5 Ways to Personalize Your Customer Experience Ahead of the Holidays

Building relationships with your customers throughout the year helps you boost your sales when the holiday shopping season comes around, according to recent data.

But if you haven’t been building relationships throughout the year, there’s still time.

With nearly a decade of planning for Cyber Weekend under my belt, I’ve seen holiday shopping patterns change over the years. And I’ve observed how the retail industry has reacted to them.

Customers today are much more discerning in how they shop, so getting the customer experience right is critical to achieving your holiday revenue goals.

And that’s exactly why segmentation and personalization techniques are so invaluable.

They help you tailor your customer experience to different groups of customers so you can deliver the experience your customers have come to expect.

Brands that create personalized experiences by integrating advanced digital technologies and proprietary data for customers are seeing revenue increase by 6-10 percent—two to three times faster than those that don’t, according to Boston Consulting Group.

Segmentation and personalization strategies are essential when it comes to driving additional revenue, especially as you prepare to make the most of the holiday shopping season.

Here are five tips you can implement now to personalize your customer experience and drive revenue during Cyber Weekend and the holiday season.

  1. Make relevant recommendations to repeat shoppers based on their phase of life

Understanding what your customers have bought over the years makes it much easier to spot trends and make more relevant product recommendations that will appeal to your customers.

Have a kid’s clothing store? If your customer bought a boy’s size 12 months t-shirt last year, show them a few top selections from your 2-year-olds collection this year.

Have a jewelry store? If your customer bought an engagement ring last year, share pics from your anniversary collection this year.

Have a maternity store? Offer a monthly countdown newsletter with educational tips and products each month to help pregnant women find comfortable clothes.

By using the data from your customers’ past purchases, you can meet each one where they are in their lives. But beware, there’s a line you can cross where your messages might seem creepy to customers.

Avoid this by carefully creating thoughtful and personalized messages to make your emails and social ads more attractive to your customers.

  1. Examine the behavior of your once-a-year holiday shoppers

It’s likely you have many shoppers who’ve only made a purchase from you during the holidays. Take a look back to see what they purchased and what part of your marketing strategies converted them. If these once-a-year shoppers are focused only on buying during that time of year, work with that behavior.

Fifty-four percent of shoppers begin researching holiday gift ideas in October or earlier, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s a perfect time to start sending your personalized messages to your customers with your holiday gift guides and helpful shopping tips that feature items complementary to what they bought last year.

Did they buy a computer from you last year? Show them accessories to go with their computer – like travel cases, docking stations, or anti-virus software.

Have a food store? If your customer bought food baskets or popcorn tins from you last year, they might want to purchase them again. Show them items similar to what they ordered last year and a few new choices too, so they have options.

Have a hat store? If your customer bought a Celtics hat from you last year, show them other Boston-based sports items—a Bruins hat or maybe even new Celtics hat styles that have come in.

This helps you to stay top of mind during the holidays so your brand is an easy choice when they’re ready to make a purchase.

  1. Create first-look and exclusive offers for your VIPs

How you define who a VIP is to your business is up to you, but typically they’re the people who’ve purchased from you frequently, they’ve spent a certain amount of money with you, or they don’t often use coupon codes to make their purchase (i.e., your most profitable customers). 

You could think of them as your high rollers or your potential high rollers.

A month before the holiday time period, try offering your VIPs a few gift guides and helpful shopping tips that showcase the products they might be interested in based on what they’ve previously purchased.

Have a clothing store? If you see customers have bought a wardrobe with neutral-colored pants and tops, offer them a warm neutral colored sweater or a jacket that’s just right for the holidays that would go with what they purchased.

Have a brick and mortar store? Offer your customers an incentive to come into your store and try your new capsule collection and provide feedback. It’s a powerful way to show them that they’re special and you care about their opinion.

Ready to take it one step further? Offer your VIPs an exclusive thank-you gift.

If you’re in the beauty industry, for example, you could give them a deluxe trial-sized skincare sample of your new line with their purchase.

Offering an exclusive item and letting your VIPs try it before the masses do helps you surprise and delight your customers, as well as boost trial and awareness of your new product line.

  1. Extend your holiday revenue-generating period with a BOPUS service

During the holidays, many people shop for gifts but don’t make the cut-off for standard holiday shipping delivery. If you don’t offer expedited delivery or if you know your customers don’t want to spend extra for faster shipping, you can target shoppers who live near your retail store and offer a buy online, pick-up in store (BOPUS) feature.

Once they place an order, you can send an email to your customers letting them know when their order will be ready for pick-up at your store. Then while your customers are in your store, they might make an additional purchase, too. Eight-five percent of shoppers make additional purchases in the store when they pick up an online order, according to Doddle.

BOPUS offers can urge those last-minute shoppers to make a purchase if you can guarantee they’ll get their products quickly and conveniently in time for the holidays. But before you offer a BOPUS service, make sure you can logistically fulfill these orders or this can easily backfire and damage your brand reputation.

  1. Segment your customers by geography and offer weather-relevant messages

Another way you can segment your audience is by where your shoppers live. This strategy enables you to offer relevant products and messaging to meet their needs.

Is a cold front coming to New York City? Feature your cold-weather mittens with a matching scarf in your emails. Or feature your swimwear with a message about how now is the perfect time to plan a fun-in-the-sun getaway.

Did a heatwave just pass through Kansas? Feature an incentive like, “Purchase one pair of sunglasses and get $15 dollars toward a new hat.”

By highlighting products that the most make sense for each customer where they live at an immediate point in time, you show your customers that you’re in tune with their needs and can provide them with valuable products.

Key Takeaway

While these tips are helpful, the best piece of advice I can offer about planning for the holiday time period is to over-plan and have a Plan B.

Inventory can run out, websites can crash from too much traffic—and I know this from my own personal experience. Having a backup plan—like offering a backup gift with purchase or having a coupon code with supporting creative assets on hand—will go a long way toward saving you valuable time if something goes awry.

Consumers spent nearly $850 billion during the 2018 holiday season, so it’s certainly not the time to be scrambling and gambling with your potential revenue. Use these tips as inspiration to create a more personalized customer experience ahead of the holidays to help set your brand up for your best holiday season yet.

Learn more about how building relationships with your customers ahead of the holidays helps boost your revenue.

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