From inflation to business rates increases to a weak pound, there’s no denying that 2017 has been a bit of a mixed bag for retailers. However, ecommerce marketers should nevertheless be preparing themselves for a flurry of festive shoppers over the next month and a half.
Whilst most of you will no doubt already have your Christmas campaigns firmly in place (many of you will have already sent them out), it’s worth thinking about how you can make doubly sure everyone who has shopped with you in Christmases gone by revisits you over the next couple of months to spend again.
Below are four ways you can go about doing this.
Start by segmenting your seasonal shoppers
Create a list of shoppers that made a purchase during the Christmas period last year (or however many years ago—depending how far you want to go back), but haven’t yet returned to make a purchase this time round.
To send the exact same message (in the exact same way) to all of these customers would be a mistake; it’s more effective to target them differently according to the sort of Christmas shopper they are. This could include:
- The amount they spend: Is your recipient a high spender, or do they love a good sale?
- When they shop: Are they well prepared - starting in October and finishing mid-December? Or did they do a very much last minute spending spree last year…? This information can help you work out the best time to send your campaign/ execute your initiative.
- What they shopped: Segment your shoppers by the category of item they bought over the Christmas period.
- Where they are in the customer journey: Are they just a one off shopper, or have they consistently shopped with you - year in, year out? Do they just shop at Christmas, or do they also interact with your brand during the rest of the year?
This leaves you with different Christmas shopper segments that you can target with the right message, on the right channel and at the right time.
Now for the different ways you can reach out to them and get them shopping again.
N.b. Before actioning the below, bear in mind the Christmas marketing you’ve already sent to your customer base - as you don’t want to send duplicate messages.
1) Send out a dedicated “gift shopper” email
There’s a possibility your one-off gift-shoppers last year won’t even remember your brand this year, especially if they have no reason to interact with you throughout the rest of the year.
Consequently, it’s worth sending a personalised mail-out reminding each recipient:
- Who you are
- What they bought with you
- What you can offer them this year
Who you are
If your recipient hasn’t interacted with your brand at all since Christmas, send an email inviting them back into your life.
Your subject line will be the most important element to consider here, as your main goal is to capture your recipient’s attention and get your email opened.
Use past purchase and interaction data to remind each gift shopper of when they first subscribed and/or shopped with your brand, and convey the fact you’d love to have them back for another year.
“Ometria hopes to see you again this Christmas, Beatrix”
“All we want for Christmas is you!
What they bought
Data permitting, you can take this a step further by actually mentioning the product/s and/or brand/s previously purchased. E.g:
“Beatrix, will you be shopping men’s PJs again this Christmas?”
“Burberry & Kate Spade: the brands you loved last Christmas”
“Beatrix, we think this could make a pretty awesome stocking filler this year”
Inside the email, you could then include personalised product recommendations based on the items previously bought, or based on the purchases of other customers who bought the same item last year.
(To learn more about the different types of product recommendation engines you could use, check out our blog post here.)
What you’re offering this Yuletide
Your subject line and/or email copy can also be the perfect opportunity to let gift-shoppers know what they’d be missing out on should they shun your brand this November.
As most gift shoppers will be concerned with getting all of their presents sorted in time (nobody wants to be Howard Langston à la Jingle All the Way), any special shipping services you’re offering this year is definitely worth mentioning here.
To ensure the right deadlines and/or countdowns are sent to the right customers, personalise each message by the time zone in which the recipient is currently residing. Location data can also help you personalise your email by other factors, such as weather forecast. For example:
“You can escape Dijon’s snowy weather by ordering all your gifts online - free next day delivery for the next four days!”
Other benefits you might want to remind your customers of include:
- Extended returns policy (the standard 30-day returns period can be problematic with Christmas shopping - especially for those buying presents early on in the season, for example around the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend)
- Gift wrap service
- Next day delivery
- Express delivery
- Personalised incentives (e.g. for high spenders, offer early access to a seasonal sale, whereas if they are discount shoppers, offer a juicy discount)
2) Craft dedicated “gift shopper” social posts
If your target demographics are men and women over the age of 40, it’s unlikely you’ll be used to thinking about what teenagers and people in their early 20s respond best to. But, when it comes to Christmas, you should think about this—because, likelihood is, they’ll be on sites like yours shopping for mum, dad, in-laws or distant aunts.
Enter: social media.
In 2016, a quarter of those aged between 18-24 cited Facebook as their favourite channel to be marketed to on, and so—chances are—this will include some of your gift shoppers.
To ensure this segment of your customer base is reached on channels such as Facebook, automatically sync your custom audiences (which are dynamically updated based on customer behaviour).
As well as promoting products, categories or you gift guide, social retargeting can also help to simply remind your customer of who you are. (E.g. If they haven’t already “liked” your page or “followed” your account, invite them to with a dedicated CTA.)
Likewise, after you send out an email campaign (similar to those explored in point 1 of this post), retarget any non openers on social using similar festive content.
3) If you have an app, send a special “gift guide” push notification
The personalisation process for mobile push notifications is much the same as email, so why not send out a broadcast notification about your gift guide as well as an email?
Using the single customer view, mobile push notifications can be personalised by factors such as name, demographic information, gender/location/age, taste profile, interaction history, purchase history… the list goes on. This enables your brand to create notifications that are genuinely helpful and truly bespoke.
For example, for a customer that always buys their boyfriend's stocking fillers from your shop, the notification could be entitled:
“Presents for him”
Or for new parents, grandparents or aunts, it could be:
“Personalised baby towels”… You get the picture.
N.b. Always be aware of what messages customers are receiving on other marketing channels (such as direct mail, social media or email). This prevents any direct replication or contradiction in marketing messages across the different channels being used, and instead ensures they work together to deliver a smooth and seamless journey.
4) Cater for your offline shoppers, too
If time and resources allow, treat your customers offline as well as online.
For example, a handwritten Christmas card in the post always goes a long way (...and, if you’re reading this before December, there’s still plenty of time to send them out).
If you have a huge customer base, just choose your most loyal, highest spending gift shoppers, and use any online data available to ensure the messaging is super personalised.
For example, using location data, you can determine the recipient’s nearest store and see whether any festive events will be going on over the next six weeks. The message might then read something like this:
“Thanks for being such a great customer over the years. To say thanks, we’d like to invite your to the Cardiff store for an evening of mince-pies and mulled wine!"
For more direct mail inspiration, check out this blog post on how to engage VIP spenders at Christmas.
Timing is everything
When executing all of the above, remember that the time in which you send a message is equally as important as the message itself.
Say you have an early bird shopper that gets all of his or her shopping done and dusted by December 1st...what would be the point in contacting them a week before Christmas Day, showing him products he’s already bought but with Express Shipping?
Likewise, there’s little merit in reaching out to a last-minute buyer in early December, as it’s likely to remain forever unopened.
Ultimately, in order to really connect with your holiday shoppers this season, you need to ensure the timing, content and method of your message are all decided with the individual in mind.
After all, when it comes to Christmas, it’s with your gift shoppers that the most opportunity lies.