The 12 Days of Customer Connection

Give your customers what they really want this holiday season
Posted by
Terra Walker Mrkulić
LivePerson Contributor
11/14/2014 - 14:41

Last year, holiday shoppers spent $46.5 billion online, according to comScore. This year, it’s forecasted that holiday spending will hit $616.9 billion in total, said Marketing Land. See LivePerson’s infographic below for more holiday spending trends.

click to see full infographic

Numbers tell a story, and it’s clear that the holiday season is the single-most important time of the year for big and small retailers alike. Many have already set holiday marketing plans in motion, but this year, it’s going to take more than shiny new collateral to break through the noise.

Every year, as soon as Halloween is over, I start to feel overwhelmed by product choices, ads, and content. But, the brands that truly resonate with me are the ones that treat me like an individual, and not just one of thousands of clicks on their website.

This year, it’s all about meeting customers where they are and courting holiday shoppers with personalized digital engagement. Where can you start? Below are 12 strategies to delight and engage your holiday consumers—and keep the positive brand experiences going beyond the holiday season.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

Day 1. Simplify the online experience

Audit the buying cycle from the customer’s point of viewat every possible customer touchpoint. Are there points of friction that can be corrected? For holiday shoppers, ensure that the basics are covered: checkout is intuitive, easy, and all shipping details are clear. Take this to heart: in our 2013 customer survey, the top reasons for website abandonment were unexpected shipping or delivery costs (70%) or unclear product information (56%).

Day 2. Tailor your website for gift giving

Get gift-ready, and add a “gift finder” or “wish list” feature to your website navigation. Make this navigation feature more valuable by adding production categorization (i.e. by price, type, ratings, editor picks, etc.). And don’t forget to add a social sharing functionality to wish lists, so shoppers can easily send their lists to friends and family.

Day 3. Deck the halls with rich product pages

Answer your customers’ questions with rich multimedia on your product pages. Showcase custom product features through photos and videos. This might be a simple, but useful 360-degree view of the product, a runway video showcasing accessories and cross-sell items, or create two-minute how-to features. For example, Zappos’ popular product videos have been reported to increase conversions between 6 and 30 percent.

Bonus Tip: Holiday shoppers are in a rush. Don’t get bogged down by slow loading times because, especially at the holidays, every second counts.

Day 4. Be personal and relevant

Arm your team with the right customer intelligence and underlying technologies to create personalized shopping experiences. Promote content related to recently viewed product pages, past purchase items, and keywords. Or, look for cross-sell opportunities and make suggestions, via chat, based on associated items.

Day 5. Be mobile

This year, more holiday shoppers will be on-the-go. In fact, ... for the first time ever IBM predicts more than half of all online shopping on Thanksgiving (roughly 53 percent) will come from a mobile device.” Meet the mobile shopper whenever and wherever. Create a seamless experience from one channel to the next. Ensure all holiday content, special features (like wish lists), and customer support are also available via mobile. The holiday season is also a prime time to promote new app features or upgrades.

Day 6. Make sure your social networks are holiday-ready

Of course this is my personal favorite tip: align your social strategy with your Web and mobile holiday strategies. Share the holiday’s featured content or popular product pages, and of course, look to engage consumers whenever possible—whether it’s a Twitter mention, a Facebook comment, or a Pinterest pin. Be prepared to respond to your social customers who are looking for answers or feedback from your brand channels.

Another way to elevate customer support during the holidays is to deploy live digital support on social channels.

Day 7. Cater to procrastinating shoppers

Remind customers about what’s left in their carts. And offer gift cards or digital gifts, especially at checkout. Appeal to last-minute shoppers with electronic gifts that can be delivered via email in a matter of minutes.

Day 8. Get creative with your marketing

And by creative, we mean super relevant—to both your brand and your customers—with the holiday twist. Escape the typical holiday cliché, and instead execute value-driven, distinctive marketing campaigns that truly connect brand to customer.

Need inspiration? Consider daily deals on the most popular items, offer free gift-wrapping services on key shopping days, or encourage consumer-generated content to highlight popular products, and let your loyal customers do the work for you.

For larger campaign ideas, consider core brand message, value and mission. It can be a big idea, or a holiday offer. For example:

  • American Express: Small Business Saturday is one example of a campaign that connects American Express’ overall mission, customers, and customers’ customers.
  • Starbucks: Spread the holiday cheer with Starbucks’ current “Share Joy” promotion—buy one holiday latte and get another for a friend, free.

Day 9. Be philanthropic

Tis’ the season to fulfill your civic duty and lend a helping hand. It might be in the form of a community fundraiser, a donation, or a company-wide volunteering event. Last year, Home Depot pledged $1 to Operation Homefront for every tweet with the hashtag #TeamDepot. The promise only lasted until January 1, with the ambitious end goal of $100,000 raised. Here at LivePerson HQ, we’ll be participating in FeedingNYC for the 13th consecutive year. If you’re in the area, you are welcome to join us on November 25th!

Day 10. Close the consumer confidence gap

Eighty-three percent of consumers report needing some form of support in their online journey. Regardless of industry, consumers often need a confidence booster, and real-time, 1:1 opinion before making a decision. We call this the consumer confidence gap. Customer service professionals can offer recommendations and feedback on holiday spending, in real-time, via chat or social channels.

Day 11. Create an emotional connection

According to Clickz, people “act when they get emotional.” Emotions are impactful, and if leveraged authentically and correctly, can make a lasting, positive impact on customers. A recent example is Budweiser’s Global Be(er) Responsible Day commercial, which had people buzzing on social media for weeks. Remember that while holiday numbers are on the rise, we’re all human at heart—connect to your customers’ inner emotion in order to win their loyal affection.

Day 12. Focus on customer experience

With so many product choices, the experience will be a brand differentiator this holiday season. Analyze your customer experience from a holistic viewpoint, from channel to channel. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with high impact customers with 1:1, meaningful engagements, across all critical touchpoints along the path to purchase.

What holiday tactics did we miss? Let us know what you would add to the list in the comments below.

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