The holiday season is over, and now companies are left with clearing out their inventory and looking ahead into the new year.
Oh, and dealing with all those pesky returns, of course.
According to a recent Sumo Heavy report, one out of four consumers will return or exchange at least one gift after the holiday season. And when it comes to returns, more than 60 percent of shoppers prefer to do their exchanges in-store, rather than online.
With around 50 percent of saying they weren’t happy about the return process, it’s safe to say there’s some room for improvement when it comes to customer satisfaction. Just like many companies did throughout the holiday season, applying a blend of in-store and online marketing strategies can help provide new and returning shoppers with a more cohesive customer experience that will keep them coming back long after the holiday season’s over.
Collect data to better understand your customer
First, take some time to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of your holiday campaigns. What resonated with your customers? What could you have done better?
The easiest way to do this is to send out a poll or survey to help collect data on customer satisfaction. This can be done in-store at the register, and through text message or email campaigns.
“Customer feedback about returns can provide critical insight to marketers. Collecting this kind of data can help marketers spot patterns, fix problems and develop future marketing strategies,” SUMO Heavy CEO Bart Mroz said. “Marketers should also try to gain insight on what the customer likes/dislikes, how they found the brand and how they are using the product or service, along with contact information.”
Collecting feedback from customers making returns can also help your organization better understand shopper preferences and habits, which can help improve messaging for retargeting efforts down the line.
“Understanding why a product was returned can give marketers more information about the customer, and key factors about what they like that set them apart,” Mroz said. “This can help marketers develop more precise messaging when keeping in touch with that specific customer.”
Other data to consider could also include geography, demographics and shopper history to create more detailed profiles of your customer base.
Leverage your data
Once you’ve collected your data, it’s time to put it to use for future campaigns. Predictive analytics and segmentation can help create more tailored campaigns that focus on the direct needs of your consumers by providing more relevant content and a more personalized experience.
“Try to do promo strategy in a way that’s targeted – look within your database and leverage your CRM data to be able to target in a way that’s strategic,” Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, said.
Timing is everything
When it comes to retargeting, it’s not just about what you offer your consumers – but when you offer it. The holiday season was ripe for seasonal deals, promos and other offers. How can you make sure you’re offering the right deals now, without causing fatigue?
“Really focus on giving back to the customers, and not trying to sell them as much,” Jao said. “And when someone is calling you or emailing you about a product, make the return process as smooth or as seamless as possible”
Jao recommends using the post-holiday season to re-engage with customers who have made purchases in the past, but may not have been as engaged during the holiday season. It’s also important to provide authentic experiences for those who may not have been as satisfied with their customer experience.
“Customers will definitely remember this and are more likely to spend with you on the holidays,” Jao said.
And when it comes to loyal customers? It may be best to give them a break – and to re-engage with them later in the year so they’re not as inundated.
“Reach out at a frequency that coincides with how often people buy your product,” Jao said.
Lead with content
After you’ve defined your target audiences, focus on refining your messaging to create an experience that is personal and authentic to your brand.
“The actual experience is less about selling – if possible try to lead with content and have a cohesive content strategy,” Jao said. “Allow consumers to appreciate a brand without being bombarded with sales messaging.”
“Remember, customers are humans,” Jao added. “Build a relationship, and reconnect on things that matter.”