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The holiday season is more than just a time of celebration; it’s a golden opportunity for brands to make a lasting impact on their customers. As we approach the 2023 holiday season, the strategic playbook for marketers has evolved. To help you navigate this festive period with precision, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide full of tips and tricks, enriched by insights from CommerceNext blogs, webinars, research and more. These invaluable resources shed light on the latest trends and strategies that are reshaping the retail landscape. From understanding the nuanced psychology of shoppers in the digital age to harnessing the power of physical retail experiences, this guide is designed to equip you with the tools you need to craft a winning marketing strategy this holiday season.
Read on to delve into a world of early planning, personalized interactions, data-driven decisions and seamless mobile experiences, all culminating in a holiday marketing strategy that leaves a mark on both your audience and your bottom line!
1. Start Early, Stay Consistent
Begin planning your holiday marketing strategy well in advance. This allows you to lay a strong foundation and refine your approach as the season progresses. As highlighted by NEST New York during the recent CommerceNext webinar, “Understanding Shopper Psychology As We Get Ready for Black Friday and Cyber Week,” starting early is crucial. Andrea Moore, Chief Digital Officer at NEST emphasized that the best time to start planning for holiday marketing is in January, while the positives and negatives of the previous year are still fresh in your mind. Moore also explained that NEST will begin rolling out holiday products in October (see below) to gauge the market for trending gifts and purchases that year.
Consistency in messaging across different platforms is also key to reinforcing your marketing message. Despite the fact that the holiday season brings a whole new set of challenges to marketers, it is important to stay true to your brand values and tone. This will continue to strengthen customer relationships and spark loyalty.
2. Leverage Data and Analytics
Analyzing past holiday seasons can provide invaluable insights. Understand which campaigns were successful, what products sold well and who your target audience was/ who they were shopping for. According to Forrester Research, consumer sentiment is closely connected to what is heard and seen in the media. Forrester predicts that holiday shopping should be stronger in 2023 than in 2022, suggesting a positive outlook for marketers.
One way to take advantage of this projected rise in holiday shopping is through the collection of first-party data. Leveraging first-party data is also a great way to better understand your customers when the holiday season rolls around. Jason Brenner from Michaels Art Supplies shared during a breakout session at the 2023 CommerceNext Ecommerce Summit that the brand prioritizes its collection of first-party data to better understand its customers’ preferences. This includes having robust data analytics to identify demographics and friction points, coupled with direct engagement to gather insights on their shopping experience. This data-driven approach helps guide decisions and can help you fine-tune your strategy for the upcoming holiday season.
3. Personalize Customer Interactions
Personalization is no longer a luxury; it’s an expectation. Utilize customer data to create tailored experiences. As emphasized by AB Tasty in the recent CommerceNext holiday marketing webinar, strategic personalization is the best way to ensure a successful Black Friday for your brand. Understanding consumer emotions, both pragmatic and individualistic, can be a powerful tool in driving decision-making and enhancing customer experiences.
However, personalization is not as easy of a task as it once was due to increased sensitivity regarding data privacy. Retailers and brands now walk a very fine line between personalized experiences and breaching customer boundaries. According to a research report published by CommerceNext in 2022, personalization works and customers do appreciate it, but retailers can’t give consumers any reason to worry about the security of their personal information. This could cost brands both growth and loyalty.
4. Optimize for Mobile
The majority of online shopping now occurs on mobile devices. Ensure your website and marketing materials are mobile-friendly. This includes fast loading times, easy navigation and responsive design. According to Forrester Research, 57% of surveyed shoppers plan to watch for discounts and promotions online this holiday season, underlining the importance of a seamless mobile experience.
Fashion retailer, ASOS is a prime example of mobile optimization. They’ve designed their app and mobile website for intuitive and effortless browsing. With quick-loading pages, easy navigation and a user-friendly interface, they cater to the growing segment of mobile shoppers, enhancing their overall shopping experience.
5. Embrace Social Media Marketing
Social media platforms are invaluable during the holiday season. Leverage the power of platforms like Instagram and TikTok to showcase not only your merchandise but also your brand values and personality. Engage with your audience through interactive content like polls, quizzes and live videos. Our recent CommerceNext blog covers how in-store experiences are becoming a key to a brand’s success, emphasizing the importance of creating memorable interactions with your audience, online and in-store.
Nike, a global sportswear brand, excels in leveraging social media during the holidays. They utilize Instagram and TikTok to showcase their latest holiday-themed collections through visually stunning posts and engaging videos. Additionally, they host live Q&A sessions on YouTube (see above) with athletes and fitness experts, providing valuable content and strengthening their relationships with their audience.
6. Implement an Omnichannel Approach
Diversify your marketing channels to reach a wider audience. This includes online efforts like email marketing, social media, content marketing, paid advertising and influencer partnerships, as well as brick-and-mortar efforts like pop-ups (see SKIMS example below). Each channel has its strengths, and an omnichannel approach ensures you cover all bases. The panel of industry experts speaking on the recent CommerceNext webinar continuously expressed how high competition is in the retail industry today, underscoring the need for a well-rounded marketing strategy, especially during the holiday season.
The “Omnichannel is Everything” breakout session at the 2023 CommerceNext Summit showcased the immense potential of merging ecommerce and brick-and-mortar efforts. The journey of Trina Turk and their partnership with Amazon Today highlighted the power of collaboration, agility and customer-centric thinking. By harnessing the capabilities of both online and offline channels, retailers can not only meet the demands of modern consumers but also create a shopping experience that seamlessly integrates convenience, speed and personalized engagement.
7. Provide an Exceptional Customer Experience
Outstanding customer service can set your brand apart from the competition. Be responsive to inquiries and provide helpful, friendly support. Consider implementing chatbots or AI-powered tools to enhance customer interactions.
In addition, shipping and returns are huge obstacles shoppers face during the holiday season. Speakers during the recent CommerceNext holiday marketing webinar expressed the importance of prioritizing fast delivery times and easy returns. The extra cost of working with partners for a better experience will pay off in the long run with a boost of customer loyalty and overall happiness.
In conclusion, the 2023 holiday season presents a significant opportunity for marketers to make a lasting impression on their audience. By starting early, personalizing interactions, leveraging data and staying adaptable, you can position your brand for success. Remember, it’s not just about making sales, but about creating memorable experiences that foster long-term customer loyalty. Wishing you all a happy and successful holiday season!