The holiday season is upon us — while consumers pick out their Halloween costumes and stock up on candy, brands are working furiously behind the scenes preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Festivus. During the regular calendar year, companies generally focus on curtailing promotions and reducing unsubscribes to get a clear picture of the status quo. During the holidays, that all changes as the volume and pace of marketing ramps up and allows brands a great opportunity to use their first-party data to stand out in a cluttered inbox.
Consumer expectations about their interactions with businesses — especially those where they’re a loyal customer — have steadily ramped up over the years. People are used to giving their information to brands they interact with, but in return they want that information to be put to good use in giving them smoother, more enjoyable experiences. Once you have that first-party data organized into customer profiles that tell you what you need to know to personalize, you can use the following strategies to enhance the holiday experience for your customers, making sure their season is full of cheer.
Roll out the red carpet for your VIP customers
Acknowledging your best customers is important throughout the entire year, but the holidays are the perfect time to share opportunities like early access and exclusive shopping moments with your VIP shoppers. Concerned about inventory for the 2021 holiday season? Make sure your VIPs have the opportunity to shop early and ship early. This year more than ever, brands are speaking to their customers about the need to place orders early to guarantee arrival in time for the holidays. Over-communicate the importance of shopping early to top customers to make sure they not only have the opportunity to give presents this year, but also have a positive experience with the brand.
Looking to up the ante? Offer your VIPs premium services such as a virtual consultation or gifting support. These small details keep customers satisfied and maintain their loyalty, making sure they’ll come back to shop with you again in the new year.
Bring your lapsed customers back into the fold
The holidays not only bring lots of emails, but also product launches and updates to share with customers. This ‘newness’ factor creates a reason to reach out to customers who’ve lapsed over the prior year, and may have fallen out of the brand’s active email file. An early holiday reactivation campaign targeting the inactive group is a smart way to re-engage customers before Black Friday and Cyber Monday, welcoming back any customers who respond.
Currently have a retention or winback journey up and running? Update the creative and messaging to feature holiday content and new product launches, giving lapsed consumers a relevant and timely reason to return to the brand.
Personalize by price point, products, and beyond
Promotional periods don’t have to be synonymous with batch and blast email sends. Holiday gift guides are a fun way to speak to customers’ preferences, both from a product and price perspective. Tailoring price preferences — e.g. the higher price point luxe buyer, vs. the lower price point, discount-seeking shopper — allows retailers to create curated experiences for their customers, while also avoiding down-selling to higher price point and full-price shoppers.
Gift guides designed by customers’ product preferences also provide a bespoke experience for the shopper, whether it’s based on products customers have bought in the past, or those they are predicted to buy in the future. Low on creative bandwidth? Create one gift guide and swap the order of recommended products, categories, or price points based on customer taste. The same idea can be used to personalize banners in the brand’s standard emails.
Stay true to your holiday loyalists
Every brand has a set of faithful holiday shoppers who come back each year. As the season approaches, make sure to nurture this group. Similar to the VIP group, ensure your holiday loyalists have plenty of time to shop and ship during holiday 2021. Target this audience with early, gradual messaging that emphasizes the need to place orders early and offer them opportunities for early access.
Looking to expand your holiday audience? Branch out to those customers who have shopped during other holiday periods, such as Mother’s Day or Easter, and incorporate them into your holiday segment. Lastly, make sure the new customers you’re acquiring now have the potential to be high-value shoppers. Use audiences of customers who were acquired during prior holiday seasons and went on to become VIP customers as your seed list in paid channels in order to bring in more customers who look like them.
Whether this holiday season is primarily focused on managing limited inventory, or a more typical period of promotions and product launches, first-party data will help brands find their way and attract attention during this period. By personalizing customers’ holiday experiences, brands set themselves and their shoppers up for a fruitful relationship in 2022 and beyond.
The holiday season brings a lot of first-time buyers into the fold. To avoid the tricky problem of one-time buyers, check out the quick guide we’ve prepared.