August 12, 2010, 3:07 PM

Want to connect with consumers over the holiday season? Try gift cards and coupons

Many consumers searched online for gift cards and coupons last holiday season.

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Many more consumers searched online for gift cards and coupons last holiday season. Searches with the term ‘discounted gift cards’ increased from .07% of all searches during the 2008 holiday season to .17% in 2009, according to a new report from Experian Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic.

Discounted gift cards experienced the highest increase compared to 2008, but coupons also were big. In 2009, retail coupon-related searches increased by 19% over the previous year, notes the report, which offers data from last year’s holiday season to help marketers this year.

The trend extended to e-mail. Gift card promotions in holiday e-mail marketing messages more than tripled conversion rates for multichannel retailers last year, according to information from e-mail service provider CheetahMail that Experian notes in its Annual Holiday Benchmark Report.

Additionally, free shipping offers with no minimum spending requirement had 70% higher conversion rates, triple the revenue per e-mail and more than double the average order value compared to free shipping offers with minimum requirements, CheetahMail’s research finds. 

CheetahMail estimates overall e-mail volume will increase 15% to 20 % for the 2010 holiday season in comparison to last year. CheetahMail also found 28% of inactive e-mail subscribers were re-engaged between Oct. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2009—a 15.7% increase from 2008.

Experian’s research also noted the following about consumer trends and predictions for the holiday season:

  • As observed over the last six years, the most popular day of the year for visits to online retail sites in 2010 will be Thanksgiving Day. Experian says this is mainly because consumers are researching sales promotions for the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, when many consumers flock to shopping malls.
  • The day after Christmas will be the second most popular day for visits to top retailer web sites this year, as consumers investigate post-Christmas sales.
  • In 2007 and 2008, the first weekend in December was the high point for visits to retailer sites during the last month of the year. However, in 2009, the second weekend ranked higher, suggesting that improvements in shipping times have led to holiday shopping procrastination.
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