The holidays are an important time for any brand that sells to the general market. Despite 2020’s economic slowdown, there’s no doubt that shoppers still save up to buy gifts and entertain throughout the season. Holiday shopping sales will be more robust in 2021 than it was in 2020, with an expected $ 259 billion to be spent online alone. To take advantage of this through CRM, there are a few important considerations including timing, new privacy and logistics effects, and changing customer expectations from companies, whether your company is mostly online sales or brick-and-mortar.
Getting Out Early
First, this year more than others, it’s vital brands begin their holiday communication early. Shoppers are planning to spend, but with a particular emphasis on planning. Companies including Target, GAP, Amazon, and Ulta Beauty have already begun their push weeks before Black Friday. You want to be top of mind as shoppers begin to form their shopping plans. There’s going to be a lot of competition for attention this year since shoppers are feeling more confident about the state of the pandemic and the fast-approaching holiday season, so it’s important to think about your brand’s offer strategy, how to differentiate yourself, and making the process easy for customers.
You also want to give customers multiple opportunities to engage, while also recognizing it can be a double-edged sword. Inboxes are cluttered, so you’re adding to the clutter and need to be smart about outreach. Reduce the impact of a single email getting missed by creating a holiday CRM series or try resending unopened emails with different subject lines and the same creative.
There are also some serious new privacy considerations to keep in mind as we move into the 2021 holidays. The (non-COVID) elephant in the room is the iOS 15 rollout. The long and short of it is that Apple users now have more control over what data is shared with companies if they are to opt-in. What this means for holiday shopping is that the usual metrics will be less clear this year.
Data suggests only 10-25% of iOS users have opted in so far to iOS app tracking. Additionally, changes are happening at Facebook which means everyone is running into the most wonderful time of year half-blind. Numbers will look very different than they have in the past because comparisons will be vastly different based on the data that’s available.
This effect will be even more pronounced for DTC brands. For these brands, this will be the bulk of their retail sales for the year. With the rising cost of mobile ads and new privacy rules in place, reaching the same number of people is going to cost them more this year than ever before. The lack of clarity on email opens means brands won’t be sure if they’re reaching the same number of people or driving the same sales for the same dollars.
Understanding & Maintaining Customer Relationships
All this may sound bleak, but the truth is that the core of successful CRM is still the same. To be the brand that customers choose again and again, including during the holiday season, it’s all about understanding who they are and meeting them where they are. Good CRM can help relieve friction in the marketplace and put control into customers’ hands that allow brands to connect with them and spend dollars elsewhere to establish relationships with harder-to-reach people. When they’re ready to spend, brands need to be quick with responses, and when they’re not ready to spend, continue the drip to keep top of mind.
Understanding the customer comes down to good data. It’s helpful to know who has engaged more during the holidays in the past, so you can retarget and allocate resources more effectively. Consider relevant content like gift guides instead of always pushing sales. Brands should dig into their first-party data to figure out who their customer is to create the content and communication style that they’re most comfortable with and most likely to engage in.
Brands should try to lean into profile data, whether it’s previous shopping behavior, previous products, interest data, et cetera, to increase targeting results. Think about bucketing your audiences and what type of content, offers, and communication channels each one loves the most.
Finally, don’t forget that your customers are people, too. No one was unaffected by the pandemic and many families lost someone. It won’t hurt to be more respectful of holiday days themselves, like not sending offer emails directly on Thanksgiving or Christmas; a simple ‘Happy Holidays’ email without an offer code or a sale can go a long way.
More than ever, this time of year is about friends and family and caring about human beings. It’s important to think about your marketing not just from a brand lens but how it’s going to resonate with customers.
It may also be helpful for brands to run their marketing campaigns by staff outside the department to get a different perspective. It’s easy to miss small insensitivities (like calling out specific family members that may not be around anymore) when you’re too close to a campaign.
In short, with the global supply chain issues and a subsequent 20% increase in prices this holiday, shoppers will be more careful about how they’re spending their money and with whom. Ultimately, your holiday CRM strategy will come down to brand objectives. Do you want the customer to build their basket up, trial your product, or take advantage of partner offers? Every path has a slightly different strategy, but at the heart is a desire to understand and communicate with customers as seamlessly as possible. When they understand who you are as a brand and feel seen, the value prop is almost inherent.