No longer are shoppers reading the paper for the latest deals this holiday season or finding out about big sales through T.V., billboards and just walking into the store. Today, consumers have become digital researchers, conversationalists, and buyers. Holiday season or not, online interactions are dictating a brand's success regardless if the end sale happens in store (as about 90% of retail purchases still do!). This merger between digital and physical has evolved over many years and most marketers agree is crucial, yet many still have yet to make the move towards a digital led business model.

Today, 98% of marketers agree that offline and online marketing are converging. This means that capturing, understanding and activating your customer data across the entire lifecycle from tweet interaction to in store purchase is critical for success. However, only one out of three marketers say that digital techniques are fully incorporated into their marketing operation and furthermore, only 10% say they are currently changing their marketing makeup to include more digitally-focused business models.

It would seem like there is a long way to go ...

We live in a digital and mobile world, and that's only increasing as the internet and artificial intelligence permeates everything like our cars, homes and the things we wear. So it's time for marketers and advertisers alike to meet their customers where they are! The platforms where consumers are interacting everyday like Facebook and Google on every imaginable device are where we must meet, capture and interact with our customer, intelligently using what we know about their wants and needs to drive results.

I can't believe I'm about to say this, but depending on where you are in the world, Halloween and Guy Fawkes Day are about 30 days away, U.S. Thanksgiving is about 50 days away and Christmas just a few weeks after that. The holiday season that we love, and at times despise, is already upon us if you are a marketer.

This means that it's time to seriously think about enhancing your holiday advertising strategy (especially you, retailers). But before you do, we have some new data that will help you plan accordingly.

This year, e-commerce sales are expected to increase by 13% during the holiday season. In addition, nearly 70% of all in-store purchases will be directly influenced by online research. This information directly affects advertisers today, and should influence holiday ad campaigns. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google help brands advertise to their customers everyday, helping them target just the right audience at the right time.

Remember when Instagram was this new, little player in the digital advertising space (they only launched globally a year ago)? Well as we all expected, today Instagram has become a brand's best friend when it comes to advertising. Instagram now claims over 500 million users, with its advertising base exceeding 500,000 companies in the last six months. Not only that, but 90% of Interbrand 100 Companies now have Instagram accounts. Of those companies, 80% are even active at least once a week. With over 300 million people across the world using Instagram per day, it makes sense that brands are taking notice and use Instagram to find their next great customers.

To learn about how Australia Post and iProspect Used Salesforce to Drive Video Ads on Instagram for Travel Debit Card, check out our recent customer success story!