Time is running out: Engage those holiday shopping stragglers
As December quickly approaches, brands need to think about their post-Black Friday tactics. Columnist Tony Toubia shares strategies to help you engage last-minute shoppers and procrastinators.
As you read this, you’re likely entering the week of Black Friday, and all your plans are in place, or you may have just survived it. Either way, congratulations — you can take a deep breath. Now it’s time to set your sights farther down the road, aiming at new audiences and armed with new tactics.
The estimated $682 billion in holiday retail sales this year won’t just happen during Black Friday week. There are plenty of shoppers — either just starting or finishing up their holiday shopping lists — who will still be making their purchases in December.
Unlike the proactive November shoppers, your audience in December will likely include a larger segment of procrastinators and those with difficult-to-buy-for gift recipients, leading buyers to do extra research and put more thought into their purchase choices.
If you took my advice last month, your brand’s best deals have been reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, what’s left to do in December? Quite a bit, actually, but you’ll have to change your approach. Let’s take a look at some of these strategies and how to use them to your advantage.
Bring in the influencers
When your strategies become less reliant on deals, leveraging social influencers will keep your brand top of mind with remaining shoppers, even those who are not yet brand loyalists.
There are plenty of reasons why collaborating with social influencers should be on your list of tactics. They allow brands to extend their reach through an unexplored, wider audience by providing exclusive offers to their followers and persuading those procrastinators you’re trying to reach.
Most importantly, though, social influencers are great because social proof actually works. Social proof is considered to be an effective marketing strategy because of its ability to make a brand more relatable through influencers’ shared experiences and opinions. Influencers give your brand credibility while showcasing products in a unique way within their daily lives.
Urgency is another tactic that’s effective in retail scenarios, and what drives more urgency than a fleeting opportunity to make holiday wishes come true? As time runs out on the holiday season, make sure you’re mentioning your shipping deadlines early and often. Don’t focus too much on just the “last day to receive your order by Christmas” messaging because shipping deadlines can be more complex than that.
If you offer any sort of expedited shipping — whether it’s two-day, overnight or something else — be clear which options will allow the package to arrive on time. Also, consider offering free expedited shipping to consumers who have been actively browsing but have yet to purchase.
And, since you’re targeting procrastinators who will likely procrastinate again, rely on your data to see who used expedited shipping last year, and then offer it to them again this year.
The shipping threshold
Offering free shipping is expensive for brands, yet Amazon has led shoppers to expect it. To help offset the cost, a common tactic for brands is offering free shipping to customers spending a set amount.
If you do want to set a free shipping threshold, I recommend calculating the average order value during this period and trying to bump people just above that line. For example, if customers average $40 per order on your site, set your free shipping threshold at $45.
Don’t forget physical stores
The posting of your shipping deadlines shouldn’t be limited to digital channels. Along with including deadlines in the footer of your emails and on social, I recommend a dedicated landing page on your site promoting shipping deals. But this messaging should also be found in your brick-and-mortar stores.
Your customers are more likely to engage with your brand in a variety of ways during the holiday season, so make sure you’re not alienating in-store shoppers who may also buy online by withholding information from them. Speaking of in-store and online shopping…
The trend of buying online and picking up in store continues to increase each year, both in terms of retailers offering the service and consumers taking advantage of it. If your brand provides in-store pickup, make sure it’s promoted prominently, and relate it to your shipping deadlines as an alternative option.
Don’t have in-store pickup? You might want to reconsider, as 60 percent of the most frequent online shoppers have purchased products online to pick up in store.
Toggle email automation usage
Be the brand whose gift made the holiday great, not the one that ruined the surprise. Many households share email addresses or membership accounts to big-box retailers, and I’ve seen more than one automated email wreck a good surprise because the recipient was tipped off to the gift.
To help prevent these mishaps, temporarily suspend post-purchase email automations, such as ratings and reviews, until after the holidays. Be sure not to toss out those records, and instead, wait to send after the fact to solicit reviews and entice incremental purchases.
However, while you should be cautious of post-purchase automations, other triggered sends, like browse and cart abandons, will increase this season. More people will be shopping online in December and will still be searching for the best deals. So consider bumping up your campaigns into multipart series and updating them to show any current holiday offers, for a better chance at recapturing abandoned revenue.
Segment your database
I mentioned earlier that those who procrastinate once are likely to do so again, so be proactive with that knowledge. Mine your database to see who waited until the last few weeks to buy last year, and double down on those records. Consider using CRM retargeting ads in Facebook or Google, or sending exclusive SMS coupons, as SMS always sees good open rates, no matter the time of year.
Don’t be afraid to use the looming deadline to your advantage. Speak to last-minute grabs — Super Saturday, the final Saturday before Christmas, is one of the strongest revenue days of the year — and even promote gift guides and exclusive products, in case they haven’t even started the shopping process yet. Your consumers will appreciate the guidance.
Once Black Friday has come and gone and competition is less price-driven, focus on working social proof, urgency and convenience into your marketing campaign to capitalize on the remaining wallet share. These weeks are your final opportunities to engage holiday shoppers. Then, as I will discuss next month, your job will be converting those shoppers into loyal customers.