How to prepare for the Golden Quarter during the cost of living crisis
By Yasmin Peiris, Director, Customer Success, Mapp Digital
Global retail sales will see reduced growth this year as customers significantly cut back on their spending to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Brands now risk having fewer sales, increased churn, and lower revenue.
It’s a sensitive time for shoppers and a crucial period for businesses. Customers will remember how brands communicated and interacted with them during the cost-of-living crisis and getting it wrong could damage your brand, your customer relationships, and your business both now and in future. To help you get this right in time for the Golden Quarter, we’ve nailed down eight key tactics to help you adapt your marketing campaigns.
- Choose a MarTech stack to achieve agility
The right MarTech impacts your marketing agility. Yet some brands are making do with tight budgets and siloed systems that limit the ability to draw insights and react accordingly.
If you’re looking to improve your MarTech stack, then you may want to look at your Customer Data Platform (CDP). CDPs have become a necessity rather than a “nice-to-have,” making it easy for you to unify fragmented data and get a complete 360-degree view of your customers and their journey - both online and offline.
If you have limited resources, consider consolidating your existing technology to reduce unnecessary spending and streamline your marketing.
- Build your customer base with data capture
Finding creative ways to capture customer data in a GDPR-compliant way before your sales peak can help you build your database. Doing this now allows you to learn about your potential customers through your CDP and send out relevant content to shoppers already engaged with your brand.
Investing in a platform that enriches customer intelligence and generates predictions helps you spot opportunities to engage shoppers.
- Put customer insights at the heart of your omnichannel marketing
Every customer interaction must be relevant and personalised to help you cut through the noise and engage your audiences. Each individual consumer is unique and will have different patterns of behaviour, depending on their previous engagement with your brand.
Segmenting your audiences based on their demographic, behavioural, and historical data is crucial and enables you to then personalise your content based on these insights. Use these analytics to identify the channels and times your customers are most active and trigger automated and relevant communications on the right channels. Having real-time data can be an advantage here, as you’re able to see how customers are behaving in the moment and react accordingly.
- Exceed customer expectations through your CX
It’s crucial to get the basics of the customer journey right to cover fundamental consumer expectations. What if abandonment in the customer journey was caused by friction, field validation errors or even SCA issues? This may result in huge drop-offs at a crucial time for conversion. Having a CDP can highlight such issues so you can take action.
Stress-test your marketing by launching a practice period before Black Friday. This helps you identify your weak spots and optimise the CX in time for the Golden Quarter. By ensuring shoppers have a smooth and seamless CX with your brand, it adds value to their purchases which can turn them into returning customers.
- Be empathic and offer flexibility
It’s the tough times customers remember, so it’s important to show empathy through your incentives to build positive customer relationships. Offering fair pricing shows empathy, but it’s also important to be subtle and conscious of how you communicate.
Promotional emails with a time limit wouldn’t be good marketing as it pressures your shoppers. This can cause unsubscribes and churn. Instead, let your customers know that a product they’ve been revisiting multiple times has a price drop as an FYI. This shows you’re being considerate and not pressuring them to make a sale.
Offer other service alternatives to give your customers flexibility, such as:
- Payment options: Offering “Buy-Now-Pay-Later” services such as Klarna gives consumers a sense of purchasing power by allowing them to spread payments.
- Return policies: Be transparent about your returns policy. While the option to return can encourage shoppers to convert, businesses such as Boohoo and Zara choose to charge customers for returns as shipping & returns become costly. Be clear about this, as it builds trust with consumers. They’ll understand!
- In-store/curb-side pick-ups: Give customers the flexibility and confidence to choose how they receive products. It saves costs and ensures your fulfilment meets customer expectations.
- Redefine your levels of customer loyalty
Customer loyalty comes from an emotional connection with your brand. Rolling out standard loyalty programs and constant discounts can make your brand seem uninterested in your customer’s needs which can result in low engagement and high churn. Be more conscious of your definition of “loyalty segments” and what shoppers look for in a brand. Having personalised experiences and rewards in return for loyalty makes every conversion worth it to customers.
Don’t forget that just because customers aren’t spending as much with your brand as last year doesn’t mean they’re less loyal. It could mean they are still spending their entire budget in this category with you and simply can’t afford to spend more. Using your CDP makes this clear, as deeper customer insights are key to identifying what pages they’ve interacted with, the frequency of returning, and their spending patterns.
- Personalise your content with relevance, automation and AI
Avoid sending standardised communications – no one wants those. Personalised content helps you cut through the noise, drive engagement, and increase conversions. It’s also a sustainable strategy for brands that can’t undercut competitors on price as they focus on building consumer trust.
Using customer insights at the core of each interaction drives relevance in your cross-channel marketing. Some examples can be:
- Sending discount offers on products they’ve purchased previously
- Recommending similar items to products they’ve been visiting
- Back in-stock alerts for products in their wishlist
Staying aligned with AI for accurate insights and advanced automation is essential to help you design, test, and optimise your cross-channel communications.
- Be omnipresent to re-engage customers
Your CX needs to be frictionless across all online and offline touchpoints. To truly be omnipresent, consider adding robust data collection in your brick-and-mortar stores to your to-do list. This lets you combine online and offline data into your unified customer profiles to get a truly comprehensive view of your customers and their journey.
Use your customer analytics to uncover your customer’s go-to channels, to trigger the right content, on the right channel, at the right time. This helps you become more selective in your cross-channel marketing, making each personalised interaction highly relevant and impactful across email, in-app, SMS, push, and more. Geo-targeting can also encourage customers to pop into their nearby stores.
It’s essential to ensure a unique and memorable customer experience for both consumers and prospects during a cost of living crisis – regardless of if they purchase or not. To successfully adjust your marketing strategy, you need to review whether you have the right tools and data by your side.