E-commerce holiday season sales are projected to tally around $62 billion this year, as more people avoid the mall mania and go online to shop. There’s an enormous opportunity for online retailers big and small to capitalize on this prime shopping time, but it will be a competitive marketing battlefield.
Here are seven tips to help retail marketers beat the competition and keep the new customers that you earn over the holiday season.
- Offer free shipping – Consumers love free shipping and, according to new e-commerce research, they’re twice as likely to make a purchase if offered free shipping than if offered a percentage-off price. With Amazon raising its free-shipping minimum to $35 this year, there’s an opportunity for smaller retailers to compete with even better free shipping deals.
- Don’t overlook the subject lines – Don’t underestimate the value of a good subject line in your email marketing campaign. It’s nearly as important as the offer itself. Pick a subject line that’s creative, yet professional. Don’t include an obvious sales pitch and stay away from words like ‘buy’ and ‘free.’ Make sure it doesn’t contain any words that would be considered spam. Do an A/B split campaign to test the effectiveness of your subject line before using it broadly.
- Package up experiences – Especially if you’re doing a daily deal, consider presenting it as an experience, rather than just a 2-for-1 offer. Consumers are suffering from daily-deal overkill and are more apt to sign up for an experience-oriented offer that involves friends and family. For example, package your deal as a dinner for four or a couple’s spa day.
- Give shoppers a sneak peek – Reward your existing customers by giving them a sneak peek of your sale or promotion ahead of time. You’ll make them feel valued, while also planting a seed in their minds. Send a sneak peek 3 – 7 days before the sale and consider including a promo code or special offer to move it over the goal line.
- Start with simple segmentation – One-size-fits-all offers are ineffective and usually wasteful. To drive sales, you must personalize, which calls for understanding your customers and their behavior. Retailers lacking the resources to determine real-time purchasing intent can use less sophisticated measures to establish their offer strategy. Segment your customers simply by analyzing their past purchase history (amount spent, if they bought based on a certain offer, etc.), and use that data to identify the level of discount needed to convert.
- Gather the “right” data – Not all customer data is good data. Some just serves to clutter the process. As you cull data over the holidays, make sure it’s the “right” data that helps you customize future messaging, deals and product promotions. Focus mainly on behavioral data like frequency of site visits, product page views and length of time on site. Google Analytics and Tag Manager are good inexpensive tools to gather data, and Retention Science can leverage the data to create personalized campaigns.
- Plan your post-holiday campaigns – It costs less to retain than to acquire customers, and repeat customers tend to spend more. Don’t fall short in your marketing plan and lose all of the customers you fought to gain over the holidays. Now is the time to start working on your post-holiday campaign strategy. Leverage the data that you collect over the holidays to personalize offers for your new customers in January.
Don’t fall into the trap of investing a massive amount to acquire new customers in November and December, and then dropping the ball in January when it comes to re-engaging the customers that you’ve earned. Customer retention is king in the competitive retail industry, so make sure it’s an integral part of your strategic marketing planning process.