OnlineRetailersChristmasFor many, Christmas is the embodiment of contemplativeness and deceleration. But not for marketers, because Christmas is the most profitable time of the year for them, and therefore particularly critical to success. Certainly, the festive season brings enormous pressure to perform as year-end business, too. To activate the existing customer base for Christmas and to maximize advertising success, an insight-based marketing recipe is required.

Last year, sales at Christmas broke all boundaries according to media headlines like "Retail trade in the Corona year with the greatest increase in sales since 1994”. Of course, online retail benefited from this and 2021 will easily exceed last year when concentrating on the essentials.

Choosing the right ingredients – not only for Christmas

To fully exploit the advertising potential at Christmas, ingredients are required that serve as the basis and yardstick for the individual advertising measures: a catchy story and clear target groups.

Measurability is the basic requirement for successful Christmas campaigns, because if the KPIs are kept clearly in mind, new opportunities for campaign optimization, potentially even savings, are the result. The analysis of the repurchase rate offers important findings in the run-up to the year-end business that can be incorporated into the configuration of the targeting: e.g., how many new customers order a second time within a defined period, for example within 60 days? Advertising channels that deliver high-quality traffic that result in a high repurchase rate are double valuable, as the profit for every marketing dollar invested increases with every additional order.

Not to mention that successful measures are based on the analysis of the previous year's measures. Marketers should, therefore, evaluate in which channels, in which measures and topics, customer interactions and sales were particularly high in the past year. Building on this, it can be identified, for example, at what time a newsletter was particularly worthwhile or which offers were particularly popular. Questions like “What were the top sellers for each category and customer segment? How did the purchasing power of the various days of the week differ? Are there any lessons that can be drawn from the past year? What went particularly well, what could have been avoided?”, might be useful to answer.

With the right mix of ingredients, such as an innovative storyline, the selection of the target group and monitoring of the right KPIs, as well as an analysis of past actions, marketers can create a Christmas campaign that is both effective and cost-efficient.

Creating a Christmas campaign

It’s important to create sequential, stringent measures on all relevant channels – in the online shop, by email, social media, push notifications, SMS, and display – and advisable to implement automation to avoid having to repeatedly create new campaign segments in the end-of-year business. That saves time and resources. Existing templates can be used as a basis for the Christmas campaign and adapted accordingly. Important is, however, that meticulous tests are conducted on all end devices and browsers. If this is done in advance, delivery and display problems are avoided in the particularly business-critical period. It is important to not only compare the opening and click rates with previous Christmas mailings but to also keep an eye on the sales generated. Did the adjustment and effort pay off? Measuring the interaction of the recipients is essential for measuring the success of the campaign and should be considered in advance in the campaign plan and in the channel mix.

To activate customers for Christmas shopping, personalization is the be-all and end-all, taking individual interests into account. In addition, marketers need to consider which phase of the journey the customers are interested in. Based on historical data and the recorded first-party data, marketers can analyze who should be addressed, when, and at which contact point with which message to exploit the success of the campaign and to maximize sales.

Activate customers and penetrate new target groups

In the last few weeks of the year, web traffic and search queries have increased significantly. To prepare for the Christmas business and to get customers in the mood for Christmas, marketers should take advantage of this opportunity. For example, newsletter registrations can be increased with tailor-made discounts for first-time buyers, so that new contacts are generated that are valuable for the Christmas season. For this reason, the registration forms should be placed clearly visible on highly frequented and relevant contact points. At the same time, newsletters are the ideal means of staying in contact with potential customers and activating them in a targeted manner along the customer journey.

Exit intent popups are also promising, which is a technique used in online shops and websites to discourage users from leaving a website without having achieved anything. To be able to trigger the exit-intent popup, the movements of the mouse must be followed on the display or screen. As soon as the mouse pointer is moved near the top of the page, a popup window opens in the browser. The popup should contain a coupon code to convince the users to complete their purchase. Exit intent advertisements are also used to advertise product samples or to initiate a newsletter registration.

Another tip for winning customers over for the Christmas season is to increase service levels. For example, if an item is out of stock, companies can offer an email notification as soon as the item is available again. This is a soft entry into further email communication and increases trust in the brand.

In addition, the Christmas campaign should be relocated to the “real world” and link online and offline retail. One way is to offer discounts in the branch in return for a newsletter registration or member card – ideally directly at the cash register, where discounts are most useful for customers. Conversely, shortly before the start of the Christmas campaign, marketers not only receive new customers, but can also encourage them to engage with messages such as, “We’re going to start big Christmas shopping soon”.

Regarding the campaign display, the timing has a direct influence on opening, click, and conversion rates. By December 15, most Christmas business will be over. Those who get their Christmas campaign off the ground quickly have a competitive advantage, because the end customers' mailboxes are not yet full and experience has shown that they are much more receptive to offers.

In addition, marketers should combine online and offline retail and pay attention to the timing. Playing location-dependent push notifications in the branch environment, for example, is usually more effective than push notifications sent at a random point in time.

However, even at Christmas, marketers cannot avoid personalizing marketing measures to maximize advertising success. But marketers need to know their customers and their individual needs to do that. Based on evaluations and analyzes of the first-party data, as well as the historical purchase data, the marketing approach can be topped with a personalized touch, since it is known that selected and individual content increases the probability of conversion, and thus increases sales.

If the entire range of available data is evaluated and used, highly personalized content is possible without any problems. Because customers interact with countless brands and in a wide variety of channels daily. Marketers should use this knowledge to control Christmas cross-channel marketing campaigns.

In short, meticulous Christmas planning pays off, because despite similarities, every industry and every online shop has its own form of holiday shopping. To learn from mistakes, leverage potential and optimize the process, marketers should trust the power of their data.

With the right mix of ingredients such as an innovative storyline, the selection of the target group and analysis of the right KPIs, such as the repurchase rate, marketers not only increase advertising success but also sales. The more precise the data, the more meaningful conclusions can be drawn for the current Christmas campaign. Not only the right ingredients, but also timing, presentation, content, display, and personalization are decisive success factors for an effective Christmas campaign.

By Daniela La Marca