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Belk sprinkles customizable GIFs, ecards onto annual Santa Baby sweepstakes

Department store chain Belk is welcoming its Santa Baby sweepstakes back for another holiday season, placing an even brighter spotlight on mobile by enabling participants to create their own digital ecards, personalize GIFs and receive entries for sharing the campaign across social media.

The sweepstakes, which is powered by HelloWorld, kicks off on November 7 and runs through December 31, offering the retailer’s fans ample opportunity to snatch up one of the instant win prizes or a Belk gift card. The mobile focus of this year’s campaign suggests that more brands should roll out sweepstakes featuring customizable content that can easily be created or shared via smartphones to better cater to consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles.

“We’re excited to invite customers to engage with Santa Baby through the mobile-optimized campaign,” said Jen Gray, senior vice president of marketing and creative services at HelloWorld, Pleasant Ridge, MI. “In years past, this campaign has had consistent success, as it allows our audience to access the campaign on-the-go, regardless of their location.

“This grants participants increased convenience and accessibility, catering to their digital preferences and habits on mobile. Personalizing a Santa Baby GIF, customizing ecards, watching the special TV spot, and sharing content with friends becomes easier and more immersive when you have additional platforms to work with – and that means greater likelihood of creating lasting memories with Santa Baby.”

Consumer-first campaigns
During the promotional period, individuals will able to enter the contest by following Belk on social media, sharing its official pages with fellow followers and referring friends or family. This strategy of garnering entries will likely be more fruitful than the usual email entry, as consumers will now see Belk’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts appear on their newsfeeds in a way that feels more organic and less pushy.

Customers will also be able to develop personalized ecards that will be featured on the retail site. If the cards are able to be shared and distributed by holiday well-wishers, it could also drum up brand awareness for the stories and consequently increase foot traffic.

“It’s extremely important for any retailer launching a campaign for the holidays to ensure that mobile is integrated throughout the campaign and that the mobile aspect of the promotion is accessible, viewable and clickable on every mobile device,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta.

“With more than 90 percent of consumers using a mobile device for holiday shopping, research, promotions and purchases, if any retailer misses this critical component they will see the lack of effort in their bottom line throughout the holidays. Fifty percent of a brand’s online traffic and sales will most likely come from mobile devices this holiday season, give or take 20 percent by brand, campaign and user behavior.”

Entrants are encouraged to customize their own Santa Baby GIFs, a strategy that will resonate with millennials and potentially gain some traction and buzz on social media. GIFs are becoming a staple for mobile users, especially if they offer relevance to a season or time period and appear less advertisement-stimulated.

Additionally, to make the sweepstakes even more festive, Belk is allowing consumers to vote for a favorite television commercial ending in a bid to raise engagement even higher.

One winner will receive a $10,000 grand prize, while others may be bestowed with a slew of instant win prizes. Fifty first prizes of $25 Belk gift cards will be awarded, with $15 given to 250 runner-ups.

Sprinkling in mobile
Belk has previously rolled out Santa Baby campaigns during the peak holiday shopping time for retailers. Mobile and social media have been big draws for tech-savvy consumers, as they may easily enter the sweepstakes from any location and at any time.

“Having a mobile campaign is essential, especially during the holidays,” HelloWorld’s Ms. Gray said. “The ability to opt-in via text message and interact with seasonal content via tablet or phone is efficient during this fast-paced shopping season.

“Mobile-optimization allows users to engage with the promotion no matter the medium, and by boosting consumer choice in where to interact with the campaign, you boost brand awareness.”

The department store brand drove engagement on social media at this time last year by giving followers a way to check if they are on the naughty or nice list for a chance to win a prize (see story).

The 2014 Santa Baby Sweepstakes also saw more mobile opt-ins than its other recent campaigns, helping to drive more than 1.1 million total entries and proving which channel the retailer’s customers are flocking to (see story).

“Since the Belk Santa Baby campaign is going on over six years of marketing efforts, the engagements will continue to grow,” Siteminis’ Ms. Troutman said. “Simple marketing strategy – keep working and refining your brand efforts around a solid advertising campaign with easy consumer engagement and cool outcomes.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York