You’ve read it before. Holiday marketing will be different this year. According to eMarketer, US ecommerce sales will rise by 35.8% during this holiday season while brick-and-mortar retail sales will drop by almost 5%. As permissions-based channels, email and SMS are a great way to connect with these new online shoppers because they have opted-in and they expect to hear from your brand.

Defining Your Segments with Last Year’s Data

Even though COVID-19 has disrupted normal consumer behavior, you should still utilize YOY customer data to determine how shoppers responded to deals and strategies. Once you leverage this YOY purchaser data, you can identify and segment your subscriber lists to target customers who bought specific items last holiday season.

Treat your last year holiday shopper’s list separately than the rest of your segmentation. Personalize content and offer an extra incentive to get them to return with a discount code or free shipping.

If your last year holiday shoppers have become an unengaged subscriber, target with “We Miss You” messaging ahead of the holiday. Make sure to email these subscribers at a lower frequency and plan ahead of what you want them to know.

Use the rest of this entire month until Black Friday and Cyber Weekend to test where your customers fall into segments:

  • Is your last year holiday shopper list more engaged than your regular segmentation?
  • What types of subject lines and moods are the highest open rates?
  • Which creative templates see the highest click-through rate?
  • What’s your strategy on audience exclusion to avoid frustrating customers who just bought a product before sales launch?

You can also target your multi-buyers with product affinities and special recognition. “Second-time buyers are 130% more valuable than first-time buyers and represent essential lifetime value that drives a brand towards growth and profitability,” says Sarah Cascone, Director of Marketing at Bluecore.

Communicating to Segments that Emerged from COVID-19

Ecommerce is steadily growing and even with an estimated 14.5% increase of total retail sales in 2020, COVID-19 will continue to have an economic impact on the consumer—which will change the way they shop during this holiday season. Get to these new segments below along with ideas on how to message them.

The Cautious Shopper

This shopper is limiting their purchases this holiday season. They have uncertainty about the future and therefore are reeling in their spending and may step down to more affordable gifts and less expensive price points.

Target with:

  • Tiered Spending Holiday Guides
  • Affordable Gift Ideas
  • “Give More for Less”

The Pent-Up Demand Shopper

This shopper did not suffer severe impacts to their income during the impact of COVID-19 and instead, they had cutbacks to travel, evenings out, events and other special occasions. So, they now have additional spending power during the holiday.

Target with:

  • Trending Products
  • The Perfect Gift
  • Must-Have Presents

The Unemployed Shopper

With a reduced income, this shopper is limiting their spending during the holiday season. Focusing on essentials and replenishment, they’ll be hesitant to splurge on gifts.

Target with:

  • Gifts Under $X Amount
  • Budget Friendly Gifts
  • Gift With Purchase or Free Gift Wrapping

The Brand Loyalist

This shopper used COVID-19 to support local businesses and brands they love. They have a donation-centered spending mentality and are looking for brands this holiday season that are giving back to the community.

Target with:

  • Ways We’re Giving Back
  • Exclusive Loyal Member Offer
  • Shop Local

“With all brands operating on the same playing field to grow their businesses, the most important priority should be getting existing customers and those who bought for the first time during the pandemic to buy again.” says Cascone.

And as always, make sure you are monitoring inbox deliverability and engagement levels to listen to the wants and needs of your subscriber. If you are curious on how to test segmentation thoroughly or expand your email and SMS channels, feel free to drop us a line.

Contributors: Jasmine Bienvenue, Senior Email Marketing Strategist, Taylor Heussner, Project Manager/Email Solutions Specialist II