As creepy clowns dominate the headlines and my email inbox fills up with pumpkins and ghouls it can only mean one thing — this is Halloween.
It seems like every retailer out there is trying to jump on the Halloween ghost train, and it’s no wonder, with the NRF annual survey predicting spend in 2016 will hit $8.4bn, the highest in the survey’s history. Even in the UK, where Halloween has always played second fiddle to the more traditional Bonfire Night, Halloween is the new holiday to back for retailers, now the second biggest party night after New Years Eve (Guardian, October 2015).
As retailers from fast fashion to supermarkets seek to take advantage of the growing popularity of the holiday, we decided to look to the experts, Halloween.com, to see what we could learn.
Part of Fun.com, Halloween.com is the premier destination for all things spooky. With the number one costume selection online, the majority of their business happens in the few months leading up to October 31st. In fact, one day in October can equal a whole month in off-season so it’s imperative that they’re ready for this peak, and can give customers an experience they won’t forget.
But how do they do this and what lessons can other retailers learn about executing seasonally focused peaks successfully? We’ve summarised our top tips, based on the work we’ve done with Halloween.com and a wide variety of seasonal campaigns from across our customer base.
Let customer data be your crystal ball
Just like Halloween.com, all retailers have key peak periods, and during this time it’s vital that your website converts browsers or risks losing crucial revenue. While Q4 is traditionally the big focus for many retailers, don’t forget about other profitable peaks. Depending on the product category there’s a whole host of opportunities out there. For example, for Jewellery retailers average order values on Valentine’s day actually eclipse those of Black Friday (Rakuten Marketing, 2016). Understanding who is visiting your website during peak is an imperative so you can ensure you’re giving them the right experience, and one that will keep them coming back. Gift buyers are a notoriously difficult segment to not only identify, but keep engaged, with Qubit research showing opportunistic behaviour around discounts and a tendency not to return and repurchase. Asking users to self segment, flagging why they are buying and who for, or identification based on past buying behaviours, enables retailers to create relevant experiences for these customers. This could include surfacing gift guides, using urgency techniques or employing abandonment recovery messaging to secure their custom around key dates. For truly ‘seasonal’ peaks, retailers should also look to take advantage of the weather, from hail-storms to heat waves, showcasing the relevant products to customers through personalisations tailored to their current location, or even holiday destination.
Wave your CX wand to conjure some peak magic
Customers today want seamless experiences, and this is especially important during peak, where the risk of losing them to competitors is even higher. Helping customers easily find relevant products from the moment they hit your site is the way to ensure they don’t go elsewhere. HalloweenCostumes.com have over 30,000 products, so it can be tough for their visitors to choose the one perfect costume. With Qubit they implemented a more data driven approach to product recommendations. This helps customers who need to see not only the breadth of products available, but importantly those most relevant, including upsell items to make their costume extra special. The success of product recommendations based off an in-depth understanding of their customers was evident, with a 28% increase in engagement and a 3.6% uplift in conversion rate.
“When measuring the success of the product recommendations we're looking at conversion rate – we know when our conversion rates go up customers are happier, so we're really making sure that they're making the most out of each visit”.
Mark Bietz, CMO at Fun.com
Dust off the cobwebs and bring back the ghosts of purchases past
With every peak comes an off peak period, and keeping your brand top of mind with visitors during this is key. Driving customers back to your website at the appropriate time should be proactive and personalised. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day - they all have emotional resonance with your customers. Jog their memories with recommendations based on previous purchases, content such as gift guides if you know they’re an uncertain shopper, or even a special offer if they’re a particularly high value visitor. Of course to do all this, you’ll need their email, and once again understanding your visitors is how you can make sure you're asking at the optimum moment. HalloweenCostumes.com saw great success with this approach, increasing their email acquisition by 100%, trying out a variety of onsite experiences, enabling them to pin point exactly where in the journey to target collection forms.
Whenever your seasonal peak falls, these are just three ways to help deliver experiences that engage and convert customers time and time again. Throughout the 2016 peak period we’ll be examining different approaches, and looking to the data itself to understand what success looks like.
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