All I want for Christmas is a hyper-personalized digital experience
By Pete Winter

All I want for Christmas is a hyper-personalized digital experience

With Black Friday and the holiday season fast approaching, how can brands deliver digital experiences to boost conversions?

We all need some Christmas cheer

2020 is a year that many will want to forget. The onset of the global pandemic has resulted in people losing jobs, losing loved ones, and losing hope. But this article isn’t to shine the spotlight on doom and gloom. We’ve all experienced enough of that thank you.

There is a common consensus that we all deserve some Christmas cheer this year. Instead of focusing on the negative, consumers are looking ahead to the holiday season as a way to escape the lows of 2020 and end the year on a high. So we’re going to do the same.

How can brands maximize opportunities this Christmas? What is needed to take a share of the market as buyers move online? And which brands are demonstrating best practice?


You better not pout, you better not cry…

Retail footfall fell by over 50% in May as the lockdown took hold. While figures have improved slightly, year-on-year numbers are still down by roughly a third. It’s bad news for businesses that rely on bricks and mortar stores, but an opportunity for companies that can ‘pivot to digital’.

In a recent survey by YPulse, only 8% of customers said that they were likely to shop in-store for Black Friday, compared with 36% who said they intended to shop online. This is rapidly accelerating the existing trend for online shopping, as shoppers have been increasingly migrating online for a number of years. And with TechCrunch calculating that shoppers spent a record $7.4 billion online in 2019, this year looks set to smash that figure once again. Some estimates put digital spend at an enormous $1.1 trillion.


So how can businesses profit from growing eCommerce numbers?

  • Order confirmation emails
    Analysis of Black Friday 2019 shows that open rates of order confirmation emails touched a whopping 60%. Click through rates were also significant at 9.83%. That’s because shoppers want to check that their order has been received and is being processed correctly.

    With such high visibility, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to promote upsell and cross-sell offers. Think discount codes off the next purchase, or buy one get one free. With high levels of trust and satisfaction at that point in time, it’s the ideal scenario for increasing sales.

  • Abandoned cart emails
    Shoppers will often add items to their online basket and return later to confirm the purchase. They may also forget, or simply choose not to continue with the transaction.

    Cart abandonment emails were the highest performing automations during Black Friday 2019. With a 34% open rate, 9% click-through rate and 2.13% conversion rate, it’s valuable real estate to offer tempting discounts or promotions to convince the shopper to convert.

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice…

The quicker you can analyze and understand new behavior, the more effective your marketing communications and personalized offers will be.

That’s because previous purchases can often indicate future ones. Look for trends, analyze combinations, and use data to serve up most likely next purchases.

For example, UK pharmacist Boots was attracting a healthy number of visitors to their site, but wanted to convert traffic into more sales. They ran a Christmas campaign that used pop-ups to promote special offers and discounts, along with carefully targeted recommendations to highlight their range of products.

In the case of the latter activity, they analyzed items in the shopper’s cart with previous shoppers’ purchases and their additional subsequent purchases. Through this activity they increased their average order value by 31%, increased share of revenue from pop-ups to 14%, and increased their site’s conversion rate by 21.77%.

He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…

I’ll level with you, I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with this lyric. The thought of an eccentric old man spying on me in the dead of night does not exactly convey the spirit of Christmas to me.

But, even if it is a bit creepy, I get the idea. Knowing your audience is now more important than ever. Existing customer knowledge may well be completely irrelevant due to the massive changes in customer behavior.

By stitching together on and offline behavior you can increase your knowledge and understanding of each and every customer, enabling a single customer view (SCV).

It’s an approach that has delivered amazing results for e.l.f Cosmetics, a fast-growing US beauty company. After closing all their physical stores in 2019, they invested in technology to help staff get a complete picture of each customer. As a result they are empowered to build accurate customer segments, optimize marketing messages and send times, customize product results, and personalize offers. And this approach has made their ecommerce site the number one in the beauty sector.

He knows when you’ve been bad or good…

Customer knowledge naturally takes time. And while consumers are more open to trying new brands in 2020, longevity equates to confidence and sales. Researchers found that 60% of Cyber Weekend sales were driven by consumers who engaged with an email from a brand prior to Q3 that same year.

A depth of knowledge enables brands to be smart about when and how they engage. If a customer bought an engagement ring a year ago, they are likely to be interested in wedding items. Customers who bought clothes for a four-year-old 12 months ago will be susceptible to clothing ideas for a five-year-old.


We know that personalization works. Compared with standard promotional emails, birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate, generate 342% higher revenue per email, and have 179% higher unique click rates. If it works for birthdays, it can work for any number of life events.

However, business can be too personal at times.

US store Target assigns each customer with a unique ID, and every purchase and transaction is logged against their profile. Most transactions are predictable, as customers have familiar habits and regular purchases.

This means that abnormal purchases stand out. It allows Target to detect major life events and serve up recommended offers and promotions to take advantage.

This algorithm can sometimes work too well. A well-known story details how Target sent pregnancy marketing material to a young lady after certain purchases were made, much to her father’s annoyance. A few weeks later, he called the local manager back, this time apologizing. The ‘pregnancy-predictor’ was correct. Target knew more about the lady’s personal life than her father.

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Yes, it’s been a bleak year. Businesses have had to adapt and be smart about how they use data to transform in-store experiences into digital ones. But the good news is that customers will be buying more than ever, and there are ways for your organization to use data to optimize conversions and boost sales. The opportunities are plentiful for those who know how to identify and exploit them.

Want to learn more about how to deliver outstanding personalized experiences to maximize performance this holiday season? Download: Putting Your Audience First: The New Rules of Content Marketing for 2020 and Beyond

Read the latest positioning trends and insights.

Tap into our brand and product positioning, storytelling, and creative expertise to inspire your next strategic move.

Subscribe to insights.