Turn Seasonal Shoppers Into Year-Round Revenue
The holiday season is a big time for many retailers, but how can we turn one-time buyers into loyal, repeat customers? Columnist David Rekuc has some advice.
Hooray! The holiday season is upon us. It’s the most wonderful time of year, complete with jolly carolers, handsome fellows in red suits, and soaring conversion rates. I hope you are enjoying the rush of a killer Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Unfortunately, with a surge in orders comes the potential of a huge missed opportunity. Retailers nationwide will lose out on millions of dollars in revenue this holiday season and in the year ahead.
How? Without careful forethought, many gift givers will become one-time buyers, and many gift recipients — who at least the sender thinks will be a fan of your products — will never even see it to your site. But you don’t have to let this happen to you.
Woo Gift Recipients
If you’re lucky, you’ve got a ton of orders going out over the holidays, but the products aren’t (usually) intended for the buyers. So, what can you do to turn the gift recipient into a new customer? Focus on shipping additional marketing incentives and improving your return process and policy.
Include A Free $10 Gift Card With Each Package: This practice is ideal if your average order is relatively high. The goal isn’t to give away the farm, just make the offer enticing enough to pass on to the gift recipient and inspire a potential customer to check out your site.
Include An Offer On Gift Receipts: Many retailers offer gift receipts but fail to use them to drive sales. Remember, the best promotions benefit both customers and retailers. If a shopper receives a bike in December, why not offer him or her 25% off bike accessories in January?
Include Cross-Sell Flyers In Packaging: One of the masters of this technique is Lego. As a kid, I remember getting a flyer with each new Lego set that had me drooling over my next Lego set before I even finished opening the box. The trick here is to stuff the product packaging so your enticement makes it into the right hands.
Make Returns Hassle-Free: In the short term, returns hurt. But they also offer retailers the chance to make something good out of a potentially bad situation. People remember the time they spent four hours on hold waiting to initiate a return or when it took three follow up emails to properly refund a credit card. If you want to protect your reputation and relationships (and you do), you’ve got to make returns as easy as possible.
Streamline Sizing Changes: A lot of apparel will be returned solely because sizing is off for the recipient. Do everything you can to turn these returns into an exchange. If you no longer have inventory of that item in a particular size, show customers similar styles that are still in stock.
Win Them Back: Can you collect emails to notify shoppers when their refunds are processed? Many customers would be happy to receive a heads up, and you can turn on an automatic email drip after the return is processed to try to win them back.
Pursue Gift Givers
Of course, gift recipients aren’t the only group of potential year-round customers acquired during the holiday season. Retailers should also follow through with gift givers. When it comes to this segment, think retention, referrals, and retargeting.
Use Transactional Emails To Drive Additional Sales: Your confirmation messages, shipment notifications, and even delivery receipts probably have much higher engagement rates than mass marketing emails. Tim Ash wrote a great article about optimizing for retention and how to use overlooked emails to market new products.
Or Push A Referral Program: Depending on the size of your organization, it may be too late to consider implementing referrals. But if your marketing team is particularly agile or you already have an underused program, the holiday season is a great time to exercise this strategy. Chances are gift givers have friends that are also looking for the perfect gifts. Post-purchase email messaging is an ideal time for building referral programs.
Remarket To Buyers: Drop a retargeting pixel on your checkout thank you page, and for the next couple of days, encourage buyers to join your referral program or (at least) return to your site. This is a great way to thank shoppers for their business and convince them to consider your store as they continue to shop. You can also build custom audiences on Facebook or Twitter to target email addresses that have recently purchased from your site.
Valentine’s Day Is Around The Corner: Even if you can’t win over the gift giver as a year-round buyer, you may still be able to convert him or her to a shopper that visits you several times per year. Remember what he or she bought now, and follow up with great deals on similar products a few weeks before other traditional gift-giving holidays (and of course before Turkey Day next year).
Wrapping It Up
No matter your business, it’s important not to let seasonal shoppers become one-and-done sales. There are plenty of ways to win over these customers, including many of the same retention techniques you employ outside of the holiday season. Focus on staying relevant and helpful and you might be surprised how willing these buyers are to come back in the New Year.