That 2020 was a tough year is stating the obvious, however this eventful year did provide marketers with an opportunity to recalibrate their playbook to make it future-ready by keeping customer engagement at the centre. Braze and The Drum dig deeper into some of the major e-commerce shopping days to unravel key trends and learnings on how brands can achieve success during the shopping festivals and beyond.
As the world becomes more digital, online shopping festivals represent major revenue milestones for many businesses. As such, the future may well be about revisiting the playbooks for leveraging festival promotions to strengthen customer relationships and deepen customer engagement for all brands.
Retail festivals in 2020 made for an interesting user case study of practicing ‘courageous innovation’, a term coined by Stephen Moy of Barbarian. Some of them were met with great success. Singles Day for instance, the most talked about virtual retail event, worked brilliantly well for Chinese tech giant Alibaba, setting records yet again, and posting US$40 billion in sales in the first half hour alone.
Braze, a customer engagement platform company, has delved into its rich data to come up with some key themes on navigating and sharpening online retail strategies even as the world continues to grapple with the aftermath of COVID-19. Braze has witnessed some incredibly fast-growing outreach volume, with over 3x more messages sent on 11/11 in 2020 as compared to 2019, and 46% more buyers year over year, who incidentally made 58% more purchases than last year.
Here are five key learnings that could help online retail players navigate this uneven terrain successfully.
Make shopping festival plans year-long strategies
By translating successful shopping festival learnings (whether from their own brand campaigns or others’) into year-round strategies, marketers can achieve multiple targets: boost their customer retention, drive increased lifetime value and enhance their brand advocacy.
Singles Day, for instance, has established itself as a great platform for brands in the APAC market to live their purpose, drive stronger customer relationships and increase revenue on one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In addition, it provides great lessons for brands on readying themselves for the rest of the holiday season.
Think new and fresh
During this period of increased consumer attention, it may be a smart idea to experiment with new channels and fresh creative tactics. It will help in develop an invaluable database which in turn can go a long way in improving customer engagement on an ongoing basis. Innovative experimentation can help brands stand out in the crowded arena of big marketplaces.
Customer retention is good news for the business
Even as businesses keep going after new acquisitions, failing to focus on retention can be bad news as studies increasingly show that retaining customers can be one of the most impactful things brands can do to ensure long-term success. Customer retention really pays off.
For instance, existing users purchased 59% more per user during the 11/11 period, when compared to newly acquired users. At the same time, users who joined during the 2020 Singles Day season were more than twice as likely to be retained after 30 days as users acquired outside of the shopping festival.
Mix marketing technology with speed and reliability
A key learning for Zalora, Asia’s leading online fashion retailer, has been how important it is to ensure the ease of information movement: be it between the tools, between the different databases or between different teams, especially in high-pressure festival times.
As per Li Zhiliang, director of CRM at Zalora, “connecting things to reduce work, reduce manual alignment, reduce errors, makes it much more enjoyable overall for our customers, but most importantly, the people inside the organization serving these customers.”
Have a heart, the rest will work out
Last but not least, having a heart is critical. Often having a ‘heart’ when working with teams in all high-stakes times—whether festival season or while navigating the day-to-day disruptions from the pandemic—can be the key to success.
Says Zalora’s Li Zhiliang, “If you have big aspirations, and big targets, you cannot run away from the fact that people are going to feel stressed out by it. And it's with the heart that you approach people, you care for them, you find out what's actually causing them to be down and then you can help them unblock these things.” An insight that can be a useful year-round reminder for brand custodians.
Finally, good marketing is about doing the simple things right for the brand’s success. Even as the double-digit days of shopping festivals emerge as do-or-die moments for ecommerce players, good customer engagement will be the sturdy pivot to drive success all through the year. Brands that get it right will gain and prosper even in tough times. Others will have to keep learning.
To gain a shortcut to getting this right, the Braze Singles Day Marketing Guide uncovers how personalisation can drive conversions by 91% and why customers acquired during this period can drive more value for your brand. Download the report for guidance on getting the right customer experience for 2021’s major shopping days and beyond.
Context underpins every Braze interaction, helping brands like Zalora, Pomelo, Domino’s, HBO, Truemoney, Traveloka and Canva foster human connection across email, mobile, SMS, and web. Named a Leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms, Braze is headquartered in New York with offices in Chicago, London, San Francisco, and Singapore.