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What does winning look like for marketers this holiday season

The end of the year is like a finishing line for most working professionals around the world. Once you make that sale, close that deal or submit that report, it is time to take a well-earned vacation. If you are a marketer working on a holiday sales campaign, this is crunch time for you. Not only does the holiday quarter typically generate at least a quarter of your company’s annual sales, but it can also set you up for a successful year to come. Especially with the economic uncertainty looming over the global markets, what you do this quarter to prepare for the challenges in the new year can make or break your business. 

Market forecasts are suggesting that consumers will spend less this holiday season than in years past. Before you panic and head straight to worst-case outcomes, you need to realize there is plenty in your control that you can optimize to maximize sales. In this blog post, we focus on three key factors that contribute significantly to businesses success during a holiday sale and beyond, and should not be overlooked as the countdown begins.

The shopping experience: Make it fun & hassle-free

A number of surveys have found that one negative experience is enough to make shoppers abandon a brand and not return. For holiday season sales, a bad time almost seems inevitable with all the product promotions and countdown notices that can easily overwhelm customers. 

While businesses may want to do everything they can to maximize cart value and encourage purchases, they need to realize that they may risk bombarding customers with too much information or stimulation. To strike a balance, they should focus on making the experience engaging and rewarding, where shoppers leave the store feeling they got a good deal on something of great quality. 

At physical stores, businesses can set up the space to ensure a better browsing and checking out experience, and position store clerks in strategic places throughout to offer help when needed. Stores that are more technologically-integrated can use QR codes, tablets and even smart TVs so customers can better help themselves. 

On e-commerce platforms, businesses can optimize their UI/UX design for the holiday sale. This could mean creating a special page for all items on sale, leveraging a recommendation section for easier and more tailored browsing, and deploying a chatbot to answer any questions shoppers might have.

Appier’s Holiday Tip: Personalize as much as you can. Instead of bombarding your shoppers with information and product recommendations, adopt a personalized approach that allows you to only present what each browser will appreciate. Using natural language processing, image recognition and other deep learning technologies, Appier’s AI personalization cloud AIQUA generates the most personalized and effective content and recommendations for each browser in real time. 

The buying incentive: Give them something to look forward to

There are already a number of discounts and promotions available during holiday sales. So, if a shopper is still hesitating in the face of these deals, is there anything that can change their mind? The answer, as one might expect, is that it depends. 

Whether or not we can convert a shopper depends on two things: whether they are actually hesitating, as opposed to window shopping, and the incentive we offer. Technology has taken a lot of the guesswork out of figuring out if someone is a hesitant shopper. In fact, Appier’s conversion optimization cloud AiDeal analyzes over 400 digital body language attributes, such as cursor movements and page scrolling, to give each browser a hesitancy score. 

If the score hits a predetermined threshold, then AiDeal will count the browser as a hesitant shopper and trigger a pop-up with an incentive for them to check out. What further sets AiDeal apart is that with its dynamic coupon, businesses can prepare multiple different incentives (e.g., a discount code, a free sample, and a trinket), and the solution will proceed to automatically analyze and segment shoppers to figure out which incentive is the right one for them. 

A holiday sale brings out all types of shoppers. There are those who only care about getting a price discount, while others who want a gift to go along with their purchase, to name a couple. AiDeal identifies which shopper responds best to which type of incentive, thus allowing businesses to offer what will best encourage any particular shopper to check out. 

The reason these incentives will be particularly handy this year is that, unlike during previous holiday seasons, consumers are expected to spend less money due to rising inflation. The right incentive will leave shoppers feeling they have gotten more for their dollar, and it can even keep them coming back. 

Appier’s Holiday Tip: We have worked with a number of global cosmetics brands who choose to use free samples instead of discounts as shopping incentives. This strategy allows these brands to dole out gifts and get their customers to try new products, all while maintaining the prestige and luxury of the brand. For more details on how we helped these brands execute this strategy successfully, check them out here

The engagement after: Continue to connect outside the store

After the holiday sale, a business that is looking to enjoy a profitable and sustainable future is already thinking about what to do next. This process should start with looking at the people who newly subscribed to mailing lists, followed the brand’s social media account, or in any other way left a way for a future connection to be made. From there, marketers can get their creative juices flowing and think about how to engage the community of existing and potential customers who are interested in your business. 

With social media, engagement has become instantly available but also increasingly tricky. Instead of worrying about how to reach their audience, businesses now stress about how to keep them engaged and not annoy them in the non-stop world of social media. Our advice is to leverage opportunities for interactions and provide value through education. 

No shopper wants to see a brand post ad after ad on social media. Instead, people prefer playing a game with the brand online or getting a behind-the-scenes look at how a product is made. Conversational marketing tools have made such online engagement so much more convenient for marketers, which is why quality engagement has quickly become the norm, not the exception, that customers are expecting. 

Appier’s Holiday Tip: If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. Conversational marketing tools are there to relieve you of pressure, not add to it. Appier’s conversational marketing platform BotBonnie, for instance, has a wide range of pre-built interactive kits that marketers can customize to fit their needs without any coding. Want to create a digital roulette wheel your followers can play with? BotBonnie can do that. Want to set up a fun personality test for your subscribers to take? BotBonnie has you covered too. 

The end of the year and all that comes with it is fast approaching. You may not have everything finalized, but if you are ready to finish strong, we are here to help. Reach out to us now.  

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