Staff Writer
Jan 28, 2021

How to up your personalisation game during shopping festivals

Julia Lee, Braze GM and VP, Sales, Asia, and Li Zhiliang, Zalora’s director of CRM, have some valuable insights for marketers who want to effectively engage with customers during Singles Day and other festive seasons.

How to up your personalisation game during shopping festivals

While marketers are not newbies to targeted messaging, the explosion of shopping festivals such as 11.11 Singles Day and 9.9 Super Shopping Day — dubbed ‘double-digit days’ — in the last few years has meant that campaigns need to be more personalised than ever before. 

Singles Day on November 11 is obviously the ‘doyen’ of these festivals.  Born in China in 2009 as the ‘antithesis’ of Valentine’s Day, it is driving huge sales and marketing impact in the region, notching a staggering US$40 billion in sales for its 2020 edition.

Research from Braze, a customer engagement platform, saw a 46% and 58% growth in Singles Day buyers and purchases year on year. The importance of the festival to brands and marketers is reflected in the sheer volume of marketing messages sent out on the platform — over 3x more messages were sent on Singles Day in 2020 versus 2019, according to Julia Lee, GM and VP, Sales, APAC at Braze. 

This magnitude of messaging presents a challenge for marketers: how should I ensure that my content and customer experience are personalised enough? How do I cut through the noise? 

Knowing your customer is key

Personalised messaging, of course, has taken on rising urgency in a post-COVID world. According to the Braze Singles Day Marketing Guide, personalised content drove up to 91% increase in purchase conversions during the Singles Day period, showcasing the impact this approach can have on marketing activities. 

New research also reveals that the public want to see a different approach from the usual seasonal extravaganzas from brands post-Covid, with a greater focus on real stories. Whether it is putting out stories of individuality and empowerment on Singles Day or of togetherness during Ramadan, marketers have a better chance of shimmying into the hearts of customers if they align campaigns with emotions associated with the occasion, ultimately leading to greater conversion rates. 

Yet it’s not just about the content itself but how, when and where you put it out. When should you launch the campaign to build momentum — a week or a day before? Unsurprisingly, the campaign for a double-digit day like Singles Day will look very different from one for a longer festival such as Ramadan, where marketers need to be aware of not bombarding customers with repetitive ads. 

Li Zhiliang, head of CRM at Zalora, a Braze customer, noted in a podcast, 

There's Christmas shopping, there is Chinese New Year shopping, and then you have your double-digit days. To me, [they] are very different. [While] double-digit days are conceived behind shopping itself, Christmas, [other] holidays have a festive mood behind them, have a different connotation behind them. Yes, people shop during those seasons as well, but for different purposes, I would say. And therefore the buildup to it is also different. So if you're to take Christmas shopping, in the past, it used to be 10 weeks long, you've got to start 10 weeks before we start ramping up the mood, but you're not going to start in the middle of the year saying that prepare for your 11.11 sales.”

Building a stack that offers speed, reliability and flexbility 

Effective seasonal marketing strategies require the right mix of technologies. In essence, each brand’s technology stack needs to be deeply anchored in customer data and the context that it can provide to their marketing programs. For this to happen, a flexible and reliable stack that allows teams to switch up messaging quickly is imperative — especially for double-digit days where there are so many last-minute factors at play. 

With guidance from Braze, Zalora developed dynamic modules, enabling teams to put out personalised, data-driven messaging at scale. 

Li gave an example, “Let's say I have many templates, a few hundred templates, of emails that show products to the customer, based on certain preferences. I could go into each one of them and change the code, such that it reflects a new design. But by working in a modular sense, I can change one location and have a new template update across all of them. You want to continuously provide good value, better value, design, something around it, but also be dynamic around it. Don't stick everything with just a fixed journey that caters to everyone. You've got to add some human element to it.”

Internally, achieving this seamlessness means rallying the team around the same cause.

Li added, “Thinking about technology stack, I don't think it's any one person's job. I do think that all the key stakeholders need to come around the same principles, the same thinking around the systems, that they can agree upon, then they will be able to explore and really aspire around the space as well as the tools and the capabilities it brings.”

The benefits go far beyond double-digit days 

When devising campaigns for double-digit days, marketers should also think beyond those 24 hours. After all, retention rates for Singles Day are found to be high — consumers added between 10/29 and 11.11 showed a 65% increase in 60-day retention rates compared to those added the rest of the month (11/12-11/30). 

Having a more holistic view of these campaigns could allow marketers to extend the benefits of festive campaigns beyond the holiday season, influencing purchasing decisions in the long term.

Zalora, for example, linked their 2020 Singles Day campaign to the Christmas shopping season. 

You can tie that in with your Christmas shopping season by saying, ‘Hey. Shop now, and then you get a special discount. You get double the cash back, for your Christmas shopping. Because you need, at a point in time, to buy a gift at the last minute, or you need a particular festive dress to attend that party,’” explained Li. 

The most effective double-digit campaigns would have the novelty factor for short-term conversions but also familiarity that would allow marketers to build enduring brand associations.

As Lee of Braze said, “Innovative experimentation can tackle the questions of how to stand out in the crowded arena of big marketplaces like Alibaba, and how to continue smooth operations while navigating peaks and surges in traffic. Thoughtful marketers are looking to translate successful shopping festival learnings into year-round strategies to boost customer retention while driving increased lifetime value and brand advocacy.”

For more insights on how best to capitalise on Singles Day and other festive seasons, read the Braze Singles Day Marketing Guide.


About Braze: 

Context underpins every Braze interaction, helping brands like Zalora, Pomelo, Domino’s, HBO, Truemoney, Traveloka and Canva foster human connection across email, mobile, SMS, and web. Named a Leader in the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Marketing Platforms, Braze is headquartered in New York with offices in Chicago, London, San Francisco, and Singapore.

Campaign Asia

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