As a retail email marketer, you are probably planning your year-end holiday marketing campaigns right now.
Anyone outside our industry may be surprised to hear this, especially since Black Friday and Cyber Monday—generally regarded as the first of the major winter holidays—are still four months away. Yet there are real advantages to developing your holiday marketing strategies as early as possible.
For example, a report from NRF shows that 40% of consumers plan on starting their holiday shopping before November 1, a number that includes a substantial 12% who reported that they will begin before September 1. When you think about it this way, holiday shopping could start in less than eight weeks!
(Image from NRF's Annual Holiday Consumer Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics)
It also looks like 2019 will be a banner year in terms of total consumer spending. The same NRF study found that in 2018, the average American shopper spent $846 on gifts, which represented a 14% increase over 2017. With the stock market, labor market and consumer confidence numbers at, or near, all-time highs, holiday spending is likely to increase again this year.
On one hand, such positive news represents significant opportunities for retail marketers today, especially those who are contemplating their holiday campaigns now. Yet on the other, it may actually lead to more questions than answers. For example, many marketers may wonder:
The Power of Personalization
The good news is that there is a way to accomplish all of these goals: real-time email personalization. The value of personalization is well documented, to the point where research shows that marketers who use advanced personalization tactics have greater email revenue than those that don’t.
Despite these results, a surprisingly high number of campaigns are still being deployed without meaningful personalization. For example, a 2018 research report found that nearly 40% of marketers said that they almost never personalized their emails in the previous year.
Even when brands do use some type of personalization, it is often limited to the same basic customization many marketers have been using for years: a first name in the greeting, a recent purchase in the body or adding the recipient’s company name without much thought.
These tactics can be effective—and at least are a step in the right direction—but today’s consumers have come to expect much more. To catch their attention and gain a sustainable advantage over you competition, consider using email personalization in innovative new ways throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
For example, consider the following real-time personalization use case to improve the way you engage with early bird holiday shoppers.
As described earlier, nearly a quarter of consumers will start shopping for holiday gifts before October 1. While they’re motivated to get it done, time is still on your side.
An astonishing 42% of companies don’t survey their customers or collect feedback. Consider using in-email polls or other interactive ways to collect valuable information about what is important to early birds and then use real-time personalization to create highly relevant email experiences.
In this case, you could create a poll where you ask them what special products are most appealing this holiday season.
Or you could ask other questions related to what they prefer most when purchasing holiday gifts, such as discounts, increased loyalty points, flash sales, special promotions, or free shipping. You can use polls to ask many different questions, so be as creative as possible.
These polls are delivered in the email itself, which leads to a fun, engaging experience your audience may not expect. Recipients click to answer the question and can see how their answers stack up to other responses in real time. You can even use this as an opportunity to offer initial discounts or holiday promotions!
But the real value is the specific information you’ll receive about each individual consumer. You can then send customized emails that give them exactly what they’re looking for. They’ll love it!
Our latest ebook explains how you can overcome nine of retailers’ biggest holiday email challenges. It comes with real-life examples showing how other leading retailers combine creativity and innovative technology to make the most of their holiday season.
—Gretchen Scheiman, Senior Director of Marketing, Liveclicker