Black Friday and Cyber Monday have traditionally been the Holy Grail for marketers. For the past couple of years, however, with COVID-19 and global events affecting the global supply chain, marketers have had to pivot on a dime and adapt their marketing strategies during ever- changing conditions.
The holiday season continues to shift earlier and longer, providing an opportunity for marketers to redefine what holiday shopping looks like. Promotions such as “Christmas in July” and Amazon Prime Day in the summer, for example, have been successful in giving consumers another focal point and preview into potential holiday purchases.
It’s critical to make every step in the customer cycle seamless and frictionless to build customer loyalty past this holiday season into 2023 and beyond.
In this article, we’ll highlight the key marketing insights from the past holiday season and how to apply them past Cyber Monday, and most importantly, how to build customer retention programs once you’ve acquired new customers through holiday sales promotions.
Marketing Lessons From 2021 to Apply Past 2022 Into 2023
In Palms and Pockets: Smartphones are the go-to shopping device
The pandemic accelerated digital adoption and permanently altered consumer preferences, behaviors and expectations. With digital holiday deals only a phone tap away, customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes, rather than deal with the stress of long lines and large crowds.
Forrester research predicts that mobile retail in the U.S. will account for 48% of all sales by 2024, and Bizrate Insights found that in 2021, 76% of U.S. online consumers used their mobile phones for that online shopping on Thanksgiving weekend.
This means that it’s now table stakes that your brand’s smartphone experiences must work flawlessly to help get busy customers into your sales funnel. Once they’re there, it’s imperative that you build personalized digital experiences tied to their customer journey maps to build their loyalty past the holiday season, so you can get away from just offering price promotions.
Cut the Fluff
When it does come to offers, give your customers offers they actually care about. In 2021, promotional email volume skyrocketed as brands worked to reengage customers. Rather than flood your customers with promotional emails and seeing what sticks, focus on what your customers really want. Here are the top 4 most important things they care about, according to Forrester research:
- Free shipping with no minimum order – 51%
- Discount on total purchase – 48%
- Guaranteed on-time delivery – 35%
- Free returns on shipping – 35%
You can see that offers don’t always need to be tied to straight price discounts. The more you can capture first-party data and understand your customer’s desires, the better you can use personalized marketing principles to tailor offers to customer segments throughout 2023.
For example, show your best customers how much you value them, beyond discounts and offers. Target leveraged insights from its Circle loyalty program during the 2021 holiday season to better understand its customers and personalize its offers. The result? An $8 to $10 lift in promotional basket size compared to mass offers and a conversion rate of 70% compared to 40%
Speaking of loyalty programs, if you’re not already promoting yours in your marketing this holiday season, you still have time to pivot and edit your digital creative, as getting new customers into your loyalty programs is the best way to boost retention past the holidays.
Inventory Transparency and Delivery Deadlines
Customers were proactive in 2021. In anticipation of potential supply chain issues, 48% of U.S. adults purchased online and early to get their orders in on time. While those issues have improved this holiday season, we’re not out of the woods yet, with delays still forecasted.
As we’ve discussed, to retain customers past holiday sales promotions, it all boils down to building trust. To set expectations and win over hesitant customers, include delivery dates and offer curbside pickup options. In holiday advertising, clearly communicate delivery shipping cutoffs, so customers can plan their holiday shopping confidently. For example, Barnes & Noble included a shipping timeline on its site as early as Cyber Monday last year, while other retailers opted to send shipping reminders via email when the cutoffs got closer.
The more transparent you are, and the more you overcommunicate to customers so they can get that prized gift to their loved ones, the more they’ll trust to come back to you for everyday purchases after the holidays.
The key takeaway to building customer retention is that you need to think beyond holiday deals, into the following weeks and months, if you want to transition to a Black 2023 and not just a Black Friday and a Cyber Monday.
Heed the lessons of 2021, and take active note of your tactics this 2022 season to pivot your 2023 plans. With an endless variety of brands for customers to engage with, it’s critical to ensure that each touchpoint in the customer journey is seamless, authentic and transparent.
When the hype and shine of the holidays finally fade, you’ll be top of mind. You’ll leave a positive impression and encourage customer engagement, furthering brand loyalty. It’s a marathon—not the usual sprint—to retain customers and keep them actively engaged throughout the year.