5 Data-Driven Strategies to Personalize Your Holiday Marketing Campaigns

This holiday season, it is imperative not to get lost in the shuffle with the massive amount of emails flooding your subscribers’ inboxes. To take your efforts to the next level, retailers should focus on tailoring experiences for each subscriber. You’ll want to use best practices and next practices to break through the clutter, and a great way to do this is by using your customer data.

This isn’t as complicated and time-consuming as you might think. Using tactics, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics, you can automate data-driven campaigns while building personalized messages that increase the likelihood of a sale.

Let’s start by defining some of these terms:
  • Artificial Intelligence: Any device that perceives its environment, takes actions to reason through data and carries out tasks on its own to succeed at some goal.
  • Machine Learning: The ability for a computer program to learn from past experiences without being explicitly programmed. 
  • Predictive Analytics: Advanced analytics which are used to make predictions about unknown future events. It uses many techniques from data mining, statistics, modeling, machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze current data to make predictions about the future. 
  • Predictive Content: Powered by machine learning and predictive analytics, timely and relevant content recommendations are automatically delivered to your target audience, boosting engagement and aiding in the purchase decision. 

This data-driven approach eliminates the time-consuming and manual process previously needed to mine data for customer insights and determines what consumers are likely to buy next. By looking at historical data and anticipating consumers' intent, you can significantly improve the likelihood of converting visitors into purchasers while individualizing every interaction and focusing on the big picture.

Here are 5 data-driven campaign ideas to test this holiday season that will take your personalization to an entirely new level.

The first data-driven step towards a personal experience is segmentation. Segmentation targets a like-minded group of customers and tailors messages to their specific interests. By using your customer data, you can easily find these groups and segment your list accordingly. From there, you can determine who your customers are and what they want to see to understand what makes them tick.

In addition to standard demographics, consider analyzing your customers’ behavioral patterns and psychographics. This gives you the power to use browse behavior, purchase history and preferences.

Lookalike Lead Ads
Now that you’ve discovered your best and most loyal customers, you can let the data do the work with the second data-driven tactic. By uploading your segmented lists to Facebook, you will be able to find potential customers with similar interests to your existing subscribers. This approach allows you to expand your reach to new, prospective customers while presenting personal, relevant ads that are likely to spark their interest. It is an easy way to optimize the value of your email subscriber list while saving time and resources with automation.

Product Recommendations
The third data-driven tactic to try this holiday season would be personalized product recommendations based on each consumer’s behavioral data. Because product recommendations are determined through predictive analytics, each message is targeted to specific customers, helping them find the prefect present and creating a truly customized experience. This is a beneficial tactic that can be used in every email you send, not just your triggered messages.

In fact, your broadcast messages can have that same level of personalization without you having to do any of the work. By simply creating a template, you can send daily, weekly or monthly messages that are automatically populated with product recommendations based on purchase and browse behavior.

Programmatic Display Advertising
The fourth tactic, programmatic display advertising, allows you to expand your marketing reach to consumers after they leave your site—regardless of acquiring their email addresses. With the use of consumer browse and purchase data, you can automate dynamic display ads that are personalized to customers’ online behavior. This delivers efficient and relevant ads, while saving time and effort by automating the process.

Additionally, programmatic advertising is a great way to retarget consumers who visited your site, added something to their carts (but didn’t check out), or demonstrated some other interest. Through this, each visitor will see products related to their specific interactions instead of a generic one-size-fits-all ad. Reminding customers of their browse or purchase history with display advertising can help to reach potential customers at the peak of their holiday shopping and deliver tailored messaging at the right time to help re-engage consumers.

Predictive Content
Similar to product recommendations, our final tactic to test out this holiday season is predictive content. While product recommendations suggest different products based on their past purchases and behaviors, predictive content sends relevant content designed to engage and inform consumers to build long term relationships. It takes all your content like videos, tutorials, blog posts, articles, recipes and guides and delivers them – automatically – to the right consumer at the right time to aid in the purchase decision.

Moreover, today’s consumers – especially millennials - are looking to build relationships with brands. It’s no longer just about the lowest price, it’s about providing value and building trust. While using an incentive such as a discount can drive significant revenue, offering customized content suited to an individual’s interests drives engagement and revenue just as well – or better. Personalized content on its own makes the message relevant and delivers visible value. This type of content makes you a subject matter expert and helps you stand apart from your competition, especially from big companies such as Amazon or Walmart.

From emails with predictive content and product recommendations to personalized programmatic display ads, to triggered messages based on segmentation, your ads emails and all other messages can be individualized and tailored to specific customers like never before with the use of your customer data.

Holiday Email Design: How to Stay Festive Without Losing Your Brand

As heat rolls across the country in waves, there’s obviously one thing on every email marketer’s mind: the winter holidays! Grab your sunglasses and a glass of lemonade, sit back, and start thinking about bundling up and tossing some snowballs while jolly ol’ Saint Nick squeezes down your chimney.

There is a freedom to your email designs during the last few months of the year; you can easily use non-brand colors and imagery because it’s accepted as a norm by consumers. But be sure you don’t lose sight of your brand in the midst of all this festive cheer.

Your first instinct may be to take your regular marketing messages and just sprinkle some holly leaves on a bigger discount. Sure, you’ll get conversions, but could you get even more people clicking with a more brand-specific approach?

If you stay loyal to your branding while adding a festive flair, your customers will respond to the consistent message of your brand throughout the holidays and into the new year.

Cookie cutters may be great for Santa, but not for conversions!

Your customers are special, so a cookie-cutter design style or promotional concept may not be very effective on them. Make sure you’re creating a holiday campaign that speaks to your customers, not someone else’s.

Before planning your campaign, take some time to check out your analytics from the past year. While it’s important to look at the performance of your previous holiday campaigns, it’s even more important to see what kept your customers engaged throughout the whole year.

Ask yourself: What makes my customers act? Do they respond to beautiful lifestyle imagery? Do they love your catchy subject lines? Maybe it’s the big discounts that really hit home. Whatever it is, make sure you incorporate those favorite elements into your holiday campaign. These needs combined with the holiday aesthetic will connect with your customers and help lift conversions.

Updating your automated campaigns takes time and valuable resources.

Thinking of adding snowflakes to all your transactional messages? While this is a sweet ode to the season, keep in mind that you are spending valuable resources on these campaigns that could otherwise be allocated to your holiday marketing messages.

Every minute you spend adjusting the creative of your current automated messages, is time you could be investing in your holiday marketing campaigns. It’s best to treat your automated campaigns as “set it and forget it” while you focus on revenue-driving holiday marketing messages.

Plan ahead

As T. Boone Pickens said, “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.” You’re already a smart cookie, so why not take that masterful marketing mind and capitalize with a strategic holiday marketing plan?

A handful of emails across November and December offering 50% off with a picture of Santa in the corner isn’t going to cut it. Begin your campaign with subtlety by featuring your top products and a gift guide. Slowly amp it up by giving small incentives here and there, and then release the big guns when your customers are most open to purchase.

Again, be sure you’re checking your analytics and incorporating your customer’s favorite discounts, and sending at a time you know your customers are more apt to open. If you’re unsure where to start, check out our Holiday Survival Guide.

Choose festive colors that compliment your brand palette

While you may have the leeway to use non-brand colors at the holidays, don’t forget to coordinate that holiday color palette with your existing brand colors. Pure or saturated red and green are great for the holidays, but will they clash with your logo? Try to find colors that evoke that holiday spirit but also mix well with your colors.

For example, here is a Christmas motif in the typical Christmas color scheme:

The vibrant red and green are quite festive! But your brand colors are less saturated. Let’s say you have four brand colors: orange-red, navy, black, and light grey. Christmas red and green just aren’t going to fit naturally.

By using the brand orange-red, you already have half the equation. If you use a bluer and more subdued green, you have the same festive message that’s perfectly on brand.

Christmas doesn’t need to be your primary focusWhile Christmas is the big hitter in the holiday season, it doesn’t need to dominate every message you send. For some messages, why not keep it simple and focus on winter itself? Find a nice lifestyle image of a puppy playing in the snow, or a create a GIF of a cozy, crackling fireplace. You can also celebrate other winter holidays like Hanukkah or Kwanza. Heck, have some fun and celebrate Festivus!

Mixing things up will help keep things fresh for your customers in the never-ending sea of red-and-green emails filling their screens. By playing to the beauty and coziness of winter and recognizing multiple holidays throughout the season, you’re standing out in the inbox while also creating an emotional bond with more of your customers.

Don’t forget to recommend additional products!

As much as every designer and marketer would love all customers to be engaged with every single message, the reality is far more ominous: there will be people who do not engage with your main promo, or at any point in the message at all.

There are a ton of reasons a customer may not connect with an offer or product, so be sure you give them something else to click. Whether they be dynamic or static, add three to four products at the bottom of the email. Even if they already scrolled past your lovely hero image, additional products give your customers another opportunity to get onsite and shopping for the perfect gift.

Are you feeling the holiday spirit yet? Start planning your holiday campaign now, and don’t forget to check out our Holiday Survival Guide!

Mobile Holiday Strategies for Considersation

The holiday season brings an abundance of advertising noise to consumers, and for retailers, it is difficult to stand out. The question is --- how do you distinguish yourself and convince consumers to shop with YOU, rather than competitors?

We live in the era of instant gratification. When a consumer wants something, they want it NOW, and if you don’t capture their interest right away, you’ve lost them. With mobile spending growing 44% in 2016 and looking to grow even more this holiday season, what better way to reach your customers than through mobile promotions. By leveraging a mobile strategy, retailers can better interact with consumers on an individual level, reaching out when relevant, providing a better experience, and ultimately generating a higher return on marketing efforts.

To help you make the most of your mobile presence throughout the shopping season, here’s a handy checklist that will help you to increase engagement even in the middle of holiday shopping madness.

Create Urgency with SMS:
As we quickly approach the holiday season, retailers are beginning to put the final touches on their themed campaigns. If SMS isn’t part of your marketing mix, then maybe you should think again. SMS is quickly becoming one of the best ways to reach and engage customers and you don’t want to miss out. However, there are some tips we encourage you to remember. While emails can go out daily – or even multiple times per day – SMS should be used sparingly. SMS should be saved for your best offers or discounts and should include a feeling of exclusivity as well as a sense of urgency.

The best Black Friday and Cyber Monday SMS promotions create a sense of urgency that motivate the customer to take advantage of the offer. Without some kind of deadline there isn’t any real incentive for them to click through. 

Abercrombie and Fitch is a great example. With action words like, “Jump start, while supplies last, and ends tonight,” they are sure to grab the reader’s attention! 

Get Personal with SMS:
The holidays are the perfect time to build an emotional bond with your customers. The positive feelings and gratitude are already at the forefront of the season and your marketing campaigns can piggyback on those emotions. An effective way to personalize SMS messages is through segmentation. Segmenting your customer list will allow you to customize your messages for each group of people, giving them relevant messages each time you send out a campaign. To get the most out of your SMS marketing, you can create specialized content for each group of customers tailored just for them based on demographic data or preferences.

Last holiday season, Starbucks launched a holiday themed SMS opt in promotion. Customers were encouraged to text the keyword JOY to 20757 in order to receive weekly holiday offers. After consumers texted in the keywords, they were sent back a message welcoming them to Starbucks’ holiday SMS promotion. By asking questions like, “What’s your favorite drink,” Starbucks was able to create custom messages for customers, creating a personal campaign.

Be Timely with Push Notifications:
While consumers are currently enjoying the peak of summer, the holiday season will sneak up soon enough. As retailers are starting to come up with strategies this time of year to stand out during the mad rush of shopping, the importance towards relevancy and timeliness continue to be emphasized to ensure a successful push notification strategy. Our advice is to find the optimal time to send. Time your push notifications to sync when your audience is thinking most about shopping, including all the special holiday shopping days as well as after the holidays. This is the time when there are incentives that encourage your audience to go back to the physical store or site for additional shopping. Sending push notifications at these times about upcoming specials can encourage them to spend more.

An example of an optimal time to send would be the second and third Thursdays before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday before Cyber Monday. According to a study by Urban Airship, these days are crucial for online retailers during the holidays. This is when shoppers start to engage in researching their wish lists and making last minute purchase decisions. Sending push notifications during or right before these days could be critical for increased conversions.

Take Advantage of Location:
Even when consumers are on the go, they expect to receive relevant messages that meet their specific needs, whether it’s on their phone, tablet, or wearable device. The good news is that technological advances are giving marketers the ability to effectively target their customers more accurately. Leading the charge in this innovation race is the ability to utilize geolocation for targeted mobile marketing efforts. There are many ways to take advantage of geo-location capability by providing specific deals and promotions when your customers are close to your store to influence their buying decisions. The use of geo-fencing -- and better yet beacons -- is great for targeting customers while they're in close proximity to a store or even inside it. Hitting them with a coupon or sale at just the right time, while they are in or near the store, can make the difference in terms of whether they make a purchase or not.

Right before the 2014 holiday season, Macy’s rolled out retail’s largest beacon installation at the time. As shoppers entered the store, they were reminded to open their Macy’s apps in order to receive notifications, promotions, deals, and discounts. The beacon-enabled campaign targeted mobile users in stores prior to Black Friday, prompting them to download the app and to keep an eye out for the game on the shopping holiday.

Mobile marketing is a great way to generate tailored messages to promote your holiday campaigns. Because cell phones have become the main hub for how consumers view the web, you should consider including mobile marketing as a strategy. We’ve made our list and checked it twice and we’d love to help you this holiday season. Questions? Let us know in the comments section.