Using AI Marketing to Capture the Attention of Holiday Shoppers

Omnichannel marketing strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits

Originally published November 5, 2020. Updated October 21, 2021.

The holidays are a hectic time for most of us: deadlines to meet, the weather to fend off, and the general buzz of chaos that surrounds November and December. As consumers, we’re all trying to cross off each item on our shopping lists — and as marketers, we’re trying to make sure our brand gets on those shopping lists. What’s more, there will be over 230 million online shoppers in the U.S. this year. With shipping delays resulting from the effects of the COVID pandemic, holiday orders will be disrupted globally, meaning it is more important than ever to get ahead of your ecommerce marketing strategy and drive holiday sales as early as possible.

The best way to ensure your brand is top of mind going into this chaotic holiday season? Let’s discuss how AI marketing can help your ecommerce brand capture the holiday shopper’s attention.


Send Messages When Customers Will Engage

As customers wade through the overwhelming amount of emails, push notifications, and ads they’re bound to get this holiday season, it can be easy to become another brand cursed with unopened messages. Can we even blame them? Ramping up in overall sending volumes means it’s not uncommon for one customer to get 20+ emails in an hour, especially at peak sending times like 5 p.m.

The sure-fire way to prevent your messages from being instantly overlooked is through triggered messaging powered by Engage Time Optimization. AI-powered Engage Time Optimization helps you optimize individual send times for future behaviors that lead to revenue, rather than metrics like open rates. The beauty of Engage Time Optimization is that it understands that today’s consumer interacts with brands in many frequent bursts of activity around the clock, as opposed to once or twice a day at set times. From analyzing past activity, customer attributes, and site activity, AI identifies and optimizes send times for each customer to when they are most likely to deeply engage with a brand — effectively pinpointing the perfect send time to get your message read and the customer on their way to conversion.


Create a Seamless Omnichannel Customer Journey

With the perfect time of messaging nailed down, it’s now time to figure out the perfect channel on which to message your customers. To be frank, there’s probably not a single “golden” channel on which to message a customer nowadays. While customers will have channels that more often lead to positive behavior, it’s not enough to only message there — today’s customers expect and need a solid omnichannel shopping experience to influence them to purchase. Even for brands that want to increase foot traffic to their stores, omnichannel strategies drive an 80% higher rate of incremental store visits.

AI can help make the seamless coordination of channels across the customer experience a breeze. Similar to send time, you can also now take advantage of AI to optimize channel selection with Predictive Channel Engagement Scores. These scores help marketers autonomously select which channel is best for marketing to each customer by predicting the likelihood of a user engaging with a message on each channel — email, push, in-app, SMS, paid ads, etc.

The scores that are assigned to customers are created through examining their historic behavioral data, catalog interactions, customer attributes, and any other data you deem pertinent. These scores range from 0-100, with higher scores indicating that a customer has a higher likelihood of engagement on that channel. They’re easily leveraged throughout the customer journey to send coordinated, personalized messages across top channels to drive customers to engage, convert, and become brand loyalists.


Implement Meaningful 1:1 Personalization

For customers who are unsure about their shopping lists, personalized recommendations can be a great way to earn their attention (and their holiday budgets). In addition, truly thoughtful personalization can set your brand apart for customers who know exactly what they want. This personalization can’t just be stand-alone; you need to serve up personalized content across every channel, which can be extremely challenging given how much data customers leave behind and the sheer size of product catalogs.

Moving past generic “recommendations” is possible with AI-powered Predictive Recommendations — and with a SmartHub Customer Data Platform (CDP) like Blueshift. Predictive Recommendations will take the input of your catalog content, customer data, and customer interactions with your catalog and produce recommendations based on a number of algorithms. This means that as customers are doing their holiday browsing across your site, you can be collecting the data you need to implement meaningful 1:1 personalization that will get them converting with your brand.

Curious about what AI can do for your ecommerce marketing strategy, even beyond the holiday season? Check out our quick 2-minute read on product recommendations for ecommerce & retail companies to learn more, or see it in action by scheduling a demo with one of our SmartHub CDP experts today!


Connect customers with relevant products based on their individual interests, including stated preferences, inferred affinities, and previous browsing behaviors.