Another year, another unprecedented holiday season. And while many retail marketers anticipate a record-breaking online sales cycle much like 2020, that’s where most similarities stop. Because — as millions of buyers return to your in-store experience for the first time in months — let’s face it: it’s harder than ever to know how to boost holiday sales and engagement through your marketing strategy.
That said, you learned many valuable lessons about how to promote your products and interact with multichannel consumers last year. Lessons that retail’s top performers are planning to take advantage of in 2021 — and that you should be too (if your goal is to experience even better results this year).
3 Tips to boost your holiday sales and engagement
Much like last year, there’s no magical 2021 playbook that leads to surefire success. Between Apple iOS 15 privacy updates, ongoing pandemic safety precautions, and retail’s mass migration to ecommerce and online shopping, you’ll need to be as agile as ever when it comes to planning, implementing, and executing your Q4 marketing strategies if you hope to deliver on this year’s customer-centric growth drivers:
- Speed of the customer. Retail’s most successful brands are moving away from predefined customer journeys to meet customers where they are, gain a greater understanding of new behaviors, and identify what individual buyers need at any given moment.
- X-commerce. The world is increasingly mobile — which is why retail leaders everywhere are putting ‘commerce anywhere’ strategies into play this holiday season. Right message, right channel, right time every time.
- Personalization beyond recommendations. Sophisticated holiday engagements create satisfied customers. Today, retail’s top performers are thinking way outside the box to back every tailored interaction with business intelligence.
3 Keys to boost your brand (and your holiday sales) in Q4 and beyond
The holiday season is your brand’s yearly peak in terms of website traffic, engagement rate, and overall visibility. For many retailers, ‘tis the season for higher AOV, increased clicks, and more conversions too.
So, how do you take advantage of this time to learn more about your customers, deliver the relevant, engaging content they demand, and inspire a new level of holiday marketing success? Focus your Q4 efforts on three key takeaways:
Lighten your load (capacity)
This year, most retailers are facing never-before-seen supply chain challenges and shipping delays. As a result, it’s likely to assume that your holiday sales and promotions cycles will be longer (and start sooner) than they were last year. For marketers trying to do everything themselves, that means a lot of extra effort in Q4. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
You’re probably using external IT and fulfillment partners already, so ask them now about their load capacity to find out how outside vendors can make your life easier and less filled with work. It’s possible that your martech partners may not even be aware of your need for increased load capacity in Q4 otherwise — meaning that a conversation today could be the difference between holiday success and going back to the drawing board for 2022.
After all, there’s no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to holiday planning!
Drive your holiday experience with data
Direct marketing channels like email, in-app notifications, and SMS messages will undoubtedly be important elements of your holiday marketing strategy. But if you’re only using these communication paths to push out one-size-fits-all sales and generic promotions in Q4, you’re failing to tap into direct marketing’s true potential.
Because this year, your holiday campaigns should also give you the gift of first-party data feedback you can use to make future initiatives even more jolly and engaging. If you’re not already doing so, use data to drive your holiday experience. While you’ll no doubt schedule most of your campaigns by date, it’s important to remember that even the best holiday marketing needs to align with your shoppers’ individual timelines to be successful. After all, your content can’t make an impact unless it’s delivered to the right place as soon as someone’s ready to buy.
So, use everything you know about what someone likes and how they engage with your brand to give the gift of better interactions and customer experiences this holiday season.
If you’re like most retailers, for example, the data tells you that your most loyal customers will make their holiday purchases right away and that your first-time shoppers won’t complete their transaction until last-minute. Take advantage of this insight by structuring your holiday messaging and campaign schedule accordingly — and find out what other lessons your data’s capable of delivering to deepen personalization going forward.
Identify the behaviors that make your customers buy
Q4 has long been a make-or-break period for retail brands, and this year the stakes are higher than usual. Consumer behavior is fundamentally transforming, and customers will need special encouragement to return to spending in a shaky economy. Especially once the allure of the holiday season subsides and consumption trends return to normal.
Conduct correlation analysis this holiday season to discover which behaviors are leading indicators of revenue growth and engagement for your brand going forward. For some companies, it may be a click in an email. For others, it could be an engaged session duration once someone lands on the website.
Dig into your real-time audience feedback to learn how buyers behave when they’re close to making a purchase — and then implement tactics to increase the frequency of these actions across the rest of your audience.