Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How personalisation can spell success for the holiday season and beyond

By Zszusa Kecsmar, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Antavo

The holiday season is the perfect time for businesses to connect with their customers. As shoppers flock to bricks-and-mortar stores and online sites, they will expect to be treated with relevant and attentive care when it comes to their potential purchases. This is an ideal opportunity for retailers, providing them with the chance to cement goodwill and ultimately drive revenue through each step of their customer’s journey. 

While loyalty programs are well-established in creating consumer engagement and return business, through personalising these programs retailers can ensure that their clientele won’t switch to a rival brand with a better understanding of their needs. In fact, personalisation is increasingly the norm: research shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions, while 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen. 

And the best thing is, personalisation pays out to brands as much as for customers. According to the 2023 edition of Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report, the average annual spend of members who redeem personalised offers is 4.5 times higher than those who miss out on these kind of deals. Therefore, being hyper-relevant is a win-win for everyone. 

With this need for personal care in mind, what are some of the ways that retailers can ensure their customers feel fully supported this holiday season and likely to return well after the festivities are over?

Build interest in the run-up

Launching a loyalty scheme during peak season is likely to be too late in the game. Brands should be looking at a steady build up over several months – firstly to allow their customers sufficient time to accumulate points, and secondly to give themselves enough time to gather spend data.  Use the months before Christmas to promote your programmes and incentivise customers to sign up and earn points, even through non-purchasing practices like returning old items to encourage sustainability. When peak season arrives, you can then reward purchasing behaviour with promotions based on their previous actions.

Use your data

Loyalty data such as a member’s tier, current point balance or their favourite reward types are vital when it comes to personalising customer interactions. Retailers can use this information to add extra relevancy to their communication, such as reminding customers of their points balance and gifting them a proportion to encourage their levelling-up during peak season sales. Loyalty data can also be used to produce custom-tailored product recommendations or double-point campaigns on products that the customer likes, all adding to a sense of consistent attention when it comes to the connection between retailer and customer.

Play the game

Gamification provides increased engagement and retention from customers. By including active gaming elements into loyalty programs, such as spinning prize wheels, consumers can continue the feel-good experience of the holiday season while earning rewards. Adding to the fun, if retailers ensure that these rewards are personalised to shoppers’ existing interests, they can supercharge the grip of gamification and encourage future plays and purchases.

Perfection through partnership

Unique loyalty experiences are sought-after. In the aforementioned Global Customer Loyalty Report 2023, 43.8% of the corporate participants stated it was the best benefit that partnership rewards could offer. Providing uniqueness means producing a wider range of rewards and one way to achieve this is through partnering with another company to deliver rewards, either through an umbrella loyalty program or a strategic partnership. The resulting cross-brand interactions or limited-edition partner experiences will produce a far more colourful rewards portfolio ripe for personalisation and reach a new audience in the process. 

Skip registration, not rewards

Personalisation doesn’t always have to come at the expense of lengthy log-ins and registrations. While consumers are pressed for time during the peak season, retailers can provide them with the benefits of tracked, personalised rewards through guest checkout. This capability allows customers to earn their rewards even if they enrol into the program after making their order, simply by entering the purchase ID. Their shopping journey can continue uninterrupted, while their loyalty data can be collected and used for future benefits. 

Aim for exclusivity

Personalisation can be as simple as identifying your most loyal customers and rewarding them for their consistency. During the holiday rush time is of the essence and high value consumers will be more likely to get a thrill from early access to products and sales as a thank you for their loyalty, as well as from retailers producing customised deals for their favourite products, before they are released to the public. 

Mystery can reap rewards

It might seem paradoxical but a mystery can still be personal. Rewards like holiday season advent calendars with surprise gifts for loyal shoppers can provide high engagement thanks to their blend of gamification and exclusivity. Ultimately, showing your customers that you care through a selection of thoughtful benefits and rewards will provide a lasting impression on their individual shopping habits, priming them to keep returning.