March 14, 2018

How to Reach Holiday Shoppers Without Being a Jerk

Lee Steely

It’s no secret that for many retail brands, the holiday season is the busiest–and most critical–sales period of the year. Making a heavy marketing push during this last hurrah makes sense from that perspective, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to make sure holiday shoppers keep you in mind when they’re crossing items off their lists. But there’s a thin line between informing consumers about offers and contributing to the higher-than-usual marketing “noise” during the holiday season, and overdoing it can backfire in customer fatigue.

There are ways to get the job done without adding to the advertising holi-malaise.

Keep Emails Relevant With Personalization

According to the Wall Street Journal , retailer promotional emails rose 15% over last year’s holiday season, but shoppers responded by opening 15% fewer of all promotional emails they received. There’s a limit to the number of promotional emails consumers are willing to parse–remember, your customers are busy this season too, juggling work, family, and holiday obligations all at once. Giving your promo a considered read-through may not always make the agenda. Using email personalization is a great way to keep your missives relevant and useful for the customer, while increasing your overall open rate. Email list segmentation by customer type is a great way to do this. If you want your email promotions to be seen as relevant, customers who’ve made a purchase in the past shouldn’t be receiving the same email as those who’ve only indicated they’re interested. Even better than list segmentation? Customize email content by focusing on product categories users have shown interest in before, or helpful reminder emails when they’ve abandoned an online cart without making a transaction.

Get In the Spirit of Giving

Although ad fatigue is real during the holiday season, promotional offers are more welcome than you might think. 88% of shoppers polled for NRF’s 2017 Holiday Planning Playbook were happy to receive promotional emails from brands they prefer, and 90% made a purchase after receiving an email with a promotional offer. When the competition is fierce and the wish lists are long, holiday marketing becomes a battle of the most attractive offer. Decide on a discount or special offer that’s doable for your business, and let strong, personalized email copy do the rest. Many consumers who sign up for retailer mailing lists prefer to shop brands they’ve shopped before, so your promotion doesn’t have to be the cheapest around–just the overall best in each person’s inbox.

Make Yourself Useful

Another way to cut through the noise: put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Are there any pain points you can simplify for them? Bundling related items for purchase-ready theme gifts is a popular way to save online shoppers from scrolling endlessly for the perfect present, Holiday countdown reminder emails are another no-brainer technique that customers may actually appreciate. Studies have shown there are 4 types of holiday shoppers: steady, early, Black Friday shoppers, and late shoppers. You can leverage this by sending Early Bird incentives at the beginning of the season, decking out your emails with Black Friday promotions, and sending “last call” emails for how many days are left to shop with shipping time (or encourage a store visit).

Above all: a little empathy during the holidays goes a long way. For every holiday advertising pet peeve that personally annoys you, someone in your audience feels the same. It’s much better–for business, and your customer-humans–to make sure your promotions are reaching interested parties than to increase your reach numbers at all costs. Do your customers the service of treating them like you’d want to be treated. Shopping at this time of year can be hectic, and shoppers’ attention may be pulled in all sorts of directions, making finding the right item or deciding on one a challenge. A little extra customer service during the holidays can smooth that process and go a long way towards making customers feel good about making a purchase. They may spend even more than they planned, or just remember you as good humans in the future. We think either impression is well worth the effort to make.