Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Internet Retailer

The holiday season is a magical time for consumers and brands alike. For months, brands prepare their best deals and most focused campaigns to capitalize on the biggest opportunity of the year. Discussions around how to draw consumers’ attention and the results of brands’ efforts sweep the industry, while grading the success of the entire year can come down to performances during the holidays.

Products Over Problems: A New Approach to the Customer Journey

It’s magical, not just because of the prosperity a strong holiday season can bring, but because—for many brands—when the new year comes, the new customers seem to vanish along with the door-buster deals as if the season was a spell that had worn off.So, the question becomes, how do brands keep the magic alive through the new year? Or better yet, why don’t brands spend as much effort keeping customers after the holidays as they do acquiring them for the holidays?

It’s not an impossible task. It just takes some planning, segmenting, and tapping into the wealth of data your customers just gave you during the holiday season. Consider these four steps to keeping your new (and loyal) fans engaged well after the presents are delivered.

Step 1: Know Your Audiences

The first step in keeping customers engaged after the holidays is to understand your audiences and their most recent behaviors. The holidays bring first-time customers and lifelong fans together in consideration of your brand for the perfect gift. But just because they considered you doesn’t mean they purchased something. If a customer purchased a product during the holidays, their behavior post-holiday is likely to be different than someone who was engaged but didn’t purchase (yet). Smart brands use these first months of the new year to work on segmentation and content strategy to nurture customers appropriately.

Step 2: Onboard Appropriately

The holidays always bring an influx of new consumers that come in for your biggest deals. But in the hustle of the season, and focus on the deals and products on sale, there was likely little onboarding happening. Now is a great time to review your welcome series and make any necessary tweaks. And since wallets are lighter this month, focus your messaging on the benefits of staying engaged with the brand throughout the year.

Smart brands use these first months of the new year to work on segmentation and content strategy to nurture customers appropriately.

Don’t be afraid to pull some of your newest subscribers from your typical sending cadence to give them a proper introduction to your brand and slowly ease them into your regular distribution calendar. If you think of the post-holiday timeframe as the “getting to know you” phase of the relationship, then giving these new subscribers a proper onboarding mindset can set the stage for a long and prosperous relationship for both of you.

Step 3: Identify the Proper Post-Purchase Engagement

For those that did make a purchase during the holidays, your job is not over just because they converted to a sale. You can keep the conversation going in a couple of key ways. The first is through product recommendations. Based on the product purchased during the holidays, what other products and services could they be interested in now?

The other way is using reviews and referrals. Increase engagement by reminding customers to review their purchases, or by offering coupons or discounts if they refer a friend or share the brand’s post on social. And if they joined your file as a result of a purchase, you can also drive deeper engagement by following some of the onboarding tips we discussed in step two.

Step 4: Be Smart About Unsubscribes

The reality is that no matter what you do, there will be the one-time buyer who purchased a gift and has no interest in being on your list. Don’t fight it. That customer would most likely be inactive anyway, bringing down your metrics in the process. You may even want to move your unsubscribe link to the top of your emails to make it easier for those subscribers to unsubscribe during this post-holiday timeframe, so that their inactivity doesn’t hurt your open rate.

However, just because the consumer may not be ready to become a subscriber now doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Consider re-targeting these customers through paid social ads to keep awareness of your brand high and give them an avenue to come back when they’re ready.

Conclusion

Why Brands Should Calculate Customer Lifetime Value

We hear time and again how it’s cheaper to retain customers than it is to acquire new ones. You hopefully acquired your fair share of new customers during the holiday season. Make the 2019 holidays more effective, and cost efficient, by putting in the work to keep customers engaged now, even if the payoff doesn’t come until further down the road.

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