Christmas is a special time of year – for most B2C organisations, it’s their biggest sales period of the year, and for consumers, it can get pretty hectic. As e-commerce sales in Australia grow and more players enter the market, digital communication channels like email are becoming an increasingly important part of customer experience.
Here are a few ways to make it onto your customers’ “nice” list AND their shopping list.
For starters – make it to the inbox
The most recent Return Path study showed that 1 in 6 emails still don’t make it to the inbox. It doesn’t matter how good your campaign is if certain email clients decide you’ve been naughty this year and send your messages to spam! This is why we dedicate whole whitepapers to deliverability, and place huge importance on data cleansing.
Refresh what you know about your customers to maximise ROI
Unless you get regular customer reports, now is a good time to get an updated customer snapshot, as it could have changed considerably over the year with new campaigns populating your CRM with data. Have a think about the most important factors relevant to your campaigns and efforts, and what “averaged” data would help you use your marketing efforts most efficiently.
For example, as part of our custom reporting for one client, we pull a map showing where customers are predominantly located, and compare this to census data. This way they can see which retail outlets are doing better than expected and most worth targeting with point of purchase promotions.
Create a Christmas context for your marketing personas to improve customer experience
Christmas presents unique challenges for customers, and therefore unique opportunities:
- It’s the only time of year where you’re expected to buy for multiple friends/family at once. How can you make this process easier? A good way to get inspiration is to live your customer experience. For example, at Ashton Media’s latest Data Strategy Forum, one speaker got out of the office and experienced the customer journey for themselves, repeating it in different ways.
- If your product can be given as a gift, don’t miss out on opportunities to “acquire” gift recipients. While it is illegal in Australia to opt anyone in without their consent, you can at least ask if they’d like to be opted in. For orders requiring gift wrapping, you could for example replace the receipt with a little greeting card that includes an incentive to subscribe. Keep in mind that gifts might not be opened at home on Christmas Day, so SMS-to-subscribe can be particularly useful.
- In addition to extra time pressures, most workers will be frantically wrapping up the year, trying to plan holidays, and juggling family activities. Time and attention is at a premium, so features that save time, or messages that recapture lost attention will be even more valuable. There will also be a LOT of abandoned carts – so rapid-response triggered message systems can be particularly valuable.
- Customers are often buying for people they don’t know very well – think about how you can offer an easy way out by clarifying returns, exchanges or store credit, winning over recipients as well.
Interact and target rather than mass blast
When inboxes are overflowing in the Christmas lead up and customers are busier than ever, being recognised as a relevant sender is even more important, because the “filtering” has been done for the customer.
If you’re used to blasting, a quick win is to at least segment your subscribers, using dynamic content to funnel more relevant content without having to create multiple lists or templates. Qantas for example recently posted on their >50% open rate and double digit click through rates as a result of savvy segmentation.
Already segmenting? A quick way to take relevance to the next level is to set up or better utilise existing triggered messages, which usually get the highest opens and clicks due to their “baked in” timeliness. Transactional and abandoned cart emails are particularly important to optimise at this time of year.
If you’re sending a string of emails (like a countdown to Christmas), listen to your customers – for example, for recipients who haven’t opened the last few messages, don’t keep sending, or you risk churn.
Utilise multiple channels
While email ranks as the most important channel for purchase influence,* when inboxes are heavily hit, you need to consider other channels too. Again, look back at your Christmas personas to help you prioritise the best, highest ROI channels to use so that your content is presented in the right context. [*Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit]
For example, here are some channels to consider at various stages of the path to purchase:
Web – once visitors land on your site, how are you capturing them for return traffic? Check out why email can trump social for content marketing.
Social – Are you connecting fans to other valuable channels, and vice versa, to stay top of mind for those that like your brand? In store SMS – with stores busy, how can you turn walk-ins to subscribers? SMS-to-subscribe, accompanied by a triggered email that links to your online store, provides a nice back-up to swamped customer service in store.
Ready to purchase
Email – How are you responding to subscribers that have opened or clicked but not purchased?
Consider reasons they may have abandoned cart – high or unclear shipping costs for example can account for 26-52% of cart abandonment, according to Salecycle.
Point of purchase – would engaging incentives like a sales promotion differentiate you at Christmas time?
Purchase and Consumption
Email – How are you using triggered transactional emails throughout your persona’s life cycle with your product, to maximise spend and/or referrals?
Social – Do you have a promotion to encourage social or email referrals, and collect customer data?
Ensure recipients can read your email on their brand new phones/tablets!
More emails are opened on mobile than desktop, and at Christmas, most people who receive a new phone or tablet for Christmas are probably going to be playing around on their brand new toys. This is not the time to provide a poor experience – if you don’t have responsive email templates yet, tick this task off before Christmas!
“Twice as much was spent via mobile devices [in 2013] as was spent using them in December 2012.” Internet Retailing
In addition to your email automatically optimising layout on mobile, the cool new frontier is to optimise content or messaging when the email is viewed on mobile. For example, if your recipient is viewing on mobile it might make more sense to highlight a click-to-call. Since they’re probably on the run, a link to “find your nearest store” rather than using their home postcode data to highlight nearest store would be more accurate.
Lastly – let’s not forget that Christmas is meant to merry, not just multi-channel, mobile-ready or otherwise.
Adam Quirk - Managing Director, Traction Digital
Adam is a consistent pioneer in digital, managing teams to create award winning campaigns for global brands like Unilever, Audi, and Diageo. His strength is turning complex organisational objectives into actionable solutions. As Managing Director of Traction Digital, he continues to nurture long term relationships with leading brands, thanks to the excellent results they achieve with his direction.