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Want Happy Holidays for Your Business? Put Hoopla on Hold



If you want to reach consumers and drive sales during the 2011 holiday season, you should forget about holiday hoopla like mistletoe and chestnuts roasting on the fire and make an all-out effort to engage with your customers, new research suggests.

According to data collected from 4,200 consumers by Motista, a consumer research company, retailers are falling down on the job when it comes to building customer engagement. In their most recent study, only 18 percent of consumers indicated an emotional connection to their retailers.

With only 24 percent of consumers indicating they would make their next relevant purchase with the retailers they patronize today, retailers must establish and leverage an emotional connection to retain their customers and increase sales.

The Motista researchers said the key findings in their survey illustrated that building deeper connections with consumers can help drive higher levels of purchase intent , response rates, online engagement and advocacy.

Connected customers is the name of the game

Consumers who feel emotional connections to their retailers are four times more likely to shop those retailers first, as compared to consumers who are simply familiar and satisfied with their retailers, the study showed.

Connected customers also respond to direct mail from their retailers twice as often as unengaged consumers. They are also shopping their retailers' websites via mobile devices ten times more often than consumers who are simply satisfied. And these connected consumers are following their retailers on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter four times more often.

Making the customer connection also pays off in positive word-of-mouth endorsement for retailers. When consumers feel a connection, they are 50 percent more likely to advocate for the brand and recommend the retailer to others.

The best way for retailers to build a connection with customers is by fitting into their real lives, the researchers said. While customers want to be inspired, they're also looking to retailers to make their lives simpler.

"The findings of our most recent study will help retailers as they plan for the 2011 holiday season," said Alan Zorfas, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Motista. "But the long-term takeaway for retailers is the importance of establishing more relevant connections with their customers. What’s really motivating them beyond expected themes? We see connection driving higher levels of purchasing and advocacy across a multitude of industries, and the brands that act on this data are able to execute successful marketing campaigns that motivate their target audiences more effectively."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.



Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.