How to Prepare for the Holiday Season (Part 3): Amaze Customers with Truly Personalized Experiences
This series will explore three actionable steps every e-commerce business should use to prepare for a successful holiday season. Each blog post will focus on one of the following steps:
Part I) How you can centralize fragmented customer data from a variety of sources.
Part II) How you can leverage technology to deliver personalized customer interactions.
Part III) How you can establish relevant, consistent omnichannel brand experiences.
Each post aims to provide not only compelling data and insights about why each step is important, but also actionable information that marketers can use to win this holiday season. For the final post in the series, all of these are brought together to show you how to deliver personalized, consistent brand experiences to your customers.
Once you’ve created a centralized database with unified profiles for each customer, and implemented the right technology to scale the data decisions needed to engage customers, it’s time to take all your hard work to the next level.
Historically, retailers used multi-channel marketing to reach their customers, but that often results in a brand experience that varies across channels and creates a disconnect between brands and customers.
Enter, the omnichannel experience.
If there were ever a time to develop an omnichannel approach, it would be the holiday shopping season. Customers will be spending money, and studies show that shoppers who engage (and have a consistent, personalized experience) with a brand on multiple channels, spend 4-10% more than a single-channel shopper.
As you ramp up for that profitable season, here are several key channels to take into account when executing an omnichannel holiday marketing plan.
Before you start thinking about other channels, take some time to master your email marketing. As a foundational component of omnichannel, email is still the #1 ROI digital channel, and its revenue is doubles that of the #2 digital channel, pay-per-click (PPC).
Even with the advent of other easy-to-use channels, email is still ubiquitous; every day, every hour, and every minute, it is a crucial part of any omnichannel approach.
With every purchase or online signup, you are collecting emails and data that will help build your list for the Q4 holiday season.
Taking some time at the start of Q3 to review the list, comparing it against AI-driven customer data you’ve collected about purchase history and preferred devices, gives you the ammunition you need for truly one-to-one personalization.
Using segmentation, start to build campaigns that focus on customers who haven’t purchased in a while, and those who engage well with email.
As you ramp up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond, start identifying the content you want to promote through email, including personalized product and incentive recommendations.
While in-store purchases are still steady among shoppers, e-commerce growth is booming for retailers. Last year, the National Retail Federation reported e-commerce growth of 16%, and expects sales to grow 8-12% in 2017.
In 2016, 57 days during the months of November and December reached over $1 billion in sales, meaning the stakes and revenue potential are higher than ever this holiday season.
Without a consistent brand experience, retailers will find it hard to win over shoppers and capture these sales. On top of consistency, retailers must focus on creating a personalized website experience for their shoppers.
For your holiday strategy, this can come in the form of personally relevant targeted ads, tailor-made product recommendations, and meaningful incentives.
With the omnichannel approach, each channel plays an important role in creating omnichannel excellence. After creating a consistent, personalized experience through email and web, it’s important to create a mobile experience that extends and mimics that of web and email.
Successful retailers and e-commerce brands respect mobile for its continued growth as a channel that customers prefer for browsing and buying.
Mobile marketing is more than just a mobile-friendly website. It’s about SMS, app experiences, and push notifications across all browsers, devices, and providers.
Shoppers still respond to marketing text messages, which is great news for many brands.
Since SMS messages are less intrusive than phone calls, most people read them within the first three seconds of receipt. What’s more, unlike email campaigns, SMS marketing messages have a staggering 98% open rate.
Using this channel to promote upcoming offers and deals gives you a huge opportunity to get in front of customers before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
While not every one of those opened texts results in a sale, 29% of targeted customers
Over the past two years, mobile apps specifically have become a critical way for customers to interact with brands, especially during late November and throughout December.
In-app messaging is a powerful marketing tool to keep customers engaged and increase retention. Apps using in-app messaging see a retention rate of 46%, compared to 36% for those not using it.
In addition to keeping customers engaged, in-app messaging can create a personalized experience for your shoppers through automated triggers, such as cart abandonment.
With the average online cart abandonment rate currently at 70%, one efficient way to draw customers in for the purchase is to use automated triggers to deploy real-time messaging, such as sending a discount code within the app.
Encourage customers to download your app for the holiday shopping season by promoting special rewards and offers to increase customer engagement and win more sales.
Push notifications are a tremendous way to engage customers and extend a meaningful omnichannel experience.
Customers who opt-in for push notifications are among your most engaged, as the retention rate for those who have opted-in to push notifications is 92% higher than those who opted out.
But in order to reap those benefits, you must create a personalized, consistent experience with these notifications. With each message, you have the opportunity to offer personalized communications and recommendations to suit the individual customer.
Use a combination of channels to promote your app for the holidays. Once customers have downloaded it, encourage them to sign up for push notifications that will only send them deals and products that matter to them.
Social media continues to grow as an influencer of online and offline purchases, in addition to serving as a brand’s public face. The goal is to create meaningful interactions that will drive sales through engagement and social recommendations.
When looking at crafting your holiday messaging, you want to make sure that your social media presence aligns with your other channel messages, and that each message delivers those meaningful interactions for your customers.
Encourage your customers to share their purchases and reviews through their social channel to extend your brand reach during the impactful holiday season.
When it comes to the omnichannel approach, you might not immediately think of the impact in-store can have on the entire process, but the truth is, in-store interactions are important to all channels of the omnichannel approach.
Many shoppers still purchase in-store, despite the opportunities to purchase via other channels. Knowing that, retailers must provide an in-store experience consistent with digital space. Keeping branding elements and product selections similar in-store to what you have online can help drive a customer to purchase.
During the holiday season, customers may even be interested in a purchase online, pickup in-store option. Offering this to customers gives you the chance to engage them online and in person when they visit the store. In-store purchases and pickups also enable you to collect more data on your customer that can be used to further expand their customer profile.
In-store data collection can reach beyond just purchases; talking with customers face-to-face allows you to collect information about their interests, who they regularly shop for, and more.
With a shifting customer marketplace and evolving consumer demands, it’s more important than ever for brands to stay consistent across channels and provide increasingly personalized experiences.
By creating a unified customer profile, and leveraging technology to deliver a personalized customer experience, you have all the tools you need to create a relevant and consistent omnichannel experience sure to win you sales.
As a marketer looking to increase marketing ROI, planning a strategy with the tips provided in this blog series will not only help you prepare for a winning holiday season, but also put you far ahead of the competition.
- 20 Ways to Increase Online Sales During the 2017 Holiday Season
- How AI Will Enable More Personalized Marketing This Black Friday
- 5 Ways to Implement a Successful Personalized Marketing Strategy
Ready to take things to the next level? Get the Holiday Domination guide for free: