In the past, brands generated awareness for their holiday sales using a combination of organic and paid avenues, including email campaigns, cookie-based ads, paid and organic search, and social media. Essentially, brands would attempt to reach as many people as they could through every channel available, in the distant hope their message would resonate with some fraction of those people.
Think of this tactic as throwing darts in a blackout: you throw and throw with your fingers crossed, praying one dart might errantly hit the bullseye.
But with over $6.5 Billion in US sales over Cyber Monday in 2017, brands can’t afford to hit the holiday season on a wing and a prayer. Given that 30–50% of some industries’ entire sales cycles occur in the months leading up to and following Thanksgiving, holiday marketing is critical for most brands’ success.
Brands can’t afford to hit the holiday season on a wing and a prayer.
As you might image, the darts-in-a-blackout strategy is precarious at best. Amongst a torrent of holiday noise, with every marketer fighting for eyeballs, reaching people through even the most proven channels is extremely difficult. Email, traditionally a stalwart of direct holiday marketing, has fallen victim to the success of its medium: sophisticated spam filters mean most emails go unseen by human eyes. In fact, 25% of emails that customers have opted into still go to spam! Even the few emails (less than 20%) that make their way through the filters are rarely read all the way through.
Cookie-based display advertising, another channel that once led holiday marketing, makes those coveted eyeballs even more elusive than email. Most online ads are deployed out into the great digital ether haphazardly, trailing people around the Internet, irritating them and being ignored in equal measure. Even in the small chance people do see an ad, or even click on it, cookie ads are low conversion, tough to measure, and require at least seven views (according to the ad industry) to make any lasting impression at all. And mobile ad blocking is increasing 90% year over year.
All of this means that by the time the holidays roll around, your brand might be offering mind-blowing deals on the top products, but without a rapt audience, you’re just another brand fighting for attention online. And that lack of attention means your brand is missing out on 20x the ROI on your holiday spend.
So how do you access this elusive 20x ROI?
Build a dedicated audience with a chatbot.
By building your audience on chat, you grow and nurture a captivated and loyal following far in advance of the holidays. Building an audience is similar to building an email list, only the connection is two-way and conversational, which means the user experience feels intimate and can be as hyper-personalized as the brand wants. With a truly engaged audience, it’s easier to connect with customers not only around “The Holidays,” but around every commercial holiday on the calendar, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Back to School, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and more.
But how do you actually build this captivated and loyal audience?
You build an audience by connecting with your customers everywhere they are. Here at Chatkit, we call the different avenues into a chat conversation “Conversation Starters.” Conversation Starters are ads, QR codes, links, and widgets that you can place on your website, apps and products that, when interacted with, prompt conversations with your audience.
Some of the most impactful Starters include:
- Facebook Ads
- Instagram Ads
- Facebook Comments
- “Message us” Buttons
- QR Codes
These QR codes and links can be placed on offline materials as well as online ones, so you can build your audience wherever you are, whether you’re in person at a trade show or launching a digital campaign. Your salespeople can even place Starters on their business cards! Everywhere your brand is, whether on your e-commerce site or your social media, your Starters can lead to impactful chat conversations that ultimately drive performance and revenue for your brand.
When someone interacts with one of these starters, they automatically enter a 1:1 conversation with you, the brand. Once the customer opts into that conversation, you gain a spot on their buddy list alongside real-life friends and family, and can message them at any time. That keeps you brand top of mind throughout their lifecycle as a customer. And the more you engage with people before the holidays, the more likely they are to think of your products come holiday season.
Building an audience is just the first step in driving higher ROI over the holiday season. It’s also critical that you nurture this new audience and start amassing smart data in advance of the holiday season. More on that coming up next!
Stay tuned for the next part of the series: Nurture Your Chatbot!
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