Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Using data to keep customers engaged this Christmas

By Katrina Wong, VP Product Marketing, Twilio Segment

This festive season, brands face a challenge. Customer expectations are elevated, but widespread global pressures on supply chains are causing havoc with businesses’ ability to deliver the products and experiences customers are used to at this crucial time of year.

Shoppers are expected to spend $9.2 billion in Black Friday sales in 2021, up 15% on 2020, despite predictions that the average percentage discount on goods like consumer electronics will be lower than they were last year.

The digital experience is one area where simple changes can make a real difference in the fight for festive sales. Many brands are opting to avoid the race to the bottom for the biggest discount, and are instead opting for campaigns of personalisation, focused on building lasting value and long-term customer relationships. As we approach the most crucial period in the retail calendar, we map out how to harness your customer data to ensure you can deliver.

Knowing your customer: A solid starting point

The average retail business engages with its customers year round over many potential touchpoints – from social channels to websites and apps, CRM to payments, the list goes on. Often these channels are managed by separate departments using their own martech and sales tools. Unfortunately, this can produce silos of incompatible, out-of-date or duplicated customer data that can ultimately lead to an inaccurate understanding of the customer.

With so much uncertainty in the wider market, understanding your customer is more than a nice-to-have – it’s essential. As a result, having the ability to draw from a single, central trustworthy source of customer data is essential. Customer data platforms (CDPs) are the best way to consolidate and organise the information your business is collecting, to create a complete picture. When you have a central point of truth for customer insights, it allows you to make data-driven decisions based on direct insights – whether that’s which products to double down on and which not to restock, or where your digital advertising revenue is being best spent.

The true power comes when you overlay specific tools – from marketing campaign builders to data analytics – that allow you to generate truly personalised customer experiences at crucial moments.

Knowledge dispels fear 

Having a clear picture of the business has always allowed leaders to make strategic plans to navigate uncertainties and still deliver for customers. Coming into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday season, there was great uncertainty around the robustness of supply chains to meet demand, as well as the capacity of retailers – in a tougher economic climate – to extend the deals and offers typically expected of the season.

With access to real-time data, a retailer can easily see how it is performing, revealing possible pinch points as well as opportunities to make efficiencies. When you can see the whole picture and integrate tools to utilise this data, it gives you the reassurance of being able to deliver the personalised experiences that consumers now expect.

Convert customer loyalty

In recent years, customers have become savvy to marketing gimmicks or price manipulations, particularly when it comes to the holiday season. But for smart retailers, there is an opportunity to leverage customer loyalty accrued throughout the year and convert it into sales during this crucial time.

When you have a clear understanding of the customer, it is possible to deliver sales without having to resort to aggressive pricing tactics. Instead, you can offer true value-add alternatives such as access to specific features or add-ons that your customers really want. These features will only resonate with customers if you have a clear picture of what they desire, and that of course comes from your data.

When you have trustworthy data in place, you can overlay powerful, insight-led marketing campaigns. This means you can avoid being lost in the crowd of Christmas offers and instead use high quality, targeted content to convert already interested customers. Furthermore, with real-time data at your fingertips, you’ll have the flexibility to adapt and change focus quickly depending on your needs, like driving traffic to a particular creative campaign, or deprioritising a particular product.

Plan now, celebrate later

For many, Christmas is a time to spend their hard earned cash on gifts for loved ones. But the seed of that purchase is sown well before the holidays. Digital channels offer opportunities to nurture customers through careful management of customer data and the delivery of personalised experiences, allowing businesses to thrive this holiday season – no matter the external challenges.