Xmas time is the peak shopping season. However, for marketers it is a stressful time that brings on sleepless nights, rather than eruptions of joy. This is because of the pressures of ensuring that they capture their targeted customer’s attention, and persuade them to buy. Coming in the midst of a no-holds-barred advertisement and seasonal promotional blitzkrieg, this will be no mean effort.
Contrary to the popular perception that businesses have it easy during the festive season, getting customers interested in or engaged with the brand during this time can be tricky.
In this context, how can your brand stand out amidst the din, and persuade your precious prospect to buy from you over everyone else? Here are ten tips to use during the ‘Sale’ season to connect with your customers better.
1. Roll out Special Offers
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!
Xmas is the time of special offers and discounts, for the simple reason that customers have taken this for granted. There is no virtue in trying out a contrarian approach during this peak season. However, the marketer would do well to roll out such offers differently rather than simply offer a discount to anyone who happens to pass by.
Use the CRM to analyze buying patterns, and send out various customized offers, such as early bird and last minute offers to customers. This also applies to prospects who may be encouraged to close the sale when there is a good deal running. An effective CRM application offers an organized and comprehensive view of the customers’ interests, and employees’ interactions with them, making this task easy.
2. Treat High Value Customers Special
Taking the concept of rolling out special offers one step further, use the CRM to identify high value customers. Analyze buying behavior and other customer data to identify the best customers, so that you can fulfill parameters like maximum revenue and maximum number of repeat purchases. It makes sense to pay even more attention to such special customers during the Xmas season. Even if there are no direct gains to be realized by such an engagement at this time, such reaching out would boost recall value, and would play no small part when such customers think of marking their next purchase later on.
3. Treat Low-Value Customers Special!
Most marketers would surely roll out offers for prospects under active engagement and targeted niches. The Xmas season offers a good opportunity to rekindle interest in prospects that have fallen by the wayside, and old customers who have already made a purchase. Extract lists from the CRM to roll out a simple season’s greetings, with a link to a landing page that may trigger interest. The prospects and old customers in the list initiated contact in the first place because they did find something to connect with the brand, and there is no reason why they should not do so again, provided the marketer offers them a good opportunity to do so.
4. Try to Up-Sell and Cross-Sell
Xmas is one time of the year when people are ready to part with their hard-earned money. While any marketer worth their salt would have their own plans to attract shoppers, many marketers, in their focus on gaining new customers and maximizing sales, tend to forget the existing customers. As the time tested adage goes that it takes considerable effort to gain a new customer compared to retaining an existing customer, marketers would do well to leave no stone unturned in trying to make up-sells and cross-sells, to existing and past customers during the festive season. The marketer could put the analytical engine to good use to find out the customers who made enquiries about other products, and they could also identify worthy accessories or upgrades to a previous purchase, and take the opportunity of festive greetings to suggest an up-sell or cross-sell.
5. Refurbish the Digital Assets
Xmas is the time to ring out the old and ring in the new. The first and basic step in this direction is to refurbish the company’s digital assets, especially the website and other customer facing apps. This could be something as simple as adding an Xmas cap to the logo on the main page, or going in for a comprehensive revamp of the site, to add Xmas themes. The underlying objective is to infuse an air of freshness and make the website tempting for the customer. The Xmas theme and a feeling of something new could send across the message of an active and proactive brand, and many customers would enter, simply curious to see what is new on offer, if for nothing else.
6. Put the Social Media to Good Use
Serious marketers already have a strong presence in the social space. The Xmas season is a time to engage the audience with relevant messages such as “What local charity are you supporting this holiday season?”; “All I want this Christmas is…”, “My New Year resolution is…”, or anything else that captures the imagination of the shopper. Going further, the marketer could also offer discount coupons or gift certificates for the best posts.
There are multiple benefits to be gained by promoting such interactive engagement. It helps the brand to register a strong presence in the minds of customers at a time of advertisement overload, and marketers gain valuable first-hand insights into the customer, on which further engagement may be based.
7. Offer Holiday Gift Tips
Xmas is the season of giving, and a good proportion of sales are actually gifts. A gift catalogue showcasing the brand’s gift-worthy items, blogs that suggest smart gift tips, a social media discussion on the best gifts, etc., are good ways to connect with prospective and existing customers, leading them to the brand’s landing page. At the very least, roll out an option for customers to buy a gift certificate and present it to their loved ones.
8. Do Social Good
Taking the concept of seasonal giving to its logical conclusion, brands can make a bid at attracting attention by donating a part of the sales proceeds to a specific cause.
Last Father’s Day, Wendy’s conducted a social good campaign “TreatItForward” wherein the food chain donated 50 cents to children in foster care for every Frosty bought over the weekend. But what made this scheme truly innovative and successful was the brand donating 50 cents every time a user shared it in the social media, by posting it on their Facebook wall or through other social media. Such innovative tactics are a surefire way to ensure that your brands go viral, and resonate with positivity this festive season.
9. Roll out Game Apps, Videos or Other Engaging Content
The Xmas time being the traditional holiday season, people would have more time on their hands. Depending on the target audience, brands would do well to schedule the launch of gaming apps, interesting videos, or even fun memes aimed at capturing the target’s time and attention. Needless to say, it makes sense to brand such roll-outs with an Xmas theme, such as Santa and snow. When most marketers are engaged in a dog-fight to gain ad visibility, it makes more sense to focus on such apps and content that users would find useful, and where corporate propaganda is only incidental.
While publishing such apps and content in places such as Google Play and YouTube for anyone to download and experience is essential, the real benefit comes only when such content is promoted actively in its own right. Such options offer a good pretext to initiate contact with people in the mailing list.
10. Raise the Bar at Customer Service
Holidays are a time when brand executives and staff are a harried lot. The twin combination of increased traffic and staff taking time out for their holidays puts pressure, and in such situations service standards can slip. Smart marketers take pre-emptive measures such as hiring extra holiday staff, rescheduling their own holidays and increasing server capacity to ensure that customers are provided an even better experience than before. Good service always wins business, and more so during the holiday season when everyone is busy and want to make the most of their leisure time. Seamless transaction; prompt reply to customer queries; the chat executive responding instantly without the customer having to queue; are all small things that can make a big difference.
The Moxie 2014 Holiday Commerce Survey reveals that 72 percent of customers want brands to engage more proactively during the holiday season. Brands that do so boost their image and recall value, and reap rich dividends.
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