Is Halloween considered a trick or a treat by your marketing team? Thanks to a steady tide of pop culture, Halloween has gradually captured the imagination of British consumers desperate to shrug off the onset of winter with a well-timed burst of retail therapy.

And with the spectre of low consumer confidence still haunting the retail industry, savvy retailers and brands are realising Halloween is big business. Consumer spending on Halloween has more than doubled since 2013, with total UK revenues now expected to reach £491 million this year. In fact, Halloween surpassed Valentine’s Day in 2017 to become the biggest annual retail peak after Christmas and Easter.

Retailers and brands who decide not to incorporate Halloween into their sales, marketing and promotions strategies are likely to find the decision comes back to haunt them.

Sitting strategically at the start of ‘golden quarter’, almost exactly a month before Black Friday, Halloween has been adopted by many retailers and brands as the starting gun for peak trading. For savvy marketers it’s a great last-gasp opportunity for them to deploy and fine-tune their social and web marketing strategies before peak trading starts in earnest during ‘Blackvember’.

One of the big marketing goals here is to capture customer email addresses so that their on-site behaviour can be tracked and they can be targeted and tempted back with personalised email triggers when peak trading really kicks off.

Here Rob Massa, General Manager, BounceX EMEA gives his top tips for how retailers can get creative with social and marketing strategies this Halloween.

Your customers want video
A recent HubSpot Content Trends Survey revealed that the majority of consumers are crying out for video content, especially from brands, and Halloween is no exception.

While video on a landing page can boost conversion rates by over 80%, the mere mention of the word video in an email subject line can increase open rates by 19%. 90% of customers also say video helps them make buying decisions.

The pro tip here is to give customers free video with an option of using their email to subscribe for more.

Run a Halloween-themed competition
Consumers are too protective of their privacy to hand out their personal details without a good reason, so brands and retailers need to offer something of genuine value in return. One idea here is to run a Halloween-themed competition in which customers create their own content (photos, stories, etc) and then share it on your social media channels. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Who’s your audience? Brainstorm about your Halloween customers or use existing buyer personas. For example, are you targeting thrill-seeking teens eager for experiences, environmentally aware millennials looking for content, or cost-conscious parents in search of offers?
  • What’s the prize? The prize motivates your followers to take part. So, choose something which customers value, which illustrates your brand and is relevant to Halloween.
  • Where’s the benefit?There are loads of potential reasons to run Halloween contests, from lead generation to highlighting new products and collecting user-generated content. Figure out what you need from your Halloween competitions, then design accordingly.
  • What’s the publicity strategy?Use every channel available to share your Halloween contests. Think about social media, email, websites, in-store messaging and more.

Stage a Halloween social media takeover
Social media is the perfect channel to create a buzz around your brand this Halloween, as seasoned campaigners like cosmetics brand Lush can testify. It launched its 2019 Halloween collection on Friday 13th accompanied by a social media posts showing a ghoulish hand reaching for a model’s flawless skin (Similar content was shared on the brand’s US Youtube channel). With the initial post earning a total of 3.9k interactions within two weeks, Lush was able to reach their audience organically.

Disney World, however, won the social media crown last year with a social media-hosted time lapse film showing the transformation of the theme park for Halloween. That single post generated almost 240,000 interactions, outperforming all of their other posts for the entire year.

You don’t necessarily need an obvious link to Halloween to benefit from the event. The key is to use creativity, have fun, join the conversation and build valuable relationships with shoppers.

Send Halloween-themed emails
Email marketing is a no-brainer during Halloween, but with shoppers’ inboxes increasingly bombarded you need to make your messaging really stand out. The key to high open rates is short, snappy and witty email content. It pays to make your main call to action (CTA) clear from the start and develop a hierarchy of CTAs beneath it. Boring emails with confused and diluted messaging will be ignored! Don’t worry about using word-play, puns and wit – even luxury retailers and brands such as Fortnum and Mason push the boundaries at Halloween. A good example was last year’s Halloween email messaging which featured Fortnum’s ‘Wicked Wicker’ and ‘Frightfully Delicious’ Halloween hampers.

Don’t be scared of freebies
Last, but not least, when it comes to convincing customers to share their email address, nothing works like the offer of a freebie, free shipping, exclusive content, early access to deals or a discount code. Incentives such as money-off promo codes, discounts, free shipping and free products/samples should already be on every self-respecting ecommerce marketeers radar – so we won’t labour the point here! During shopping festivals such as Halloween, freebies really come into their own. With online traffic high and new customers appearing on your website, now is your chance to pull out the big guns and capture prospect’s email addresses.

As with any shopping event, retailers and brands should not consider Halloween as a ‘one and done’ festival. Instead it should be viewed as a staging post to capture prospects’ email addresses, monitor their on-site behaviour and build personalised marketing and shopping experiences so that richer interactions can be achieved. Halloween is especially compelling from a retailer/brand point of view as it is so close to ‘golden quarter’ peak trading. Retailers and brands savvy enough to join the festive bandwagon can use Halloween to build their marketing reach and start peak trading as they mean to go on.