Holiday Marketing Prep—Are all Customers Created Equal?
Industry analysts are predicting record sales this holiday season—in fact, they expect it to be the biggest Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday ever. The big media buys are nicely wrapped up with a bow. Now, some marketers have already bombarded their email lists with incessant email campaigns, some are focused on hot marketing trends like social media and content marketing, and some are depending on tried-and-true deep discounts and free shipping deals, but all of them want to reel in online shoppers and top the sales charts.
So, how can marketers drive those record sales to their online stores this holiday season to make sure their competitors aren't the ones reveling in the spending surge? And, more importantly, how can they best leverage the full value of shoppers' purchase influence to drive additional revenue during this holiday shopping season (the shortest since 2002!) and beyond?
Simply said, people buy what their friends buy. That makes word-of-mouth (WOM) more important than ever during the holidays. Consumers aren't buying just to buy—they are making emotional purchases. Some people will save all year to make that special purchase, while others will hunt far and wide to find the perfect gifts for loved ones. And once they do, they will talk about it. We see up to 50 percent more tractable purchase influence during the holiday buying season—purchase influence is about WOM and during the holidays people buy more and talk more about what they buy.
Don't Abuse Your Database, Look for the Halo Effect
Let's think about the marketer who has already sent out a dozen holiday marketing messages—will that email really drive record-breaking sales or has the marketer overused its list to the point that even the most loyal consumer doesn't give the email a second glance?
Not all customers are created equal. Why send 100,000 emails and risk burning out your list when you could send 5,000 targeted emails and generate higher revenue returns?
Need an example? Say a woman buys her husband a new camera for Christmas on a company's website. She is so excited about how much she thinks he will love it, and she thinks all of the great product reviews backs up her purchase decision. She raves about it to all of her friends—over coffee, over the phone, during a shopping trip to the mall. Now imagine how much more effective an email to one of her college sorority sisters a week later offering free shipping/discounts on the same camera would be than a mass blast to the unknown minions. It's timely. It's relevant. It's powerful.
Relationship marketing is critical, and it goes well beyond an email blast or a special offer code on Facebook. Effective relationship marketing cuts through the holiday marketing noise by targeting the right consumer, at the right time, with the right message/offer, through the right vehicle to drive sales. Retail marketers can use their own customer/prospect data to tap purchase influence, and increase loyalty and sales well beyond the holiday rush.
Investing in Influence
To be frank, this is no secret grail—every marketer already has the foundation buried in its exiting customer and sales databases. The beauty of true influence is that each company has a strong influencer base that it could tap to drive more revenue, both during the holiday season and beyond.
However, just segmenting the highest spenders or most frequent customers, or even the seemingly social-savvy mega influencer with 500-plus Facebook friends and an overactive Twitter feed, will not generate the same return as marketing based on true purchase influence. Using Big Data analytics to better understand existing customer and prospect relationships, marketers are able to significantly increase sales conversion rates by marketing to the customers and prospects with higher propensity to respond, purchase and ultimately influence the purchase decisions of others—generating an average lift of two to five times. Connecting the dots in your database and revealing the true real-life social connection helps marketers better reach potential buyers who are more likely to act because their friends have already done so.
Extending the Holiday Cheer
Unfortunately, while marketers often invest significant energy in the early part of the relationship to bring new customers in the door in November and December, they rarely leverage the full value of their potential purchase influence. Quicker than an automated thank-you email can be dispatched, marketers are already looking for the next new customer.
While purchase influence peaks during the holiday season, it is the same influencers who are active throughout the year. Don't let your holiday sales highs bottom out before the first sign of Spring. By combining Big Data techniques with factual evidence of social influence, marketers are able to map meaningful relationships between people in a database and unleash the power of the social graph of real-world relationships to influence purchase decisions and enhance brand loyalty.