Retail holiday marketing: 9 campaigns you need to plan now

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The holiday season continues to be the most impactful sales period for every consumer-focused brand. This year, ecommerce and multichannel shopping will continue to dominate, and increased digital competition will make personalization a must-have. To make the most of the busy season, start planning these 9 powerful, personalized holiday campaigns now.

The 2021 retail holiday season is projected to rise 2.7% to $1.093 trillion in sales, with ecommerce sales rising 11.3% to $206.88 billion and making up nearly 20% of total sales.

But projections are never certain, and some economists expect most of those sales to go to the services and travel that consumers have missed during the pandemic. Plus, many consumers are still experiencing the negative financial effects of 2020, which means that their propensity to purchase from your brand may be disrupted this season.

To ensure a profitable holiday season in the midst of a still-uncertain market, you need to start strong—and you need to start now.

These 9 data-powered campaign ideas will set you up for the most successful holiday season yet:

  • Gifting campaigns
  • “Treat yourself” campaigns
  • New customer rewards
  • Discount segmentation
  • Retargeting for last year’s buyers
  • Social campaigns for opted-out customers
  • Post-holiday up-sells and cross-sells
  • Post-purchase surveys
  • Last chance scarcity messaging

For the best results, each of these campaigns must be founded on customer insights. A customer data platform (CDP) like Lexer can help you easily segment your customers, activate amazing customer experiences, and optimize each campaign to maximize sales this holiday season.

Retail holiday guide: 9 data-powered campaigns you need to plan now

1. Gifting campaigns

Let’s start with the obvious: Many of your customers during the holidays will be buying gifts for friends and family.

If you can identify these gift buyers in your database, you can easily engage them at the right time each year. There are a few different ways you can identify gifter segments within your database:

  • Customer surveys, directly asking customers who they’re shopping for.
  • Inferred segmentation based on past purchases (e.g. men buying women’s products, women buying children’s products, etc).
  • Segmenting by customers who purchased gift cards the previous year.
  • Frequency and recency of purchases (e.g. a shopper from last December who hasn’t interacted with your brand since).

Once you identify gifters in your database, as well as their motivations for buying gifts, you can target them with personalized marketing campaigns with gift-related messaging.

For example, if you discover a gifter segment of men buying for women, you could send targeted messages including “gift guides for her.” For customers who purchase early in the season, you can upsell them by sending personalized messages such as “this hat pairs well with that scarf.” This strategy boosts sales while improving customer retention metrics such as customer lifetime value.

Because many consumers will still be shopping online this year, encourage gift-givers to start gifting early to minimize shipping delays.

Here’s an example from Lexer’s customer, Australian Venue Co:

 

2. “Treat yourself” campaigns

During the busy holiday season, many shoppers overfocus on spending for others and just need to be reminded that it’s okay to treat themselves, too.

Based on order history and predictive data analytics, target existing customers a “treat yourself” campaign featuring products they’re likely to be interested in.

For example, Mountain Khakis used the real-time insights within Lexer’s CDP to retarget gifters with a “treat yourself campaign” during the holiday season. This follow-up campaign encouraged second sales from newly-acquired customers just 2–3 weeks following their first purchases, resulting in a 7.1x ROI. Click here to read their story, as well as other real-life examples of successful customer engagement for every lifecycle stage.

Here’s an example from Moment:

 

3. New customer rewards

Personalized communications throughout the customer lifecycle is critical for any brand—and new customers are no exception. You always need to give new customers a warm welcome.

Identify prospects in your database who’ve yet to purchase from you and send them special offers and messaging to encourage their first purchase. If you offer a discount for prospects to incentivize them to sign up for your email newsletter, you could segment your prospect database by those who signed up for your email more than a month ago and reactivate the discount for a limited time.

By featuring the products that have the highest acquisition rates—or your “hero” products—you can maximize conversions. Learn our 4-step process for acquiring high-value customers.

Here’s an example from Postable:

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4. Discount segmentation

You won’t make the same margins on every customer—and that’s okay.

During the holiday season, you’ll likely get an influx of customers who will only ever purchase from your brand during a sale. However, you’ll also have customers who are always willing to pay full-price for your products.

By segmenting your database based on customers’ propensity to buy at a discount, you can identify the discount buyers vs. the full-price buyers and target them with separate, personalized offers (or lack thereof) throughout your marketing campaigns. This strategy helps maximize your margins while engaging the greatest volume of customers.

Interested in using a CDP to help you do this kind of segmentation? Click here for our guide on how to choose the best CDP for you. 

Here’s an example from Lazada Flagship Store:

 

5. Retargeting last year’s buyers

Often, customers acquired during the holiday season will only purchase again during the next holiday season. Since these shoppers are only likely to purchase during a short period of time, it’s important to target these shoppers during the holidays to grow their lifetime value.

Identify shoppers who bought during last year’s holiday season but haven’t made additional purchases since. By using a retail data solution like a CDP to look into their past purchase data, you can infer their shopping interests and send them personalized product recommendations to encourage a sale.

To keep your seasonal buyers engaged over time, design thoughtful, year-round communications to keep your brand top-of-mind. That way, when the next holiday season hits, they’re still active in your database and more likely to convert.

 

6. Social campaigns for opted-out customers

For most of the brands we’ve worked with, we find that more than 2/3rds of lapsed customers have opted-out of email communications. Additionally, there tends to be a segment of active, high-value customers who have opted-out of email as well.

That means that if you’re only using email as your primary engagement channel for holiday campaigns, you could be missing out on engaging a huge portion of your database.

To reach these customers with holiday communications, segment them by email engagement status and target opted-out customers via paid social instead.

Paid social isn’t the only alternative channel for engaging opted-out customers, however. Wondercide used personalized direct mail campaigns to target high-value, opted-out customers in their database, resulting in a 600% ROI. Click here to read their story.

Here’s an example from Lexer’s customer, Carlton Dry:

 

7. Post-holiday up-sells and cross-sells

To make the most of the holiday season, you need to capitalize on post-holiday sales as well.

Use past customer and retail data to analyze and understand buying behavior following holiday purchases. Identify which products customers are likely to purchase next, as well as the most likely time frame for making that second purchase.

Set up an automated post-purchase email to send during this time period, with special offers and messages to drive a second sale. This will help extend the impact of holiday sales into the rest of the year.

To learn our 4-point framework for converting one-time buyers into repeat customers, read “A practical guide to converting the second sale.”

 

8. Post-purchase surveys

Every purchase provides you with an opportunity to learn more about your customers.

To collect additional information about who your holiday shoppers are, what motivated them to buy, and other critical data that will inform future holiday campaigns, send a follow-up survey after each purchase with a small discount or special offer as an incentive to respond. This strategy can not only provide additional revenue, but also deep customer intelligence to guide future campaigns.

For example, 5.11’s post-purchase surveys yielded over $560k in sales with a 2.5% survey response rate using Lexer’s CDP. Click here to read their story.

 

9. Last chance scarcity messaging

Scarcity is a fantastic call to action—especially during the holiday season, when many shoppers are scrambling to cross everything off their gift list in the midst of heavily trafficked stores and shipping delays.

To encourage sales using the scarcity technique, send customers a sequenced set of count-down messages informing them of when they need to order to guarantee shipping before Christmas. You can also segment your customers into regions for more granularity with shipping timing. For example, if your fulfillment center is on the East Coast, you could send a separate message to customers on the East Coast and customers on the West Coast. Click here to read case studies demonstrating the impact of customer segmentation. 

Once the shipping window closes, then you can start to market online gift card offers that you can fulfill digitally.

Here’s an example from Novica:

 

Still feeling frantic about the upcoming holiday season? We’re here to help.

In just 22 days, outdoor apparel retailer Mountain Khakis used Lexer’s CDP to plan and launch data-informed campaigns just in time for Black Friday Sales. The initial campaigns led to a 47% increase in total customers and 49% revenue uplift. Learn how Lexer helped them achieve this quick, impactful sales uplift.

Lexer is the CDP of choice for leading brands such as Quiksilver, Igloo, Sur La Table, Rip Curl, Supergoop!, and more. As the only CDP built for retail, we help the world’s most iconic, data-driven retail brands drive incremental sales from improved customer engagement.

Use the meeting link below to book a demo of Lexer’s CDP and tools for marketing, retail, and service.

Elizabeth Burnam
Content Marketing Specialist

Elizabeth Burnam is a content marketer and a poet at heart. She has a degree in Professional Writing and experience developing high-impact marketing assets for a broad range of industries.

Outside of work, she enjoys reading, painting, people-watching, and exploring the natural wonders of Vermont.