The holiday season is fast approaching, and the peak shopping period will be here even sooner. Here Sara Skrmetti, senior director of yield management for Adroit Digital, explains what retailers can do to to more successfully use marketing automation in their holiday campaigns.
The company's research into mothers' holiday shopping habits in 2013 (here), found that 34% expected to complete 50% or more of all their online holiday purchases on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday.
At a time where nearly half of American consumers are turning online to shop, it's more important than ever that advertisers remain nimble to attract consumers whenever and however they are engaging online.
When seeking ways to automate holiday campaigns, marketers must remember first and foremost that automation isn't a "set it and forget it" technology. Just as consumer behaviour is constantly changing, so does the marketing strategy needed to address it.
Skrmetti suggests that retailers should consider three key factors to successfully leverage automation in theirholiday campaigns:
- Have the freshest ingredients
The most important tool a marketer has is data, but in order to most effectively leverage this resource, you must ensure it's the right data. The holidays are an especially crucial time for having the right shopper data in your back pocket, as you need to know who is shopping for what right now, not last month. Data collectives are one way to get more relevant, current shopper data. This data is collected in real-time to provide a roadmap to the right holiday shoppers through identifying current browse, cart and buying behaviours. This real-time data can help you go beyond your current customer base to find new holiday shoppers and reach them on whichever device they are using to purchase holiday items.
- Add a human touch
Just as important as the data going into the campaign are the people behind the curtain. These are real humans pulling the levers to make automation work and adjust it along the way as needed. Computers can pull all the right data - from web traffic trends to purchase patterns - but technology isn't able to draw predictive insights from the compiled data and factor in real-world happenings that can affect buyers' decisions. Having a team in place that is able to quickly analyse and infer what's coming next will help keep brands ahead of the competition.
- Roll with the punches
As a marketer, you must always react rapidly in this ever-changing online shopping landscape. The holidays necessitate an even more heightened awareness of what's working in your campaigns and what's not. You might need to incorporate strategic prospecting tactics to engage your desired audience at the beginning of the holiday shopping cycle or use sense-of-urgency messaging as you near December's last ship date. Keeping an open mind allows more room for creative approaches and solutions to reaching the right consumers at the right time. Don't be wary of swiftly switching up your campaign tactics to react to changing holiday shopping behaviour.
"At the heart of these ideas is a data-driven approach to automation," concluded Skrmetti. "With current, relevant data and smart people massaging it, brands can match their strategy with their goals in new and innovative ways. Coupled with the ability to adjust campaigns based on real-time results, brands and agencies will be tuned in to what is coming to make their holiday campaigns achieve the greatest impact."