Personalization Strategies for a Successful Holiday Season

You’ve planned your merchandise. Your marketing campaigns are ready. The holiday shopping season is upon us. Are you prepared to deliver a personalized experience to all of your customers — across all channels?

As part of the Retail Touchpoints Holiday Connected Consumer Series, join Merkle and 500Friends for a holiday webinar, "10 Ways to Personalize the Holidays" on September 17 at 12:00 ET.

In advance of the webinar, I wanted to share a few simple strategies that will help improve your customer relationships for the holidays and beyond.

1. Product Recommendation Is Not Personalization

Product cross-sell and up-sell are not personalization, especially during the holidays. They focus on previous searches, current search, or similar/associated items; however, it’s the holiday season. There is a very good chance that consumers are shopping for multiple people, and if they are not, they are most definitely thinking about it.  

If you already have a relationship with the customer, then you should have a clear understanding of their hobbies, interests, and purchases. With this knowledge, it’s time to integrate product recommendations into the customer journey and personalization.

To get started: update your campaign responses so that they recognize and alternate products according to the customer’s immediate needs. As shoppers browse throughout the site, product recommendations change according to the most recent search, click, or interaction. Product recommendations stumble when they only match the purchase to previous purchases.  


Personalization for the holiday shopping season -- an infographic

Personalization engages the customer and guides them through a tailored journey. Explore the five stages of personalization in this Retail-focused infographic.


2. Missing Thresholds and Frequency Caps

A non-response to retargeting, email, or up-sell is still a response. While it is beneficial to provide them simple reminders of the product through emails and retargeting, these reminders can become annoying to shoppers. 

To avoid negative responses, retailers must identify the threshold of response to purchases for each form of communication and set frequency caps. For example: consumers' threshold for email is likely to be three to four times, while the threshold for retargeting is somewhere between five and nine. By respecting the threshold for each channel, retailers can develop a respectful relationship with customers. This also provides the means to discuss another product, service, or offer with that shopper. The holiday season is about free time, changing ideas, and impulse buys for shoppers. The last thing retailers want to do is spend an excess amount of time and effort retargeting last week’s idea for a person’s gift that has already been wrapped.    

3. Move from Blasting to Interactive Campaigns

You’ve spent the entire year building your campaigns for the holiday season, but are the campaigns merely a set of dripping email blasts? You can do better.  

Customers are waiting to hear from you; however, they are not interested in everything you have to offer. Leverage your email analytics so as to increase customer engagement. For example: if a customer doesn’t open an email, it may not be the right message. Keep the content and try a different subject line. If the customer opens the email but doesn’t click through, then move on to the next product. Each email provides a host of learnings, and your campaigns can change according to these learnings. You have time before the holiday season, so review your campaigns. Any blast and/or drip campaigns should be redesigned into interactive customer conversations.

I hope these simple strategies are helpful to you today. Join us for our webinar on September 17 for more tips to drive personalization and loyalty for the holidays and beyond.

Best of luck for a successful holiday season!

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