How to Give Your Lifecycle Messages a Holiday Refresh

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Greg Zakowicz, Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Greg Zakowicz is a senior commerce marketing analyst at Bronto Software, a leading cloud-based commerce marketing automation platform provider and Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) company. With more than 10 years of experience in email, mobile and social media marketing, Zakowicz knows the retail industry and its challenges, staying on top of the latest trends by leveraging deep insight into the marketing spectrum. His subject matter expertise stems from his experience in providing commerce marketers — including numerous Internet Retailer Top 1000 clients — with in-depth analysis of their marketing programs, recommendations for improvement, best practice support and implementation guidance and execution. Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as IRCE, eTail West, eTail Canada, Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Multichannel Merchant, ClickZ and Power Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. Follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

Zakowicz is a frequent webinar speaker and presenter at ecommerce events, such as Fashion Digital New York, SIA Snow Show and ROI Revolution Summit. He has been published by top retail and marketing publications, including Power Retail and Inside Retail, and is a regular contributor to Bronto’s Commerce Marketing blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @WhatsGregDoing.

With the holiday season comes a natural increase in the number of lifecycle messages sent. Think about it. More site visitors lead to more email sign-ups, which trigger more welcome series sends. An increase in shoppers means an increase in browse and cart recovery messaging and post-purchase emails for those holiday buyers. And all of these messages affect the overall user experience.

Have you reviewed your lifecycle messaging lately? What’s the current experience like for your customers? It’s important to analyze it, particularly during the time of year when consumers will likely be browsing and buying more.

Here are three lifecycle series that are often significantly affected by the holidays and some suggestions for adjusting them for the busy shopping season.

1. Welcome Series

Consider shortening the time between messages. During this time of year, consumers have so much information readily available to them, and they tend to make purchase decisions quicker. Combine this with a natural increase in promotional send cadence, and you may want to shift your messages from every three days to every one or two.

Include a top gifts section or stand-alone message. Why not speak to what many customers, especially new subscribers, may be looking for during the holidays? Rather than showing generic content, provide some simple gifting recommendations by category or price point.

Shift your sign-up incentive. Instead of offering a blanket 10% discount for signing up (especially if this pales in comparison to your standard holiday discount), be creative and offer a better deal to customers. With the rise in self-gifting, consider a tiered discount that rewards the subscriber with a larger discount the more they spend. This allows them to purchase for themselves as well as others. You might also consider offering a free gift or gift card with purchase.

To be more daring, you could eliminate the series altogether, after the initial welcome, of course. This is not a tactic I would personally consider, as building brand value is especially important nowadays. However, this might be something to think about during the final push when you want to be sure your new subscribers receive the last round of great deals before the end of the season.

2. Cart Recovery

Think about timing. At this time of year, consumers may be making purchases quicker than usual. Look at the current gap between messages, and see if an adjustment makes sense. Moving your third message from four days to three may be just enough to recapture some lingering shoppers.

Consider testing promotions. Since we know consumers are buying for themselves as much as others, incorporate a tiered discount or free gift into the cart recovery message in an attempt to increase the purchase amount. You can even test discounting across several messages in the series, with an increase in the offer as you go. This allows the consumer to receive an incentive earlier, but still leaves you some room to offer your traditional discount.

Add more messages. That’s right! You’re not limited to just three messages. Add a fourth or even fifth message to your series. Combining this with the other strategies above can give you even more options. Then you can shorten your window between messages, while still using your larger discount later in the series. You can also use a variation of discounts as you go to determine which one your audience responds to best.

3. Post-Purchase

As more people qualify to receive the post-purchase series, consider customizing it to speak to the seasonal purchaser.

Reconsider product review messages. These could be a waste at this time of year. It will likely vary based on the products you sell, but if people are buying for a gift, asking them to review the product is quite irrelevant. Consider sending these messages to those who purchase in November but suppressing those who purchase in December.

Highlight your extended return policy. If you offer one, share this everywhere you can. It’s not only a great value-add that can help drive the sale, but it’s also an excellent relationship-building tool once you complete the sale. Just think of the great impression you could leave with buyers from such a customer-centric policy.

Promote your gift reminder service. Don’t have one? Create one! One of the major challenges for retailers is getting seasonal shoppers to return. A gift reminder service can allow you to communicate with subscribers throughout the year, and it also puts your brand in consideration as a gift-searching destination.

Create a unique series for first-time buyers. This focused series can call out the fact that you do make a great gifting destination, while focusing on your value-adds and recommending ways they can get the most from their purchase (e.g. resource centers, return policies). How you engage with the customer at this point may make all the difference between having a one-time purchaser or a loyal shopper.

Keeping the customer experience in mind during this time of year is critical. Review your lifecycle messages, and look for ways to make the user experience even better. Hopefully, your adjusted strategy will not only help you increase sales around the holidays but all year round as well.

Looking for more holiday inspiration? Visit our Holiday Marketing Academy for more successful strategies for the season.