How do retailers turn seasonal gift buyers into year-round customers? The fact is, it’s a struggle. Some customers may not want to hear from you for another 365 days, while others may need more personalized suggestions before they’ll make another purchase. Either way, at the very least, you want them to come back next year. But too often, retailers don’t devise a plan and simply lump these customers back into the regular stream of batch-and-blast messaging.
True story. My colleague used to buy a gift basket every year from the same company. She came to rely on their perfectly timed email with details of the previous year’s purchase and the option to reorder. It was so simple that she never bothered to shop around for a better deal. But last year, she didn’t receive that email. Instead, the company blasted her inbox with generic promotional emails. Figuring one of the promotions would help her get to the price point she’d enjoyed in the past, she started shopping. But she soon gave up. The promotions were all designed to promote a higher spend, so she ended up buying her gift basket from a competitor.
Instead of using the same old batch-and-blast strategy and expecting different results, you should be looking at every possible angle to exploit gift-giving opportunities well beyond the holiday season. Setting up a gift reminder email program is one of these opportunities. While common among online floral companies, it’s surprisingly underutilized by other retailers. Let’s change that.
Setting up such a service doesn’t have to be major undertaking. It’s actually quite easy to collect the necessary data and integrate it into your automated email process. Here are a few ways to begin turning those seasonal gifters into year-long buyers with a basic gift reminder program.
Optimize Your Forms
No need to start from scratch. Try tweaking your existing managed preference form. Update it to include fields such as occasion date, first name of possible recipient, relationship (e.g. child, parent) and occasion.
You can always create a new form and embed it on your purchase confirmation page. Just be sure to use warm, friendly language and let people know why you’re asking for this information. Those who find value in your products as gifts will typically see the value of your reminder service.
Optimize Your Transactional Messages
Take the time to incorporate promotional material into your order and shipping confirmations. Beyond the immediate upsell, create a section that calls attention to your gift reminder service. Not only are these messages opened at a high rate, but they are also sent to non-subscribers. This could double as a great way to grow your subscriber base.
Create Dedicated Messaging
Advertise your gift reminder service through stand-alone messaging. From an automated standpoint, include these messages in your engagement series, such as your post-purchase and welcome series. For a new subscriber, this is a value-add your site offers that your competitor might not. For those who just purchased, it might plant the seed that they should keep you top of mind the next time they’re looking for a gift. In addition to these automated messages, consider sending these messages to your entire audience once or twice a year.
No matter how you collect this important data, it will allow you to better target your messages and include product recommendations that cater to the specific recipient or the event. A subscriber searching for an upcoming anniversary gift will most certainly want to consider a different assortment of products than the parent shopping for a five-year-old’s birthday. Just imagine the personalization possibilities. Talk about relevant messaging!
A great user experience requires relevant content. A gift reminder service provides this relevance and helps build a connection between the consumer and the brand. Collecting more specific details from your customer creates so many opportunities to sell to these gift-buyers throughout the year, promote your brand as a go-to gift destination, and provide an overall better user experience.
Greg Zakowicz is Senior Commerce Marketing Analyst for Bronto Software