Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.
It’s exhilarating…That feeling you get during the holiday season when sales spike and new customers keep rolling through the door. You may even get to the point when you have to turn off the payment notifications on your cell phone because the incessant vibrating is becoming too much.Then… crickets.January hits and it’s a ghost town.That new boat you put a down payment on back in December is starting to eat away at your bank account and the anxiety starts to build.Where is the next sale coming from? Was your holiday success just a flash in the pan? Do you have to wait another 12 months to see any sales growth again?The holiday rollercoaster is an all too common one for retail businesses, both online and off. Naturally, the flash sales at Thanksgiving, combined with the Christmas period, and the clearance sales associated with the New Year, all bring a lift in sales.But how do you keep the train going? How do you ensure those new customers you acquired will come back for more and your business will continue to grow? After all, the number of new customers you acquire is on average 50% higher during this period!It’s not easy, but here are 22 ways to turn those holiday customers into long-term brand advocates:
1. Collect contact details
It may sound rudimentary in this day and age, but you’d be surprised at how many sales are being made online without capturing the relevant contact information of the customers.Acquiring new customers costs 5 to 10 times more than selling to a current customer - and current customers spend 67% more on average than those who are new to your business. (Source)We spend so much time, effort, and money trying to acquire new customers when the answer to our fluctuating revenue is right in front of our eyes. If people buy something from you on Black Friday, collect their details and get back in touch in the new year.
2. Segment your list based on data
Collecting contact details is a good starting point, but it’s how you use this information that really matters. The more data you collect from each customer the better you can segment your database of customers and the more you can personalize the experience next time around.Segmentation allows you to personalize your marketing messages based on demographic data, interests, purchase behavior, and anything else you track.Amazon is the master at customer personalization with their now well-known “recommendations.”
Example of customer personalization.
3. Sign them up for a year
It depends on what you sell, of course, but consider offering an attractive discount on a product or service that generates revenue all year round. For example, instead of running a clearance sale on New Year’s Eve for individual products, heavily discount a year-long subscription for something that can be delivered every month to a customer.An interesting example of a business that is built on this concept is the “Sock of the Month Club.”
Example of a subscription service for every day products.
4. Give great service
One of the best ways you can entice returning customers after the holiday season is to go above and beyond with your customer service.Don’t just snatch and run with all of your holiday revenue… make each and every customer feel special for weeks or even months after they buy something from you. Companies that take customer service to new heights stand out.
5. Make it an experience
As the holiday sales approach it’s easy to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase and totally forget about the product, brand, or discount you received within a couple of days. Especially if you are the type of shopper who purchases a lot of things at this time of year.Make the experience extraordinary for your customers so that you are memorable. One great example of this in the eCommerce industry is to emphasize the unboxing of a product when it is delivered to a customer.
6. Exceed their expectations
There are a number of ways you can exceed the expectations of your customers. Some we have already mentioned, such as providing exceptional service and a memorable experience. Another thing you can do to exceed your customers’ expectations during the holiday season and keep them coming back all year round is to provide an amazing product or service.Ensure the thing they buy has 10 times the perceived value of the price they paid for it and they will not only come back next time around, but they’ll also tell everyone else about it!
7. Generate non-holiday offers
What is it about the holiday season that makes people buy more than any other time of year?Sure, we have retail-driven events such as Christmas that come with present-giving. But the holiday season is also synonymous with sales, discounts, and amazing offers from brands of all shapes and sizes.Why not take this feeling and re-create it at another time of the year? Yes, you don’t want to become known as the “discount” brand, but a quarterly sale or exclusive bundle deal could work in your favor for holding onto those holiday customers.
8. Run quarterly interactive campaigns
Leading on from the tip above, you could utilize the high-engagement rates of interactive marketing campaigns to support your quarterly non-holiday offers. Contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, and quizzes are all perfect examples of consumer favorites that don’t necessarily require a product or service discount.Below is an example of a contest from FujiFilm they ran in The Fall:
Example of a seasonal interactive campaign. View and Create Your Own.
9. Ask for feedback (and act on it)
With an increase in activity and interest about your product or service during the holiday season, why not make the most of it by attaining valuable feedback from customers?Phone your customers, ask them to fill in a survey, or use a drip email sequence to ask for targeted feedback about your offer. If you act on this feedback and reconnect with the customers that provided it, you will build long-term trust and credibility with them.
10. Listen to their needs (don’t just ask)
It’s not enough to simply ask for feedback. Anyone can throw together a customer survey or drip sequence so that it “looks” like they care about their customers. Make sure you genuinely listen to what your customers have to say. Ask clarifying questions and get confirmation before documenting their requests. This way, they will not only feel heard, but you will have more meaningful feedback to use moving forward.
11. Make a product just for them
As you collect feedback from paying customers during the holiday season, think beyond your current product set. What else could you create that will serve the needs and desires of this audience? If you make a product just for them, they’ll no doubt appreciate it and come back for more.
12. Release new adjacent products
How do you encourage a holiday customer to return in less than 12 months if your product or service is a once off kind of thing… or perhaps it has a product lifecycle of 2 or 3 years?
The answer is to produce adjacent products or services that solve a complementary need for these customers.
If you have exceeded their expectations with the first offer then they will trust you to deliver on the next one too!
13. Create a long-term follow-up sequence
Automated email sequences are often associated with the first 30-90 days of a new customer relationship when the connection is fairly new and requires attention. But how about three, six, or even 12 months down the track?You can create long-term follow-up sequences that re-engage customers at strategic times throughout the year. For example, perhaps your data shows you that the product you have sold them needs a refresher every 6 months. Automate an email campaign, and personalized offer, to prompt a new purchase at that exact moment.Below is an example from a cosmetics online store called iHerb, where they have offered “loyalty credit” with an expiry date. Brilliant!
Example of loyalty credit to encourage repeat purchases.
14. Make it personal
The more personal you can make the ongoing experience with your customer the more likely they are to form a trusting connection with your brand and want to purchase future products or services from you.Of course, it’s not scalable to do this manually. That’s why the collection of key data points and information is so important during your holiday sales. Track the pages customers view on your website, their location, demographic information, and anything else you can get your hands on to segment your database and automatically personalize the experience at a later date.
15. Leverage loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a proven method for encouraging repeat sales from your customers, but gone are the days of simple coffee-card-esque “buy 10 and get the 11th free” style loyalty programs. Unless a customer is hyper-engaged with your brand, they are unlikely to enter this style of program, so you need to think outside the box.Gamifying your loyalty program by providing points for an array of different customer activities can be a new-age way for increasing participation. Some examples of activities that achieve points are; making purchases, sharing offers on social media, or referring new customers.
16. Don’t always ask for something
Turning your holiday purchasers into brand advocates and repeat customers isn’t about asking for sales all the time. Build trust and credibility by sending these customers regular and high-quality content that supports their needs or desires.Create videos, blog posts, research reports, infographics, or even curate social media content. Every time you send something of value to these prospects for free it accrues a higher level of trust and increases the chance that they will buy from you again.
17. Shine a light on your customers
If one of your customers shares their unboxing or product experience on social media, show them off to your followers. Let them know how grateful you are and repay the favor by boosting their social profile.If this doesn’t happen organically, contact your customers and encourage them to send in photos or testimonials that you can use in future promotions or on your social media pages. There is nothing like a bit of social proof to build brand advocacy.Body scrub brand Frank Body have a dedicated Instagram page for these customer spotlights:
Example of customer spotlighting on social media.
18. Forget about short-term sales and focus on long-term value
It’s not always about generating sales at every step of the journey. Instead of short-term gains, think about the long-term value of each of your holiday customers.What can you do to stand out week after week, month after month, and year after year?In the end, it’s not necessarily the business with the most customers who achieves sustainable growth, it’s the business with the greatest average lifetime value of a customer.
19. Leverage technology to track and engage
The marketing technology available to businesses of all sizes these days is extremely powerful. You can track email opens, clicks, product purchases, and even in-depth website behavior such as pageviews or on-page cursor activity.Use the power of this tracking technology to trigger campaigns and engage users when they are slipping away or primed and ready to buy again. The more data you collect the more personalized your messaging can be, and the better results you will see.
20. Send them a gift or thank you card
It’s old school, but that’s why it works. With so many businesses obsessed about “scale” and “automation” the personal touch is sometimes lost. Consider sending your customers a handwritten thank you card. It will help you stand out and be memorable well beyond the time of purchase.
21. Do something out of left-field
Everything on this list is designed to make your customers feel special, appreciated, and happy with their purchase. How can you take that sense of warmth and connection to a new level?Do something out of left-field that no other company is doing.For example, you could invite a group of customers to a company event as a way of wining and dining them. They’ll feel more than appreciated and develop a strong sense of loyalty to your brand.
22. Reward customers for referrals
It’s crazy to think that companies are still not rewarding customers for referring new customers to their business. It’s so simple to set up with services such as Referral Candy, and not only will you find NEW customers but you will also establish an ongoing and strengthened relationship with the customers who are actively referring.
Example of rewarding customers for referrals. How do you plan on turning your holiday customers into brand advocates?
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