How Marketers Can Prepare for a Holiday Season Unlike Any Other

 In Customer Data Hub, Customer Data Platform, Data

It comes as no surprise that the holiday season looks a little different this year. Malls are desolate, caroling has been cancelled, and Santa is wearing a mask. The lack of in-store shopping is enough to make most retailers blue; but, as a digital marketer, I see this change in pace as a clear opportunity for those agile enough to capture it. Let’s uncover how customer expectations are changing during this wacky season and how to best prepare.

  • Holiday Shoppers are Seeking Safe and Consistent Experiences

Buyers are looking for safe shopping alternatives this year. Holiday e-commerce will grow significantly as more people are limiting in-store shopping. Because more customers have been pushed to shop online, it’s become even more critical that retailers offer cohesive digital experiences that map to the brick-and-mortar experience. For example, helping a customer who might be shopping for someone else or suggesting related items important to their purchase.

  • Buyers Expect a Trusted Experience

Taking privacy risks seriously presents an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. The clock is running out on using customer data without obtaining consent. Customer attitudes, regulations, and technology changes to internet browsers are making this the second-to-last holiday season where you have an opportunity to build up your first-party data assets. 

  • Buyer Expectations Remain High

It’s been a decades-long trend that every holiday season is the biggest e-commerce season ever for retailers, and buyer expectations reflect it. Amazon has raised the bar for online shopping experiences. According to PwC, nearly 80% of consumers say that speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service are the most important elements of a positive customer experience. Buyers now expect convenience and a diverse selection of buying options, which has fueled the growth in digital retail purchasing. This trend is not going away any time soon.

So here we have buyers expecting, well, the most. Safety, trust, and convenience are no longer just considerations, but necessities for brands to be successful. But don’t fret, although this season is unique, we’re here to help you take it by the antlers. 

Here is what we’re calling the “3 Strategic Pillars of Holiday Readiness”…AKA the Cindy Lou Who rulebook to this otherwise Grinchy season.

  • Delight Your Customers

The best way to delight your customers is by understanding them through their data and using that understanding to drive standout experiences. By clearly defining ways to delight customers— assuming you have the right technology and unified data in place— you can work backwards to build a dynamic experience that delivers on expectations. 

Examples of ways to delight your customers include Intelligent Live Chat, Shopping Cart Optimization, Cart Recovery, Customer Support for Frustrated Shoppers, Suppress In-store Buyers from Online Campaigns, and Predictive Insights to Proactively help. 

  • Define Your Strategy

Delighting your customers depends on knowing when to trigger your delightful experiences. With your use cases decided, identify the actions a customer will take to trigger your real-time experience. Did they look at a particular page? Do a search with no results? Visit the help page multiple times? 

Consider and define both (1) alternative ways of recognizing certain behavior (‘Big Spenders’ can be ID’d multiple ways, for example), and (2) other unique use cases that can function as backup for agility. When you know the data you need to deliver that experience, make sure you can use it. 

Examples of insights you might need to help you in delighting your customer include Customer Likes and Dislikes, Browsing Behavior, Frustration Signals, Preferred Channel, Customer Segment (VIP, Window Shopper, etc.), Loyalty Tier, Likelihood to Perform an Action (for example, likelihood to purchase).

  • Generate and Use Insights in the Moment

In this high-volume time, the thing you won’t have a high volume of is time itself. That means you need to automate as much as possible today to guarantee your agility tomorrow. Simultaneously, this is an unpredictable holiday season so you’ll need backup plans. Lucky for you, with the emergence of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), the technology is there to make this all a reality. By automating customer modeling and decisioning in your CDP, and layering in machine learning analysis, you can create both standout experiences and buy yourself agility to optimize throughout the season. 

Ways to automate and use insights could include things like ML-driven Predictive Insights, Segmentation Automation, Centralized Audience Management, Rules-based Decisioning.

Now that you’ve learned 3 simple ways to keep your customers happy shoppers this season, dig deeper into each retail use case by downloading our Retail Readiness: Holiday Edition ebook. We walk through the pillars in more detail and even throw in a Holiday Readiness Checklist. 

Stay safe, stay seasonal, and make this holiday season your biggest and most successful yet! 

*Excerpts and pillars taken from the 2020 Retail Readiness: Holiday Edition*

Recommended Posts