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Holiday Marketing: 5 Strategies to Win 2014

5 strategies for holiday marketingYour stores are stocked (and so are your competitors’). You’re rearing to go, and the cautious consumer looks to be rearing to go this year, too. Will the 2014 holidays deliver on your expectations? Not unless you compete for it!

The reports are in, and they’re (mostly) saying that holiday spending will be up this year. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) says it expects holiday spending to gain 4% this year to $488.6 billion at Shopping Centers, in line with previous forecasts from the National Retail Federation and Deloitte. And predicts that online spending will increase between 8-10% to as much as $105 billion.


That’s a lot of opportunity for the retail industry, but unfortunately, it comes at the expense of brick and mortar sales. Traffic to physical stores continues to head downward over 2013 between 6-11% over last 3 months. According to ShopperTrak, total retail foot traffic for November and December has fallen for 4 consecutive years (down 14.6% last year), which is a loss of billions of footsteps.

The point is this: if you want to be a top contender for traffic this year, you need to get your holiday marketing act in gear, using both online and offline tactics together for smarter campaigns and more relevance.

5 Strategies to Win Holiday 2014

With all of this shopping data in mind, we’ve prioritized five holiday marketing strategies that will help you get the most out of the upcoming shopping season.

1. Get Lots of Email Addresses. Now.

Retailers are working feverishly to get customers opted in to their email programs. You should be, too. After all, your email won’t have much effect if you have no one to send it to. Actively market your email list NOW and throughout the holiday season. There is a huge range of tactics at your disposable, including things like point-of-sale email capture, refer-a-friend emails, social contests, etc. Here are some tips:

  • Make your email signup offer unavoidable. Display it prominently, such as with a strategic lightbox.
  • Offer contests to shoppers and collect contest data.
  • Offer e-receipts.
  • Promise future personalization through email content.
Make your offer stand out with a lightbox.

2. Drive Traffic

Promote Foot Traffic Through Digital Channels

This might seem like an obvious one, but you should make sure that all of your marketing channels are directing traffic to ALL of your purchase channels. Why? Because that’s how customers shop now: 18% of consumers who holiday shop use online/mobile coupons for in-store purchases, and 14% are comparing prices on their phone while in store. Online and offline channels have converged, and you should take advantage of it. Tips:

  • Use your social channels to drive foot traffic. Your social communications can help shoppers determine where to shop, provide shopping ideas and inspiration, allow you to offer deals of the day, etc.
  • Promote your multichannel value adds like ship to store, providing store level inventory, and allowing customers to reserve and pick up in store (especially same day pickup). These features drive foot traffic to the store for possible incremental value.

Other Best Practices for Driving Traffic

  • Use purchase and behavior data to drive relevant and heavily targeted offers that better than offered store and site wide. For example, if the general offer is 20% off sale items, use data to see who’s browsing but hasn’t purchased. Send these individuals a 40% off offer to drive the traffic and sale.
  • Promote Friends and Family events with limited-time promotions or an offer for you and one for a friend.
  • Buy Now & Buy Later offers continue to be successful across retail categories, often in apparel.

3. Re-engage the “Lost Customers”

Win-back strategies can help you regain customers, as long as you know how to play the game. Here’s how to get it done:

  1. Isolate those that are not engaging with you based on your own criteria (no opens? no clicks? no purchase?).
  2. De-dupe against the customer’s activities. Is she buying online but not in store? Or vice versa? Don’t rely entirely on your email file to tell the story.
  3. Divide unengaged customers into activity categories that make sense for your buying cycles (e.g. over one year unengaged, less than three months, etc.). Stick with this decision! See graphic for an example. 
  4. Develop content and messaging for each category of customers.

Engage lost customers to win holiday 2014

Note: Emailing non-engaged customers is risky. You can easily be labeled as a spammer if you send to too many inactive email addresses or too many of your emails go unopened. Make sure to always remove email addresses on first hard bounce, and test your subject lines.

4. Tailor for Your Best Customers

Best customers are typically 60-80% of a retailers revenue, but even best customers are promiscuous shoppers during the holiday season. A good strategy for best customer loyalty is important to keep them close this time of year…and it’s probably not a typical loyalty program. Less than one third of customers are “much more likely” to shop stores where they earn points or rewards. Coupons are just too tantalizing for these shoppers to turn down. Here are some pointers:

  • Communicate throughout the holiday (October through January) and on key dates like Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Cyber Monday, post holiday, etc.
  • Don’t forget direct mail. Consumers want and expect to hear about holiday products and offers via traditional communications, including direct mail. Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has found that direct mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s average response rate of 0.12%.
  • Relevance is still key, for both direct mail and email. Avoid the urge to batch and blast–you customers will tune you out. Instead, talk to the right customers, at the right time, with the right message for a better customer experience.
  • Get a mobile app. Of the 70% of shoppers who used a mobile phone while in a retail store during the 2013 holidays, 62% accessed that store’s site or app. And Last year, comScore found that 21 percent of Black Friday online sales and 17 percent of Cyber Monday online sales came directly from mobile devices

5. Focus on Conversion

Consumers know you collect their data and expect you to personalize their shopping experience.  If you do it right across channels, 40% of shoppers will buy more from you. How to get it done:

  • Onsite personalization. Product cross-sell and up-sell are NOT personalization, especially during the holidays. Customers are likely shopping for more than one item for more than one person. With this in mind, you should alternate product recommendations according to the customer’s immediate needs–change them according to the most recent search, click or interaction, not just previous purchases.
  • Save best pricing for best items. We know that last holiday Amazon won the price war and often changed prices on key items up to 10x’s per day. Now Wal-Mart VOWS TO ‘WIN’ HOLIDAY. Saying: “we can’t let competition beat us on price. So it’s tough to compete with Amazon and Wal-Mart on price, so save your best best pricing for the items you are best known for and would likely drive the most traffic. In the Accenture study for this upcoming holiday 96% of consumers are still very focused on discounts and 29% say it will take 50% off or more to get them to buy!
  • Move from blasting to interactive campaigns. Leverage your email analytics for more engagement. For example, if a customer doesn’t open an email, it may not be the right message. Keep the content and try a different subject line. If the customer opens the email but doesn’t click through, then move onto the next product. Any blast and/or drip campaigns should be redesigned into interactive customer conversations.

Your Year to Win

Holiday sales will probably tough this year (but what’s new?). Retailers will have to fight for their “fair share.” Doug McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has said, “In retail, you get what you deserve.” Use these strategies to make sure you come out on top of Holiday 2014 and get all that you deserve.

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