5 ways to boost holiday marketing

26th Oct 2017

With Grey Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday and, even Christmas around the corner, many retailers are getting ready for the online shopping onslaught. For many marketers the festive marketing season kicked into gear months ago.

In the few weeks between now and New Year’s, some people worry about expanding waistlines. Me? I’m worried about my expanding email inbox. Already, it’s bursting at the seams with email marketing from Halloween, pre-Black Friday, Black Friday, … and now, there are messages for Cyber Week (yes, that’s a thing), “Deep Discounts” and the ever-breathless “There’s Still Time.”

It’s too much. Over the past week-and-a-half, I’ve received promotions and offers (often, repeatedly) from hotels, restaurants, stores, catalogs, any brand I’ve bought something from in the past (and even some I hadn’t), and it’s all left me feeling irritated and over-served. This is not the direction marketing is supposed to be heading. This is not a “customer-centric” approach. If anything, it’s turning subscribers away in frustration.

The stats demonstrate this tidal wave of marketing, with messaging volumes in Europe growing by 12% year-on-year, rising to over 37% on Black Friday. We are still seeing year-on-year double digit growth in the email channel especially on Black Friday.

Interestingly, email open rates in Europe have only increased by 2% year-on-year, rising to 8% on Black Friday. Demonstrating an increase that could be driven by the proliferation of mobile devices and email accounts available on the go. Conversely, click rates have remained relatively static in the same period, which means brands need to focus more on personalised and relevant content, including offers, utilizing engaging email design and more mobile responsive emails!  

Here are five strategies you can implement to boost customer engagement ahead of the holiday season:

Leverage Marketing Applications and Technology. Marketing success today comes from focusing on your customers as people, not as data points on a spreadsheet. Sure, you need data-driven marketing. But the whole point is to use it to improve the customer experience and overall engagement.

The question is: How many customers will stick around to survive the learning curve? I’ll be honest. My stamina is wearing thin. I’m already dreading “retailer overkill” next year, and in the next few weeks the “after sale surveys” will start coming in like wildfire. “Tell us all about your buying experience this past weekend.” “What can we do better?”

Retailers, here’s what you can do better: Let personalized marketing take root. Start using the marketing applications and systems currently available, so that your messaging is meaningful, relevant and appropriately paced. Granted, we’re all prone to a little overindulging during the holidays. But no one likes feeling overstuffed.

Focus on your customers. In today’s always-on, always-distracted global marketplace, it’s becoming more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Essentially, you have two choices: Either, grow hoarse from trying to be heard above the noise (as you shout about a Black Friday sale that’s happening early… no, earlier… no, even earlier) or distinguish yourself by putting the focus precisely where it belongs – on your customers.

To succeed, your marketing campaigns need to be customer-centric. You need to know your customers as people, and you need to understand what makes them prefer your brand above all others. The best way to maintain and evolve a healthy brand is to be intentional and consistent about establishing it – so much so that the “noise” can’t drown out the tune you want the world to hear.

Help gifters within personalisation. If you have personalisation active in any channel, be sure to carefully watch your algorithms before and after the busy period. Your solution should be adaptable to account for the larger amount of gifting in the period. For example, if you use personalisation on the web based on click behaviour, don't assign a male persona to my record from first click, when I might, in fact, be female browsing for gifts.

Remember to tie together bricks and clicks. From a multichannel perspective we are seeing a trend away from 'online only' or other channel exclusive offers. The holidays are a good time to build your multichannel strategy and to stop forcing customer behaviour into silos. Any offers should work across bricks and clicks; better still, online promotions can drive in-store behaviour where merchandising can increase basket size beyond just the item the customer intended to purchase.

Start early. Remember that by starting early and using a longer campaign timeframe, marketers are able to include many types of shoppers through different promotions such as wish lists, sneak peeks and consumer-generated content to drive sales. Some people will always wrap up their Christmas shopping before Halloween, while others will always complete their festive shopping at the last minute. You don’t want to leave any potential revenue on the table, so serve both groups by launching your holiday mobile marketing strategy as early as you can. The quicker you get started, the sooner you can start bringing in sales.

A wealth of marketing applications are available to help you determine how to proceed – because, it’s worth remembering that what works for one company, might not be the right fit for yours.

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