Retailers, maximize your omnichannel marketing for the holidays

Omnichannel marketing is key to growing revenue in an increasingly hostile holiday environment.

Because you’re reading this, I’m assuming 3 things about you:

  1. Marketing across channels is essential for you this holiday season
  2. Tracking and measuring performance across channels is important to you
  3. Personalized omnichannel marketing is a priority

With those assumptions in mind, here are three quick ways to start preparing for a busy, cross channel holiday season.

Learn from last year’s performance

It’s almost a given that your CFO analyzed last year’s holiday performance like a hawk, and it’s now up to you to take another glance at how your marketing goals and metrics held up previously.

Here are several questions to get you started:

How accurate was reporting?

Were you able to track users from each of your digital assets?

Could you track email campaigns onto website?

Were the discount campaigns a direct result of your in-store sales increases?

Did personalized campaigns run across your channels?

Remember that your CMO may already have specific metrics, goals, strategy for this holiday season, so be sure to tailor your analysis to this year’s needs.

You can save lots of pain and suffering by learning from past performance, so get digging!

Audit your current capabilities

Take your current holiday strategy and objectively ask yourself if your current capabilities can rise to the occasion. If goals seem difficult to meet, start pinpointing weak points in your current processes, team, and tools. You can take your analysis of last year’s performance to build a diagnosis of your situation.

We’ll use an example from above:

Reporting was not accurate + Team has to create manual reports, leading to inconsistent cadence and content + Reporting was only able to pull from separate sources individually (email/website/in-store) + We do not have a current data integration platform for easy reporting

The problems may be many, but laying out all your marketing issues allows you to find the easiest solution to solve all the issues at hand. For instance, it’s easy to see that the clear solution to the reporting problem would be to invest in an automated data management system.

Look to success stories

Apple's omnichannel strategies are highly regarded

Most companies are struggling when it comes to cross-channel marketing personalization, but there are a few gems that have managed to connect the customer experience and drive significant ROI as a result. Apple has managed to track omnichannel customer movement through clever use of digital tracking and in-store digital check out with Apple IDs. Easton Bell sports has connected social, mobile, online, and offline data to mine lifecycle, demographics, buying patterns, and other critical data points, creating 360 degree views of customers.

Photo credits go to Chris Ford and Andy


marketing personalization

When you think of the holidays you think of delicious food, time with family and friends, receiving presents, and if you’re lucky, a White Christmas. When talking about giving presents, however, the Christmas mall rush is not something to be reckoned with. Within the past few years, the advent of digital shopping has drastically changed the Christmas gift-buying experience. Arguably, 2013 was the year of the digital shopper; just as an indication, total e-commerce grew 24% to $4.6 billion on Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Thanksgiving (Business Insider, Link) Customers are shopping online more than ever, shopping for deals and buying presents all from the comfort and convenience from their own home.

With such a dramatic increase in online shopping, it’s no wonder that the limits of delivery infrastructure were tested. The overwhelming amount of individuals shopping online combined with weather issues across the United States actually triggered an overload on the parts of carriers such as UPS and FedEx. This has inadvertently resulted in customer complaints over the holiday season.

Top Three Consumer Complaints

Failed promise of timely delivery: The biggest complaint of 2013 on the customer side is the failed promise of a timely delivery and it ironically stems from digital shopping becoming “too easy” and “too time-efficient.” That is to say as more and more customers shop for items on their phones instead of going to the physical stores, the retailers are put in a bind because they become forced to extend their shut-off day for shipping and will rely solely on the postal service to deliver the items on time even if Christmas day is just two days away. Stella Service, an online service that measures customer service and satisfaction, stated that 8 out of 25 prominent retailers failed to deliver on time before Christmas day, even though the orders were before the cut off day. By not meeting the delivery time, retails are losing customer loyalty and profit in the long-run.

Item out of stock after placing order: After talking with several of our colleagues, friends, and family, we noticed another negative trend. One apparel retailer did not synchronize their stock inventory with their website, failing to keep up with inventory count. As a result, a coworker of mine had placed an order for a shirt and paid for it only to receive an email a few days later saying the item was out of stock. Obviously by having these issues you will not only lose sales but valuable customers as well. This retailer did take steps to mitigate this issue however. They called my coworker and personally spoke with her about the problem and gave her a gift certificate. While the retailer did a good job of handling this problem, all of it could have been avoided in the first place if they had kept their inventory up to date.

Wrong Item: The final complaint was delivery of an incorrect item. Another friend of mine had ordered a pair of boots from a seller through Amazon prior to his hiking trip. They arrived in a timely manner but had one slight issue: they were a completely different pair of boots. Obviously my friend did not let this go and since he needed the pair in the next few days before he left he had to wrestle with returning them and then waiting for a new pair to be delivered. He ended up getting the correct pair of boots in time but the fact that the first pair was the wrong one was a huge pain for him and he had to jump over a ton of hurdles just to get the right pair. The moral here is for companies to perform quality control on anything they ship out because messing up orders like that can hurt their image and brand loyalty.

While 2013 still saw an increase in traffic and sales across the board last year one thing is becoming apparent: the tried and true old methods are becoming obsolete in this technology-driven consumer society. If retailers want to maximize their sales in this coming 2014 holiday season they will have to go back to basics and adopt the “underpromise and overdeliver” mantra in their delivery, pricing, and customer experience areas.