3 Ways to Acquire New Customers and Build Loyalty This Holiday Season and Beyond
For many retail brands, the holiday season is the "Golden Quarter" and prime time to deploy strategies to maximize revenue gains. After all, Black Friday has evolved from a one-day sale to (for some retailers) a multiday event demonstrating consumer demand. This is further supported by KPMG research that saw a 5 percent year-over-year increase in discretionary spending despite challenging economic times.
However, when high consumer interest is matched with high expectations of marketing return on investment, standing out amid a sea of competition can feel impossible. It increases pressure to deliver creative campaigns to attract new customers with special deals and incentives while leveraging established relationships with existing customers through loyalty initiatives. With that said, for brands that deploy effective customer engagement strategies that balance acquisition with retention, the rewards can last well into the following year.
1. Don’t ignore the basics: personalization.
Personalization has long been a key demand of today’s tech-savvy consumer. A recent report by Braze revealed that personalized experiences are at least somewhat important when making purchases for 80 percent of respondents. However, they want more than just a seasonal sale or discount. They want to feel engaged individually and their needs known and understood.
To differentiate from competitors and cut through noisy inboxes, having a 360-degree customer view is imperative. Being able to measure and analyze customer behaviors and preferences in a single customer engagement platform gives unparalleled access to actionable data insights and audience intelligence — i.e., brands can facilitate personalized experiences that build connections and create lasting impact. They can collect and analyze historical and real-time data for customer-centric decision making across business divisions and support dynamic content such as end-of-year review campaigns, which leverage individual data to make each customer’s messaging unique.
2. Embrace predictive relationships with AI.
Loyalty strategies are often associated with points and freebies after certain thresholds. However, the definition of loyalty is moving away from solely rewards-based redemption programs to tailored brand experiences consisting of meaningful interactions that transform customer relationships from reactive to predictive.
Artificial intelligence technology is crucial to this pivot, allowing brands to identify, target and interact with customers based on their likelihood to purchase, churn or perform any other custom action such as engaging with a loyalty program. With intelligent tools, brands can promote products and content personalized to each customer, delivering campaigns and messaging that’s most likely to drive conversions and sell more. The larger benefit is that AI can be tasked with learning the basics so marketers can focus more on bringing the brand to life meaningfully and creatively for customers and finding ways to create new value for customers via the brand.
3. Don’t fall at the last hurdle; meet customers where they are.
Customer journeys are rarely linear and often span multiple channels, with seamless brand experiences expected. It’s important to recognize this. A McKinsey report found that most U.S. consumers plan to research holiday purchases using retailer websites or apps and by browsing in-store. Social media is also an important discovery channel, particularly for Gen Z and millennials.
Therefore, it’s important to have a cohesive cross-channel experience, with cross-departmental collaboration to align on customer-driven goals. But timing is important, too. Buyers go through a range of emotions during the holidays, from excitement to panic and stress. Targeting them with offers at the wrong time might make them feel more burned out. But done well, communication can register as meaningful and valuable. This is where AI applied to your customer engagement strategy can help react to customer whims during an incredibly active season of opportunities.
Essentially, the brands that will reap the highest rewards and loyalty this holiday season will be those that can effectively leverage customer engagement and AI technology at scale to deliver the right messages to the right people at the right time in the right channel. It really is that simple.
Mariam Asmar is the vice president of strategic consulting for Braze, a leading comprehensive customer engagement platform that powers interactions between consumers and brands they love.
Related story: How to Solve Retailers’ Top Customer Engagement Challenges
Mariam Asmar is the vice president of strategic consulting for Braze, a leading comprehensive customer engagement platform that powers interactions between consumers and brands they love. Mariam is a first generation half-Mexican half-Palestinian American with global experience in creative, media, and technology. Her skills range from creative to commercial—with particular expertise in brand strategy, industry strategy and business development. Thanks to a diverse and illustrious career abroad, Mariam understands the nuances of cultural relevance and context on a global scale for brands. In her role at Braze, Mariam looks after the Business Value team, Industry Solutions and Braze’s Creative Strategy function, the 427° Innovation Lab.