The holidays can be an overwhelming time for both the shopper and the marketer. For the shopper, the holidays involve frantically searching for the perfect gift and getting the best deal possible. For the marketer, the season is about competing against numerous other brands and crafting a winning campaign that gets through the marketing noise to bring back loyal customers and attract new ones.
Americans spent $800 per person during last year’s holiday season. More often than not, however, these shoppers aren’t buying gifts for themselves. An empty-nester may be in search of the newest toy for a grandchild, for example, while the Millennial may be buying gifts for coworkers and friends.
Data is key to winning over consumers year-round, but the holiday season is where marketers need to bring their A-game to win the sale in a crowded market. Creating a messaging strategy around product and offer relevancy is more likely to engage their audience, rather than using “mass market” spray and pray tactics. Using customer data to build a portrait of the holiday shopper based upon past purchase behaviors will enable marketers to cut through the competition’s clutter. To create accurate portraits of the audience segments for precise, pinpoint targeting, marketers must artfully blend first-, second- and third-party data to derive the necessary insights that will culminate in audience micro-segments and yield the best results.
Identify your core audience using first-party data. Typically, 30% of the customers drive over 70% of the sales, so it’s important to find out who these loyal, repeat customers are, and more importantly, what their shopping habits are during the holiday season. First-party data is already available to marketers within a company because it comes directly from the marketer’s CRM system. By linking the shoppers first and last name, postal/email address, web and mobile activity with their purchase history, the marketer can use this historical data to create and identify the core audience segments for its holiday campaigns and drive higher customer engagement and incremental sales.
Marketers can then use this information to answer three key questions: Who purchased last holiday season and what did they buy? The first-party data will enable the marketer to identify shoppers who are routine holiday buyers, what products they like, when they purchase their holiday gifts, whether in early November or late December and their purchase channel of preference; do they buy through brick n mortar, or on the website? Gaining basic insights on past behavior enables the marketer to build basic portraits of the holiday shopper segments.
In addition to leveraging first-party data, many marketers are enhancing their customer segmentation portraits by integrating other disparate data sources in their analytic and strategic insights methodology.
Second-party data that comes from partner sites, online co-op databases and other digital applications allow the marketer to understand customer online behavior in more detail. They provide the marketer with valuable insights on browsing behaviors, and shopping intent. Third-party data, on the other hand, comes from a data provider that can enable the marketer to gain insight into the consumer demographic, lifestyle and behavioral habits.
By leveraging all three of these disparate customer data sources for a holiday campaign, the marketer can identify customers who have previously purchased holiday gifts for children, for example, and also determine if these same past purchasers are currently browsing websites for this year’s children’s holiday gifts. And, by appending data points such as, average age, income and/or geography to the customer record, the marketer can further segment the audience into subgroups that can help create different messaging strategies by product offer, creative treatment and/or digital site. Knowing someone who purchased children’s gifts last year is nice to know, but also knowing their current intent and their demographics can truly spark a “one to one connection” and increase customer engagement and sales.
Begin strategic outreach. To optimize customer engagement for the upcoming holiday season it’s important to create a truly relevant experience. The holidays are unique since most people are not shopping for themselves but for others. Thus, marketers shouldn’t focus their efforts on someone who may have visited once for a single item. Instead, they need to target shoppers based on prior behaviors and current intent with highly-tailored marketing and messaging strategies. If the right audience is engaged with the right message via the right channels, there is a far greater chance your advertising content will resonate and action will be taken.
By combining the different data sets, marketers can be more relevant and shy away from the mass, often irrelevant campaigns, giving their audiences a well-deserved break during the overwhelming holiday season. Once a target audience has been determined, marketers should leverage second- and third- party data to create meaningful and highly targeted messaging strategies for their customers. This will ensure that marketers can deliver their campaigns with the greatest impact and highest rate of success. Working with a data provider to build concise, targeted campaigns will help marketers achieve higher response rates and better engage their customers, making the holidays a win, win for everyone.
Mike Iaccarino, chairman and CEO of Infogroup.