Webinar Recap: Holiday Analytics and Reporting Q&A

We hosted our last monthly webinar of 2019 this week, a Q&A on holiday strategy and reporting with some of Glew’s top ecommerce analytics experts. Mark Miano, Lindsay Brush and Chris Elliott answered questions – some submitted by Glew users, and some gathered from conversations we’ve had with merchants over the past few weeks and months.

We covered tons of actionable tips for BFCM strategy, holiday customer segmentation, reporting on holiday sales and marketing campaigns and more. You can watch the recording of the webinar here, and see below for some of our top takeaways:

What are the most important metrics for merchants to track during the holidays? What’s the best way to pull key insights out of the data?

  • Use an analytics platform like Glew (or something comparable) to automate your reporting across channels, especially during the holidays – trying to do it manually will be expensive and painful.
  • Look at last year’s holiday season performance as a benchmark to get an idea of what you should expect to see this year in terms of performance and growth. Depending on how your business is doing, 20-30% growth year-over-year is a good number to shoot for.
  • When it comes to customer segmentation, track your gifters. It’s true that there’s a lot of money to be made by attracting new customers who wouldn’t normally buy from you during the holiday season, since they might be buying gifts for for family and friends. But there’s even more money to be made attracting the right new customers – the kind that are likely to turn into high-value repeat purchasers – and retaining them after the holiday season is over.

What are some indicators that merchants should be on the lookout for during the holiday season to make sure that everything is working as expected (or to let them know if something is off)? 

  • Being able to track year-over-year growth is important to make sure you’re on pace to hit your goals, and it’s super simple in Glew on the Highlights tab. Just set your date range to look at last year’s November-December performance versus this year and look the trend line.

Revenue year over year for the holiday season

  • Reporting on coupons and discounts is incredibly powerful, especially this time of year. You want to keep a consistent attachment rate on your discounts and coupons throughout the holidays (the percentage of all orders that have a discount attached), even as you increase the amount of discounts and promotions you’re running. If your attachment rate is around 30-40% during the year, the same should be generally true during the holidays.
  • Look at the bell curve of your customers, from your VIP shoppers (your top 10% of revenue-drivers) to value shoppers (customers who only ever shop with a discount code). You want to make sure the percentage of revenue you have coming in from your VIP shoppers stays fairly consistent over the holidays, and you’re not flipping the balance disproportionately to value shoppers during the holidays.
  • However – remember that you might see a natural shift in that balance during the holidays, since you’ll likely have an influx of discount shoppers and one-time purchasers coming in. As long as it’s evening out by Q1 of next year, you should be all set.

How do you decide what products to discount/promote during the holidays?

  • Normally, you discount products that are moving slowly and taking up inventory – you find these by looking at your sell through rate and holding cost. Discounts can help you get rid of these products faster, offloading them to your value shoppers.
  • However – during the holiday season, you have a perfect window to acquire higher-value customers, and that means you don’t necessarily want to lead with cold products. Find out what your highest LTV products are, and instead, promote those at a discount. That may mean you take a loss on someone’s first purchase, but that might be worth it if they’re more likely to come back and spend money with you later.

How often should you change up your discounts/offers over the holiday season?

  • Don’t always rely on the same offer – if you have shoppers that buy with you year after year, they’ll notice. They might get bored and wish that you had offered something more – and find another retailer who does.
  • Swap out your discount codes strategically, using lapse point as a guide. If you sell something like high-end electronics and your average time between purchases is long, you may want to pick one or two discount codes to stretch over the holiday season. If you sell food or beauty products, where there’s typically a shorter time between purchases, you can switch out your discount codes more frequently to try squeeze a few more purchases out of your regular customers.
  • If you can get customers to treat themselves at the same time they’re buying gifts for friends and family, that’s a great way to drive up your average order value – and discount codes are a perfect way to do that.

During the holidays, you tend to get an influx of new shoppers that might not look like your usual customers. What’s the best way to segment those holiday shoppers out, and what can you do to turn them into repeat purchasers?

  • Look at customers who have only ordered from you one time, who you acquired during the holiday season. You can see what products they purchased and what channels they came in through, and even figure out what your average relationship length is per SKU – which of your products get people to stick around longer?
  • Drill down into specific purchase timing around the holidays. Do you have a group of one-purchase customers who bought during the week before Christmas last year? They’re likely last-minute shoppers who will probably do the same this year. Target them with free rush shipping right before the holidays.
  • It’s all about treating customers the way they want to be treated – show that you’re listening, that you understand their behavior and that you’re making an effort to deliver experiences designed for them. They’ll appreciate it and be more likely to buy from you.

What are some key customer segments you should be targeting over the holidays? 

  • Value shoppers are your customers who have only ever purchased with a discount code. Promote your discounts heavily to them – and let them know right in the ad or in the subject line of your emails that there’s a discount included, since you know that’s what motivates them.
  • VIP shoppers are your top 10% of revenue drivers. You can pass that segment over to your email marketing platform and send them special promotions or give them early access to your sales. If these people are super valuable to you, you may even want to send them a hand written note or holiday card post-purchase.
  • You can get even more granular with custom segments – think people who have shopped with you two or three times and spent $1000+, or people who have never had a refund. Let these people know that they’re not getting your standard BFCM discount, they’re getting something special. And they should get that before their inbox gets flooded with other offers.
  • Offer your VIPs something outside your comfort zone – even something like 40% off. That could turn one purchase into two purchases, or two purchases into three.
  • While it’s easy to get hung up in the numbers, at the end of the day, your customers drive your business, and your customer experience is what builds loyalty. If you have a core group of loyal, valuable customers, show them what they mean to you with valuable and personal experiences this time of year.

What are some misconceptions merchants tend to have around BFCM and the holiday season?

  • Everyone thinks that if they run a bunch of discounts, they’ll make a bunch of money. And you might generate a lot of revenue, but you might also destroy your margins if you do that – either in the short term or the long term.
  • When thinking about which groups of customers to focus on, most people go straight to the at risk customer and try to save them. But the dark horse that actually drives more value is nurturing your active customers. They’re your money makers – your success, during the holiday season and year-round, is a reflection of your ability to provide a great experience for those people.
  • People think the holidays are a short time frame to generate revenue, but it doesn’t stop on December 25th. If you can get people to make a purchase (or even just give you their email) during the holidays, follow up after the season is over to get them to come back and make a repeat purchase, or even purchase for the first time.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for merchants at this point in the season – a week out from BFCM and a month out from Christmas? What can they be doing right now to ensure a successful holiday season?

  • It’s so easy to know information about your customers today – how much they spent, what products they bought from you in what order, when they last ordered. If a customer just purchased with you, don’t send them the same promotional messaging everyone else is getting. Don’t reach back out asking them to immediately buy again, and especially don’t promote the same products they just bought. Give them time to get excited about your product before asking them to buy again – don’t make them just feel like a sales number.

A customer profile, including previous purchase history, total spent, AOV and more, in Glew

  • Treat your customers like people, and they’ll be more likely to pay attention. Only 14% of emails get opened during the holiday season. Make sure your messaging is targeted, clever, or unique, and that it makes someone want to engage with it and shop with you.

What are key metrics merchants should look at after throughout the holiday season to understand their performance and make adjustments?

  • One of our most popular visualizations is LTV profitability by channel – it pulls in all your advertising channels and tells you your new and repeat customers from each channel, totals up your ad spend, gives you your return on ad spend and lifetime return on ad spend and more. Being able to go in during the holiday season and rank all the campaigns you’re running by new customer acquisition, LTV, return on ad spend and more is so valuable – you can see whats performing well and make any adjustments over the course of the season.

The best gift of all? Better data

The holidays are here, but it’s not too late to get a better handle on your analytics and reporting. Start a free trial of Glew today and get a free holiday analysis from our product experts:

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