The holiday season represents anywhere from 20% to 30% of many businesses’ annual revenue. Much of that considerable spike comes from new customers who are discovering businesses for the first time, both online and in-store. Many retailers will concentrate much of their attention on acquiring more new customers, as they should.
That being said, it can be more lucrative to focus equal attention on current customers — the ones merchants already have a treasure trove of customer data on. When a business knows a customer’s interests, purchase history and preferences, marketing campaigns can be hyper-personalized, resulting in better conversion.
If You ‘Get’ Customers, They Stick Around
Personalization in e-Commerce is far beyond the table stakes of “Hi, [first name.]” According to a recent eMarketer study, only about 17% of consumers say they find it appealing when a business uses their name in communications. That means it’s not surprising or unique anymore.
Consumers want brands to understand them. They know businesses have information on their past purchases and behaviors, and it turns out they actually want businesses to use that data when approaching them. The same eMarketer study says that 50% of consumers want brands to suggest products related to their interests. Only 47% of those surveyed say they get that from brands currently.
Segmentation fuels personalization. The data that merchants have on customers can be developed into unique marketing opportunities. For example, shipping local is much cheaper than across the country, especially with services like USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate. Segmenting a list of local customers and offering them free shipping or “locals only” deals can create a sense of community and sentimentality with a brand. Consumers don’t just shop with their wallets; they also shop with their hearts. In a 2018 Adobe study, about 50% of digital device users said personalization pushes them to become loyal to a brand.
Use Shipping And Order Data To Predict Customer Behavior
Shipping data contains much more information than when a product arrived at a customer’s door. Shipping data tells you how fast someone wants something to arrive, and if they’re willing to pay extra for it. This data also tells you the geographic location of a customer, and if they prefer deliveries to be made at their home or business. There are some creative ways e-Commerce merchants can analyze this data to create unique experiences and even predict customer behavior.
For example, merchants can take a look at shipping data during the holiday season, and see who paid for expedited shipping the week before Christmas. Those are the people who procrastinated last year, and they’ll likely do it again. Merchants can create personalized messaging in an email campaign targeted to these people, reminding them not to put themselves in that bind again this year. Messaging can focus on avoiding stress or avoiding the increased cost of paying more to ship. Either way, it will feel hyper-personalized to each of those customers, which can increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Merchants that have the ability to mark items as a gift can use that information to set up repeat business. Sending a buy-it-again reminder email to those who purchased something designated as a gift can be a unique way to show your customers you’re paying attention, and may save them from forgetting.
Address information from customers also can be used to mitigate issues. With the winter holidays comes the winter weather. When the inevitable major snowstorm hits, merchants can pull customer address data to find customers in the affected areas and remind them that the weather may cause delays. If merchants offer two-day shipping, it might even be possible to get ahead of impending weather, reminding customers they can get their items before the storm hits by selecting the faster shipping option.
Set Your Business Up For Success In 2020
Smart merchants are always looking forward. The data acquired from new and returning customers during the holidays can set up opportunities to create repeat business for the coming year. There are two specific email campaigns that every e-Commerce merchant must have running to make the most of customer data after the holidays.
The first must-have campaign is a feedback request campaign. A staggering 91% of people say they read reviews before making online purchases, which means reputation management is crucial to success in e-Commerce.
These campaigns can be targeted at acquiring either product-centric reviews or feedback based on the experience with the business. Which you should focus on and when depends on your goals and the platform(s) you sell on. For example, an Amazon seller just starting out may want to build up their seller reputation and then switch to product feedback. Someone selling a niche product or a relatively unknown product may want to focus solely on getting customers to share their personal experiences with the product to help familiarize others.
Shipping data fuels the timing of product feedback request campaigns. An email that arrives in the inbox before the product hits the doorstep is ineffective. Email automation that is built on shipping data solves this by making sure the email arrives at the right time after delivery, increasing the likelihood of a review.
The second must-have email campaign is product recommendations. As mentioned above, customers want brands to make recommendations to them based on their interests and previous behavior. When brands nail this, they create loyalty because customers feel like they’re understood.
Once again, recommending a product purchase before the previous order has even arrived will likely render the email useless. Basing the email automation trigger on your delivery data lets you send this email at the most effective time to increase sales and create repeat business.
Your customer data and shipping data is the gift that keeps giving, both to your business and your customers. When used effectively, the benefits will last through the holiday season and far beyond the new year.
Christopher Vaughn is VP of Marketing at ShippingEasy, the only complete solution for e-Commerce merchants to automate order imports and shipping, manage inventory, and increase sales through customer email marketing and online reviews. Powerful integrations with leading online channels such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and many others allow merchants to manage orders, products and customers from everywhere they sell — all in one place. ShippingEasy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP).