Applying the Customer Experience to Holiday Touchpoints

customer experience holiday

During the holiday rush, customer expectations are intense. This leaves marketers with a very brief moment to grab attention and influence actions. Think about the context of your customers at each moment in their purchase path:

  • Where are they?
  • What device are they using?
  • What is their mindset in a given moment?

Building seamless touchpoints to support a customers’ personalized holiday shopping experience is the best strategy for addressing high expectations. To win over on-demand customers, you must know them. What strategy works with them? You need to have the ability to reach them with the right interactions. Ultimately, sending action-based messages that are intuitive, useful and gratifying for recipients will equal success.

Compelling Content

As you develop your holiday messaging consider how each component helps your brand deliver compelling content. That content should meet your customers’ contextual expectations and persuade them to purchase. This will increase your Peak revenue and develop stronger customer relationships for the future.

Technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks are beginning to do the heavy lifting to help us better tailor individual experiences such as compelling content. How does a brand begin down the path towards hyper-personalization via machine learning interpretations of large datasets?

Our whitepaper with The Relevancy Group, Machine Learning Demystified, outlines how marketers are leveraging predictive analytics to unify and personalize customer experiences across channels. Successful marketers are utilizing Personalization Artificial Intelligence or PAI to drive more revenue than human-curated personalization. However, PAI requires a hefty budget ($950K+) and does not eliminate the need for human intervention, oversight and analysis. Nonetheless, it’s an approach that’s quickly becoming industry standard. This holiday season, if you aren’t already invested, there are steps you can take towards incorporating machine learning. Prebuilt models that help to determine next best purchase, look-alikes or propensity for specific behaviors are excellent first steps towards incorporating personalization through machine learning.

Customize Content for Linked Experiences

The customer experience should be consistent from channel to channel. Look at every customer interaction from the moment they discover your brand (via social media or by landing on your website), to in-store experiences with sales associates prior to making a purchase.

Peak marketing traditionally focuses on batch-and-blast tactics. This year we challenge you to shift your thinking from being campaign driven to creating opportunities that inspire great customer experiences at every touchpoint. At Zeta, we refer to this as “Linked Experiences.” Take simple steps to begin offering these Linked Experiences to your customers. Small wins will translate into big gains as your customers understand you’re there to serve them.

Focus on the Where and How

Don’t forget important considerations such as location and device. These are especially important as you think about driving traffic to your stores.

Many times we lean too heavily on promotions to drive our business, when highlighting what differentiates our brand would have a greater impact. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What sets you apart?
  • How can you make things easier for your customer?

Last season, CVS drew attention to its new curbside pickup. The Gap offered self-service wrapping stations at stores. While these two ideas range in complexity, they both serve the needs of the customer and are unique in the market. In addition, kate spade of new york reminded customers what they purchased last holiday timeframe. We love this example because their marketing team created a highly useful campaign that distinguishes them among other fashion retailers. Can you brand model some of this behavior to differentiate itself?

This Peak season make sure that your customers are top of mind and that you are developing content just for them. Shifting your strategy from creating a pre-determined marketing communications program to one that is custom built based on consumers’ needs – where, when and how they want to hear from you – is the key!

Want to hear more from our Strategy Director, listen to Tia’s full holiday planning webinar. 

Temperatures may be rising, but Peak planning is top of mind

We may be in the middle of summer, but we’re also just eleven short weeks away before the holiday season and holiday messaging officially begins.

As marketers, the pressure is on for us to ramp up for the most crucial time of the year. Now is the time to bring back tried and true tactics – with innovative new applications – to make campaigns feel updated.  Now is the time to evaluate what can be done to lay the groundwork for a successful 2017 Peak.

Speaking of time, make the most of yours by investing 30 minutes on July 12th at 2p ET to learn how to enhance your holiday campaigns and drive revenue.  Want more reasons to join? We’ll highlight impactful topics such as: enriching your data set for stronger future customer connections, building touchpoints to support your customers’ personalized holiday shopping experiences, machine learning’s potential impact and more. After the seminar, you’ll have timely checklists to use as you perfect your holiday plan.

Can’t make it but don’t want to miss out?  Register now and we’ll send you a link with audio playback so you can listen at a later time. Ready? Register Now.

2016 Holiday is a “Wrap” – What Gifts Did Marketers Receive to Make 2017 Even Bigger?

holiday marketers

The results are in and the 2016 holiday season was one for the record books. The NRF reports holiday retail sales during November and December increased four percent over 2015 with online and other non-store sales up 12.6% unadjusted year-over-year.”

We’ve wrapped up our 2016 holiday Peak analysis – complete with our long-standing retail holiday benchmark study. We’ve analyzed our clients’ email performance from a variety of sub-segments within the retail industry from Oct. 16, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017, and this is what we’ve learned:

  • The first week in November was WHITE HOT.  Many retailers widened their nets for holiday audience selections.  Two of our largest retail clients increased their volume dramatically — +80% and +116%!
  • Mobile and table devices dominated opens and clicks. Seventy-five percent of all opens and 63% of all clicks for Zeta retailers during the Peak season were on mobile or tablet devices.
  • Sunday = Openday on the desktop. Despite the increased engagement for mobile devices, desktop click-on-opens consistently spiked on Sundays throughout the season.
  • Emails were flying Cyber Week through Free Ship week. Zeta retailers emailed at their highest frequency (December 4 – 17) when roughly 1/3 were mailing seven or more times a week.
  • In the New Year, volumes decreased as marketers returned to more segmented approaches stimulating a 63% difference in click rates when comparing Panic Saturday with New Year’s Day.

Savvy Consumers Told Retailers Free Shipping Wasn’t Enough

The 2016 season was unique in many ways that may become standard practice in the future. Perhaps unexpectedly, the “Holiday Discount” timeframe expanded beyond traditional key dates introducing deep discounts outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Free shipping was no longer a point of differentiation for marketers – consumers expected it. In a survey by JDA, one in four consumers claimed they did not shop anywhere that did not offer free shipping. Zeta retail holiday benchmark’s Unique Conversion Rate of Unique Click hit the highest point during the final days of free shipping – perhaps indicating that having a “deadline” was a conversion “closer” for shoppers scrambling to take advantage of free shipping cutoffs.

Unable to rely on free shipping to entice consumers, keen marketers needed to find other ways to position their brand in a competitive market during a season where subscribers were unimpressed by simple offers like free shipping. While price point remained a key factor, brands also distinguished themselves with value-add services like curbside pickup and self-serve gift wrapping stations to win the sale.

Marketers Relied on “Blasts” from the Past

There was a bit of a retro flair this season too. Batch & blast made a comeback with many top retailers reverting to the tactic. This intentional one-size-fits-all approach may have been a strategy for repeated impressions of brand and offer, but at Zeta we believe customer expectations are higher and that relevant and customized content in 2017 must be the goal. Similarly, creative design got a streamlined makeover reminiscent of early templates with large color blocks and lots of white space. This time around, the uncomplicated creative maximized visual information consumption and better accommodated the continued uptick in mobile and use of interactive email elements.

Reflections Drive Intentions

Reflection is one way to better shape the future. Our analysis tells us that next season marketers should find ways to create semi-customized, highly scan-able, yet memorable, messages featuring competitive pricing and value-add services throughout an expansive holiday season. We understand that’s a huge endeavor – even before coupling with the inevitable channel evolution we’re sure to see leading up to Peak 2017. To help manage the undertaking, we’ve identified three specific areas of focus that we believe require attention throughout the year to maximize subscriber retention and realize the ultimate Peak 2017 revenue. The turn of the calendar to introduce yet another shiny New Year got us in the spirit of intentions instead of predictions. In 2017, we’re committed to helping our clients:

  • Unlock the potential of email attribution leading to a more holistic measurement and application of the channel
  • Shift toward contextual messaging with real time customized content based on interactions
  • Empower email marketing’s agility with strategies that predict obstacles rather than react to them

These opportunities will help our clients maintain their competitive advantage and we will spotlight each of them as the year progresses.

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