Holiday sales battles are fierce. Brands can thrive if they think about influencer marketing as a full-funnel strategy, rather than a tactic for driving awareness.

As the holiday season approaches, brands gear up for the most lucrative period of the year.

Black Friday, Christmas, and January sales are some of the high points of retail, with consumers eagerly searching for the best deals.

It’s a particularly noisy time within advertising, from the Christmas TV ad battle to countless out-of-home, social media and experiential activations. How can brands ensure their messaging stands out?

Influencer marketing is one of the most powerful tools for brands to reach and engage with customers.  Often experts or enthusiasts within a particular niche, influencers have established credibility and trust with their followers, making their recommendations more persuasive than traditional advertisements.

A common misconception, though, is that influencer is only suitable for awareness-driving tactics, and so it often sits primarily within PR and comms teams (and budgets). In actual fact, it should be viewed as part of the wider media ecosystem and a conversion/sales driver (when used in the right way).

Leveraging the trust in peer-to-peer recommendations for commerce

In a very broad sense, there are two solutions to this. The first would be leveraging the in-app solutions a lot of social platforms have created. One of the most advanced of these is the TikTok Commerce Suite, which encompasses TikTok Shop, Affiliates and Live Commerce all within the TikTok app. This provides a frictionless shopping experience by allowing users to discover and purchase products directly from the app without being redirected to external websites.

That said, there have been barriers to commerce solutions within social platforms. Some argue that slower adoption in western markets can be attributed to consumer behavior. Consumers tend to prioritise privacy and data security, which can make them hesitant to make direct purchases through social media platforms. Additionally, the strong presence of established e-commerce giants like Amazon and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers poses a significant challenge for newcomers in the social commerce space, especially when dealing with stringent regulations.

Additionally, a key factor contributing to the relatively slower growth of social commerce is that major social platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram were not originally designed with e-commerce functionality in mind. Despite the addition of various features, they may still fall short of providing the seamless shopping experience offered by platforms like China’s WeChat.

Omnichannel strategies

One emerging trend within marketing is driving towards omnichannel strategies, which combine the best of different marketing mediums in order to create a better solution that works best for consumers.

There are many examples of this in influencer marketing, one of them being influencer-led retail media. This approach combines the power of influencers with first party data from retailers in order to develop omni-channel marketing strategies which drive sales and promote products. Brands collaborate with influencers to create content that is not only authentic but also geared towards selling products.

Influencer-led retail media differs from traditional influencer marketing in that it directly integrates influencer content into the natural commerce journeys. An example of this would be The Goat Agency’s integration with Amazon Ads, which allows us to push social-first influencer content across different Amazon Ads placements in order to drive commerce. This creates a seamless shopping experience for the audience, enabling them to make quick and informed purchasing decisions. This approach can be especially effective during sales seasons when consumers are actively looking for deals and products.

Brand-building is still key

Whilst we’ve focused on driving sales, and naturally this is what most brands are measured on during seasonal and sales periods, it’s really key that brands do not forget about brand-building through influencers too.

Brand-building exercises are crucial for fostering long-term customer loyalty, trust, and differentiation in the market. During peak sales times, the balance between brand building and conversion-driven activities is vital. While consistent efforts throughout the year are ideal, it's never too late for brands to prioritise both aspects.

An integrated approach, where brand building and conversion efforts complement each other, can be most effective. Utilising influencers to do both during peak times allows brands to simultaneously enhance brand perception and drive conversions, leveraging the influencers’ credibility to create a compelling narrative that resonates with the target audience.

The battle of the brands during sales seasons and key calendar dates is fierce. Thinking about influencer marketing as a full-funnel strategy offers a unique opportunity for brands to thrive in this competitive landscape.

As we approach the holiday season and the sales events that accompany it, brands should be proactive in implementing these strategies to ensure they are ahead of the competition. Integrating and moving influencer content into different marketing mediums isn’t a fad; it’s a powerful strategy that can help brands become leaders in their industry while fostering long-term customer loyalty and success.