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‘Tis the season to be jolly, and this is especially true for retail.

To say that the holiday season is the most chaotic period for retail marketers is the understatement of the century, with some companies beginning their preparations in June or July. With so much planning and strategy involved, we thought it would be best to look at a few of the myths that have been developing over the years and how they hold up against the latest data available.

1. People start Christmas shopping in November

According to online research from Statistica, last year some consumers in the US began their holiday shopping even before September had ended. While most of them did still tick off the bulk of their lists in November, it is worth keeping in mind that consumers are getting ready for the festive period a lot earlier than you might think.

Source: Statista

In fact, the stats are already looking similar for 2017. Most customers will have focused on the deals available for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, yet some will have already taken advantage of the deals available at the end of summer and during the month of Halloween. If a person is already in the purchasing mindset, sending them a holiday offer during this period may prove to be highly beneficial – something to keep in mind for 2018.

Source: eMarketer

2. Cyber Monday is just for those who forgot about Black Friday

Wrong! This year it is predicted that Cyber Monday will once again overtake Black Friday, with 4 % more customers preferring to do their online shopping on the Monday. This is important insight as it could change the way your customers interact with your emails during that weekend. It also means that you might want to double check if your contacts are among those more likely to make a purchase on Cyber Monday.

Source: eMarketer

According to online research, this has been an ongoing trend. Cyber Monday is no longer the day for latecomers to enjoy a good offer. In fact, most online retailers and stores are choosing to extend their Black Friday offers to the following Monday, or in some instances beyond. Not so much Cyber Monday as Cyber Week.

Source: eMarketer

3. It’s all about mobile during this period

Don’t get us wrong: having mobile responsive emails is very important, but don’t forget about the overall customer experience and how people interact with their devices. For example, last year in the US most of the revenue generated on Cyber Monday resulted from desktop visits. Revenues were 40% higher on desktop than on smartphones and 55% higher than on tablets. When you look at visits, however, desktop-only wins by a mere 3% in comparison to smartphones.

Source: eMarketer

This was also the case for the UK market, with 50 % of customers using desktops or laptops to buy their gifts.

Source: eMarketer

As everyone fights for attention in the inbox, why not use this to stand out? For example, if a client opens on a mobile device and then a desktop, you could use dynamic or conditional content to change their overall experience. You could show them one image on mobile and another on desktop.
You could even create a teaser campaign, since you know that eventually they might still want to open on desktop. Why not reveal the discount if they open the email on desktop too, meaning they are then only one click away from your online store and making a purchase? Curiosity may get the better of them, and at the end of the day it could prove to have an impact on your figures.

4. You shouldn’t send too many holiday emails as your customers will get annoyed

In fact, it has been proven that customers are likely to be slightly more amenable to email volume over the holiday season as they are on the hunt for the best deals available to them. So long as you’re not spamming, however, and are instead sending targeted messaging, you can and should increase the frequency of your emails. Last year US customers preferred to receive personalized offers over email instead of other channels, so why not take advantage of this?

Source: eMarketer

It is also interesting to look at where users planned to do their research regarding promotions last year. According to eMarketer, 17.6 % of US respondents preferred print circulars or store flyers, 17.5% the retailer’s site, 13.5% TV advertising and 12.9% email promotion. If you take into account the ROI for each of these top 4 responses, it becomes clear that email is the way to go .

5. Transactional data is pivotal; if you don’t have it, you’re out of the game

While transactional data is very important – not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year – you should not forget about behavioral data if for some reason transactional is not available to you. Last year, retail market executives worldwide planned to use behavioral based triggers as their primary tactic for email.

Source: eMarketer

Ideally, you would use a combination of purchased history and behavioral data, yet if the first is not available there are certain aspects that you can find out from the customer’s behavior.
For example, you can send personalized recommendations based on the links they clicked on. You can also send them targeted offers based on their interactions with the email itself, as such you may want to reward customers that have a higher click through rate, as they are clearly more engaged. If perhaps they have abandoned a basked with the same product in it multiple times, why not give them a nudge? Send a different follow-up email with a promotion or more information on that product.

Key takeaways

• Just like you, customers are starting to plan for the holiday season earlier than ever before.

• Cyber Monday cannot be an afterthought.

• Make your emails mobile responsive, but don’t forget the customers making their purchases on desktop.

• Quantity over quality is not the case during the holiday season. You can go for both as long as your campaigns are targeted!

• People’s behavior and their reaction to your emails will give you valuable insights into their purchasing habits.