(This is a guest post from our friend Jake Rheude over at Red Stag Fulfillment.)
With Black Friday over, you’re probably sighing a happy sigh of relief and enjoying the nice push of new business your way. That’s thanks to 65% of Americans spending an average of $420 over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Black Friday alone felt a 16.9% growth compared to the year before to reach $5.03 billion in online sales alone.
It sounds like great news, but there are plenty of lessons in there for us all to find once the madness of the holidays takes a pause.
The biggest and most prominent takeaway is that in-store stoppers on Black Friday were down 4% compared to the year before. Fewer people were making it through the brick-and-mortar doors, while more were opting for digital doors.
The same data from the Wall Street Journal and RetailNext found that middle-class consumers were sticking to their phones and PCs, while the luxury and bargain-hunting ends of the spectrum were willing to brave the store.
Now that we’ve got a little bit of insight into the current state of affairs, it’s time to tackle the bigger picture. Here’s how you get them to come back in January, February, and all the other months to follow before next year’s big spending season.
Thanks is for More than Just Thanksgiving
Turkey is great any time of the year, and so is the spirit behind that famous turkey-focused holiday. We like to show our appreciation for customers during the holiday season, but there’s plenty of evidence to support saying “thanks” all year long.
A broad look at customer loyalty shows that roughly 84% of people are loyal to retailers. But, that loyalty is fickle.
For Millennials, 74% say they’ll switch brands if they have a poor customer service experience. This jumps up to 85% of Boomers and 86% of Gen Xers — and these two groups tend to switch retailers immediately after the unpleasant experience.
Two of the biggest ways you can combat a poor customer experience are prioritizing it during the experience to limit negative reactions and then responding to a customer who has a complaint. Starting both conversations off by thanking the customer can get them on your side because it makes the customer feel like you need them — a key characteristic that determines brand loyalty in 81% of American consumers.
And, hey, 80% of your customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. So, give it to them in a way that makes them feel good and want to shop more.
Bring a Thanksgiving mindset to your customer loyalty initiatives, from coupons and deals to shout-outs on social media and follow-up emails from real people.
Use Holiday Shopping to Highlight Wins
The holidays come with amazing deals for shoppers. You’ve probably A/B tested coupons, free shipping, discounts, freebies, B1G1 offers, and much more. Don’t be like most businesses that put this data in the drawer for next year’s holiday season.
That testing and data, including the heatmaps on your website and everything that went into and was pulled out of digital shopping carts, is important.
Give yourself time in January to dig through it and look for real trends. What you’ll find is shopping spurred on by the season, but the underlying choices are consistent and remain true throughout the year.
Everyone’s data is a little different, so there aren’t too many generalizations we can pull. What is important is that you take the time to review all of it.
We’re a little biased, so we think that should definitely include your warehouse data to see if your operations are running smoothly or if you need a little help. Review your processes as much as your sales. If poor shipping and fulfillment are leading to complaints online and product returns, then you’ll know you can save your reputation and likely some money with an e-commerce fulfillment partner next year.
Everywhere You Advertised Then is an Opportunity Now
One hallmark of this shopping season and the larger digital landscape is that customers are jumping across platforms, devices, and channels. Roughly 40% of online purchases involve customers using multiple devices to visit the same retailer before purchasing.
The big struggle we often try to tackle is how to attribute success in this journey. Where did the customer arrive in the funnel and what was the final push to get them to buy?
Determining that requires a deep dive into your data with tagging, tracking, different deals on different platforms, and a variety of other options to generate and watch customer experience data. It can get a little expensive, but the knowledge is worthwhile.
If you’re not ready for that big of spend, look at the channels you used instead. Create a strategy for all of them to keep conversations going, especially if this holiday was your first attempt at Instagram or a messaging app.
Keep pressing the channels because now customers know to find you there. It’s a chance to continue to grow your reach and pursue more sales as you decide your next step for creating attribution in your channels.
Try Out Some Childlike Joy
When we think about general Christmas scenes, our minds often turn to kids tearing through wrapping paper to find something perfect underneath. Many recall our own childhoods and think of the wonder that children can find in the mystery and tradition.
We think of the magic.
Now, picture yourself then and your children, grandchildren, and the kids you know now. They’d describe the morning’s thrill as awesome, tubular, incredible, sweet, cool, hip, way out, and much more. You don’t have to wait to tap into those feelings or to use those very words.
The copywriting you do on your website and in your marketing matters, and for almost all brands you can build on the sense of magic at any time of the year. The holidays just remind us of how good storytelling with these emotions can be.
Consider highlighting customer reviews that use these terms in the first sentence, or featuring an unboxing video that shows pure joy on someone’s face. Show your customers that other people love your products, and be sure to show that you do too.
If you’re stuck on what word to use, here’s two quick little mental trips:
- You’ve just spent 30 hours hunting for the perfect toy, including painstaking research and standing in line for what felt like forever. Little hands are tearing away the wrapping right now as you sit on the couch and watch. What’s the one word screamed with ear-piercing joy when they reveal what’s underneath?
- Imagine you’re dressed your best and walking down the stairs. The person you like most in the world is waiting at the bottom, and they turn around and see you. What’s the one word they could say that would make you feel the best?
That word is your brand’s “wow.”
Keep Returning to What Makes You Unique
One thing we love about the holidays is the marketing. Brands get extremely creative while also highlighting what’s most valuable and true about their company. That personal touch is how we stand out in this ever-growing world of competition.
Look at your own marketing and try to distill the brand identity and traits that you added to a generic holiday message to make it your own. It can be something as specific as a color or slogan, or as generic as using humor and being a bit sarcastic.
Refine your voice based on when standing out via marketing was at its most difficult. Hone these traits, and you’ll be homing in on what worked for your customers.
More Holiday Selling Best Practices
Keep reading about how to sell more during different holidays with these other articles:
- Webinar: Avoid Last Year’s eCommerce Holiday Mistakes
- 2017 Holiday eCommerce Checklist for Merchants
- What Retailers Can Learn from Amazon Prime Day