In the past, many retailers would shut down on major holidays. However, consumers now buy in a different way and shoppers want businesses to be open and available all the time. Similarly, just because you may not be in the office over the holidays, it shouldn’t mean your marketing efforts stall or that response time for your customers should suffer. The following are some key marketing automation tips for the holidays. How do you achieve the fine balance between taking some time off over the holidays, maintaining effective marketing efforts and keeping customers satisfied? The answer: Marketing Automation.
As guest contributor Anna Johansson writes in an article on Retailnext.net:
“You’d be hard-pressed to find any successful retailer not using automation in some form, and whether it’s brick-and-mortar, eCommerce or a blend of the two, new advances are freeing up retailers’ resources to better the shopping experience.”
Automation should be a part of the optimal customer experience that you offer and it should be utilized properly within your holiday marketing strategy.
Holiday Marketing Strategies Via Automation
There are multiple ways you can benefit from automation during the holiday season. Some of the most obvious ones include:
Scheduling allows you to keep marketing messages going out before, during and after your holiday break. During this time, you can schedule:
- Email Marketing
- Flash Sales
- Cross-Selling & Upselling Promotions
- Drip Campaigns
Don’t forget to also set up social media updates via automation. Holiday shoppers will use social media to research products before buying them, while others will actively surf social media while they are shopping. This is why it’s vital to keep a consistent presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram while you are away from the office.
Managing Customer Service
Even if you are taking time off for the holidays, your customers will still expect to receive the same level of customer service. And good customer service does play a part in your marketing. Through automation, you can:
- Send out pre-scripted messages and responses to common questions
- Keep buyers informed of their order status
- Send follow-up emails to invite feedback
- Maximize communication between staff
- Acknowledge customer orders
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
The importance of personalization cannot be stressed enough! Email marketing is highly effective, but to make it really work, you need to take a personal approach.
Through behavior tracking, you can learn about your buyers and market to them personally. Use the data you have to tailor your marketing messages and send offers that include the language, terms and subject lines that the customer is likely to respond to or interact with.
Make Use of Hashtags
If you have chosen to automate your social media campaigns, then use hashtags for the holidays. This is especially effective on sites like Twitter and Instagram, and implementing hashtags can help your social media messages get higher visibility.
Produce Seasonal Email Ads
If you are going to be out of the office during a major holiday, produce seasonal ads ahead of time to attract customers. Since holidays are often key shopping dates, seasonal or holiday-focused email ads can be an effective marketing tool.
Work on Your Mobile Marketing
As of 2019, there are 2.5 billion smartphone users worldwide and Pew Research reports that 51% of Americans will use a mobile device to buy an item this holiday season. What does that tell you? It says that your mobile marketing needs to be at full speed during any out-of-office period. Refine data analytics from your various shopping channels. Then segment and personalize, tailoring your offers to suit individual buyers.
In addition, you can set up push notifications, text ads and customer re-engagement messages to send out while you are away.
Ensure Deliverability Is Up to Standard
Nearly a quarter of emails sent out do not land in the subscriber’s main inbox, which can have a huge impact on your revenue. Before taking time out for a holiday break, you will want to know that emails are getting through to your customers rather than being bounced back, so be sure to take the time to verify email addresses and clean up data.
When testing deliverability, it is also a good time to run a re-permission campaign. Re-permissioning is not always necessary, but if you are cleaning up your data then it may be a step worth taking. (There are some legal considerations involved with re-permissioning, which you can read about here.)
Incentivize Your Customers to Make a Purchase
Looking for other Holiday Marketing Strategies you can use to keep the orders coming in? Try these!
Offer Free Shipping
Research from the National Research Federation (NRF) shows that most consumers expected shipping to be free, even on smaller orders under $50.
A recent NRF report states:
“As the realms of physical and digital shopping converge, retailers are offering more choices than ever in terms of how and when shoppers receive their purchases… And consumers are embracing these new fulfillment options – as long as they’re free.”
Show Customers Your Appreciation
The holidays are a perfect time of year to show your buyers you appreciate them. This can take the form of thank you emails, time-limited discounts tailored to specific customers or other free bonuses. Even a token reward can make customers feel good and give orders a boost.
Send Out Time-Limited Offers
Schedule time-limited offers while you are away. This could include discount codes, buy one get one free deals or flash sales.
Hold a Contest
Contests and competitions are always popular because people love to win things! Set up automated emails to promote a contest in your absence to keep your subscribers engaged.
Today’s competitive purchasing climate combined with consumers’ demands for high-quality service and consistency means that business owners must always appear to be available and open for business. While this balance used to be hard to maintain, marketing automation creates opportunities for effective holiday marketing strategies that ensure your sales efforts continue even while you enjoy a well-deserved break from the office.