This year has been simultaneously different and difficult for everyone, both personally and professionally. In the retail world, businesses have had to keep abreast of fluctuating restrictions and the uncertainty of in-person vs. online shopping volume all year. Lessons have hopefully been learned, but we’re reaching a tipping point right in the middle of the holidays – for many brands, big and small, the next week is do or die for their revenue goals and long-term potential. Black Friday and Cyber Monday already broke records for online shopping sales, leading Adobe Analytics to forecast $189 billion in total online holiday sales (up more than $40B from last year). This is further backed up by an Infobip survey finding that 60% of consumers planned to move their holiday shopping online this year. In the same survey, 74% of consumers noted a lack of personalization in brand messaging they receive.
In order to keep up with growing consumer demands online, retailers must quickly adopt cutting-edge customer communications tactics.
The first thing to acknowledge? The fact that data is king. All of your decisions should be informed through recent customer data so you can choose who to target and when, as well as with what product, in order to maximize revenue and customer satisfaction. Even when considering your brand’s broader consumer base, blanket discounts and messaging won’t do you any favors. Dividing customers into relevant buckets can help your brand effectively reach them with targeted communications they care about. One suggestion for the holidays? Find your most active and loyal customers, and consider reaching out with special offers or early promotions to further cement brand trust.
Once you have your data locked and loaded, it’s time for personalized outreach – creating engaging content can lead to potential sales when it reaches customers as intended. This can happen via multiple channels at a time, such as SMS, email and even Facebook Messenger. In order to communicate a handful of sales-driving and loyalty-building tactics:
● Offer scalable discounts based on dollars spent through your brand’s online store, incentivizing larger purchases.
● Promote enticing discounts catering to individual customer interests, as well as broader offers such as free or expedited shipping.
● Guide customers through their purchasing journeys once a decision has been made – provide updates on delivery timing and return/refund practices.
● Provide referral rewards, if applicable, for customers driving additional sales through friends and family.
● Enable geo-location targeting in order to ping customers with product promotions and incentives if they’re near a physical store location.
Outside of your brand’s proactive outreach to customers, it’s important to also prepare for an influx of inbound inquiries, troubleshooting queries, and plenty of upset customers during the rush of holiday shopping. This is where an omnichannel marketing approach pays significant dividends, perhaps beyond proactive outreach strategies. With an omnichannel framework in your brand’s contact center, a combination of chatbots and expert support agents would be able to seamlessly manage any and all customer concerns during the holiday retail rush. Being able to meet customers where they are in their purchasing journey, on whatever platform they prefer, is essential to avoiding a negative experience that could turn them away from your brand.
When the holidays come and go, and we’re left with uncertainty for the new year’s prospects, are there any clear next steps? While you can’t forecast sales growth for your brand in 2021, there are a few things you can do with your communications network to maintain elevated consumer interest after the ball drops. Drawing from the aforementioned, data-driven proactive outreach such as the below suggestions can directly draw shoppers back for a repeat visit:
● Track customer clicks and send alerts to consumers about products that are back in stock (in case they initially attempted a purchase when sold out).
● Offer loyalty rewards to customers who make a repeat purchase after holiday promotions end.
● Bring additional value to your brand by extending a small discount code to customers who complete surveys on their experience.
While there isn’t much time until the main event, there’s plenty of room to position your brand to successfully tackle a busy week of e-commerce. Taking these tactics into account, the potential chaos of the 2020 holidays could be refined into a smooth experience on both ends of the marketplace.