Hey! This post is part of a larger series geared toward helping ecommerce sellers understand, engage with, and love more customers this holiday season. After all, that’s exactly what the holidays are about, right?
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People love Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it means that most of their go-to stores are going to be fighting each other in a race to rock-bottom prices. Folks love a good deal, that’s no secret. However, today’s shoppers love something else even more: a genuine connection with the brand they’re buying from.
While the illusion of low prices is still enough to drive hordes of shoppers to stores, the fact is that most would trade in saving a couple bucks if it meant they got a better, more trusting, and memorable experience with a brand.
At Drip, we believe this reality resonates especially loud during the holidays. As an ecommerce store, what do you want your brand to scream during the happiest time of the year? Do you want to be known for offering the same low, low price on an item as your competitors? Or do you want to be the brand that breaks the money-hungry frenzy with a message that’s about ensuring your customers are cared about and appreciated?
This holiday season, don’t worry about “winning the holidays” with another price-slashing sales strategy. The key to standing out—and being remembered long after the wrapping paper and ribbons settle—is to create a truly better customer experience.
Let’s dig into how any ecommerce store can stand out this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
What’s the Deal with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Anyways?
If you’re in the ecommerce game, you know exactly what’s up with this commercial holiday. Every year, you get inundated with the numbers of how many people plan to shop online and, soon after, you learn just how much money they spent in comparison with the years before.
In short, this shopping holiday is kind of a big deal.
The title “Black Friday” as we know it was co-opted by retailers in the 1980s and referred to the idea that the books went from “red to black” on the day after Thanksgiving because of increased sales. Decades later, “Cyber Monday” would blast onto the scene courtesy of the National Retail Federation.
It was 2005 and ecommerce was still finding its footing, but the NRF noticed that, even in ecommerce’s infancy, 77% of online retailers saw a spike in sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday made its debut in an NRF press release, and it’s now just as ingrained in our holiday lexicon as Black Friday.
While Black Friday was founded far before online shopping became commonplace, more than two-thirds of shoppers have moved their Black Friday shopping online. Cyber Monday 2018, on the other hand, was quickly the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history with sales surpassing $7.9 billion—that’s almost a 20% increase from 2017.
Between the two shopping holidays, the opportunity for online stores is only getting bigger. With more and more people turning to the web to wrap up their holiday shopping, the competition to stand out in a niche is heating up.
You might be asking yourself, “How can I get (and keep) the attention of all the shoppers turning to ecommerce this year?”
The Golden Rule to Selling Online During the Holidays: Put the Customer First
More than 80% of online retailers use sitewide discounts as part of their holiday selling strategy, and while a good discount will inevitably lead to more sales, it’s a strategy that will simply put your store on par with nearly all other online retailers. The battle you’re facing—the real battle ecommerce stores need to win in order to thrive—is differentiation.
But is standing out among the competition easier said than done? It depends. If you don’t have access to the customer information critical to fostering a better relationship, making your mark in each customer’s mind will be a challenge. You’ll be limited to sending generic messages because you don’t have the context around every customer that you need.
With an Ecommerce CRM platform like Drip, though, ecommerce stores get a deeper, full-color understanding of how, where, when, and why their customers are shopping with them. Having one clear picture of every unique customer empowers stores to make strategies that set them apart, like these:
#1 Remember and Recognize Each Unique Person
If you went to the same coffee shop and ordered the same drink from the same barista every single day for a year, you’d probably be pretty disheartened if they never remembered who you were or recognized your loyalty to their shop.
People like being remembered during their in-person shopping experiences, and the want for this interaction leaks well into the online world. Ninety-one percent of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and recommendations to them. How is your store currently set up to remember people?
The key to knowing everyone visiting your site is the email address. That little bit of info is what you need to understand what they’re looking at, where they came from, what they’re engaging with, and how to deliver a better experience.
When you’re crusin’ the web, odds are good you come across a lot of sites that try and collect your email within the first 10 seconds you’re there. Most of these sites will use your email to send your promos or newsletters, but not many are using the email address to its fullest potential.
#2 Personalize the Entire Customer Journey
Personalization has been a marketing buzzword for a few years now, but despite the importance and urgency placed on the idea, the execution has been, for the most part, lacking. There have been baby steps taken, such as personalizing company names or adding first names to emails, but broadly, personalization isn’t as far along as it could be. There are a couple theories about why this disparity exists:
There are too many strategies begging for attention. A lot of online shops are torn between big initiatives like content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), demand generation, site functionality, and personalization. When marketers have to pick one or two of these things to focus on, personalization usually falls down the list of priorities.
It’s still a relatively new tactic. Despite being researched and danced around, most companies don’t know where to start with personalization—many might not even know how deep a good personalization strategy can dig. Some might plop a first name in an email greeting and think they’re doing it right, but the advancements made in the past year or two go way, way beyond that.
Personalization needs hands on deck. This isn’t a strategy you can just toss together in a couple of minutes. A great personalization strategy needs to be thoughtful and considerate of your specific customers. And once journeys are mapped out, they need to be built. Marketing channels need to be connected, emails need to be written, content needs to be crafted, workflows need to be built; it can be overwhelming, especially for smaller teams.
No matter what the hurdle is, the fact remains that online shoppers want personalized experiences now more than ever. That means personalized emails, product recommendations, ads in their feed, apology emails, text messages—the whole enchilada. A recent study by Accenture found that 83% of consumers are even willing to share their data to enable a personalized experience.
Personalization becomes even more impactful when you consider who’s shopping. Millennials have become the biggest spenders during the holidays, and ignoring their ecommerce expectations could be devastating. A huge 72% of millennials say that it is important to them for retailers to personalize the shopping experience to fit their needs this season.
"Shoppers will continue to demand omnichannel experiences when making purchases, and retailers should meet them with a seamless strategy," says Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot. The ecommerce stores that deliver better, full-bodied customer experiences are going to be the ones that thrive during and after the holidays.
#3 Stay Human Always
Remember, these are other people you’re selling to. They aren’t just faceless email addresses or dollar signs stacking up. The second an ecommerce brand treats shoppers like a quick sale instead of a unique person, it’s all over. People will drop a brand without a second thought—one in three customers will even leave a brand they love after just one bad experience.
This means staying grounded, unpretentious, and easy to relate to. Everything from your web content to your ad copy to your customer support chats should work to create and foster genuine person-to-person relationships in lieu of “faceless company-to-anonymous prospect” interactions.
Start Standing out Before the Holidays Hit
Ninety-four percent of marketers give a big, fat thumbs up to personalization, recognizing that it’s a crucial factor to long-term success with today’s online shoppers. However, in the same breath, almost 75% of those same marketers don’t quite know how to go about creating that personalized customer experience.
Drip Ecommerce CRM is here to change that stat. We believe any ecommerce store should have the ability to spread good cheer and better experiences this holiday season thanks to personalized and heartfelt experiences.
Next time you think of a strategy to slash a price in time for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, also consider the entire customer experience and how people feel while they’re shopping at your store. It could be the difference between your store blending into the holiday noise or standing out in a crowd.