Ah, the holiday shopping season! For two months, marketers and retail brands wake from nightmares about sales projections, consumer demand and promotions. And for good reason — the season makes up almost half of a brand’s yearly revenue.
Brands typically worry most about addressing customer concerns and efficiently leading buyers through a positive customer experience. As Millennials have grown to be the largest generation in the world, they’ve also grown to have immense buying power — more than $200 billion annually.
Today Millennials have product information, peer reviews and price comparisons at their fingertips. Not to mention, they’re distracted. They shift attention between devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets and television at least 27 times per hour. It’s difficult to keep Millennials focused on anything, let alone get them through the buying process. In fact, a recent report by SmarterHQ found that 95 percent of Millennials are doing other things while shopping. Further, data from the Census Bureau shows that they aren’t only distracted, but on average they are connected to 7.7 smart devices at any given time.
This holiday season, brands must be diligent to understand and target more than 80 million shoppers who will descend in-store and online for holiday purchases. Here are five ways to get started now in time for the holiday rush.
Track, track and track some more: Believe it or not, Millennial shoppers want you to track them. Seventy percent of respondents said they were comfortable with retail brands tracking their purchasing and browsing behaviors. If your brand isn’t aggregating data for analysis in a behavioral marketing platform, you’ll miss out on big revenue this season. Without a way to seamlessly analyze buying behaviors, brands will drown in data and learn nothing from the wealth of advice that shoppers have to share.
Get inventive with the e-mails your brand sends: If you are tracking customers already, think about designing an e-mail campaign with a poll, asking recipients what they want to see for the upcoming holiday. Because consumers aren’t just shopping for themselves, you can profile and segment shoppers in a way that not only personalizes interactions but could make the buying decision happen faster. Transactional e-mails are opened twice as often as bulk e-mails, and your brand can secure additional purchases by recommending accessories or similar items when sending online receipts.
Unify online and off-line data: Consistency is critical, especially when your customers are transitioning between channels. With a 360-degree view of the shopper online and in-store, retail brands can identify pain points in the customer’s shopping experience that may sway them to leave. Ninety-eight percent of Millennials said they would leave a brand for irrelevant ads, or difficulty navigating the web site. That means that your web site must be in tip-top shape prior to the heavy shopping season with easy-to-use checkouts and browsing capabilities. Other ways to integrate online and off-line shoppers include matching promotions in-store and on your web site, and notifying customers of your special holiday promotions before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season through multiple channels — but only once or twice.
Organize and streamline your customer interactions: Sending too many marketing e-mails can really wear people out. More than 70 percent of survey respondents said they are frustrated with too many interactions. Your brand will want to send the right message at the right time by catering relevant content and segmenting lists by browsing behaviors. Preferably, Millennials choose to see one to three interactions that are highly targeted; that’s all it takes to help a Millennial convert to sale. In fact, Millennials notice the effort and frequently become stronger brand loyalists.
Understand that Millennials won’t become loyalists overnight: While only six percent of Millennials claim to be brand loyalists, there is a positive correlation between the types of personalized messaging they receive and their level of brand loyalty. For example, more than 25 percent of respondents claimed to be brand loyalists when they received more targeted interactions from marketers. We know that it’s impossible to offer free shipping to everyone who stops at your store or shops online, but offering free shipping for higher spend purchases abandoned in carts could be a way to convert sales easily. With a behavioral marketing platform, brands can segment users who frequently spend a lot of money online and target them easily for free shipping during the holiday buying season.
Content unique to each shopper acts as a guided path to help buyers reach an end point as efficiently as possible while also introducing them to products they may not know were available. Consider personalized messaging as your very best sales person. In the past, brands have argued that it’s impossible to go through all the data collected in order to target customers instantly. Personalization should not be burdensome, although many retail brands still believe that’s the case.
Engaging customers with specialized, targeted messaging doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, nor does it require a ton of your employee’s time. The holiday season may move rapidly, and Millennials may be distracted, but there are plenty of behavioral marketing solutions that empower brands to tap into that $200 billion buying power this generation will bring to the market this year. More than ever, it’s crucial to adapt and learn the newest and best ways to maximize revenue, especially as the end of the year quickly approaches. Your ceo will thank you!
Michael Osborne is chief executive officer and president of SmarterHQ.
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