Just like your neighbor who puts up holiday lights and wreaths right after Halloween, retailers like Amazon and Walmart are rewriting the holiday calendar with increasingly early pre-Black Friday sales.
Despite the growing trend, consumers will still line up outside the local big box store in the cold, pre-dawn hours of Black Friday, and engage in the decidedly more comfortable online sales of Cyber Monday.
In fact, online retailers are gearing up for the largest Cyber Monday ever.
According to aggregated data from a 2016 Adobe Digital Insights holiday report, retailers are forecasting more than $3.36 billion in online sales. For the first time, mobile shopping will exceed desktop (although overall mobile transactions still lag).
And, with the aforementioned trend, it's not only limited to Monday. The total seasonal online spending is expected to top $91 billion with 57 days over the $1 billion mark.
But it's not just retailers who are planning for a big holiday season. As the managed services trend continues to nudge overall consumer spending away from ownership (purchase) toward access and experience (subscriptions), subscription-based companies like telecommunications, gaming, financial services and software must be poised to take advantage of the seasonal spending push.
Here are three ways non-retailers can take advantage of the busy holiday season:
Leveraging ongoing customer relationships
While retail data is limited to leveraging purchase/browsing behaviors and demographic data for personalized user experiences, subscription-model companies often have access to a much broader swath of ongoing behavioral data points resulting from daily or weekly interactions with their product.
It's more like a relationship than a transaction. However, many enterprises struggle with connecting product usage data with their marketing stack in a scalable way. Even if they've set up a robust data environment with the right level of granularity, they rarely see benefit beyond labor-intensive predictive modeling exercises that provide actionable benefit, but with little agility.
As machine learning-powered digital intelligence layers have been gaining traction within the martech stack, early adopters are seeing drastic benefits by ingesting product data to fuel personalized marketing campaigns.
Fighting stocking stuffer churn
As consumers add new devices, products and habits over the holiday season, non-retailers need to have strong retention campaigns in place to deal with churn risk.
Those innocent stocking stuffers will most likely have a new subscription plan attached to them. The new gaming device under the tree only includes a three-month subscription. Those gift credit cards will certainly be from a competing financial services company.
But, unlike retailers, managed services companies are deeply focused on customer lifetime value as a KPI, and should have the distinct advantage of knowing which customers are most at risk for churn weeks, or even months, ahead of time.
Successful brands will be taking this opportunity to reignite lapsed users with targeted special offers designed to protect against churn and, ultimately, increase revenue per user through the rest of the year.
Turkey day testing agility
Unless you're a Detroit Lions wide receiver, agility is the last thing anyone associates with a Thanksgiving turkey-induced coma.
However, with millions of customers engaged in buying behaviors, it's the perfect time to get your sluggish testing program off the couch and put it to work. Beyond simple A/B tests, managed services brands should be dynamically testing personalized thousands of messaging permutations and experiences based off of available user behavioral data.
If you're stuck using labor-intensive testing or rules-based marketing automation tools that don't support this level of testing agility, it might be time to consider asking your vendors to gift-wrap machine learning-powered testing tool under the tree this year.
Matt Fleckenstein is the chief marketing officer at Amplero. He is a proven product and marketing executive with a track record for conceiving, building, and launching revolutionary software products in both startups and established companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, mSpoke (acquired by LinkedIn) and Peak Strategy (acquired by Morgan Stanley).