For retail marketers, it’s never too early to start thinking about the festive season. The three months leading up to Christmas are the most profitable, with many making over half their total sales for the year. This explains the many large scale brand activations we witness year on year during this period, from tear-jerking festive adverts and cute pop-up grottos to beer-dispensing Christmas trees.
While these sorts of events succeed in drawing press coverage, excitement and conversations, it takes a lot more than a well-executed stunt to secure conversions at scale and ‘win’ Christmas. To do this, brands must consider the entirety of the customer journey and how they can shape their content and communications in a way that offers a consistently excellent experience across touchpoints.
The modern customer journey sees consumers interacting with brands across an average of almost five touch points, up from two in 2000. During the discovery and evaluation phases, consumers are now doing a mixture of in-store and online browsing to find inspiration and compare products. 26 per cent of shoppers read recommendations of products on social media before making a purchase decision.
For retailers, these trends underline the growing importance of developing a content strategy that encompasses search, email, social, display, as well as traditional advertising, and in-store incentives for the Christmas season. When it comes to identifying the content to deliver across these channels, consider the customer’s needs at the different journey stages.
Are your customers in need of inspiration?
Creating inspirational content is not about overtly promoting your products, but nudging consumers in a particular direction by appealing to and shaping their aspirations. An example of this approach in practice is Icelandair’s educational Northern Lights content, which presents readers with a combination of beautiful imagery and an appreciation of the environmental factors behind the phenomenon. Armed with a new or invigorated desire to experience the lights, visiting their location becomes a tangential aspiration.
Create bespoke, keyword optimised landing pages full of curated product ideas; design Pinterest boards with ideas and recipes; craft beautiful festive Instagram stories; share your followers’ ideas on Twitter; create a community around a crimbo hashtag; use video to teach Christmas crafts; record a funny festive song. Whatever is most relevant to you and your audience.
Do they need convincing that your product is the one to go for?
The smallest detail can make a significant difference at the consideration stage. House of Fraser demonstrates an excellent understanding of this through the use of subtle pop-ups on its product pages that detail how many customers are viewing the product at that precise moment, as well as how many people have recently purchased the item. These details serve to socially validate the product and encourage action.
Obsess about the detail
Include clear product details on your product pages; indicate the popularity of the product; communicate your return policies, discounts and delivery charges clearly on landing pages and in store – not just at the checkout; follow up abandoned online shopping baskets with spirited personalised emails; use incentives or FOMO to encourage conversion where possible.
Do they need to feel a real connection with your brand?
The beauty of Christmas is that it comes around every year, which in turn keeps consumers coming back with a fresh set of festive needs. A customer’s experience of your brand one year will inform whether they’ll ever bother coming back. Ideally, you want your brand to be perceived as synonymous with Christmas shopping.
Focus on loyalty and retention
From a content perspective, this can be achieved by marrying useful and clear content with branding and messaging that reflect and celebrate the values and qualities of Christmas your audience can relate to: nostalgia, generosity, family, indulgence, tradition, fun - even cynicism, if that’s relevant. Delight your audience by sharing and contributing to their Christmas spirit.
To truly ‘win’ Christmas, brands must look beyond one off seasonal activations towards a network of content and communications, nurturing customer experience from first awareness to repeat purchase on the channels that matter most to them.
Dani Mansfield, Content Strategist, Builtvisible.
Tel: +44(0)207 148 0453