With all the goodwill supposedly be jangling the bells and decking the halls around Christmas, it’s perhaps strange that customer fidelity can’t be relied upon. Try not to blush as I bring you this quote from Matt Curry, the director of e-commerce at online, ahem, sex toy retailer Lovehoney Group, who explained the following to Marketing Week:
Christmas is an expensive time for any retailer. As everyone wades in to pay-per-click, social channels become flooded, customers are bombarded with messages and loyalty is rare. That means you could find yourself in a race to the bottom unless you have set yourself apart from the competition.
Now of course, the sex toy trade may be a world apart from your industry, but the sentiment of Curry’s claims holds true across the board.
The silly season is a free-for-all. Every marketer worth his/her salt will be barraging prospects with sales offers, discount codes, coupons, free-shipping, two-for-ones and goodness knows what else through every channel available to them.
With no doubt you’re planning on doing the same – the question is, what can you do to ensure that you stand out and remain firmly in the thoughts and purchase decisions of your so far loyal customers?
It’s an important question that needs to be answered. There’s a real chance that without a proper planning, you may lose some loyal customers to competitors this Christmas if they manage to strike a more resounding offer than yours. And the real risk, of course, is that you may lose them for good.
So, what can be done? Let’s consider your options.
How not to lose loyal customers in the Christmas sales
Personalize your offers!
We’re all used to bargain-basement offers around Christmas – in fact we expect them to come from everywhere. The key lies in differentiation.
Making your special offers as personalized as can be is the way to cut through the barrage that your customers are going to be experiencing this Christmas.
You should mine your customer data to see what products are likely to be on their wish list this year. And this is important, for many people actually save up during the year to treat themselves to something on and around the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period, which means that they’re not just looking for gifts for others. Indeed, according to Connexity, more than half (52%) of active online shoppers will be self-gifting during the silly season, with 47% looking to buy for others.
This means that you should be able to glean some important insights from your individual customers’ data, and come up with a highly-personalised offer for each of them from your product catalogue. Christmas is about making people feel special – so, this year, let them have that kettle or power drill or pair of pink fluffy handcuffs they’ve been eyeing up on your site all year at a special discount rate, and make sure they don’t look elsewhere.
Don’t blow your whole marketing budget on just a few days
Black Friday and Cyber Monday will come and go in an instant, and then you’ve still got the whole of December to think about.
The cost of advertising across a lot of channels increases quite dramatically during this time, so you can easily spend every penny you earned in November, and you may well need some funds if a significant proportion of your loyal customers didn’t convert during this time. Without a budget to reach them, they could very well be gone for good.
Get the timing right
When is the best time to start sending your Christmas hints to your loyal customers?
Strike too early and they may well forget (not to mention premature mentions of the ‘C’ word can really annoy some people); leave it too late and they may have already strayed elsewhere.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an exact science that can be applied to every industry. Generally, starting early is recommended. This can just be as simple as starting to display your Black Friday and Cyber Monday offerings on the homepage of your website, without going the whole hog with targeted messaging and emails.
The trick will be in reminding your loyal customers that they’ll be able to turn to you when they do eventually start thinking about spending some money in earnest. Keep an eye on your analytics – when interest in your passive seasonal displays begin to spike, that’s usually a good indicator that you can start upping your game.
Be generous with your discounts
When all is said and done, what your loyal customers expect during the Christmas sales is a darn good discount.
Having said that, a discount on its own won’t make you stand out from the crowd because every other business will be offering discounts. However, you still need to play the game. Here are the figures from a Marketing Week survey:
(Image source: marketingweek.com)
There you go – right at the top of the list is price, shortly followed by value for money.
This means, no matter how cunning your personalization campaigns are, how well you manage to target and retarget your loyal customers or how perfectly you time the communicate your offers, at the end of the day you won’t retain any customers unless you get the pricing right!
Back to you
What are your plans to keep your loyal customers this Christmas? Let us know your strategy in the comments below.