Marketing Secrets for Your Cross-Channel Holiday Marketing Campaign

by Bruce Swann

posted on 12-09-2016

The 2016 holiday season is set to be the biggest online-shopping experience yet. Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) predicts an 11-percent, year-over-year growth with holiday sales reaching an impressive $91.6 billion. For brands, marketing successfully during the holidays means targeting consumers with personalized experiences that are relevant, convenient, and accessible.

Consumer spending peaks during the holidays, making personalized interactions crucial elements for success. Seasonal marketing is everywhere — email, text, display, search ads, apps, and websites. Being heard through the noise can be tough, so marketers need to think about personalization and personalize every interaction.

But, here’s the good news: Holiday shopping behaviors are unique, and that presents smart marketers with opportunities to create highly effective campaigns. During the holidays, consumers shift from unpredictable patterns to a regular cadence over the span of days or weeks leading up to the holidays. Consumers also make quicker purchasing decisions based on factors such as convenience, cost, and availability.

In light of ADI’s findings, here’s how to outperform the competition with personalized, cross-channel marketing experiences that deliver this season.

Maintain a Single, Accessible View of Your Customer.
Everyone’s a bargain fanatic during the holidays, and savvy consumers — in search of low prices and great deals — will happily skip between channels in pursuit of the perfect holiday gifts. Searching for products at the best prices, ADI found that on-the-go shoppers explore multiple retail sites, several social-media channels, and their own email inboxes. Cross-channel consistency is critical — and maintaining a single view of the customer is how you do it. Tie data from current, online-browsing behaviors to historical data — past purchases, for instance — to gain comprehensive views of your customers. Knowing, for example, that some of your customers purchased Legos for their kids last year is a great data point that comes into play leading into the holiday season.

Better Anticipate the Buying Journey.
From the onset of the season — think Black Friday and Cyber Monday — consumers are more calculated, and the purchase path differs during the holidays. Many shoppers now balance the prospect of securing a decent deal with waiting for a price reduction — even if it means paying a premium for shipping. Maintaining a robust, single view of your customer can help you better anticipate the holiday buying journey, identifying actions along the way that could accelerate the purchase path.

Use Predictive Analytics to Guide Strategy.
Behavioral data — such as how customers view products and then abandon carts online — can be used to trigger remarketing emails or display ads that prompt them to return and complete their purchases. Layer in analytics to identify specific behaviors, and you can predict future behaviors. For instance, if you know — based on past behaviors — that a customer is unlikely to return to an abandoned cart, you can create an incentive. Smart holiday marketers use analytics not only to understand existing customer behaviors, but also to predict what their customers are likely to do next — critical insight that can help drive desired outcomes.

Avoid Marketing Fatigue by Being Proactive.
With scores of incoming ads and emails throughout the holiday season, customers often opt out or delete important marketing messages. Managing not only the cadence, but also the volume of messages is central to a successful holiday campaign. Of course, having the ability to factor in what someone did or didn’t do last holiday season is also a big help in controlling marketing fatigue.

Bridge Offline and Online Marketing Strategies for Maximum Impact.
It’s easy to become caught up in digital marketing and neglect offline opportunities during the holidays. Don’t. There’s value to be gained by integrating offline and online strategies. Direct mail is a perfect example — catalogs are an important part of the customer journey throughout the holiday season. They’re easy to share or give to the kids, and people use them as inspiration for gift-giving. To be effective, however, direct mail must be relevant and targeted.

The right mobile coupon, alert, or app sending a trigger message to a customer as he or she walks into a store connects offline and online experiences in real time. Another smart way to bridge offline and online strategies is to incentivize customers to return to a store to use a coupon printed on their receipts.

Personalization and Consistency Are a Must During the Holidays.
Personalization is the Holy Grail of holiday marketing. Why? When consumers receive messages that are tailored to their likes and dislikes, they feel good. Know who your customers are, as well as the types of products they buy, and incorporate that information into your marketing plan. Inventory targeting is a great way to leverage a trigger-type campaign. As inventory reaches a certain threshold, alert targeted customers with personalized messages to ‘buy now’. Target high-value, loyal customer segments first and then move downstream, creating a nice loyalty effect.

ADI data shows that customers believe the best place to find deals during the holidays is in their inboxes. If consumers expect discounts via email, provide them — and be consistent in your offers across channels. If you target a customer with a specific offer by email, make it available across channels. Offers that are only good in-store or online are frustrating and disruptive to consumers — and customer experience suffers as a result. Marketers must always think about consistency with regard to how they treat their customers and the deals they offer them.

Continuously Work to Strengthen Consumer Trust.
For the first time this season, ADI predicts mobile visits will outpace desktop visits. Yet, conversions by phone account for only 34 percent of all purchases. How do you encourage shoppers to complete purchases on mobile? People conduct all kinds of business on their phones. Yet, they’re less willing to make purchases — even when they don’t hesitate to check sensitive bank account information. A mobile app goes a long way toward easing trust issues with consumers. Our studies show that, when retail consumers are ready to buy, 57 percent prefer to purchase from an app and only 43 percent prefer mobile web. A mobile app requires just a few taps, and they’re done. And, they help build credibility while providing experiences that customers appreciate.

In Summary
With the increased volume and frequency of marketing during the holiday shopping season, providing highly personalized, cross-channel experiences is even more important. Maintaining a single view of each of your customers can help you better anticipate their buying journeys while predicting what they are most likely to do next. Bridge offline and online strategies for maximum impact and reinforce personalization and consistency along the way. Remember, there’s a lot going on during the holidays. If you’re lucky enough to engage your customers close to purchase, don’t lose them. Promote consumer trust by creating experiences that are easy, accessible, and reliable.

Topics: Campaign Management, Retail