Best Practices For Year-End Marketing

We’re coming up on the end of the holiday sales season, and every emarketer has one objective in mind: sell. Sell as much as possible, as quickly as possible. And it’s working: a recent report by Custora says that by Dec. 5, sales were up 13% over last year.

And that’s all you have to worry about, right?

Well, no. The season may feel a little frantic, but the reality is that customer relationships can be both made and broken during this high-pressure sales period, and it is a mistake to let that frantic feeling overcome the best practices that we all know are the essence of doing good business.

What is important during the rest of the year is also important in December. Making sure that you are consistently following best practices means that no matter what the season—or how frantic the feeling—you are doing your best by your customers.

The first CRM best practice is to establish trust, and be trustworthy. This includes the commitment to:

  • not sell, rent, or spam any customer’s address
  • always use customers’ personal information to make the buying experience more convenient and more relevant
  • contact the customer at intervals that are comfortable for the customer
  • make a promise, keep a promise: under-promising and over-delivering always is the best path to great CRM

Of course, the holiday season, more than any other, reflects—and magnifies—the seismic shift that we saw happen in online marketing a few years ago, and that has to be addressed via CRM best practices during this period and into the new year as well. Customers used to be engaged with marketers and brands: when they needed a widget, they knew exactly where to go to get that widget. Even after the advent of ecommerce and the internet, brand loyalty was still present: it simply transferred online. That customer loyalty was the result of great CRM practiced by marketers, who kept their promises, who gave consumers a great buying experience with reasonable prices and excellent quality, and who followed up with ongoing communications to make sure that the customer was satisfied and would return again to purchase. 

And then everything changed. The traditional customer relationship model was cannibalized by “buy now” technologies that elevated products in importance over brand. Online business-as-usual was impacted, and just doing what was right wasn’t enough anymore to attract and retain a loyal customer base.

The advent of third-party vendors like Groupon and other daily-deal sites, eBay and other auction sites, and all the product-review sites, meant that brand loyalty began to take second place to convenience and price for most online shoppers. 

And that’s the frenzy of the holiday emarketing season: find the best deals, find the lowest price, and maybe in the new year go back to buying from your “usual” online merchant.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The final best practice I’d like to offer, one that you can still implement now, is to put extra strategy into your holiday email marketing with highly targeted resends

Resending gives both great CRM and great value. The reasons why a customer may not have clicked on or opened an email are myriad: he or she may have been busy when the email arrived, the subject line may not have been riveting enough. Emails get lost, emails get ignored, emails get mislaid. 

If you create a resend campaign using the same creative but a different subject line, you may be able to cut through the third-party chatter online and remind customers of the great value you have always offered and continue to offer. Resending means that you can be sure your offer was seen and that the customer has had the chance to think through what they want to do. 

By resending the email, you have the opportunity to give the customer added convenience—they don’t have to go hunting through an inbox for your email. You’re also allowing them to see the offer differently through the changed subject line. And, of course, it creates another point of communication between you and the customer, reminding them of your ongoing relationship and the value that they can only get through you rather than the third-party vendors.

Ending the holiday season on a high note from an income point of view is always important, but it’s just as important to end it with great CRM. 2014 is on our doorstep, and customers will remember how well or badly they were treated when they make their next buying decisions in the new year.

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