Delivering personalization at scale has challenged retailers for quite some time. Of course adding in the enormous scale of the holiday season only compounds this problem. But the truth is, neither of these situations has to be so difficult.
With the right personalization strategy and technology to power it in place, your team should be able to personalize with ease, even during the busiest time of the year. Here’s a look at what it takes to get personal with shoppers this holiday season.
The Strategy: A Three Tier Approach for Holiday Personalization
In terms of strategy, one of the best ways to approach personalization during the busy holiday season is to take a three tier approach that uses a mix of behavioral and predictive data to build unique groups of customers.
This three tier approach should look something like this:
The bottom tier — category affinity — covers shoppers who have a predicted affinity for a specific category you’re promoting but have not previously purchased from the category or viewed it recently. You can proactively share personalized product recommendations with this group of customers by promoting best sellers in the designated category.
The middle tier — last year purchasers — covers shoppers who purchased during the holiday season last year but have not yet done so this year. You can create a seamless experience for this group of customers by sharing common co-purchase recommendations or next best purchase patterns based on what they bought last year. This approach is especially ideal for customers who only shop from you a few times a year to buy gifts for their friends and family.
Finally, the top tier — this year viewers — covers shoppers who have viewed products this holiday season but have not yet made a purchase. You can seal the deal with this group using abandonment triggered emails that resurface the products they already viewed and make additional predictive recommendations based on common co-view or co-purchase patterns.
Critically, you should build these audiences so that they are mutually exclusive, meaning shoppers can only fall into one category, with the top tier prioritized, that way your customers receive the most personalized emails possible.
The Technology: What You Need to Power this Holiday Personalization Strategy
Of course this type of three tier personalization strategy for the holiday season is only as good as the technology behind it. So what exactly do you need to make this approach a reality for your marketing team?
You need an email marketing platform built on a retail-specific data model that combines behavior, customer and product data. A system that combines these types of data and makes it easy for your marketing team to understand and action on the results allows for this type of true personalization by bringing together the “when” (behavior), “who” (customer) and “what” (product) necessary to create relevant messages for individual shoppers at scale.
One of the most important pieces of this equation is the ability to not just understand this data, but also take action on it — for example by building audiences as outlined above and then using those audiences in various email campaigns.
It’s also essential that these audiences get updated in real-time as customers move from one group to another based on actions they take onsite, that way you never have to worry about sending a message that no longer makes sense. The key to making this happen is ensuring your ESP natively understands what’s happening on your site and picks up changes in those all-important behavior, customer and product data as they occur.
Ready to Personalize at Scale This Holiday Season?
With the right strategy and technology in place, personalizing at scale this holiday season should be well within reach for your marketing team. And it’s exactly that personalization that can help you stand out from the competition during this critical time of year.
Ready for even more advice on what you can do to win over shoppers during the holiday rush? Check out our Rethinking Retail Holiday Playbook for even more ideas you can put in place today.
Mark Palmieri, Senior Customer Success Manager at Bluecore, contributed to this post