Christopher Baldwin, Head of Marketing, Northern Europe at Selligent Marketing Cloud offers strategies for serving consumer needs and boosting conversions with personalised engagement.
I know, it feels far too early to be thinking ahead to Christmas, but one of the best pieces of advice when it comes to holiday marketing is to start early. There’s no better time than the present, to prepare for the busiest time of year; Black Friday and Cyber Monday will creep up faster than you think, so the time for action is now!
Last year, the average consumer spent an eye-watering average of £821.25 on gifts over the festive period, and £4.6bn was spent on food and drink alone. The good news is that consumers are rolling into the season ready to spend and spend more while they’re at it. UK household incomes are the best they have been in years and according to recent research 73% of consumers are willing to spend the same or more during 2018’s holiday season.
Holiday season or not, it’s all about walking in your customer’s shoes. Rather than approaching marketing from your brand’s perspective, put you consumer first. This can be done by collecting the most up-to-date intelligence about consumers and their preferences, and then transforming these insights into personalised engagement across all channels – always putting the consumer in the centre of all initiatives.
It’s also a matter of being aware of consumer expectations – both direct and indirect – these tend to ride especially high during the most wonderful time of the year. While there is more to be spent, this year’s consumers are even more demanding than ever, with 81% of consumers demanding improved response time to service requests.
Rocking out your holiday marketing will not only make your brand stand out from the competition, but it’ll pay off in the long term when you’re using it intelligently to build deeper relationships with your customers. So how can you make this the best Christmas yet when it comes to marketing?
Consumers want to be rewarded for their loyalty and appreciate when brands acknowledge them as loyal customers or followers of the brand. Send them an email pre-loaded with personalised product recommendations and attractive offers to get their shopping season started. Offer exclusive first looks at upcoming products before everyone else sees them. Get an extra boost among loyalty program participants by tabbing up customers’ points. According to 3Cinteractive, only 30% of consumers know their loyalty point balance with brands, so a live status update right before holiday season will be a welcome reminder.
Make it personal
Not everyone wants the same gift from Santa. And today’s consumers are well aware that companies collect heaps of data about them – so they expect brands to use this data for personalised recommendations tailored to their tastes. Send emails and push messages with promotions featuring on-taste products and creating dynamic website experiences. Many consumers will share personal data with brands in exchange for benefits, so you should communicate clear incentives to consumers for sharing their personal data – start now, so you have insight ready to act upon.
Offer festive deals
Holiday shopping season kicks into high gear with the double whammy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Keep the deals rolling as the holidays draw nearer by posting continuous discounts around recognisable hashtags, at regular intervals (e.g. every Sunday before Christmas), and on consistent channels. Also consider a holiday countdown calendar, hosted in dynamic emails or a landing page, with coupon codes and offers behind every calendar door.
Make it a very mobile Christmas
Santa’s sled may be guided by the light of a red-nosed reindeer but today’s consumers are more likely to follow the glow of their mobile devices to research and purchase. Evaluating Black Friday 2017 sales, analysts at comScore Inc. noted that the number of consumers visiting online retail sites on mobile devices climbed to 104 million, compared to only 55 million via desktop and 30 million on both. With this emergence of mobile as the place of conversion, marketers have their work cut out for them. In preparation for the holiday shopping season, you’ll need to optimise, test, and enhance their customer experiences on mobile devices… and beyond.
Oh come all ye channels
Mobile devices are just the tip of the iceberg. Today’s consumers tend to oscillate wildly between mobile, web, and retail channels on their self-directed customer journeys. And individual consumers have their own preferences on how and when they connect to a brand; some want push notifications, others emails, others seek connection through messaging apps. However, synchronising channels requires major omnichannel muscle on the backend – for instance when it comes to displaying and updating loyalty points and achieving the same level of personalisation across the board.
Move over elves, AI is here to help
Many marketers struggle to achieve omnichannel personalisation through legacy tech; integration of channels if frequently cited as the biggest issue, and consumers tend to move fast – so marketers run the risk of sending automated messages based on outdated or siloed data.
Savvy marketers can use AI to leverage one-to-one personalisation into their marketing. To avoid data silos and integration issues in your stack, marketers must discover the benefits of consolidating key tools in end-to-end omnichannel platforms. Built for the specific needs of engagement marketers, they provide real-time insights from consumer profiles in a customer data platform with easy-to-use journey design and omnichannel execution powered by smart automation and proprietary AI.
Timing is of the essence when it comes to reaching consumers with relevant messages in moments when they are ready to engage. AI can now collect preference data over long periods of time together with real-time behaviour on preferred devices and message open times, to analyse these individual data points, and decide on the best time to send messages. The result is an unprecedented level of individual relevance and personalisation, executed at scale even in the year’s busiest shopping season.
To have yourself a merry little Christmas season, I recommend you start your planning today – put your customer first and use technology to help you. Happy holidays!
About Selligent Marketing Cloud
Selligent Marketing Cloud is a marketing automation platform that enables B2C brands to engage consumers across all critical channels. Built for the relationship marketer, Selligent Marketing Cloud is the only marketing cloud built on a single code base, featuring artificial intelligence and a Customer Data Platform with a universal consumer profile at the core of every action.
More than 700 brands across retail, travel, automotive, publishing, and financial services rely on Selligent Marketing Cloud’s proven platform. With 10 offices across the United States and Europe and more than 50 agency partners and resellers, Selligent Marketing Cloud serves over 30 countries with local, personalized service.