We’ve rounded the corner into the fourth quarter, which means the holiday shopping season is almost upon us. And if industry forecasts are to be believed, there’s more opportunity for success than ever before. According to Deloitte’s annual holiday forecast, retail sales are expected to increase by nearly 5% to $1.1 trillion, driven in large part by a 14% to 18% jump in e-commerce sales.
You’ve spent all year preparing for this make-or-break season and it’s time to cash in. But as we get closer to the holiday shopping season, it’s important to take a close look at your marketing strategy to make sure you’ve set yourself up for success.
As you prepare for the holiday season, keep these five last-minute tips in mind to maximize returns on your marketing investments.
1. Double-check your email sequences
You can’t approach the holiday season in a vacuum. The most effective retail marketers know that holiday sales should spark increased loyalty and conversions throughout the following year, too—and it all starts with your welcome sequence.
During the holiday season, you’ll see a large increase in email subscribers as new customers sign up to make purchases. This is your opportunity to solidify a lasting relationship and establish preferences that will lead to greater personalization down the road. Make sure you set the tone by highlighting the benefits of staying in touch and delivering timely, relevant promotional offers
Double-check your initial trigger email and overall welcome sequence to uncover holes in your holiday shopping strategy. Some of your best sales take place during the holidays, so be sure to scrape live content into your welcome emails—be aggressive in going after that second sale.
Don’t forget your abandon browse and cart emails. Emphasize the holiday theme and add live content to highlight deals. These campaigns are critical for increasing your share of the holiday wallet; use dynamic content and high-impact copy to lure consumers back to your site.
Finally, consider pausing non-essential emails such as requests for ratings and reviews to keep subscribers focused on holiday shopping. With so much inbox competition, now is the time to eliminate noise and hone in on sales.
2. Talk to your data provider
More data isn’t always the answer to your marketing problem. Rather, you need to be making decisions based on the highest-quality data available, which means augmenting your first-party data with valuable third-party insights.
Working with a third-party data provider is just the first step; you need to make the most of that relationship. What type of data is fueling your holiday marketing tactics? Leading up to the holiday shopping season, you should ask questions about the data that is fueling your marketing tactics such as:
- Can your provider share what competitive brands are focusing on during the holiday season?
- Is there unique seasonal data that could unlock opportunities to boost sales?
- Will they meet your needs with immediate turnaround on critical data delivery?
Don’t overlook the value of search and social data to help spot trends that could impact holiday sales. It’s critical to speak the consumer’s language—not brand language—to stay top-of-mind during the holiday season.
3. Match your marketing tactics to shoppers’ age demographics
Different generations have different ways of engaging with brands. These differences are exaggerated during the holiday shopping season, and your success hinges on your ability to meet the unique needs of distinct generations.
By researching generational preferences for holiday shopping experiences help you align your marketing tactics to each type of customer. As you review your holiday strategy, consider these tips for speaking to each generation:
- Generation Z: These shoppers are comfortable with technology and have a strong desire for personalized experiences. This means brands must increase their focus on mobile connections to boost sales to the generation who are less than 22 years old.
- Millennials: This generation, , who are 22 to 37 years old, is defined by online shopping and high-frequency, low-value transactions. They’re often seeking convenience and ongoing promotions.
- Generation X: High spend per transaction and a high number of transactions make Generation X shoppers invaluable to your holiday strategy. You can win over this group, which is made up of shoppers who are 38 to 54 years old, with promotions that highlight convenience and focus on fostering loyalty once their holiday shopping is done.
- Baby boomers: The highest-spending generation, which is made up of consumers who are 55 to 75 years old, prefers in-store shopping. That’s why it’s essential that digital messaging promises “try before you buy” options.
- Silents: Life experiences are important to this generation, which is made up of consumers older than 75 years old. That’s why retailers should appeal to this group with in-store promotions that are inspirational and creative.
4. Reengage your sleepy subscribers
Even with a serious focus on maintaining engagement after the holiday season, there will always be shoppers that go dormant for the rest of the year. These sleepy subscribers boost your holiday shopping numbers, yet re-activation emails account for just 0.1% of all emails sent in any given quarter.
Create a customized holiday re-engagement sequence for last season’s Black Friday customers who haven’t yet made a purchase to maintain your holiday wallet share. Active customers who regularly engage but haven’t yet made a holiday purchase are also ripe for re-engagement.
Heading into the holiday shopping season, make sure you’re making contact with inactive subscribers highlighting relevant content customized to their buying preferences.
5. Treat every day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are always major highlights of the holiday shopping season. However, they’ve lost some of their exclusivity in recent years. Rather than putting all your eggs in the Black Friday or Cyber Monday basket, revamp your promotional strategies to spread them out throughout the year.
Use your customer data to create unique messaging and maximize engagement beyond hallmark holiday shopping events. Brands that are top of mind in April and July will retain their primacy during the holiday shopping rush, so focus on cultivating valuable, year-round relationships with your customers.
These last-minute tips and small changes can have a major impact on your holiday shopping season success—but you need to act now to increase your share of the holiday wallet.
Shannon Aronson is senior vice president, digital strategic consulting at Epsilon