Turning Holiday Shoppers into Lifelong Customers

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By Rima Deming

Turning one-time shoppers into long-term brand advocates is no easy task, yet many marketers become so devoted to perfecting their holiday marketing that they often forget to prioritize a post-holiday strategy.

That’s why now is the time to think ahead and re-evaluate your marketing strategy to prep for the New Year. By shifting your strategy from high quantity to increased relevancy, you can be assured that you will build long-term loyalty and engagement. Here are some recommendations to help you adapt your marketing strategy to engage with customers throughout the year:

  • Analyze your customers’ behavior: Review last year’s activity and start analyzing customer behavior so you can avoid over-communicating and sending messages that are quickly overlooked. Test and optimize things like frequency, send-time optimization and day-of-week/time-of-day engagement. This will allow you to develop future messages that are tailored to a customer’s specific needs and interests.
  • Capitalize on your strengths and insights: Think about the true benefits of your brand so that you can reintroduce them to customers acquired during the holiday season. Typically, these customers have become familiar with your discounts and flash sales, so you should consider utilizing the data already captured to personalize emails and other messages moving forward. Use their browsing behavior, purchase history and email engagement levels.
  • Look at global and/or national search trends: When during the year do key search terms such as ‘Black Friday’, ‘Cyber Monday’ and ‘Christmas Gifts’, start to ramp up? If you know people start looking for Christmas deals in September, then you can consider when you start planning to bid on specific search terms, and when to start communicating them in your holiday campaigns. Search terms coupled with online visits are useful tools to identify your audiences’ needs and tailor your marketing messages.
  • Sanitize your data and their preferences: Remember to clean your list to ensure that recipients are active and the data you have has been updated. By maintaining a healthy database, you can avoid a negative reputation with hard bounces and spam traps, as well as complaints. It’s also a good time to consider a preference center if you don’t already have one, or encourage customers to update their preferences. Keep in mind that an opt-down option is a great way to retain customers even if it means mailing to them less frequently. This can be directly part of a preference center or part of the unsubscribe page.
  • Look at your post-holiday findings: Develop a post-holiday review to understand what campaigns resonated well with your customers. Did they take advantage of special offers such as free shipping with no minimum or flash sales? Did holiday themed emails have more clicks compared to emails that had no holiday treatment within them? Analyze your best performing emails from all angles, including subject lines, content, creative and offers. These learnings will provide the opportunity to optimize your strategy for the upcoming year.

How far in advance you choose to start your holiday campaigns depends on the type of business you are and the customers you serve. Despite this, planning is always essential. Use the above suggestions to create a calendar of tactics, promotions and messaging that looks at everything from past metrics to subject lines and the resources needed.