It’s often referred to as the most wonderful time of year, but the holidays certainly create unique challenges for retailers. With deals flying in thick and fast, it’s easy for brands to get drowned out by the holiday hubbub.
With so many voices vying for consumers’ time and money, how can you successfully navigate this winter not-so-wonderland and attract interest for your brand? How can you engage customers in a way that resonates with them? And how do you grow your contact database while driving revenue?
Make it easy
There are many ways to gain subscribers — some more effective than others. But if you’re looking to consistently grow your contact database, especially during the holidays, you don’t need magic. Just make it easy for customers.
Include a sign-up above the fold on your homepage. Better still, include one on each page of your site to give consumers the option to sign up while they browse. This is especially important if a customer arrives via a product link on the web. If you limit the sign-up to the homepage, they may never see it, which significantly decreases your chance of securing a new subscriber.
Other tactics you’ll want to consider are pop-ups, drop-downs and ribbons. They’re all front and center for new visitors and make it easy for them to sign up whenever they want, wherever they want on your site.
Making it easy for customers to subscribe is an excellent way to grow your database, but you shouldn’t overlook the effectiveness of a good creative campaign to help drive revenue.
Take Lulus for example. The fast-fashion brand started a Black Friday VIP campaign a few years ago and has enjoyed tremendous success ever since.
Lulus wanted to do something fun while identifying customers who wanted to engage with the brand. The original campaign included a “pick your discount” promotion, but two years ago, Lulus decided to be a little bit more strategic.
Like many other fast-fashion brands, once one of Lulus’ styles sells out, there’s a good chance it won’t come back. So they decided to reward customers who showed a desire and willingness to engage with them. Lulus thought customers willing to share an email address should get first dibs on any Black Friday sale.
The next year, the team at Lulus further refined the model by stretching the VIP program throughout the month of November, with a private sale each Friday leading up to Black Friday. It extended the promotional period and spread out the workload for the Lulus fulfillment center.
This strategy also gave the marketing and development teams ample time to iron out potential problems before the week-long Black Friday/Cyber Monday VIP sale and promotional period. The team tweaked email send times and made sure customer service was staffed appropriately based on the response from the first few Friday sales.
In a vertical that often offers Black Friday deals on the apparel that didn’t sell in the fall, Lulus rewarded their VIP customers with newer, top-selling products at a discount.
And their VIP customers rewarded them.
While the goal was to double the subscriber list, Lulus more than doubled it. Additionally, VIP email click-through rates were above 20 percent, email marketing was responsible for 10 percent of the revenue throughout the month of November and, year-over-year, November revenue was 70 percent higher.
Connect with a cause
The holidays are the perfect time for retailers to tap into people’s generosity by connecting with a cause that’s meaningful to customers. And if you can do so in a way that helps cultivate your subscriber list, that’s a win for everyone.
For example, if your brand sells undergarments for women, consider supporting and partnering with a breast cancer foundation.
Promote and communicate your partnership on your website and across all your social channels, and ask customers to sign up to receive more information on how they can get involved. You can even offer a coupon code to use at checkout that will allow that discount to be donated, rather than deducted from the purchase price.
Not only are you benefitting a great cause, but this helps consumers become emotionally connected to you brand.
Give the gift of personalization
Once you’ve acquired new subscribers, it’s time to personalize their experience. Regardless of the products you sell, personalization (even on a small scale) can have a lasting impact on your ability to keep subscribers engaged – and stop them from unsubscribing.
Even if you have a batch-and-blast email strategy, look for areas where you can capitalize on personalization. This could be acquisition source (onsite), email or even purchase behavior.
For example, if you know your subscriber signed up to receive emails while viewing men’s jackets, your welcome message or series should have a high focus on men’s jackets. By including intuitive product recommendations in your batch-and-blast messages, you make them more relevant.
If users click on a swimwear link in your email, send them emails focused on swimwear and related items. If they recently purchased from you, offer helpful tips on how to care for the new product to build trust and provide value.
You’ve worked hard to grow your subscriber list. Don’t throw away that effort by simply phoning in your subsequent messaging.
Reap your rewards
No matter how much we might wish it, acquiring the right customer and then engaging them effectively isn’t as simple as staying off the naughty list. Ah, if only it was! Instead, show your customers that your brand understands them.
By executing a straightforward, compelling and personalized strategy, you’ll not only reap the rewards around the holidays, you’ll set yourself up for greater success all year round.
As a former consultant with more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Greg Zakowicz has first-hand knowledge about the challenges facing the retail industry. Now, as senior commerce marketing analyst at Oracle + Bronto, he provides thoughtful insight to the Internet Retailer Top 1000 and is a frequent speaker at e-commerce events.