Zeta Blog

Holiday Past - Marketing Lessons Learned

Posted by Tia Matsumoto on June 09

Look at your calendar – go ahead – look. If you’re working in retail marketing, you’ll likely see at least one meeting booked to discuss Q4 holiday promotions … in JUNE! Now is also prime time for preparing the best marketing campaigns to support these promotions. In this, our first of a holiday readiness blog series, we’ll help you get in the holiday [planning] spirit as we highlight key data points to drive highly impactful strategies and tactics for Peak 2016.

As a child, I remember opening a little door of an advent calendar to reveal a tasty chocolate each day leading up to Christmas Eve. It always seemed like Santa would never come. These days, I can hardly fit everything in to ensure a merry holiday season, full of family tradition and wonder. Among the increased merriment, am I the only one grateful for the ability to take care of my gifting needs via smartphone whenever I have a spare second? The Holiday Rush… Is…. Real.

While preparing this post, a colleague shared a recent Think With Google article, “Time Pressure: Behavioral Science Considerations for Mobile Marketing,”by Dan Ariely. It strikes a chord as he explains, “Time pressure, a situation in which our need for time exceeds the amount of time currently available to us, can be seen as a type of stress. To help us manage stress, we often experience a narrowing effect, where we channel our focus toward a main task and ignore or filter out certain cues.” He goes on to explain how this narrowing effect leaves marketers with a very brief moment to grab attention and influence actions. He advises, “It's critical today that marketers think about the context of their customer on the path to purchase: where they are, what device they're on, what their likely mindset is in that given moment.” I couldn’t agree more.
While Ariely’s article is not holiday specific, the importance of meeting each consumer where they are on the purchase path is intensified during the brief holiday season. To help make your holiday planning stress free, I’ll begin by sharing some key insights from Peak 2015.
Holiday Consumers Said, “Bah, humbug!” to Traditional Brick and Mortar Shopping in 2015
Industry statistics from the 2015 Peak season suggested consumers were increasingly online, and more specifically, using mobile devices throughout their shopping experience:

• The NRF reported that, for the first time, more shoppers were online than in stores over Thanksgiving weekend.
• Nielsen’s fourth-quarter 2015 Mobile Wallet Report stated that 37% of respondents said their purchases started with mobile shopping more than one-quarter to half of the time.
• Gartner asserted, “By 2017, U.S. customers’ mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile commerce revenue to 50% of U.S. digital commerce revenue.”
This increased consumption of mobile information requires more compelling and time-sensitive information. Specifically, retailers must make the email channel work harder according to 2015 lessons learned from our impressive research partners:
• The Relevancy Group’s State of the Email Marketing Industry 2016 Tips to Optimize finds that, “Email marketing is the workhorse of the industry, but this dominance also underscores marketers’ need to use relevant targeting to cut through the competitive clutter.” Their five tips to optimize email marketing in 2016 include:
o Developing customer profiles
o Adopting segmentation and real-time data
o Utilizing dynamic content
o Designing with mobile in mind
o Institutionalizing testing
• In Gartner’s 2015 Digital Commerce Holiday Recap, Jennifer Polk suggests, “Digital is often an assist channel where people browse, compare products and prices and plan both online and offline purchases.” She urges marketers to use customer identifiers, targeted advertising and mobile devices to connect digital marketing to online and offline sales.
• Our distinguished counterparts at eDatasource dove deep into what worked in 2015 to drive opens via the all-important subject line. Highly promotional discounting language like “sale,” “save,’ and “percent off” dominated subject line communication. The language most used was “percent off,” where 20%-70% of the time retailers chose that phrase to entice consumers.
• Additionally, at Zeta, we continued our aggregate baseline of retail clients, where we found that mobile and tablet dominated opens and clicks on all key dates. Over Thanksgiving weekend alone (11/26 – 11/30/15), mobile share of opens and clicks reached 52% and 54%, respectively. Those numbers, combined with tablet share of opens and clicks at 15% and 11%, respectively, made for an impressive 67% of open and 65% of click shares for the holiday weekend – reinforcing the need to ensure mobile friendliness across messages.

Plan for a Better 2016 Peak Holiday Future
As any good Santa will tell you, the success of the Season is largely attributable to making a list and checking it twice. On our list this year? Marketers who artfully address an individual consumer’s purchase path to grab the most attention and influence the most actions. What to get these worthy recipients? Timely access to top tips for breaking through the 2016 Peak inbox clutter:
1. Device-responsive email creative elements designed to entice clicks and supported by full purchase cycle capabilities to accommodate the increasingly on-the-go consumer
2. Data analyses to conduct now to enhance message strategies throughout the holiday season


I’ll expand upon each of these ideas in upcoming posts and provide in-depth information on how to incorporate them in your strategy.
I will also deliver helpful “to dos,” and best practices to make the most of your holiday campaigns during our webinar, “It’s Never Too Early: Strategies for Planning for a More Effective Holiday Season,” which will be held on June 28th at 11:30a ET. Make sure to register today so you can collect your bag full of holiday goodies.

Topics: Email Marketing, CRM, Holiday, Marketing