Despite the uncertainties that 2020 has dealt us, time marches on and we find ourselves midway through the year. Marketers are shifting focus from crisis mode back into a more predictable cadence of seasonal planning, while keeping a watchful eye on the headlines. If it’s summer, that means gearing up for a big Q4 holiday push. Whatever happens in Q3, it’s a sure thing that as we roll into the Q4 holiday season, shopping for gifts will be a different experience than in past years.
We see the green shoots at Braze, too, as we watch what’s happening for our 1,000-brand customer base with more than 2.3 billion MAU spanning the globe.
Our ecommerce brands saw purchasing customers grow by 30% globally between March and April. In the U.S., we noted a huge increase in total purchases over the month of April, maxing out at 181% right after Americans began receiving stimulus checks.
As many hunkered down at home, the new normal included old-school fun like jigsaw puzzles and movie nights (through streaming services, of course) as well as innovative necessities like telemedicine and online grocery shopping.
Calendars were booked solid with video meetings, from the youngest “attending” school, through grandparents safely visiting with family, along with all those business meetings for the work-from-home crowd.
As people adopted new ways of doing real-world things online (another Zoom happy hour, anyone?), Braze customers saw new users peak on March 23 with a 75.72% increase in acquisition relative to the first week of January.
Looking ahead to the holiday season, it’s important to factor in how customer behaviors have changed.
The “home as haven” mood is likely to linger, based on Brand Humanity research commissioned from Forrester Consulting on behalf of Braze, which indicated even back last fall that consumers appreciated retail brands that communicated with them in ways that were perceived as “friendly,” “reassuring,” and “warm.”
The study also shows customers’ expectations rising for what it takes for a brand to come across as human.
All those new mobile and online shoppers are marketers to lose, if the holiday customer experience doesn’t meet these higher expectations. Consumers are looking for retailers to be responsive based on their needs…it’s really that simple.
Given the many unknowns ahead, it’s probably not the year to go for sizzle and stunts in the critical Q4 period. Our recommendation is to zero in on customer value delivery, using all the tools in your tech stack.
Keep it simple, and focus on these four things:
There is much that is out of retailers’ control this holiday season, and the experiential extravaganzas marketers considered in 2019 are probably on the cutting-room floor (although they may come back in the future).
The good news is that what the consumer really wants is to know that brands “get her” and are paying attention to what matters to her in the moment. That’s true all year, it’s true during the holidays, and it’s true when everything else seems to be changing.
Listen, understand, and act on her behalf, and there’s your sophisticated customer engagement strategy. Execute with a modern marketing automation ecosystem, and there’ll be at least one thing you can count on as we wave goodbye to 2020.
Sara Spivey is the chief marketing officer at Braze, a comprehensive customer engagement platform that powers relevant and memorable experiences between consumers and the brands they love. Sara has more than 30 years of marketing, strategy, and leadership experience with industry-leading organizations.
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