With the holiday season fast approaching, many merchants are hoping investments in personalization technology will pay off. Those who take the time to fine-tune the personalization features in the final weeks before the peak season can deliver the spot-on relevance that leads to sales growth.
Personalization has increasingly become a top priority for merchants, and with good reason. Consumers now expect shopping experiences to be tailored to their interests: forecasters predict fully $800 billion is set to shift toward merchants who deploy personalization technology effectively.
The key word, of course, is “effectively.” Far from adopting a “set it and forget it” mentality, merchants must devote ongoing resources to ensure that their real-time personalization features are culling the right data and serving the right products to the right individuals via the optimal touchpoints.
During the holidays, when shoppers are inundated with messaging and competition is fierce, relevance is more important than ever. During Kibo’s second client-only holiday readiness webinar, customer success specialists discussed winning tactics for ensuring that marketing and merchandising work in concert to maximize relevance. Among them:
Differentiate cross-sells and upsells. Recommendations on the product detail page are one of the longest-standing and most effective uses of personalization. Cross-sells, which display adjacent items such as accessories for apparel or electronics, and upsells, which encourage shoppers to consider higher-priced items in the same category as the product they’re currently considering, can both be effective means to encourage a higher total order size.
For the holidays, merchants should consider which type of recommendation works best for which categories — or consider using both, as Kibo merchant Peruvian Connection does using a tab presentation. “Complete the Look” displays other items in the pictured ensemble, while “you may also like” presents upsells in the same category as the featured product.
The shopping cart is another potential opportunity to use individualized product recommendations — but in this case, merchants should fine-tune to ensure that whatever products are displayed won’t distract from order completion. Big-ticket or high-consideration items or products that require customization or special delivery requirements aren’t appropriate; instead, merchants should limit the potential products to items that can be added directly to the cart without deep study of the product detail page. Gift cards are a good choice to add to the lineup during the holidays, making it easy for shoppers to take care of another to-do on their lists.
Give triggered emails a holiday polish. Triggered emails deliver ultra-relevant messaging based on specific events, from joining the email list as a new subscriber to abandoning the shopping cart to completing a first purchase. The content and cadence of these emails should both be evaluated pre-holidays to ensure they deliver the expected messaging on time.
For example, new subscriber emails should emphasize holiday-centric features, from eCommerce site gift guides to gift finder apps and seasonal hashtag campaigns on social media. Transactional triggered emails to purchasers should include return and shipping information specific to the holidays, as well as promotion of in-store holiday events and services.
Timing is a factor, too: While many merchants send a first abandoned-cart email within 24 hours, that cadence may be too slow for sale days such as Black Friday, when discounts abound and top sellers are going fast. Merchants should also coordinate campaigns to ensure that triggered email series aren’t so frequent that they overload subscribers who also receive calendared promotions.
Test retargeting ads to ensure they’re cool, not creepy. Display, search, or social ads that target individuals who’ve abandoned the eCommerce site or their online shopping carts are an effective means of recapturing sales, with click-through rates ten times higher than generic display ads. During the holidays, retargeted ads are more crucial than ever, reminding shoppers to return and finish their gift selections.
But as always, merchants must be aware of the line between creepy and cool, and ensure their ads don’t alienate shoppers. They should cap the frequency and duration of ads, and adjust settings for Black Friday and other peak sale days, when limited-time pricing may be in effect. They should also customize ad content for the holidays, including links to gift guides, gift card promotions, and other seasonal picks in the mix.
Finally, merchants should test retargeting campaigns extensively and make sure they work as expected, displaying only the most relevant offers, disappearing once a purchase has been made, and offering customer service support as well as product arrays and discounts.
Looking for more holiday readiness tips? Read the first blog post in the series here. If you don’t yet use real-time individualization to optimize the shopping experience, check out Kibo’s industry-leading offering and gain access to strategy expertise during the holidays and year round.