Believe it or not, holiday shopping season is just around the corner. In fact, a 2015 survey by G/O Digital found 47% of respondents started thinking about gift ideas before November. Moreover, data from Creditcards.com found 32 million Americans had started checking items off their holiday shopping lists as early as September in 2015.
This year, retailers should invest in the gift that keeps on giving to consumers: relevance. In other words, brands should provide holiday shopping experiences that make life easier for busy customers and that eliminate friction from their cross-channel journeys. Additionally, marketers should adhere to the motto of right person, right message, right time by providing personalized shopping experiences and tailored advertising.
In exchange, brands will be better positioned to increase conversions and earn long-term customer loyalty this holiday season. So how can retailers give the gift of relevance this year?
1. Keep it Personal at Every Touch Point
Holiday season is a hectic, stressful time of year for consumers and retailers alike, but it’s also a crucial time for brands to ensure they keep the entire experience personal for consumers. According to holiday shopping research by MarketLive, 55% of consumers are comfortable sharing their preferences in exchange for convenience and personalized product recommendations. Additionally, holiday shoppers are likely to take advantage of tailored product recommendations received through e-mail (55%), on a retailer’s website (52%) or a customized mobile ad (42%). To succeed this year, retailers must remember that each consumer is unique, and expects offers, messages and experiences that are tailored to their interests, needs and preferences whether they are shopping in-store or on the Web.
2. Always Consider Context
As buyers move throughout their holiday shopping journeys, their needs and expectations change. What may start as initial gift research in late September quickly becomes final purchase decisions as early as the first week in November. Moreover, what may have been a gift for a two-year-old last year is now a gift for a three-year-old. To create relevance, retailers must consider context in every interaction. For example, say a consumer purchased a new toy for her toddler last year. Four months into the new year, she purchased a crib and other supplies for a new baby. This year, a large retailer this customer frequents has the opportunity to recognize how this consumer’s life has changed and make tailored recommendations based on that data-driven context.
3. Be Timely
Holiday season is also highly competitive, and this year, consumers will value messages and offers that are right on time rather than being inundated by frequent and often irrelevant ads. Consider this: A consumer has been researching Bluetooth speakers during the weeks leading up to Black Friday. The night before, all consumers are flooded with dozens of ads about Black Friday deals that are sometimes completely meaningless to their needs or preferences. However, a smart retailer would be able to recognize this browsing behavior and target the shopper with a special deal on speakers. And the cherry on top of the sundae is removing friction from this experience altogether: Rather than simply targeting an ad toward this buyer, give him the option to pre-purchase online and pick up the item in-store at a nearby location.
Superior Data Drives Relevance
Of course, retailers can’t create relevance over night, which is why they should begin preparing now for holiday season. The reality is that relevance and superior quality data go hand-in-hand. First-party customer engagement data enables retailers to create holistic consumer profiles that are updated and actionable in real-time, which means they can always create personalized experiences that honor context at the right moments. In the end, retailers wind up with the opportunity for one-to-one engagement with customers across channels and devices, increased loyalty and phenomenal holiday sales.