From the blog How to Leverage Holiday Shoppers Into Long-Term Customers

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been notoriously huge days for retailers. This year you can add even more magic to the season with by a smart plan that’ll turn your holiday shoppers into long-term customers in the new year and beyond.

Take Advantage of Seasonal Spending

In 2017, Adobe Analytics reported that U.S. shoppers spent $7.9 billion at retail stores on Black Friday, with an additional $6.6 billion coming in from online sales on Cyber Monday. And according to the National Retail Federation, this start to the holiday season is critical for businesses because roughly 30% of retail sales happen between Black Friday and Christmas. For specialty shops like jewelers, that number jumps to 40%!

If you think these holiday wins are only available to big businesses, think again. The American Express-sponsored Small Business Saturday drives over 100 million shoppers into the doors of independent locally-owned businesses. Which means more than big money for your business. It means big opportunity. Upsells and renewals from existing customers account for 70 to 95 percent of most revenue, says forEntreprenurs.

How do you adjust your business strategy to make the most of holiday shopping volume? Start by considering the unique characteristics of seasonal shoppers using analytical software from the likes of Heap Analytics or others, to gain data about the view of your products in the eyes of your customers, as well as their behavior. Then use that knowledge to build a great relationship right off the bat.

Understand Your Holiday Shoppers

The first step is to keep in mind that people who buy between Thanksgiving and Christmas have different drivers than an everyday customer.

  1. They spend more
  2. They’re buying gifts for someone else
  3. Competition influences their purchasing decisions
  4. Customer service is more important than ever
  5. They’re shopping on a deadline

Because holiday shoppers are often buying gifts for others (and sometimes for themselves!), this could be the first time they’ve experienced your store. Now’s your chance to win them over and make a lasting impression that’ll get them back in the door after the holidays are over.

Nancy Friedman, President of The Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, likes to remind businesses that “a memorable greeting is a great way to establish a connection with the customer.” She suggests using a creative and personal approach like, “Hi, glad you’re here. Thanks for coming in. I like what you’re wearing.”

Attention to details, great deals, stellar customer service and relationship-building are the secrets to creating life-long customers for your company.

Reward Their Buying Behavior

The holiday season is the ideal time to introduce customers to a rewards program. This could range from a robust online loyalty program to a simple punch card. You can even reward customers with Talus Pay gift cards, so they can spend more at your shop in the new year.

Your business model will determine what type of rewards work best, but try to set up a system before the holidays. If you already have a system, be sure to promote it to your shoppers throughout the season. New customers will be excited to enroll, and current customers will appreciate the reminder about your perks.

Keep the Relationship Going

Communication is the key to great relationships. This rule applies to your holiday shoppers, too. Start off strong by welcoming them to your business and providing great customer support. This can be an in-person hello and offer to help, or else a cookie or glass of wine! It can also translate to an awesome welcome email with a discount code.

As you assist customers with their holiday purchasing, collect email addresses, phone numbers and even mailing addresses — all essential for nurturing your relationship in the future.

Nina Pfister, Founder & Principal of Mooring Advisory Group, recommends that online businesses “add a pop-up on their website offering a discount code or free shipping in exchange for an email address and mailing list subscription. This enables you to attract new buyers and subscribers at the same time, who you can continuously market to in a personalized manner.”

A few days after you’ve made the sale and added them to your customer list, make a quick connection with a thank you email or handwritten note. One way to start the conversation is by asking how you can improve their shopping experience in the coming year. When you ask for feedback, you let customers know their opinions matter and that you value them. This is also a great time to offer an incentive, like a special discount or free gift with their next purchase. If you have a loyalty program, give them a reward for filling out a feedback survey.

Retargeting your shoppers with Facebook and Google display ads is another way to stay top of mind over time. It’s easy to upload your new holiday shopper email list and create a custom audience for targeting. Then they’ll start seeing your products in their Facebook newsfeed or Google searches and be reminded of the great shopping experience they had over the holidays.

Plan Their Next Visit for Them

Don’t wait for your holiday shoppers to find their way back on their own. Make the first move with special invitations to exclusive shopping events that make them feel valued and excited about a one-of-a-kind experience. A ladies’ night out with desserts and champagne or a men’s happy hour featuring craft beers and deep discounts can add a spark to your budding relationship.

Aaron Pfeifer, Principal Business Consultant of Obsidian Solutions, LLC, is a proponent of collaborative social events and notes that sometimes, “Small businesses overlook a huge opportunity in partnering with neighbors when they are located in a strip mall. Find some key partners and jointly advertise an event which supports you all.”

You can also help your holiday shoppers plan their next online visit with digital tools. Send an email with personalized product recommendations based on their previous purchase or audience segment. Next-visit coupons can be enticing, whether delivered in print, via email or online. These special invitations are perfect for a thank you or welcome email. Or you can wait until the holiday shopping buzz dies down and present them with a New Year’s treat.

Don’t Quit While You’re Ahead

Your holiday shopper retention strategy should extend far beyond the beginning of the new year. As you build your marketing plan for this holiday season, take the extra step to create a strategy for other holidays and key shopping seasons that happen during the next 12 months. If you keep them engaged until the next Black Friday, they’ll spend even more!

One final note. Some of your holiday marketing efforts might bump up your budget but going the extra mile now can take your profits farther in the new year. Talk to your partners at Talus Pay about more ways you can use merchant services to learn about customer behaviors and create better holiday shopping experiences that will keep holiday customers coming back for more throughout the year.

Are you ready to grow together?