Another year has come to a close, which for most of us means time for the post-Christmas January blues to kick in and a commitment to New Year’s resolutions to be made. For retailers on the other hand, January represents another opportunity for a sales push through the notorious January sales.
However, recent changes in the retail environment have led to an increase in discounting, sales holidays and promotions throughout the year, and as a result the traditional Boxing Day sales fell relatively flat in 2018 with a 17% increase on an average day despite an average 52% discount on sale items. What impact will this trend have on January sales and are they really enough to guarantee retailers the quantity and quality of conversions they need to start 2019 strong?
This question becomes even more pertinent when we look back on last year, where we found that the number of online sales made in January 2018 dropped 12.9 percent compared to December 2017. Perhaps to be expected, but nonetheless it’s a gap that most retailers would like to reduce.
So, what can ecommerce brands do in 2019 to beat the January blues?
1. Start retargeting existing customers with relevant products
Rekindle interest with past customers by reminding them of products they previously viewed. Personalise your advertising campaigns by displaying highly relevant messages that will give you a higher chance of converting ad views into January conversions. By understanding what visitors have previously shown an interest in and having a comprehensive insight into onsite behaviour, you can target users with personalised messages containing products they will have a high intent to purchase.
To truly reap the benefits of your retargeting, make sure you are optimising your digital advertising campaigns past the ad, through to onsite. Regardless of whether a user clicks on your ad, or visits your website post-view, you need to be delivering an onsite experience that is highly relevant to the content that brought them there. This means they should be able to quickly and easily access the same products onsite as were in the ad, helping to increase the chance that they will go on to convert to a sale.
2. Capitalise on popular New Year’s resolutions with contextual messaging
A new year spells the beginning of new resolutions. For a number of retailers, these personal goals could represent a significant opportunity to inspire customers into making purchases. A recent survey found that 38% of people plan to make improving their health and fitness a resolution for 2019. 37% will focus on saving money and 24% resolve to travel more. Self-care has also become one of the top resolutions made in recent years.
With this in mind, brands can be delivering contextual messaging, through acquisition channels, onsite engagement and remarketing, that contain these common themes. In January when motivation to stick to these resolutions is at an all-time high, use intelligent product recommendations to promote relevant products that will inspire customers to purchase more and increase your average order value. These recommendations could be based on what other similar customers have bought, unique to the product or page type or highly personal based on an individual’s intent during that visit. With such a broad range of popular resolutions, the chances are that most brands will be able to find a way of linking their offering and reaching interested audiences.
3. Grab attention from new customers with targeted voucher codes
As 37% of people resolve to save more money in 2019, focusing your short-term sales efforts on capturing the attention of bargain hunters could prove fruitful. Bargain hunters represent one of the five shopping modes that exist online. These customers are looking for the best deal possible and are enticed into purchases by the idea of getting a good deal. A bargain hunter can also exhibit the behaviours of another of the ecommerce shopping modes (browser, researcher or product focused).
Start by targeting bargain hunters that haven’t previously visited your website before, as these customers are more likely to need incentivising over your existing customers. Connect your digital channels so that bargain hunters are shown the best deals wherever they prefer to engage, whether that be through digital advertising or remarketing. You can target new customers using programmatic advertising campaigns, including new customer discounts and voucher codes in your prospecting messaging.
When a bargain hunter lands on your website, immediately surface top deals to help them find what they are looking for. On product category pages, add highlights to discounted products and once on a product page, deliver product recommendations of complimentary items that will offer shoppers the best value for money.
4. Kick-start preparations for your 2019 personalisation strategy
While the last three tips have all been immediate, actionable and short-term wins, it’s also important to spend time this January improving your personalisation strategy to ensure you’re set up for success throughout the rest of 2019. To begin, take a step back to review what you’re currently doing well, what you could improve and what opportunities there are to implement more sophisticated personalisation.
From there, you can start to plan a personalisation strategy that encompasses the entire customer journey. Be sure to consider the following:
- Customer intent: How well do you know your customers and their intent at every stage of their shopping journey? Using the shopping modes methodology, you can start correlating customer behaviour with the five different modes. This will help you develop an understanding of the unique behaviours associated with each mode and identify what mode each customer is in. From here you can deliver more contextually relevant experiences for every visit.
- Unifying experiences cross-channels: How connected are your different channels? Personalisation should extend across the entire journey, from digital advertising for acquisition, right through to remarketing. The entire experience a customer has with your brand should be connected, meaning wherever they engage, they should be experiencing the same relevant messaging. When thinking about your personalisation strategy, also think about how your different channels work together to help your customers find what they are looking for.
Whether you finished 2018 strong or need an extra push at the beginning of 2019, ensuring you are consistently converting a high number of sales at the start of the year is likely to be near the top of the agenda. We recommend focusing on quick wins such as retargeting, contextual messaging and targeting bargain hunters to reap the benefits of customer intent and motivations in January. Meanwhile, it’s also time to create momentum to deliver success throughout the year by developing and enhancing your personalisation strategy and overall online customer experience.