The Power of AI: How Retail Marketers Can Do More With Less Ahead of the Holidays


In the fast-paced world of retail and e-commerce, staying ahead of the competition requires innovation, strategic decision-making, and the right tools to get it done. As the busy holiday season slowly approaches, it’s crucial that marketers adopt strategies now to ensure efficiency and maximize customer outreach later. This is where AI comes in, especially as marketers are tasked with doing more with less. Leveraging the power of AI and automation can significantly enhance campaign effectiveness and offers many advantages to retail and e-commerce marketers preparing for and capitalizing on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping periods of the year with overall retail spending expected to rise 4.5% to $1.328 trillion for the 2023 holiday season.

AI unlocks new potential for marketers to work more efficiently, and there’s no better time to implement AI than now. In this blog, we will explore four ways marketers can use AI to stand out from the competition, not only for the upcoming busy season but all year long.


1. Richer Data and More Precise Targeting

Customer data plays a pivotal role in marketing, providing valuable insights for targeting and personalization. To effectively utilize this data, it should be organized and stored where marketers can access and activate it. A real-time CDP unifies and organizes data from all sources for rich customer profiles and easily accessible segments. This empowers marketers to leverage all of their rich customer data to reach every shopper on a hyper-personalized level. With data, decisioning, and delivery all in one place, marketers have more control of the data and can use it to make informed decisions and truly deliver 1:1 experiences. Incorporating AI into the process allows for in-depth analysis of customer data, including past purchases, browsing behavior, demographics, and interactions, leading to deeper insights into customer behavior.

By using AI for predictive segmentation, hyper-targeting becomes easier and more effective. Predictive segmentation helps to identify your customers’ likelihood to perform a desired action — whether that is to engage, purchase, churn, and more. By blending creativity with data and AI, marketers can embrace their role as “data artists,” skillfully using rich customer data to craft compelling brand stories that resonate with customers.

Pro Tip: These same predictive segments can also be leveraged for paid media to improve targeting, optimize your paid media budget, and create seamless experiences across channels. Using AI, you can focus on high-propensity audiences and exclude low-value segments.


2. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Personalization goes well beyond simple first-name customization, and there’s no denying that the era of one-size-fits-all approaches is long gone. Brands must demonstrate a genuine understanding of their customers’ needs and cater directly to them. AI plays a pivotal role in enabling marketers to personalize 1:1 messages for millions of customers, making it not only possible but easy. Predictive recommendations effortlessly match customers with the most relevant products and content.  For retail and e-commerce marketers, this presents a valuable opportunity to design customer journeys that incorporate highly relevant, dynamic product recommendations in real time. Recommendations leverage data from extensive catalogs and are based on each shopper’s affinities, search and browsing activity, purchase history, and more. 

Ahead of Black Friday and the bustling holiday season, AI-powered recommendations prove to be especially beneficial for retail marketers. The high volume of customer activity during this time presents a challenge when it comes to delivering personalized experiences. However, AI alleviates this by automating the process of analyzing vast amounts of customer data and generating 1:1 recommendations. This enables marketers to not only meet customers’ heightened expectations for personalization but also capitalize on the increased traffic and sales opportunities during this critical period.

With readily available recommendation recipes for top industry use cases, like abandoned cart, cross-sell, and back-in-stock, this process becomes even easier. Brands like Sweetwater, a leading online music retailer, use product and content recommendations in their abandoned cart campaigns, welcome series, weekly newsletters, and more. In fact, in our recent webinar, Jeff Ekblad, Vice President of Marketing at Sweetwater, shared that Sweetwater saw a 39% increase in order rates using AI-powered recommendations in their weekly content newsletter. By delivering personalized experiences retailers can stand out from the crowd, drive results, and build long-lasting customer relationships.


3. Accelerate Content Creation

Content creation can be a time-consuming task for marketers, with about a third of marketers spending up to 75% of their time creating content. Fortunately, the emergence of Generative AI has revolutionized the way marketers work by enhancing both efficiency and personalization. This powerful tool accelerates content creation, empowering marketers to focus on producing high-quality, creative content and dedicate more time to strategic planning. With Generative AI, you can easily access AI with a simple click to generate content in the right tone and style for each customer across all marketing channels. Use it to generate new content, polish existing content, correct grammatical errors, get fresh ideas, and more. GenAI can also be utilized for generating variations for A/B testing. In fact, our early findings indicate that marketers prefer editorial control over variations of content, but use AI to further optimize the approved variations to suit each individual’s style and tone. 


4. Optimize Customer Journeys

AI provides new opportunities to optimize and automate key elements of campaign journeys. Engage Time Optimization (ETO) uses AI to determine the most effective send times for messages. By analyzing customer behavior patterns, purchase history, and downstream behaviors, AI can effectively pinpoint the optimal timing for each individual customer, ensuring that messages are reached when the customer is most likely to engage. Using ETO ensures the messages you’ve worked hard to design and personalize are seen. This level of precision increases the chances of conversions and strengthens customer relationships.

In addition to delivering messages at the best time for each shopper, it’s important to also deliver that message on the best channel. Predictive channel engagement scores enable AI-driven channel optimization. By analyzing customer behaviors and preferences, AI algorithms automatically determine the most suitable channel for each message. Whether it’s email, SMS, in-app notifications, or other channels, AI ensures that messages are delivered through the most effective touchpoints to create seamless customer experiences and maximize customer engagement and response rates.


Customer Engagement, Made Simple with AI

In order to effectively “do more with less” and implement AI into your marketing strategy, you need the right platform. An all-in-one customer engagement platform that combines data, decisioning, and delivery is key. A unified platform helps with managing customer data, leveraging AI, automating processes, personalizing experiences, optimizing performance, enabling cross-channel orchestration, and much more — all in one place. You can also truly unlock the full potential of your martech stack and seamlessly integrate with your retail and e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, and data warehouses like Snowflake, among many others. Lastly, it’s critical to ensure the reliability of your platform to not only handle the normal volumes, but the high volumes and demands of the busy holiday season. Blueshift ensures a 99.9% uptime guarantee. 


It’s undeniable that AI presents tremendous opportunities for retail marketers. By embracing AI, marketers can streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and achieve remarkable results, not only during the holiday season but throughout the entire year. From leveraging predictive analytics, personalizing with product recommendations, generating content, and optimizing send times and channels, AI offers a competitive edge in the retail industry. The potential for AI in marketing goes far beyond what we have discussed in this blog: retailers can explore using AI for intelligent pricing and promotions, efficient customer service with chatbots, virtual try-ons, inventory management, logistics and delivery, and more. So the real question is, what are you waiting for?

Interested in learning more? Download our AI-powered personalization guide.