7 Hot Summer Marketing Strategies for Merchants

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 06 May, 2013

The flowers are blooming and the temperatures are rising, which means that summer is getting ready to make its official debut.


While this leaves most of us fantasizing about lying by the pool and sipping fruity drinks with umbrellas, online merchants are left strategizing ways to attract customers and increase sales during this notoriously slow time of the year. In order to allow merchants more time for the beach, Website Magazine has eased the process by compiling a list of seven hot marketing tactics that will help get customers out of the heat and onto your website. Check them out below:


1. Sizzlin' Social

Just because consumers will be spending the majority of their time at picnics and parks this summer, doesn't mean they won't be checking in with social networks on their mobile devices. This is why an active social presence can greatly benefit merchants during the summer months. Merchants should use these channels to promote products, sales and events. However, in order to capture attention, it is important to keep all status updates relevant (for example, don't promote a bathing suit on a rainy day), as well as to include a variety of content formats, such as images and videos. In fact, marketers can even save time by cross-promoting social content. For example, if a clothing retailer uploads a filtered photo of a best-selling outfit on Instagram or creates a video about summer's hottest fashion trends on YouTube, that content can also be shared to networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to reach a larger audience.


2. Effective Email

Just as consumers check their social networks while en route to their favorite summer activity, they also check their inboxes, which is why it is important for email campaigns to be optimized for mobile. That said, in order to influence consumers to skip the BBQ for a shopping trip to your brick-and-mortar store, merchants should re-evaluate their email strategy. For instance, maybe it's time to consider implementing better targeting features so that messages are more relevant. On the other hand, it's probably a good idea to retest delivery times, because the change in season often brings changes in schedules. However, aside from launching more targeted messages and prominently featuring sales, merchants can also try to influence customers into making purchases by incorporating ratings and reviews into their messages, which is feature that Listrak launched earlier this year. 


3. Hot Pricing

Although it is always a best practice to maintain competitive pricing, this is especially vital during the summer months. This is because an extra-low price or big sale could give consumers the extra bit of incentive needed to convert. In fact, merchants should use the summer holidays and events, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and "back-to-school" time, to launch and publicize promotions and discounts. Moreover, featuring a "Summer Clearance" section on your site and spreading the word about it through social and email can help to boost sales and clean out some inventory.


4. Must-Attend Events

Summer is a time for special projects, so why not throw an event to gain some exposure for your business? While brick-and-mortar retailers have the ability to throw an event at their physical location, online retailers can get innovative by hosting an event at a local park or with a platform like Google Hangouts. For example, a brick-and-mortar beauty store could host a skincare workshop, while an online pet supply store could throw a "picnic in the park" event at a local dog park (with the park's permission, of course). Furthermore, both types of retailers can throw an event, like a Q&A or new product showcase, on Google+ with Google Hangouts.


5. Real-Time Targeting

In order to influence the purchasing decisions of the consumers who have taken time out of their busy summer to visit your site, consider implementing real-time targeting to help close the sale. Fanplayr, for instance, offers a Smart & Targeted product that analyzes a merchant's site to determine the profiles of visitors that would be the most receptive to specific offers. According to the company, these real-time offers can increase conversion rates by up to 30 percent and average order values by up to 50 percent. Conversely, SteelHouse has a Real Time Offers platform that also allows merchants to provide personalized offers to shoppers based on their real-time behavior.


6. Blog for Traffic

As previously stated, summer is a time for special projects, so if your business doesn't already maintain a blog, it's time to start. Blogging can help merchants improve their visibility, as well as provides extra content for social and email campaigns. In fact, a HubSpot study reveals that on average, companies that publish 15 or more blog articles per month generate five times more traffic than companies that don't blog at all. Blog content should stay true to your brand and touch on topics relevant to your industry. Additionally, you can reach out to industry professionals for contributed content to post on your blog. Not only will this help you foster relationships with influential people in your industry, but it will also boost the visibility of your business, as the professional will most likely market the content to their friends and social networks.


7. Fresh Advertising

Last, but certainly not least, merchants should launch a solid advertising campaign this summer. In fact, brick-and-mortar merchants in particular should be using Google's new Enhanced Campaigns to reach customers who are on-the-go. For example, merchants can launch mobile-specific ads that target consumers within a certain location, such as within 5 miles of the brick-and-mortar establishment, and during a specific time-of-day, like business hours. Moreover, since summer is a time for vacationing to new places, merchants should consider launching ads on Yelp to target traveling consumers. Not only can merchants launch daily deals on this location-based service, but they can also advertise at the top of the Yelp search results and on the pages of related businesses.