There are five key trends for marketers to heed in the next couple of months, according to a research report by data-driven marketing firm Experian Marketing Services, revealing the key marketing strategies, tactics and trends that are set to define the 2014 holiday season. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

The company's report calls attention to several key global trends and regional differences, among many other findings, including:

  1. Paid Facebook advertising will rival organic campaigns across other social networks, particularly in North America During the 2014 holiday season, marketers surveyed will run more campaigns on Facebook than any other social network. Globally, 49% of marketers who run social-media campaigns will do so via organic Facebook posts, and 34% plan to use paid ads or boosted posts. Facebook advertising will be more popular in North America than anywhere else in the world, with 46% of marketers planning paid campaigns in North America compared with 34% of all marketers globally. North American marketers are slightly more likely to use Twitter organically than they are to pay for Facebook, but they are more likely to pay for ads on Facebook than conduct organic campaigns in other social networks.

    During the 2013 holiday season, Experian Marketing Services found that there was a 39% increase in traffic to retail sites from Facebook. "Facebook has become a major marketing channel globally because of its ability to influence holiday shopping and research," noted Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services. "The focus on Facebook isn't impulsive; it's generating clear results for marketers. For example, during the 2013 holiday season, we found that there was a 39% increase in traffic to retail sites from Facebook."

    However, social campaigns will not stand alone. The company found that 2014 social holiday campaigns, when used, are more likely to be integrated with other channels.

  2. Email will be the hub of 2014 holiday marketing campaigns Ninety-one percent of marketers surveyed around the world will use email in their 2014 holiday marketing campaigns. Further, as more marketers look to integrate their campaigns across channels seamlessly, email will be the foundation of those cross-channel campaigns. Forty percent of all marketers, and 68% of those running cross-channel campaigns, plan to integrate email in their cross-channel holiday campaigns, making it the most frequently integrated channel.

    The research also found that despite the barrage of emails from companies, especially during the holiday season, 71% of online adults say that they are influenced by promotional emails to take some sort of action. In addition, 40% of online adults say they're influenced to make a purchase as a result of an email received from a retailer or other company.

  3. Mobile marketing will be prevalent globally, but mobile tactics vary from region to region SMS will be the most popular mobile tactic this holiday season globally, with 29% of mobile marketers around the world reporting plans to use it. However, North American marketers will use mobile quite differently than other markets. While also taking advantage of SMS and apps, North American marketers are using mobile advertising much more widely than any other tactic at 47%. Mobile coupons will be another stand-out tactic used in North America.
  4. Free-shipping promotions will become less popular globally In 2013, the most popular offer was free shipping, which was used by 39% of marketers in North America. For 2014, only 25% of marketers globally plan to use free shipping. Meanwhile, in North America, there was only a 1% decrease in free-shipping offers.

    "As trust in shipping services increases among consumers, and as free-shipping offers become more ubiquitous year round, fewer marketers plan to offer promotions specific to free shipping in 2014," said Tancer. "However, marketers using free-shipping offers should call that out in subject lines as it remains an effective tool for driving conversions in email."

    The study found that among multichannel retailers, transaction rates for emails that include a free shipping offer are 72% more effective than those without, and revenue is 53.3% greater than those do not offer free shipping.

  5. A dramatic increase in promotions in the 2014 holiday season may have less to do with deal-seeking behavior and more to do with targeting challenges More marketers are planning to provide consumers with offers in 2014 than they did in 2013. Seventy-eight percent of marketers around the globe, and 77% in North America, will use promotions, compared with 72% globally in 2013. Forty percent of North American marketers will use ecoupons this year, making it the most popular promotion type in that region. Worldwide, the most popular promotion is the deal of the day, with 31% of marketers around the globe planning to feature daily deals in their campaigns. While tied with friends-and-family discounts in third place in North America, this kind of promotion is still used by one-third of North American marketers, up from 28% last year.

    However, one-in-five marketers reported that they are unable to identify their best customers. Further, the marketers who reported that they target their best customers also reported that they have trouble identifying them across channels. Globally, almost half (48%) of the marketers surveyed say they have a siloed customer view and can only identify best customers within each channel rather than across all channels. Ultimately, this affects their ability to successfully integrate campaigns.

"Marketers should not underestimate the power of targeting their best customers across channels, and discounting is one area that continues to need dramatic improvement," concluded Ashley Johnston, senior vice president of global marketing for Experian Marketing Services. "Marketers need to become more targeted and relevant in their holiday campaigns, or they risk leaving money on the table."