Makes sense! No Christmas promotions, though—not yet anyway! I also looked on Twitter, but didn’t find Target there. Trying to be sure, I looked on the Target home page. No link to their Facebook page (seems like an oversight to me) and no link to a Twitter page.
I’m ambivalent about whether they’ve integrated this promotion into social media as they should. They’ve done the search, both paid and organic, well. Is it too early for holiday postings on Facebook? I think so. It will be interesting to look later in the season and see if holiday promotions begin to appear on their Facebook page and on other shopping sites; also to look at whether it’s Target doing the promotion or whether it’s their adoring shoppers writing about a retailer they love.

Also, while one role of social media is to bring consumers to the website, if Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are part of the marketing communications mix, it makes sense to put them on the home page. I’d be willing to be that there’s little activity from home pages to social nets; just call it another awareness thing.

The take aways? As the studies quoted yesterday say, search is still the main driver, but the social networks are full of brand buzz. Also, integration is key, but integration that understands the role of different media at different points in the sales funnel.
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