The case for retailers and ecommerce brands to prioritize and prepare their holiday marketing strategies as far in advance as logistically possible gets stronger every year.
In fact, 58% of retail and ecommerce companies said they began planning their marketing for the 2020 holiday season prior to August, per a recent Catchpoint survey.
The most compelling reason for these businesses and their marketing teams to plan ahead?
The shopping period accounts for a significant portion of their annual sales and revenue.
Ecommerce holiday shopping alone reached $137.6 billion in 2019, per eMarketer — a 13% jump from the year before. And with the pandemic causing a seismic shift to online shopping, that dollar amount only figures to rise further during the 2020 holiday season.
But it’s not solely about taking time to plan your end-of-year holiday marketing strategy. It’s also about planning intelligently.
Simply put, missing the mark with your holiday marketing efforts in the last few months of the calendar year (and especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday) isn’t an option.
That means it’s in your marketing organization’s best interest — and, therefore, your company’s best interest — to maximize your ROI from your holiday marketing activities.
How to succeed with your holiday marketing campaigns and messaging
Develop seasonal email campaigns. Craft creative for social media ad campaigns. Determine which products and services to prioritize in promotional messaging to segments (targeted campaigns) and individuals (one-to-one lifecycle orchestration).
There are plenty of tasks and projects for you and your retail marketing team to tackle for your holiday marketing program. But before you begin your planning in earnest, it’s worth keeping these tips and tricks top of mind to ensure success with your approach.
#1) Learn from holiday marketing ‘hits’ and ‘misses.’
You can’t scale, streamline, and transform your retail marketing — particularly activities around the holidays — without examining what has and hasn’t worked in the past.
As it pertains to holiday marketing, retail marketers should comb over their customer analytics to determine what tactics and messaging across channels and touchpoints resonated with their target audience during the previous holiday season.
This post-holidays audit is how retail marketing orgs determine what they should maintain in, add to, and eliminate from their respective holiday marketing programs.
For instance, retailers that use BlueConic can evaluate their ecommerce analytics and brick-and-mortar, point-of-sale data from the final quarter of each year to get a historical perspective of their marketing hits and misses each holiday season.
What’s more, retail marketers who use our CDP can evaluate the efficacy of both personalized and individualized emails sent to their lists and on-site messaging featuring relevant, real-time product recommendations shared with visitors.
Specifically, they can determine what types of calls to action, creative, and overall messaging ‘clicked’ with prospective and existing customers in those channels.
With all first-party data for their shopper audiences unified in our CDP, retail marketing orgs can quickly and efficiently analyze all customer engagement and behavioral data to discern what campaigns and lifecycle messaging generated the most (and least) ROI.
#2) Test offers before Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The whole holiday season is important for retailers. But Black Friday and Cyber Monday are inarguably the two most critical dates circled on retailers’ calendars for good reason:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019 sales were 330+% higher than the entire month of October 2019, according to Criteo research.
The goal and desired result are clear: Deliver timely, relevant messaging to prospects and customers to a) alert them to upcoming deals on these days in the weeks leading up to them and b) get them to convert while on your digital properties on the actual days, so you and your retail marketing team can reap the rewards.
Your best bet to accomplishing this holiday marketing objective? Test early and often.
Offer free shipping to would-be shoppers with items still in their carts. Test email sign-up calls to action on your ecommerce website. Run some contests across social channels.
There are many incentives you can provide your target audience. But it’s worth experimenting with several of said incentives regularly (ideally in the first three quarters of the calendar year) to fine-tune your approach for your holiday marketing strategy.
#3) Suppress deals from loyal customers and ‘cold’ leads.
Sharing custom-tailored discounts with on-the-fence shoppers at the relevant places and times is a tried-and-true tactic retailers have used to acquire more customers for some time.
But there are two audiences to suppress these offers from: Loyal, high-value customers and unlikely-to-buy prospects.
Think about it:
- Why incorporate deals in your personalized email marketing campaigns to valuable segments (e.g., those with strong customer lifetime value (CLV) scores and who are members of your loyalty rewards program) when it’s evident they clearly don’t need any incentive to purchase from your online or offline store?
- Similarly, why deliver targeted ads to individuals who have clearly expressed little or no interest in buying from or engaging with your retail brand in the recent past (e.g., those with low recency, frequency, and monetary value scores)?
Wasted spend, lost person hours, and an inefficient allocation of your precious team resources: That’s all you and your retail organization will end up with by focusing on these two audiences in your holiday marketing campaigns and messaging.
That’s not to say the former audience — high-CLV shoppers — isn’t important. It’s likely your top segment (and one you lean on sales-wise in between holiday seasons).
But your holiday marketing strategy should focus more on turning prospective, one-time, and infrequent shoppers into loyal buyers for whom you can steadily grow their CLV scores through well-timed, targeted messaging across channels.
In other words, deliver bespoke, cross-channel customer experiences via intelligently orchestrated lifecycle messaging to the right individuals — and suppress messaging to those who simply don’t need it — and your holiday marketing will thrive.
Successful holiday marketing requires the right technologies and plenty of planning
A CommerceNext survey found 32% of retailers noted the pandemic has made preparing for the 2020 holiday shopping season far easier for their teams, including marketing.
Moreover, CommerceNext Co-founder Scott Silverman told Total Retail 78% of retailers think holiday purchases will “exceed COVID-accelerated sales” seen throughout much of 2020.
Chances are your retail marketing organization, like countless others across the globe, has adjusted as well as possible amid the current conditions and business climate.
With considerable experience shifting your strategy already, modifying your holiday marketing should be comparatively easier.
But none of said planning will be streamlined (i.e., as efficient as it could be) without the optimal technology — primarily, a customer data platform as your ‘command center’ where you can access, segment, model, and activate first-party data in real-time.
For instance, consider a recent holiday marketing strategy from RAEN Optics that aimed to enhance the overall, omnichannel shopping experience for its audience:
- The eyewear brand needed to find a way deliver a much more engaging website to each individual visitor to entice more purchases and prevent cart and site abandonment.
- Using BlueConic, RAEN was able to dynamically display messages to prospects and customers and “guide them through the gift selection and checkout process with ease.”
- The results from this savvy Black Friday marketing tactic? The RAEN team experienced a 33% increase in average order value for glasses compared to AOV a year earlier.
The successes for RAEN’s marketing program extend far beyond the holiday season as well.
For example, a personalized email capture program run via BlueConic enabled the brand to grow its email list over 1,000% — and, in the bigger picture, become more customer-centric.
The ‘ideal’ time of the year to plan your holiday marketing will differ from other brands.
But it’s clear getting a head start on your promotional preparations — and with a customer data platform as your primary single source of truth guiding your overall marketing strategy — can only help you capitalize on this busy, high-priority shopping period.
Request a BlueConic demo today to learn how our CDP can help you accelerate your marketing efforts, improve operational efficiency, and become more resilient as a business.