Five Tools to Help Marketers Make the Most of the Holiday Shopping Season

Originally published on MarketingProfs.

By Meera Murthy

The year’s busiest shopping season is right around the corner. Retail marketers have already laid out their winter campaigns, and like past years, consumers will soon see an influx of promotions, recommendations, flash sales, free shipping offers, and last-minute shopping ideas.

Equally important to these offers are the optimizations that marketers are making behind the scenes.

These five technologies can help with that optimization.

1. In-the-Moment Messaging

Over the holidays, marketers are under extreme pressure to push promotional messaging. The challenge, however, is that the offers are often misaligned with what consumers actually need—friendly and helpful advice.

Buyer journeys are complex, spanning multiple devices and interactions. For example, a shopper may use an online shopping cart to build a wishlist—not necessarily to make a purchase. The last thing that you, as a marketer, want to do is to bombard your audiences with unnecessary shopping cart abandonment emails. You need to respond to what your customers care about in the moment and to provide a source of support.

Behavior tracking technology on websites, in-app, and by using beacons can help maintain a 360-degree view of your customer base. Know what your customers need by unifying their stories across devices and channels. You can then deliver real-time messaging based on shoppers true intents to make it easier to find the right gifts.

2. Geolocation

E-commerce makes up just 7.1% of all retail sales. Brick-and-mortar is far from obsolete, which is why retailers like Macy’s and Wal-Mart are experimenting with ways to personalize experiences in their stores.

Geolocation is one way you can deliver messages to consumers while they’re shopping (promote a new store opening, sale or other event, even guide shoppers to in-stock items at your nearest physical location). You can also use online, user-account, and social media data to connect digital and in-store experiences.

3. Mobile

Consumers are using their smartphones to do more than just browse. Last year, mobile sales accounted for 22.6% of online holiday shopping, according to IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark.

Through mobile, consumers can connect with your brand—and competitors—from anywhere. More than half (58%) of shoppers who use mobile devices prefer to look up information in store than talk to store employees, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. That indicates a clear opportunity to create a stickier experience and keep customers engaged longer.

In addition to providing an effortless mobile experience, optimized for clicks, taps, and swipes, retailers also need to look at the bigger picture. Shoppers rely on multiple channels to research, compare, and purchase products. The average American consumer owns four devices and moves seamlessly between them, according to Nielsen.

Retailers must create continuous experiences that perhaps even recognize shoppers from device to device.

4. Real-Time Personalization

E-commerce marketers collect volumes of data, and the holidays provide a strong window of opportunity to harvest more information and re-invest this data into action-oriented personalization campaigns that improve conversions. Some 86% of survey respondents reported lift from their initiatives, and approximately half saw a lift greater than 10%, according to a recent study from Researchscape International and Evergage.

During the holidays, real-time personalization is even more critical since shoppers are time-strapped. Be sure you incorporating past browsing history with shoppers’ in-the-moment interests to help them make the best possible purchases. As you collect more data, refine your algorithms to provide an experience that is tailored and targeted.

5. Social Intelligence

Shoppers may not be buying products on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, just yet, but they are talking about the products that catch their attention. For retailers, those mentions provide a valuable source of data to guide featured placements, messaging opportunities, and potential promotions. Be sure to monitor the products and topics getting the most attention on these social channels.

You can also apply social media data to on-site experiences. If you have the tech in place, simply harness social login data to customize your messaging and offers.

The holidays are a time for great deals and marketing pushes, but they’re also a time for your team to learn.

Listen to your customers, pay attention to shopping trends, and position your company to be the ultimate resource for gifts, last-minute decisions—you name it. Take your time, learn as much as you can, and invest the knowledge that you glean from holiday campaigns into initiatives throughout 2016 and beyond.

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