4 Important Ways to Connect with Customers and Drive ROI This Holiday Season

If you are working in retail, eCommerce, CPG and adjacent industries, the next few months could make or break your bottom line based on historical statistics. Last year, holiday sales alone accounted for 20% of retail industry revenue.

With the stakes that high, it’s important to make sure you’re reaching target customers with the right holiday marketing and offers. Aiming your messages in the wrong direction, or failing to keep up with today’s fast-evolving retail buyers, could mean your brand gets lost in the noisy, competitive chaos of Peak season.

If you’re a retailer who relies on a successful holiday season to hit your annual goals, then the bulk of your Peak planning and strategy should already be in place and ready to launch. However, there is still time for some last-minute updates to maximize your Peak strategy. Here are four key areas to focus on:

1. Pivotal Peak Personalization Prep

There’s no denying the impact personalization has on maximizing marketing effectiveness and customer relationship development. As brands deepen their focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences, personalization has become essential to improve relevance, drive conversions and build loyalty.

This year, marketers face two particularly large personalization challenges:

  1. The quality and thoroughness of personalization.

Peak is a great time to distinguish your brand by serving up customized experiences based on individual purchase history, content consumption, behavioral signals, demographic data and more. Your messages will get noticed amongst the batch-and-blast look and feel that many brands resort to during this time of year.

  1. Learning to scale Peak communications.

If you know enough about a customer’s preferences, personality, and environment, it’s easy to craft a compelling personalized experience for them. But retail marketers aren’t marketing to just one person—they’re marketing to audiences in the hundreds of millions. When messaging volume is at its peak during the holidays, the key to standing out in the crowd is making each individual customer feel like the experience they receive was made just for them.

How do you balance the competing needs of comprehensive personalization and wide-scale, high-volume Peak campaigns? The answer usually lies in a combination of:

Need help augmenting your personalization capabilities? Download our free eBook on selecting the best personalization tactics and technology for your needs.

2. Channeling Communication Based on Customer Choice

Your customers are thinking, acting, and buying on a broader selection of devices every day. It’s important that you’re there to engage and support them wherever they go if you want to be the brand-of-choice this holiday and beyond.

peak planning mobile marketing stats

More and more, consumers are turning to their phones first to make a purchase. Mobile is now driving 60% of eCommerce traffic. Additionally, “Seventy-one percent of shoppers use mobile devices in-store to read reviews, make purchases and other behaviors.”

For comparison, about 34% of holiday eCommerce last year was mobile-driven. While many consumers were doing real-time product research and price comparison in stores last year, that proportion was 11% less heading into Peak season.

3. Leveraging Location-Based Marketing through Geographic Data

More geographic data is available to marketers than ever before in terms of where and how customers prefer to interact with brands. Turning that information into incredible, on-the-spot conversion opportunities or priceless insights to inform and optimize an overall marketing strategy is game-changing.

The holiday season creates a unique opportunity for retail marketers to act on location data. No other time of year has so many people flocking to specific retail locations, offering remarkable opportunities to influence critical buying moments on a broad scale.

Here are some creative ways to take advantage of location data during the holidays:

  • Send SMS exclusive offers to consumers waiting in line outside the mall on Black Friday.
  • Serve up customized Facebook ads to customers asking for product advice from their network at a competing big-box store.
  • Gather location-based data to customize email marketing campaigns that will increase open rates and drive conversion.
  • Use to see where customers go and customize experiences accordingly.
  • Offer hybrid online/offline experiences where customers make hassle-free digital orders and are directed to the nearest store through geolocation to pick up their purchase.

One caveat: beware of the “creepy” factor. It’s one thing to provide hyper-relevant experiences to customers, but no one likes feeling watched. Even generous offers and exceptional messaging can be spoiled if you take it too far.

4. Engaging with Your Most Loyal Customers

The long-term impact your holiday marketing can have on existing customers often goes overlooked during Peak planning. While most holiday marketing campaigns are aimed at attracting new customers and developing brand awareness, the holidays are also the perfect time to recognize and reward existing customers for their loyalty and value as brand ambassadors.

peak planning loyalty marketing stats

The top 5% of loyal customers are responsible for 60% of revenue on average, and it’s all too easy to alienate them by giving all your attention toward luring new clientele.

Consider the following stats:

If you’re not engaging loyal customers throughout the holiday, you’re leaving a wide-open window for competitors to get their attention and draw them away.

The Holiday Clock is Ticking

The most important season for retailers is here, and time is running out to make last-minute updates before the chaos of the shopping season ensues. It’s not too late to make some of these minor adjustments that will translate into a major impact on your bottom line. Join Zeta Global throughout the holiday season as we explore how brands can leverage customer behavior to connect with consumers at this crucial time of year–and go on to build lucrative, long-lasting relationships.

Overcoming a Critical Retail Marketing Challenge: Customer Acquisition

email platform infrastructure

Editor’s note: This article and interview were orchestrated by Zeta Global’s SVP of Customer Experience, David Schey. Connect with him and get more insights on LinkedIn.

An interview with Brendan Witcher, Principal Strategist, eBusiness & Channel Strategy, Forrester

Earlier this year we sat down with Brendan Witcher, principal strategist, eBusiness & Channel Strategy at Forrester to talk about retail trends at NRF. We recently checked back in with Brendan to see if retailers are making good on their promises when it comes to acquisition strategies in 2018.

Let’s recap the trends Brendan outlined at NRF…

  • In 2017 – Personalization and omnichannel were key trends with retailers.
  • In 2018 – Personalization and omnichannel are still big, but…maybe retailers don’t understand their customers well enough to personalize the experience or, maybe they don’t understand their business well enough to optimize a retail omnichannel strategy.

Brendan’s Advice for Retailers at NRF: “Focus on the “unsexy” work you haven’t gotten done to optimize your personalization and omnichannel programs.”

 “Focus on the “unsexy” work you haven’t gotten done to optimize your personalization and omnichannel programs.”  

We think retailers were listening. At Zeta, we’ve been hard at work with our retail clients all year helping them focus on optimizing personalization through their use of data. We have a phrase we use a lot around the water cooler here: “We know your customers, you just don’t have them yet!” Yes, it does sound a little out there, but it’s true.

How do we do it? We focus on people-based audience acquisition. We leverage customer signals, deterministic data and native artificial intelligence to deliver 1:1 personalization at scale. We target specific customers by identifying who you want to talk to, not who you think you want to talk to.

We think it’s pretty cool that a little after the mid-year mark, retailers are transforming their data programs from “unsexy” to “sexy” work. But, we wondered if Brendan is seeing the same pivot from the retailers he is talking to on a daily basis. Here’s what he had to say…

We asked Brendan if retailers are doing the work they set out to do, specifically are they:

  • Finding value in their customer data?
  • Capturing their data correctly to create better customer experiences?

He told us that retailers are making progress on the objectives they stated earlier in the year:

  • To be more data-driven
  • To engage with customers at the individual level

In doing so, he also said that new challenges have arisen that have slowed their progress, mainly:

  • Cultural roadblocks
  • Siloed organizational agendas

How do you get around that? Brendan suggests obtaining quick wins with data and showing how data-led marketing can have the greatest impact. He went on to say that some of the same marketers who are facing these retail omnichannel strategy challenges above are building the business case to have their organizations lean heavier on data—in both their strategic decision making and their tactical campaigns.

Brendan’s Keys for Success?

  1. Find and focus on the areas that have high impact on your customer.
  2. Make sure your organization is operationally set up to execute on the digital tools you have.

Watch our entire interview with Brendan, including his mid-year update, below.

To learn more about how we can help you achieve personalization at scale through your data, contact us for a personalized demo.

Data in Motion: A Retailer’s Key to Fueling Customer Engines

Is your retail organization creating a journey map for both your brand and customer? If not, you may find yourself lost, looking for a new route. Listening and responding to client and prospect signals is the best way to correct course and reach your desired destination with consumers.

Data in Motion vs. Stuck in Standstill Traffic

Many retailers can find their customers when they visit locations on their brand maps such as blog entries and newsletters, but what insight can be gained outside of the brand’s messaging?

omnichannel retail data collection

How can a consumer’s latest Internet search or comment on their favorite website or article inform you how and when to target with the best offer? Understanding and leveraging Data in Motion is the key.

Signal Data Makes the Path Clearer

Let’s look at the difference between leveraging customer signal data and using static brand interactions in a simple case study about a consumer named Lauren and her interaction with the Petco brand.

Insight Gained from Lauren’s Connected Identity Graph:

Petco is able to identify and leverage Lauren’s purchasing patterns across the various signal data collected using the following:

  • Postal (demographic, credit, income, home ownership, transactions)
  • Email Address
  • Mobile (location, app usage)
  • IP Address (household devices, channel, preference)
  • Web Behavior (recent interests, recent intent, send time)
  • Transaction (recent purchases, spending patterns)

Insight from Lauren’s Signal Data Across Channels:

omnichannel retail signals

  • Postal: Lauren recently applied for a home mortgage.
  • Mobile: She visited two stores last week.
  • IP Address: Three devices were added to Lauren’s household in three months.
  • Web Behavior: She browsed dog grooming content on four sites; she visited outdoor activity websites.
  • Transaction: Her last purchase with Petco was five months ago (dog food); she increased spending on premium products.

Combining the identity graph with signal data gives Petco a true picture of what Lauren needs…and more! Now, Petco can target Lauren, and other consumers like her, with high end, personalized messaging and offers:

  • Lauren’s interest in premium dog food may be heightened since she recently increased her spending on premium products.
  • Dog Grooming may be top of mind based on her recent search activities.
  • Utilizing cluster signal data, Petco can now identify many other consumers out there just like Lauren.

omnichannel retail customer understanding

What does all of this mean for retailers?

  • Improved creative assets that can speak directly to consumers’ needs.
  • Greater awareness and brand affinity with consumers because they now see you as someone who understands their specific needs.
  • Better messaging and ROI based on real-time needs and behavioral triggers.
  • Measured and optimized performance as a result of potential levers.

To learn more about how the Zeta Data Cloud can help you unlock your omnichannel retail signal data, watch my complete keynote case study at eTail East:


You can also click here to find the complete deck presentation at eTail East. Connect with me on Linkedin or follow along here for the latest industry insights.

How to Choose the Best CRM Solution for Your Enterprise

When it comes to customer relationship management, not all technology is created equal—especially when operating on an enterprise scale. The solution you ultimately choose will provide the foundation for understanding your customers and meeting their growing expectations. That, in turn, will determine the ROI of your marketing and success of your brand for years to come.

Choose wisely.

Diamonds in the Digital Rough

The marketing technology landscape is expanding at a terrific pace. Thousands of solutions provided by no fewer than 6,242 different vendors are available to today’s CMO—27% YoY that’s likely to continue.

Included in the flood of evolving technology are at least 200 customer relationship management solutions, including established providers and disruptive new startups. How does a marketing leader at a large business with an enormous audience chose the right one?

Key Considerations for Choosing an Enterprise CRM

Enterprises have some unique challenges in meeting the ever-changing expectations of today’s connected consumer. It’s one thing to recognize the value of personalized, relevant experiences—but delivering them to hundreds of thousands ,or even millions, of individuals around the world is a daunting task for the most capable CMO.

enterprise CRM quote

Choosing an enterprise CRM that enables you to serve 1:1 experiences on a massive scale can mean the difference between earning loyalty and being forgotten. When comparing your options, take special care to consider the following factors:

Data Treatment

The key to understanding your customers as individuals, anticipating their needs, and engaging them in real-time lies in data.

Big data has been at CMOs’ top-of-mind for years now; finding ways to organize, interpret and act on the mountains of consumer information now available remains a high priority.

Almost every CRM has some amount of data analytics capabilities. But that can range from rudimentary web analytics to sophisticated deterministic data science.

Ideally, an enterprise CRM will provide access to a large pool of proprietary data that can be used to supplement and enhance your own first-party customer data. Enterprises often struggle with large silos of disparate data—a good CRM option also will be able to flexibly adapt and unify those scattered resources into a single view of your customers.

Today’s consumers are active on a broad selection of channels and devices at any given time. An effective enterprise CRM must be able to accumulate real-time signals from any input and translate them into thoughtful omnichannel responses.

Finally, a great enterprise CRM needs to be extremely secure when it comes to data and align to quickly-evolving social and regulatory privacy standards. Given the sheer volume of data a large organization handles and the sensitivity of the information within, enterprises can’t afford to take chances. Recent history is full of high-profile breaches that compromised corporate and customer data and tarnished brands—don’t let your marketing technology platform be your biggest vulnerability!

Automation Capabilities

Automation is what enables an enterprise to take a powerful, relevant, personalized customer experience and scale it up to thousands or even millions of individuals around the world.

Most CRMs have some automation capability, many of them lack the capacity to constantly process and manage a compelling relationship with every customer. Seek out a provider that has the sophisticated AI technology needed to capture and interpret a flood of real-time customer signals and decide when, why and how to respond.


Most enterprises have an enormous tech environment that includes legacy systems, scattered databases, and third-party vendors. Even large organizations with robust IT teams find integrating new tools and platforms into their stack to be incredibly difficult.

An ideal CRM tool for enterprises is one that can flexibly adapt to your existing technology and data infrastructure. A quick onboarding process and the ability to unify customer data all in one place is a huge advantage in the perpetual battle for consumer attention and loyalty.

What the Experts Say

Shopping for the best CRM for your enterprise is an arduous process, but choosing the right one can quite literally determine the success of your company for the indefinite future. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of resources and expertise to pull from when selecting a solution that will bring the most value to your customers.

One such authority is the prestigious MarTech Breakthrough Awards, which recognizes leaders and innovators in the diverse and ever-changing world of marketing and advertising technology. This year, Zeta Global’s technology platform ZetaHub was awarded ‘Best CRM Solution for Enterprise’—standing out in a pool of over 2,000 nominees.

marktech breakthrough best CRM for enterprise

“The days of linear marketing are long gone, and multichannel marketing is now a necessity, but we find that many enterprise organizations are struggling with the challenge of managing this more complex customer journey,” said James Johnson, Managing Director at MarTech Breakthrough. “Zeta Global’s ZetaHub shines when it comes to enabling multichannel dialogue, empowering global brands to engage with customers and prospects across email, mobile, social, direct, and web. Congratulations to Zeta Global on its 2018 MarTech Breakthrough Award!”

Read the complete press release from MarTech Breakthrough here.

Click here to see Zeta’s announcement of the award.

Every day we work closely with our enterprise clients in Retail, Travel, Finance, Insurance, Media and beyond to better understand their customers and develop lasting 1:1 relationships. It’s not hyperbole: to see for yourself how our solution makes people-based marketing at scale possible, request a demo today.