You'd get some strange looks if you carved up a jack-o-lantern today, picked out your turkey before Halloween, and had ornaments on your tree by the first week of November. But for online retailers, the holidays are different. It pays to start them early.
The holiday season is the most important time of the year for many companies. In 2012, the months of November and December accounted for 23% of total annual sales, and this year's holiday season is poised to be one for the record books with expected growth between 13% and 15% over last year's $42.3 billion dollar haul, according to research from eMarketer, Deloitte LLP, and comScore Inc.. Online retailers have realized how critical it is to be prepared as 70% of companies start planning their holiday marketing strategy by August, and half of online retailers start running holiday marketing campaigns prior to Halloween according to a survey from Experian Marketing Services.
This year has an even shorter holiday season, with only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas compared to 31 days last year, so it's even more important to have your plan down pat for this crucial time. Here are some data-driven strategies and tips that can power a successful holiday marketing program.
You're going to acquire more new customers, but they're not all equal.
Holiday shoppers are different. The lifetime value of customers acquired during the holidays is 15% less on average than that of other customers, and they're less likely to shop with you again in the future. There are ways, however, to sort through the mob of shoppers to find your very best new customers: Take a look at which marketing channels and tactics brought in high-value customers last year, and then double down on those methods for this year. Make sure that channels and programs that only attracted low-value customers are delivering a strong enough ROI to justify continued investment this holiday season.
Get ready in advance so you can hold on to your new customers.
Once these new shoppers check you out, you need a system in place to nurture these new relationships. Plan your retention program now so that you’re not scrambling in January or February to get it together, losing customers’ attention by the time you're up and running in March. Leverage your existing email program or create a new one to nurture and keep your newly acquired customers.
Keep in mind that many holiday shoppers are buying gifts for others, and may not be aware of the entire selection your store offers - emphasize product discovery and customer education in your email campaigns.
If you plan to send out "new year, new you" campaigns (campaigns highlighting product selection that can help customers with their new year’s resolutions), make sure you segment your customers to tailor your campaigns for each customer segment.
Build a data-driven promotional calendar for the holidays.
Looking at last year’s performance of various holiday promotions can be a great predictor of how different customers respond to discounts and promotions. 70% of retailers are going to use promotions this year, and 40% will offer free shipping according to Experian, but the best ones will figure out how much each promotion is going to deliver in incremental revenue, profit and repeat purchases.
A retailer may be losing money by failing to segment customers -- offering discounts to customers who don't need them, and not being aggressive enough with customers who may need an extra push to buy.
Looking at last year’s data can help you model the impact of various promotions for this year: For example, what will be the impact of offering free shipping during the holiday timeframe for all customers? Or just for your high-value customers?
Segment and personalize to tailor your holiday experience to different customers across all channels.
A mom in Idaho shopping for gifts for her three children would be interested in different products than a young man in New York buying a gift for his fiancé. Ideally, your website and marketing communication touchpoints during the holiday timeframe do a good job catering to the different audiences you serve. One way to achieve this is segmenting your customers across various dimensions: demographics attributes, past purchase behavior, and predicted lifetime value. Then you can personalize your holiday experience for each customer segment on your website, via email marketing and through different promotions. For example, one retailer uses lifetime value segmentation to offer their high-value customers early access to premium gift sales featuring the season’s best inventory.
How Custora Can Help
Custora is a predictive analytics platform that helps e-commerce retail marketing teams acquire, retain, and segment their customers. Retailers are using Custora this holiday season to improve their customer acquisition and retention efforts by finding out which marketing channels bring in valuable customers, making changes to acquisition budget and programs, optimizing promotion performance and segmenting their customer base to provide a personalized holiday shopping experience across all channels.
Till the end of October, Custora is offering all new customers a free evaluation and analysis of your holiday 2013 marketing plan and your holiday 2012 performance. Contact us today to check your eligibility (spots are limited).
To see what we offer, enter your email address to download a sample Holiday 2012 Performance Analysis that you can use to analyze the effectiveness and performance of last year's holiday marketing program:.