This holiday season, don’t make the common mistake of spamming your contacts database with generic holiday email greetings that will be duly ignored. Instead, craft strategic holiday campaigns around the relationships you want to nurture. Celebrating the holiday spirit in a thoughtful way will not only strengthen bonds with your customers, but your business will reap the benefits in Q4 sales and far into the New Year.
Who should you target?
When you spam your contacts with generic holiday emails, the emails will be ignored, your time will have been wasted and your brand will lose considerable credibility. Make your efforts count by sending personalized, thoughtful messages and gifts to your customers. But first, divide your customers into these five key segments:
- Bottom-of-the-funnel prospects
- Middle-of the-funnel prospects
- Existing customers who are up-sell and cross-sell targets
- Customers you want to nurture as advocates for references and recommendations
- Partners you want to thank and build relationships with
1. Bottom-of-the-funnel prospects
These are customers that have already short-listed or selected your product and will likely buy from you before the end of the year. The content you create for these customers should address any lingering concerns they may have, as well as provide the information they need to make an educated decision. Use your campaign to keep their attention on your business as they work through negotiations and make their purchase.
Marketing Goal: Create goodwill, while allowing your sales team to stay in touch with your customers during this critical time.
How: Accomplish this by sending small, but engaging gifts. For example, help your prospects relax and unwind with gift certificates for iTunes or gift cards for premium coffee. Keeping the gift small makes it possible for prospects to accept it without feeling awkward. They are also likely to use it immediately and think about your company when they do it. A small gift also provides the perfect hook for sales to touch base and check in with how things are progressing.
2. Middle-of-the-funnel prospects
These are prospects that are actively evaluating your product. At this stage, customers are investigating their options and seeking out data and information around how the product would actually function within their company. To effectively engage with them this holiday season, create content that will keep you on their radar and help put your product on their short-list.
Marketing Goal: At this level of the decision making process, both the economic buyer and end user of your product have to be persuaded. Make sure you engage with all parties involved.
How: Mail each of them a personalized post-card with a digital gift included. This tactic harnesses the sincerity of a physical card, while drawing them to your website to receive their gift. The more positive interactions they have with your company, the greater the chances are that you will make it onto their short-list.
3. Existing customers who are up-sell and cross-sell targets
Never underestimate the importance of your existing customers. It costs less to sell to them than it does to attract new customers. They are also loyal, less price-sensitive and have expressed interest in buying additional services or products from you.
Marketing Goal: These customers have been valuable to your company. Let them know you appreciate them and their business. Similar to the middle-of-the-funnel segment, engage and create goodwill at multiple levels: the economic buyer, the end users and the key influencers in the buying process.
How: Discounts provide incentive for customers to take advantage of up-selling and cross-selling opportunities, so leverage their loyalty with special offers. You can also give your customers the gift of relaxation in the form of spa gift certificates or Amazon gift cards. For top customers, send gourmet food and wine.
4. Customers you want to nurture as advocates for references and recommendations
According to Hank Barnes at Gartner, customers trust their peers more than they trust you. This is why existing customers who have advocated on your behalf should be a top priority this holiday season. This segment also includes customers that are great brand names themselves and customers who are making exemplary use of your product.
Marketing Goal: Make them feel appreciated and encourage them to become, or continue to be, your advocate.
How: These customers are your most valuable allies, so invest in sending them a gift they can use on a regular basis. Subscriptions to entertainment services like Hulu Plus and Spotify are a great choice because they will get your advocates excited about continuing to support you into the new year.
5. Partners you want to thank and build relationships with
Successful businesses never exist in a vacuum. They often stand on the shoulders of partners who provide access to customers, geographies, supply, technology and expertise critical to the growth of your business. Suppliers and technology partners, channel and regional partners and partners who act as consultants and advisors to your customers are all part of this critical group.
Marketing Goal: Show you are a team player and appreciate what your partners do for you and your customers.
How: For their holiday gift, send digital gift cards or e-donations via your personal email. You should also create awareness of your business in the partner organization by sending branded, sharable food items to top partners.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also a very stressful one. You can stand out and make a positive connection with valuable customers by offering sincere gratitude and genuine holiday greetings. Timely and well-executed holiday marketing campaigns will ensure these relationships come through for you in Q4 and are ready to start working for you again in the New Year.
Kelly Salloum is a freelance writer, content creator and frequent collaborator with Rybbon. She is based in New York. You can follow her on Twitter at @kcsalloum.
Jignesh Shah is the CEO of Rybbon. Jignesh has been building and marketing products for over 18 years at start-ups and enterprises and was previously the CMO at Metalogix and Vice President at Software AG/webMethods. He can be reached at @jshah1998.