Media Insights

Marketer’s Guide to Holiday 2021 | Edition 4: Holiday Strategies to Engage Your Customers

Holiday is a crucial time for marketers. Against the backdrop of a highly competitive landscape, we are all seeking to capture demand, drive sales growth, and make this season even more profitable than the last. In 2021, keeping your customers at the forefront of your marketing strategies will be key to delivering a successful season.

Here are a few tips from the Ovative experts on acquisition and retention, setting expectations, personalizing creative, and remembering the context. To learn more about how you can prepare for a successful holiday season, read our latest editions of the 2021 holiday guide on key considerations and trends and how to take action on each of them.  

Build strategies for retention, as well as acquisition 

Often, retailers and brands think of Holiday as a season of acquisition. Because so many people are shopping and open to new ideas, it is an ideal time to capture new customers. What too many retailers and brand managers overlook, though, is the Holiday season opportunity for retention. 

Holiday is a great time to build loyalty among your existing customer base. What can you do to deepen your relationship with these customers? Think about how you can leverage what you already know about your customers to find them, show them items you know they will like, and grow their value by exposing them to new categories. Acquisition strategies can also incorporate a retention component. Can you activate a promotion that incentivizes customers to shop again in a few months? Think about whether there is an add-on item that first-time shoppers need in the future, and then give them a compelling deal for it. 

A strong customer strategy requires both acquisition and retention components. Holiday presents an opportunity to do both types of activities. Ensure that you leverage both types of tactics and tailor strategies toward each objective. 


Set appropriate expectations – and meet them 

Customers who trust you are more likely to be loyal customers. Holiday is an important time to build trust among your customers. Remember that it can be a stressful season for customers: they have to find gifts for many loved ones (including those who are difficult to shop for!), manage their gifting budget, and ensure all of their gifts arrive to the right recipients at the right time – all during a hectic time of year filled with events and obligations. Helping customers with a long task list can go a long way toward building their trust, which will likely lead to increased loyalty. 

The fastest way to undermine customer trust, though, is by failing to meet expectations. Most customers will understand that shipping delays will be rampant this year and that inventory will be limited. Be upfront in telling customers what shipping delays they should expect, and clearly communicate any out-of-stock issues. Meet the shipping expectations that you set, and be honest about when an item will be back in-stock. 


Personalize your messaging and creative 

Although most people will be shopping at some point during the Holiday season, there are a variety of different kinds of Holiday customers. As you develop your messaging and creative strategy, spend some time thinking about the different types of shoppers your brand or store will attract this season. Then, consider how you can use distinct messaging and creative to reach each type of customer. Different messages and imagery will resonate with different audiences at varying times, and more resonant ads yield higher sales – so develop a strategy that puts the most relevant content in front of the most receptive audience at the right time.  

Some of your customers might be searching for sentimental gifts, while others will be looking for impressive show-stoppers. Some might know exactly what they are buying for everyone on their list, but many will likely need inspiration. Customers who plan ahead will be shopping early in the season, but last-minute shoppers will likely be very grateful to learn about your BOPIS (Buy-Online-Pick-Up-In-Store) options. Consider that many people take advantage of Holiday to shop for themselves, too; a strong deal on something unexpected might be the perfect reward for finishing their Gifts-for-Others to-do list. Creating content for each of these types of shoppers and occasions will maximize the efficacy of your ads. 


Remember the context 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of your customers. Although this second pandemic-era Holiday season might allow for more gatherings and normalcy than last year’s did, there are many people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and will be facing a difficult season. Brands and retailers should keep this in mind and ensure that the tone of their communications acknowledges the emotional duality of this season. People will be excited to see their loved ones in-person and will likely be excited to buy and receive gifts that relate to a less-locked-down world, but there will also be grief, continued apprehension, and building pandemic fatigue. Keeping the reality of customers’ lives in mind as you design digital media and marketing strategies will ensure that you show up authentically. 

Keeping customers at the forefront of your marketing strategies will be key to driving differential growth for your brand during Holiday 2021. As you prepare for this hectic time of year, remember to build strategies for both acquisition and retention, set appropriate expectations around supply, personalize messaging for different types of Holiday shoppers, and remember the broader context in which your customers are living. For more on holiday preparation and execution, download our Marketer’s Guide to Holiday 2021 or connect with us 

Ovative Group is a digital-first media and measurement firm. We bring together the best of media, measurement, and consulting to enable an enterprise approach to marketing that increases our clients’ profitable revenue, strengthens their customer base, and creates sustainable competitive advantage.

Lillian Smith

Senior Analyst, Paid Social

About the Author

Lillian is a Senior Analyst on the Paid Social team at Ovative.

Dale Nitschke

Dale Nitschke

CEO & Founder

About the Author

Dale is the Founder and CEO of Ovative. After years of operating a large omni-channel business and leading a customer data initiative, Dale knew there was an opportunity to create a marketing firm that helped clients become more customer centric and drove better performance outcomes. A gap existed between business consultancies and advertising agencies that modern marketing approaches demand. He also believed that a strong, healthy culture could attract and develop smart, talented team members. In 2009, he formed Ovative to bring media, measurement, and consulting together under one roof to enable an enterprise approach that drives more revenue and grows clients’ customer base.

Prior to founding Ovative in 2009, Dale spent 23 years at Target Corporation where he served as President of and grew the ecommerce business from start-up stage to a $1 billion+ business and established the foundation of Target’s Guest database capabilities. Previously he served as SVP Merchandising at the Department Store Division of Dayton Hudson. Dale has advised retailers and brands globally on business, growth, marketing, and measurement transformation strategies.

Outside of Ovative, Dale is a leader on topics including business strategy, change management, and team leadership. He serves on the board of Allergy Amulet and on the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Wisconsin School of Business at UW-Madison.  He enjoys spending time with his family, up north in northern Wisconsin, playing golf, and cheering on Wisconsin sport teams.

Seth Brand

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Seth is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Amanda McCann

Senior Manager, Consulting

About the Author

Amanda is a Senior Manager on the Consulting team at Ovative, specializing in Retail Media Networks.

Jenny Reinke

Senior Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Jenny is a Senior Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Annie Zipfel

Executive Vice President, Media

About the Author

Annie is the Executive Vice President of Media at Ovative. She oversees delivery and growth across paid and owned media (digital, traditional, and retail media) and creative services.

Annie has more than 30 years of experience in media, brand management, insights/analytics, marketing, and product. She has also developed large, high-performing teams and built new measurement capabilities. Annie led the marketing team at Andersen Windows & Doors, leading the digital, social, content, customer insights, and creative functions. Prior to that, Annie served in multiple marketing leadership roles at Starbucks, REI, Target, and General Mills, with a keen focus on brand, media, insights, analytics, and measurement.

Annie is an industry leader in brand management, customer insights, e-commerce, social media, and analytics. She enjoys hiking, traveling, cooking, fishing, and spending time with her sweet dog and two sons.

Bonnie Gross

Executive Vice President, Talent Services

About the Author

Bonnie is the Executive Vice President of Talent Services at Ovative. She is responsible for attracting and retaining top talent and creating a culture in which our team thrives personally and professionally. Under Bonnie’s leadership, Ovative has defined an industry leading leadership and development program and transformed our approach to talent recruitment with a focus on diversity, equality and inclusion. Prior to her current role, Bonnie led Ovative’s Client and Business Development team overseeing client satisfaction and new growth opportunities.

Before joining Ovative in 2014, Bonnie spent 13 years at Target Corporate as the VP of digital and Digital Marketing where she led the launch of Cartwheel, an industry-leading social shopping application. Bonnie was the VP of Marketing for Fingerhut for 15 years prior to joining Target.

Leander Cohen

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Leander Cohen is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

Will Silva

Analyst, Measurement Solutions

About the Author

Will is an Analyst on the Measurement Solutions team at Ovative.

Sarah Chang

Sarah Chang

Analyst, Consulting

About the Author

Sarah Chang is an Analyst on the Consulting team at Ovative.

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