Another holiday season has come and gone. Decorations have been put away, leftovers have vanished, and radio stations have gone back to their usual Top 40 hits. For most people, now is the time to take a load off and catch a breather. For those of us in the marketing world, every wasted second translates to a significant loss in potential gains.
As the dust begins to settle on the holiday season, you have two options:
- Rest on your laurels and hope for similar success next December
- Use your experience over the past month as a springboard to further business growth
For any ambitious marketer, the answer is the latter. The real question is: how can you keep this momentum going into the new year – and beyond?
Looking Back to Look Ahead
Assuming the business spike throughout the holiday season was due to a ‘most wonderful time of the year’ general spending increase is missing the point – and the opportunities for improvement.
This way of thinking overlooks the underlying reasons your holiday campaigns resonated with your target audience. Your customers were likely bombarded with marketing messages of all kinds over the past few months. The fact that they chose to do business with you means you must have done something right to make your brand stand out from the crowd.
If your target audience responded well to your campaigns or content pieces, dig deep into why they found it so valuable. If experimenting with sending your newsletter out at different times led to more engagement, consider split-testing this new timeframe against the original delivery time period. If your audience supported your charitable efforts, think about fleshing out the initiative and making it part of your organization’s overall mission.
The holiday season doesn’t exist in a vacuum. What your audience finds valuable and engaging then, they’ll likely find valuable and engaging at any other time of the year as well.
Keep the Conversation Going
If you’ve engaged with a customer (or potential customer) in any way, it’s important to maintain and even enhance your relationship with them as time goes on. And the best way to go about doing that will differ depending on how they engaged with your brand in the first place.
Your first order of business is to answer these two questions:
- Is the individual a first-time customer, or have they been with your company for a while?
- Did the individual make purchases for themselves, or as gifts for others?
For long-time customers whose holiday purchases aligned with their usual purchase history, chances are you can stay the course and continue engaging with them as usual.
For your long-time customers whose holiday purchases don’t align with their typical purchase habits and for those who bought gifts, try changing things up a bit. Consider soliciting feedback on your gift-delivery processes or product suggestion methods.
Over the holiday season, you probably got some business from new customers. One study found that eCommerce companies generate 23.8% of their new customers during the holiday season.
When it comes to first-time customers, begin onboarding as quickly as possible by sending a welcome email thanking them for their business. Include a questionnaire asking for more information regarding their needs and expectations from your brand. You’ll also want to give them options of how frequently they’d like to hear from you, if at all.
(For more on onboarding drip campaigns, check out this guide.)
As long as you’re attentive to their needs, you stand a good chance of keeping new and long-time customers engaged.
Don’t Let Returners Slip Away
Roughly 25% of annual returns happen around the holiday season. This equates to about $284 billion in returned merchandise. A daunting figure – but returns shouldn’t be considered a total write-off for your business. Making the return process simple and accommodating can encourage a long lasting relationship with consumers.
A few suggestions:
- Extend your returns deadline to accommodate the frenzied holiday season
- Provide full refunds for small-ticket items with receipt
- Include labels and packaging for mail-in returns
For more suggestions, check out how these 15 retailers handle returns during the holiday season and beyond.
It’s also important to understand why the customer opted to return an item in the first place; you stand to gain a lot of information here. Determining that they didn’t want the item to begin with can help you refine your gift guides for a specific demographic next year. Or, if a customer wants a simple exchange, you’ll have the tools to point the “returner” in the right direction.
Neglecting to gather data on why the customer returned their item leaves a lot of engagement potential untapped. Whether to gain a better understanding of your gift-givers and returners, or to get returners to engage deeper with your brand, you can use this initially negative scenario as a springboard to improve your interactions.
Go for the Smaller Sales – Or Make Larger Items More Affordable
Last October, Gallup found that the average American planned on spending nearly $900 this holiday season.
Assuming this prediction came true, most people’s wallets are likely pretty tapped out right about now – expensive purchases not ranking high on their current to-do lists.
Therefore, ‘tis the season to focus on promoting smaller, more affordable items such as:
- Accessories and add-ons that complement bigger-ticket items
- Smaller, easy-to-overlook items that gift-givers might have missed
- Affordable impulse purchases
As far as your remaining higher-priced inventory – you don’t want it collecting dust on your shelves, right? As much as it might hurt in the moment, offer these larger items at a nice discount.
You might also offer bundle packages with outdated items, offsetting a low perceived value with supplemental products. If you’ve released a newer version of a given product, for example, you can bundle the old version with a variety of new small-ticket items – giving your customers an attractive deal while still providing added value.
This tactic will also create shelf space for newer products, and if that means more sales of big-ticket items in the future, it’s a worthwhile investment.
Get a Head Start on Next Year
Now is not the time to kick your feet up and congratulate yourself on a job well done. It’s never too early to get started on your next major time-related marketing campaigns. Depending on your product and target audience, this could mean any of the following:
- “New Year, New You” promotions
- Romance-focused Valentine’s Day campaigns
- Spring- or Easter-related content
And while the season’s outcome is still fresh in your mind, begin laying the groundwork for next year’s holiday push. The more prepared you are now, the easier it will be to dive into the nitty-gritty of your 2019 holiday campaigns. Get started now; the end of the year will be here before you know it.