It may be July, but now is the time to start thinking about the holiday season.

Although it's one of the most important times for driving revenue, the holiday season is difficult for brands to set themselves apart from competitors and connect with customers in meaningful ways. 

Therefore it’s important for marketers to harness emerging technology to drive customer engagement.

From receipt validation to building sharable content, brands have more tools at their disposal than ever before as they prep their strategies for the biggest spending season of the year.

Let’s take a look at how brands can use current technology trends to help them rise above the noise during December.

Integrated wishlists

Brands are making it easier than ever for customers to share their favorite finds with loved ones with wishlist functionality integrated into their websites, apps and social channels.

Capitalizing on the success of social networks like Pinterest, brands need to allow customers to seamlessly share desired wishlist items across Twitter, Facebook and email, taking the guess work out of holiday shopping and drawing more eyes on (and directly to) company offerings.

Amazon recently made headlines with its Twitter integration, which allows consumers to tweet their favorite items with a designated hashtag to have the product added to their Amazon Wish List. 

Receipt validation

Just because a brand made the sale doesn’t mean they should stop there.

Brands must create ways throughout the holiday season to reward customers for their continued loyalty. Receipt validation in particular has grown easier than ever thanks to mobile integration.

Customers can simply scan or upload photos of receipts of recent purchases for the chance to win prizes, earn rewards and more. This not only delights shoppers, but allows marketers to track consumer trends. 

Last January, Clorox invited customers to enter a $1,000 monthly sweepstakes by submitting a receipt showing purchases of two Clorox products. Customers could also win additional entries for daily site visits to keep the excitement going past the sale.

Validation campaigns like this heighten sales, provide opportunities to build CRM data, while using a 'chance-to-win' call-to-action to keeps brands top of mind.

By inviting customers to submit receipts, brands are also presented with a plethora of customer data, allowing them to fine tune campaigns and product offerings.

Apple Watch

After much anticipation, the Apple Watch made its debut in April, allowing marketers unprecedented connections to their customers.

Since then scores of brands have jumped onboard, creating apps that engage with customers on a hyper-personal level.

Recently, Degree deodorant launched its Sweat This, Not That app, a 30-day fitness challenge for Watch OS that invites consumers to complete personalized workouts each day.

Sporting goods brands can follow in Degree’s footsteps by prompting users to complete daily fitness routines in exchange for timely coupons and the chance to win a holiday shopping spree.

Mobile countdowns and geolocation

Mobile devices have given retailers accessibility to driving in-the-moment in store visits. Target’s Watch OS app allows users to build shopping lists on their Apple Watch and then guides them to items when in-store based on their current locations. A great idea to create themed holiday shopping lists and delight frazzled customers.

Brands can also utilize geolocation features by creating mobile countdowns to major holidays.

Invite customers to visit stores to receive exclusive timely deals. Each day, share a new mobile coupon while customers are in-store. They have to be there to receive it!

Select random days to supplement the campaign with text-to-win initiatives with prizes presented in certain day parts. By using geolocation to reward in-store shoppers with coupons, brands can direct shoppers to sections that may not be hot while driving excitement about the holiday shopping season.

By thinking strategically about how emerging trends can play a role in seasonal outreach, marketers can continue to bridge the gap between brand and consumer and ensure that the holiday season is as merry as can be.

Jen Todd Gray

Published 16 July, 2015 by Jen Todd Gray

Jen Gray is VP, Brand, Marketing & Creative Services at HelloWorld, Inc. and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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