Mobile Marketing Strategies for the Most Unusual Holiday Season Ever


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Holiday selling is different this year. We’re in uncharted territory. Rather than panicking, retail marketers should work to ensure that they’re adding value to their customers’ lives. The focus should be on how to make it easier for customers to shop with you when and how it’s most convenient for them. Keeping their needs at the core of your brand’s marketing strategy will help generate more revenue and build strong customer relationships that will last beyond the holiday season.

With the right strategies, tactics, and technologies in place, brands can still make this holiday shopping season a lucrative one. But first, they need to understand how the pandemic has shaped consumer behaviors. Expect these three trends to influence holiday purchasing decisions:

1. Economic uncertainty. According to the World Health Organization, nearly half of the global workforce runs the risk of losing their livelihood due to COVID-19. Job losses or the looming prospect of unemployment have made consumers more cautious about spending on gifts. They would prefer to save money for the future instead. Expect customers to be more value-conscious this holiday season, as COVID-19 impacts the spending habits of consumers around the globe. Consumers will also be less impulsive while shopping.

2. Reluctance or inability to shop in-store. The holiday shopping season brings to mind images of hundreds of people lined up outside of stores, waiting to take advantage of Black Friday deals. However, this year is completely different. Many retailers were forced to close brick-and-mortar locations earlier in the pandemic, which sent more consumers online. And now, even with physical stores cautiously reopening, consumers still feel safer shopping from the couch. In fact, 63% of shoppers say they’re avoiding stores due to concerns about the pandemic. This will severely impact last-minute holiday shopping this year.

3. Supply chain delivery issues. The disruption in global supply chains due to the pandemic has profoundly impacted the retail industry. Challenges such as labor shortages, transportation restrictions, and border closures have added stress to the retail supply chain. To ensure that gifts arrive in time for the holidays, consumers will be shopping earlier than ever. We’ve already seen several brands and large retailers offer Black Friday-level sales well before the traditional Thanksgiving time frame.

Mobile marketing to the rescue

And now for the good news. It’s never been a better time to market to consumers via mobile channels. The trend towards m-commerce was already gaining significant traction before the pandemic, but now, mobile marketing strategies will carry brands to the finish line of 2020.

So, how can you take these trends and the huge appetite for mobile shopping and achieve growth this holiday? For starters, you can make adjustments to your mobile campaigns based on the “new normal,” and tailor your offerings to your audience based on what you already know about them.

Here are some tips for extracting the most value from your mobile marketing efforts.

Leverage personalized push notifications to alert consumers on special deals.

Using push notifications provides many ways for you to engage with customers at different stages of their journey. Whether it’s driving a first-time purchase or delivering digital loyalty incentives to your most active customers, push notifications will have a strong role in this year’s holiday retail season. Keep in mind, however, that the average U.S. consumer receives over 46 notifications a day, and that’s not counting the increase in messages during the holidays. To compete, marketers must up their game and stand out with rich, personalized notifications that are hard to miss. Leveraging dynamic and engaging push templates can help marketers stand out, such as stylized, carousel, banner, or text overlay notifications.

Localize your mobile campaigns for global customers and use geofencing where possible.

Consider that your international customers aren’t always observing the same holidays, and even if they are, they will celebrate them in many different ways. It’s up to you, the retailer, to demonstrate that you understand these cultural preferences. Obviously, Black Friday is a big shopping day ahead of the holidays for the US. However, in Russia, New Year’s Eve is a bigger holiday than Christmas. Geofencing potential customers within a specific geographic radius can be a great tactic to get attention, especially when targeting users who might be traveling during the holiday season. Create a simple geofence to surround your store’s physical location and communicate location-triggered deals via push notifications. For example, sending promotions prior to the start of the holidays and showcasing limited time-offers leading up to the holiday. You can also leverage segmentation to target high-value customers who drive repeat purchases, and personalize custom offers just for them.

Focus on mobile acquisition, retargeting, and in-app offer zones.

Mobile phones provide immediate, real-time access to consumers and can serve as a key customer acquisition channel, but remember to personalize the notification. The holiday season is a great time to think about building a new user base for your app, as well as bringing old users back. Running app retargeting campaigns re-engages users who may have abandoned the app, or consider retargeting web visitors via mobile marketing through channels such as SMS, in-app, or push. Consider showcasing offers and deals by setting up an offer zone inside your app. This is where you can engage your customers with relevant promotions, especially those who have already opted out of push notifications, emails or SMS. For example, MoEngage Cards enable you to communicate with your customers by sending personalized offers and recommendations straight to your consumers’ app inbox or news feed within your app.

Focus on omnichannel engagement strategies.

Even though mobile is increasingly important, consumers will expect a consistent experience across channels. This is where omnichannel comes in. Adding a feature in your app that allows shoppers to continue from where they left off across devices will make their check-out experience with your brand faster and simpler. By making the cross-channel experience seamless for the customer, you can achieve this level of effectiveness. That’s why it’s important to have a customer engagement platform that can help you collect data and present a unified, consistent experience for your customers, regardless of which channel they’re on at any given time.

Show your customers understanding and empathy this holiday season

Above all, remember that your customers are human beings and it’s been a challenging year.

Marketers should avoid over-the-top messaging in favor of subtlety. Campaigns that express solidarity with people and resonate with their emotions in these difficult times are necessary to build trust as a brand. Empathize with your consumers and show that you understand the challenges they’ve faced this year. Be sure to communicate with them the ways in which your company is keeping their safety and best interests in mind.

While the pandemic has changed our way of life, there are still a few constants. Even with all this change, successful mobile marketing all comes down to knowing in advance what your target customers prefer and then sending them the right offer via the right channel at the right time. That only comes when you have done your homework and have the right set of tools in your marketing stack.

Keeping your mobile marketing campaign focused on the needs and lifestyle changes of your customers will lead to increased engagement, conversions, and revenue this holiday season. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!

Raviteja (Ravi) Dodda
Raviteja (Ravi) Dodda is the co-founder and CEO of MoEngage, an insights-led customer engagement platform built for the customer-obsessed marketers and product owners. He is an alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur. Ravi has more than ten years of experience in leading global teams and managing successful products. Prior to MoEngage, he co-founded and built DelightCircle, a localized retail mobile app. Ravi has been recognized in the BW Disrupt 40 under 40 and Forbes 30 under 30 lists.


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