While most Britons are packing for one last holiday or firing up their barbecues this September, retail marketers are starting to roll out their Christmas campaigns. Those that start early, plan ahead and take a flexible, data-driven approach will be best placed to grab the biggest share of wallet this Christmas, regardless of what surprises are in store.
eBay Enterprise’s EMEA Head of Marketing Solutions, Luke Griffiths, shares his four top tips to help retailers get in shape for Christmas:
Collaborate across the business
A good Christmas strategy requires a co-ordinated approach across a retailer’s business. In particular, the marketing and fulfilment departments should communicate regularly to ensure that the stock and capacity meet demand for heavily-promoted products. Delivery timing becomes crucial at Christmas, and customers will not appreciate marketing campaigns that continue beyond last shipping date, so both departments should work closely together.
Know your audience
Many of the normal rules of retail go out the window at Christmas as “gifters” join the fray and shop alongside regular customers. “Gifters” have very different needs than regular customers, so it’s important to use data from previous years to predict customer behaviour. From data, retailers should be able to tell whether a customer shops throughout the year or only at Christmas, as well as the average spend and the age group they buy for. With this information, it’s possible to capture useful information that identifies people that are purchasing personal items and those purchasing gifts. Having this information allows retailers to create algorithms and targeted offers that are more accurate in future seasons.
This year, armed with this intelligence, retailers can deliver more relevant marketing campaigns that give customers what they want, and are therefore more effective. So generous grandparents of large families could receive a broad range of suggestions for purchases, while cash-strapped parents of only children see “thoughtful” presents in their price range.
Watch out for ad blockers
The use of ad blocking is on the rise; Page Fair estimates that there are 12m people in the UK using software that blocks ads from appearing in their browser. Retailers can adjust to this by working across a broad range of marketing channels and being flexible in where they invest.
The success of different channels should be monitored and then products used that enable on-the-fly adjustments to get the most out of marketing. This takes the prediction and guesswork out of planning and allows retailers to switch tactics without leaving any money on the table.
Make the most of email
The surge in online browsing around Christmas leads to an increased risk of basket abandonment, as customers cast their net widely and often forget to return to items of interest. Email marketing can be a useful way to follow up on these opportunities and give customers a second chance to make a purchase. All email marketing should have a clear strategy and any discounts should be consistent to prevent unnecessary price reductions.
Two days after viewing is often the best time to follow up for many retail verticals, but it is better to shorten this closer to Christmas as shoppers finalise their gifts. Email is a medium that everyone uses and it is unaffected by ad blocking, so customers should be kept happy with relevant content and segment users to add value wherever possible. Practice makes perfect so test everything from email copy to image size against open rates and click-throughs.
Online shopping gets more popular every year, and disruptors such as Black Friday will continue to scare and delight retailers in equal measure. Planning ahead and taking a practical, flexible and data-driven approach to marketing is essential.