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Holiday Hangover? Turn Year-End Customer Data into 2017 Success

Lindsay Tjepkema
Lindsay Tjepkema , Marketing Director, Americas , Emarsys

The rush of the holiday spending season is over. Marketing experts and practitioners alike poured hundreds, if not thousands, of hours into designing and executing excellent digital and email marketing strategies.

Businessman working at late at computer in officeThese marketers also leveraged new customer data tools and proven tactics to drive shoppers both through the doors of brick-and-mortar stores, and to websites and mobile apps. And their efforts paid off! Let’s quickly review the numbers:

  • The weekend after Thanksgiving, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, saw over 154 million shoppers, with more consumers shopping online (44%) than in a brick-and-mortar store (40%).
  • Black Friday online sales totaled a record $3.34 billion.
  • Cyber Monday sales were up 12% from last year at $3.45 billion.
  • Black Friday drove $1.2 billion in mobile revenue.

Besides the obvious profits, one of the most valuable windfalls to come out of that shopping influx isn’t quite as tangible: customer data. When it comes to marketing, knowing customers and understanding their buying patterns is the number one priority. And given the sheer volume of shoppers over the holiday season, that is quite a bit of potential customer data for brands to use and get to better know their customers.

By analyzing post-holiday customer data, retailers can work to identify trends, better understand their customer’s preferences, and create effective strategies to increase sales across all channels. All of this makes post-holiday customer data a fairly powerful tool when strategizing for the year ahead.

“Since the beginning of January, we have had more than 12 brands (customers and prospects and big or small brands) ask Emarsys to help them understand how 2016 holiday performance differed from the rest of the year and what that should mean for 2017 strategy.” – Jim Koepke, VP Sales, Americas, at Emarsys North America Inc.

So, savvy marketers know that the customer data gathered is extremely valuable. But now they must look at HOW to use what they learned from the holiday season to deliver more personalized marketing and drive more revenue. How can they learn from the data, and apply outcomes to existing and new strategies in the coming year? We’ll explore a few ideas:

Platforms and Devices

Today’s customers have access to numerous platforms and devices that they can use to engage with a brand. Knowing which channel a customer is most likely to use can be very valuable information when working to develop targeted marketing campaigns.

Whether through email, a mobile app, social media, a website, or in-store, brands must develop content that is specific to the platform. And it doesn’t stop there. The mobile statistic above means brands must continuously create mobile-friendly methods of interaction in order to create content that is personalized and tailored directly to a consumer’s wants and needs.

Looking at the data produced from the large number of holiday shoppers can give marketers and their brands enormous insight into what platforms and devices their customers are using as their preferred shopping and browsing tool. Future campaigns should be planned to engage customers where and when it’s most convenient for them.

“Regardless of company size, from Fortune 100 to small businesses, data challenges exist. In addition to the data challenges, marketers also suffer from technology overload. Their data resides in too many places and is almost always disconnected from the channels they use to engage their customers.” – Jim Koepke, VP Sales, Americas, at Emarsys North America Inc.

What Are Customers Saying?

Social media is playing a larger role than ever when it comes to retail shopping, and the holiday season is a great time to see social channels come into play in powerful ways. A recent eMarketer survey showed that over half of respondents indicated they planned to use social media for shopping in some way over the holidays:

  • 36% said they would use social media to find discounts.
  • 32% planned to browse social channels for gift ideas.
  • 12% planned to watch product videos on social media.

Tracking data gathered from social media, both on the brand’s specific sites and in general, can give marketers a clear idea of what customers and potential customers think about both the brand and specific products. Knowing that, a significant number of shoppers on social media will likely lead to increased discussion around the brand and its competitors. In addition, findings from data can also lead marketers to discover new and future trends for the coming year and beyond.

Effectiveness of Loyalty or Reward Campaigns

Many marketers likely developed new, or ramped up existing, loyalty or reward campaigns for the brand during the holiday season. Tracking the customer data generated by those campaigns can show whether they were successful and should be continued in the new year, or, perhaps, whether they need re-tooling.

Gartner shows that 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of existing customers. Given how impactful retaining customers can be to a brand’s bottom line, quality customer loyalty programs are incredibly important. There is no better time to test the efficacy of a program than the holidays, when customers are barraged with offers from every competitor and every angle.

“Marketers crave data, but either don’t have access to it, or don’t have the tools to turn it into information they can use to ensure continual improvement.” – Jim Koepke, VP Sales, Americas, at Emarsys North America Inc.

Before completely closing the book on 2016, look back and analyze what the brand experienced during the busiest shopping time of the year. That customer data can provide major insight into how to plan for success in 2017.

Want more inspiration for 2017 marketing strategies? Read our blog post, “6 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017.”

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