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To Make the Most of Your Holiday Marketing Budget, Start With Loyal Shoppers

A shopper in trendy attire pushes a white shopping cart: retail data strategy
Hone your retail data strategy to personalize offers that wow your faithful shoppers. [Credit: Malte Mueller]

As marketing costs skyrocket and shoppers seek savings, retailers need to use their data to make offers shoppers can’t refuse.

The holiday shopping season may be a few months away, but marketers are already planning for it. And this year, it’s all about reaching out early to loyal customers with personalized offers that keep you top of mind.

As the economy continues to be unpredictable, we see consumers searching for the best deals, holding off on big purchases, diverting money to savings, and trading down for cheaper goods. In fact, 71% of consumers admit they’ve switched brands in search of better deals. In this uncertain economy, it’s never been more important to develop a retail data strategy that powers meaningful and memorable marketing engagement with your existing customers. 

How can you make sure shoppers keep coming back? Make every shopper feel like they’re your number one, and they’ll do the same for you. Creating personalized experiences based on customer data is increasingly important for your marketing strategy. Two-thirds of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. Despite this, only 32% of retail executives say they can turn profile information, purchase history, and service interactions into tailored experiences that make shoppers feel like VIPs. 

To stay profitable this holiday season, you must show budget-conscious customers the real value in shopping with you. So put your retail data strategy to the test and prove to faithful shoppers you understand what they really want.

Our top tips for reaching loyal customers this season:

Use customer data to add value to every interaction

First-party data helps you tailor offers and messages to your customers’ interests. The payoff is huge: 78% of consumers say personalized email and other messages make them more likely to repurchase in the future. However, simply accumulating huge quantities of data isn’t enough. Being able to find that data and put it into action at the right moment can elevate every holiday shopper’s journey.

On average, consumers experience nine unique touchpoints before making a purchase. Don’t make them start from scratch every time. When you use data to help them pick up where they last left off, you make shopping easier. So, creating unified shopper profiles that track attributes, preferences, shopping history, and more — in real time — should be the first goal of your retail data strategy.

When consumer data is immediately accessible across your entire organization, on a single platform, you can create a seamless, efficient, and relevant interaction every time a customer reaches out, regardless of context, location, device, or issue. Then you can give them exactly what they want, exactly when they need it. That makes a lasting impression on a busy holiday shopper that keeps them loyal year-round.
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Lean into loyalty to avoid sky-high marketing costs

As digital marketing costs continue to get more expensive, customer acquisition can put a strain on retailers. Opportunities to get in front of new shoppers grow scarce. This means that brands and retailers have to better engage their existing customer base. 

The good news is that while shoppers have shown a willingness to switch brands to save money, in their hearts they’d prefer to remain with the tried-and-true. According to our Salesforce Shopping Index, the rate of repeat buyers in the first quarter increased by 8% over the last two years. 

More importantly, shoppers are prioritizing brands and retailers that offer loyalty programs. Our research shows 46% of shoppers say earning and redeeming loyalty points is the second highest factor, behind price, influencing where they buy. In fact, 63% of shoppers are making more purchases from stores where they can earn and redeem loyalty points.

So start with your loyalty program data, including shopper profiles, preferences, and purchase history, and make it all accessible to store associates, call center agents, and the consumers themselves. The targeted promotions, offers, and perks you offer loyal customers could see a much greater return on investment (not to mention lifetime customer value!) than any you might offer to lure in net-new, one-time holiday browsers.
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Reward loyalty members with early and exclusive offers

Since loyalty program members make three times as many annual purchases as nonmembers, it makes sense to reach out early to get their attention. Just because a consumer is part of your loyalty program, it doesn’t mean they’re not shopping around. Reaching out earlier keeps you top of mind so they turn to you before they check their gift list twice.

Even if your loyalty program rewards and enticements don’t kick in until Cyber Week (which is when most consumers plan to do their holiday shopping, according to our research), give loyal shoppers a sneak peek of what’s ahead. Send personalized marketing messages in the channels your shoppers prefer to alert them to what’s coming, so they bypass your competitors’ offers, confident in the value you’ll deliver later in the season.

In addition to discounts, offer them exclusive perks. Make sure your loyalty program delivers the best value exchange possible, offering rewards that make shoppers feel they’re getting more for their money. For example, give loyal customers the VIP treatment by providing early access to products and sales, faster shipping, free gift wrapping, convenient return options, no-charge alterations, and skip-the-line entry. These extras can make all the difference to budget-conscious holiday shoppers considering purchase decisions based on price.
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Use generative AI for one-of-a-kind campaigns 

Holiday shoppers are inundated with emails, texts, app notifications, and social media advertising. Your retail data strategy needs to capture their attention with intelligent messaging that’s personalized to their needs and interests. Focus your retail data strategy to catch the attention of an in-store shopper at the moment of decision-making

For marketing teams, generative AI makes it easier and more efficient to design and automate personalized customer journeys with content that’s also optimized for search. With generative AI, you can: 

  • Automate segments and map content journeys 
  • Draft content for emails, landing pages, text messages, social media, and apps 
  • Analyze customer behavior, predict trends, and generate next-best actions and offers
  • Identify your most profitable customers, then create a plan to drive repeat purchases

Make every day a holiday

Unwrap The 2024 Retail Holiday Planning Guide to learn our top tips for winning shoppers’ hearts and wallets during peak shopping moments year-round.

Combined with real-time dashboards at corporate headquarters, your call center, and in every store location, you can promote products based on a shopper’s history and suggest new products they may enjoy, right now, in the moment. For example, you can text customers special holiday offers on products they’ve browsed online while they are wandering your in-store aisles, and then promote complementary products that just landed on your shelves.
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What’s next for your retail data strategy this season?

While the state of the economy remains uncertain, there’s one thing retailers can be sure of: Your best bet for holiday success is to shower your loyal customers with care and attention. This starts with understanding what they need at exactly the right moment.

Look at their buying history, preferences, and interactions over the course of their customer journey, and then create innovative ways to deliver real-time, relevant, and memorable experiences. That’s how you keep customers loyal, during the holidays and all year long.

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