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10 Ways to Turn Holiday Shoppers into Year-Round Customers

The key to a successful holiday season is turning new customers into customers for life. Here are ten ways to go about doing just that.

The Challenge of Turning New Customers Into Loyal Customers

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers. While all businesses are heavily invested in bringing in new shoppers for the season, turning those holiday shoppers into loyal year-round customers—while not neglecting existing customers – is a real challenge.

An Optimove customer data research has revealed the following dynamics in holiday shopping:

  • The growth in holiday uplift is derived primarily from first time shoppers, who bring in 50% more transactions compared to the rest of the year. Loyal repeat customers raise their transaction levels by only 17% during the same period.
  • However, both the transaction amounts and the number of items are higher for repeat customers during the holidays compared to new customers. Repeat customers’ transaction amounts came in 30% higher, while the number of items purchased was 40% higher compared to first time shoppers.
  • New shoppers who make their first purchase during the holidays are 19% less likely to convert into repeat customers compared to first timers during the rest of the year.
  • New customers who do come back to make additional purchases after the holidays tend to become weaker repeat shoppers compared to their more senior counterparts: during the 12 months following their holiday shopping they make 60% less additional purchases with the brand compared to repeat shoppers.

Acquiring New Customers While Focusing on Existing Customers

Acquisition efforts do bring in new shoppers during the holidays, but these tend to be less favorable customers and usually maintain their one-time status. Loyal brand customers, on the other hand, are more lucrative holiday shoppers when they do conduct their business with the brand, but they do so less during the holidays compared to the rest of the year.

These shopping tendencies point to two main strategies which marketers should implement leading up to the holidays: focus on loyal customers as an important asset for holiday uplift, and use the season as a jumping board for converting first timers into year-round shoppers.

Ten Practical Tips to Turn Your Holiday Shoppers into Loyal Brand Customers

New Customers

  1. Collect data. This is a great opportunity to pick up any customer information that can help you keep in touch year-round. Ask for a birth date, product preferences or offer a wish list so you can follow up with suggestions when the time is right.
  2. Offer incentives. Add a brochure, coupon codes or other goodies in your shopping cart to generate sales after the holidays. When the holiday rush is over, remind your shoppers that these offers still stand.
  3. Include branding. Add branded merchandise for free, preferably something your customers will wear, see or use often. Don’t underestimate the power of a constant visual reminder of your brand to drive further customer engagement.
  4. Exceed customer expectations. An overall good shopping experience is a great driver of loyalty. If you have a guaranteed delivery date, try to beat it. If you offer free returns, make them seamless. Think how you can delight and surprise your customers in ways that will remain memorable and shareable with friends through social media or word of mouth.
  5. Engender loyalty. Nurture your new customers through a loyalty program. Allowing them to earn points now will give them a good reason to come back in a slower Q1. Present your loyalty scheme prominently, and make sure that joining it is easier than a walk in the park.

Existing Customers

  1. Use historical data. The data you have about your existing customers is your trump card for the holiday season. Personalize the shopping experience with targeted promotions and offers that will make life easier for your customers.
  2. Give your existing customers the VIP treatment. Leading up to the holidays, make sure that your existing customers receive a heads-up on your holiday plans: if you’re planning free-shipping, gift-wrapping or free-returns, don’t keep it to yourself. .
  3. Increase conversions. Create a pre-holiday sale for loyal customers, and make sure your customers know it’s exclusive. Early limited access to your holiday goodies is a great bonus for loyal shoppers that is sure to attract attention.
  4. Be emotional. Emotions drive loyalty, especially around the holidays when emotions run high. Bring up seniority and loyalty in your communications: a “Thank you for being a great customer this year” along with a holiday bonus will ensure another year of great business.
  5. Be attentive. Make it easier to get support. Put all your support options in one easily accessible page and make sure that you’re ready to handle an influx in questions and complaints. Give your support team the tools to turn complaints into opportunities.

The key to a successful holiday season is looking at your customers through the Customer Lifetime Value lens (click here for a great hack for calculating Lifetime Value). If you regard the upcoming season not as an easy chance for quick wins but as a season for sowing the seeds of your future loyal customers, you’ll be sure to win both during the holiday craze and in the year to follow.

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