Retailers will be competing hard to stand out in the customer's holiday shopping consideration set and inbox this year.
Companies will need to focus on how they can provide value to the customer by answering the age-old question: WIIFM (What's In It For Me)?
What does everyone want for holiday shopping? Good ideas for special gifts at the lowest prices, plus that warm fuzzy holiday feeling -- or at least less stress.
Help customers with ideas. This is a great place to use Top X lists: Top 10 Gifts Under $50, Top 6 Ideas for the Impossible-to-Buy-For, Top Wish List Picks, Top Sellers, Top Customer-Rated Products. Encourage site visitors to fill out wish lists to make life easy for buyers, particularly those not familiar with your products, such as men buying jewelry or women buying tools.
Keep customers involved with holiday extras. This is the time to think about lagniappe. What can be added to an email as little thank-you gifts throughout the holiday season? Think easily fulfilled digital goodies: wallpapers, gift tags, e-cards. Add sparkle to emails with a touch of animation. Consider a continuity program that rewards customers for repeat activity.
Spread holiday cheer with charity. Consumers have lots of choices of where to shop -- perhaps too many. Stand out from the crowd by demonstrating the company's charitable spirit. Given the choice between a company that is contributing a portion of its profits to good works and one that just wants to sell, sell, sell, most consumers will choose the former. It helps give people that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling they crave.
Now is the time to make sure the development process is humming like a finely tuned machine. If companies are struggling to make deadlines now, taking on additional holiday volume will cause quality and creativity to suffer.
Create a master schedule. If the company doesn't already have one, develop a master schedule that allows people to see the status of all projects in process. A humble spreadsheet works just fine, so long as it includes all the START dates for steps in the process, not just the end dates. Put one person in charge of keeping it up to date and it will become a valuable tool rather than an administrative burden.
Invest in a collaboration tool. Check out products like Basecamp, Sharepoint and Wrike. These tools enforce rigor on content submissions, yield a single up-to-date version of working documents, and facilitate communication of tasks, deadlines and updates. Once a person has used one, sending emails to discuss project details will seem like faxing. They can be used out-of-the-box or tailored to specific needs, and are particularly useful when many different companies are involved in email creation. The reasonable monthly fee will yield big dividends in terms of time saved and errors avoided.
Tune up templates. Review the templates the company is using. Represent the eyeballs with heat mapping, the clicks with a click-map overlay (show percentages, not those strings of numbers, they are so not intuitive!) and the revenue. What is consumer behavior telling the company? Develop some alternatives and test them now, while time is a luxury.
Adapted from article by Melinda Krueger of MediaPost Communications (www.mediapost.com)