Are Holiday Emails Sparking Customer Engagement Or Failing Due to Lack of Personalization?

According to some recent published reports, it appears that many brand email communications containing holiday-related offers have failed to generate proper customer engagement levels due to a lack of personalization. Loyalty marketers strive personalization and relevancy throughout the year and those two elements are critical during the holiday season.

Loyalty360 asked some of its members what they think of the current holiday emailing situation and if they see any obstacles related to engagement and personalization.

Richard Schenker, Senior Loyalty Consulting Director, Bond Brand Loyalty, told Loyalty360 that customer relevancy continues to be a hotly pursued discipline by many brands to better cater to their customers’ needs and desires.

“We continue to witness brands invest sizable amounts of human and technology resources to unearth ways to be more relevant with their customer segments by creating more purposeful and relevant communications and experiences,” Schenker explained. “Having said that, as we are in the midst of the Christmas selling period, it appears that customer-centric communication is taking a back seat to product-centric sales growth requirements. There is a flurry of email and text communications which focus squarely on product and price deals, with little regard to personalization and relevancy.”

Retailers are under immense pressure to protect and grow market share and tend to resort to a barrage of discounting to stimulate sales growth, Schenker noted.

“There is no doubt that shoppers continue to seek ways to stretch their spend during this stressful shopping period, but price communication offers should be only one of many tools in a brand’s communication arsenal,” he explained. “Understanding what your customer segment needs are during this holiday shopping period is very crucial to unlocking customer relevancy and securing sales growth. While many shoppers are motivated by price, we know that others are motivated by experiences that add value or convenience to the shopping exercise, whether it is conducted in brick-and-mortar or online. Brands should be thinking about what experiences, benefits, and privileges their high value customers care about during the holiday shopping period and make that part of their brand’s value proposition. Building customer intimacy, through the intelligent utilization of data and marketing creativity, will help brands to differentiate and grow the transactional and emotional relationship which they have with customers well beyond the holiday shopping period.”

Shannon Curry, Marketing Manager, Aimia, told Loyalty360 that retailers are under a stronger microscope during the holiday season.

“This time of year should be treated no differently than any other time,” Curry said. “Customers still want recognition. This comes in the form of a personalized dialogue. The right personalized messages will trigger action and more spend. Personalization isn’t as difficult as you think. There are technologies out there that can easily gather the right data, segment well beyond demographics, and action at the right time to the right people−all with a few key strokes.”  

Curry offered some advice for loyalty marketers regarding holiday email personalization.

“If your challenge is with marketing resources, be thoughtful about your strategy and focus your energy on just a few customer sets,” Curry added. “By choosing the customers with the highest margin revenue potential, you can maximize your return. Limit the one-size-fits-all blasts and, instead, send a few relevant messages to your most important customers. They will thank you for it.”

Evan Magliocca, brand marketing manager for Baseman Insights & Marketing, told Loyalty360 that the promotional season runs all the way through December.

“Brands will need to target and segment customers to engage them consistently,” Magliocca explained. “Even global promotions can get stagnant over time. Marketers sometimes forget how important it is to simply think like a customer sometimes. Black Friday through Cyber Monday is a massive bombardment of emails from every retailer a customer has visited. There’s a lot of ignoring and a lot of deleting taking place of emails that usually have a big impact. Generic global promotions are not as effective as promotions targeted to customer product affinity, which resonates better during such an important timeframe.”  

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