If you run a business where foot traffic or website traffic are critical factors to your success, then Christmas is a vital time of year to get more visits and sales. More people through the door usually means more sales, and more sales means more profit. And wouldn’t it be great if all those people were still buying from you throughout the year?
Here are some ideas for turning once-off Christmas shoppers into loyal customers. Many of the ideas work best for retailers, however people running other business types can adapt these ideas to their situation.
Let’s start with the most obvious and valuable step in this process. Find out something (anything!) about your Christmas customers: ideally their name and email address so you can communicate with them throughout the year. There are a few ways to achieve this:
1. Run a competition
Be sure to check local government rules about promotions; you may need a permit depending on the type of competition and prizes offered. Turn the prize draw into an event to gain maximum involvement with those customers who have entered.
2. Invite customers to subscribe to a newsletter
This is a tried and true method, but there’s a catch – publishing a newsletter worth reading every week/fortnight/month is a commitment that you need to make sure you can handle. Customers expect engaging content or special offers – or you risk them losing interest and unsubscribing.
3. Set up a loyalty program
This can be a great tactic to lure customers back after the holidays, especially because customers who keep a loyalty card in their wallet will have a tangible reminder from your business. For more about this read my blog here.
One of the most important keys to turning Christmas traffic into year-round business is frequent interaction. Remind customers why they purchased from you in the first place — perhaps it’s your service, selection or convenience. Whatever it is, keep it at the forefront of their minds.
4. Create a social media program
This may be a Facebook page and Instagram account, or perhaps something a little different like Snapchat for real time notifications about hot specials, new releases, or something of value related to your products. A program that invites customers to contribute content is a great way to boost their engagement and loyalty.
5. Make appointments in January and February
If you can get customers to return to your business after the holiday rush, they’re more likely to make it a part of their routine. Provide incentives for customers to come back after Christmas. For instance, a clothing store could offer appointments for free styling services to get customers back in-store.
6. Host a special event after Christmas
Invite all your Christmas customers (collecting name and email along the way) and make this a unique event. Feature a celebrity MC, preview new products, partner with a nearby business to include their products, or hold the event at an amazing venue. If budgets permit, hire a specialist to help make it a success.
7. Take people behind the scenes
Engage customers who are curious about how products are made. Find ways to turn this into an experience for customers: host a live, guided tour, or make a short film to publish on YouTube or Facebook. Note that film making can be costly and is always best done by a professional production company.
Plan for success
Be practical. Before beginning any marketing activity, decide how to collect and store customer details.
Manually adding data to a spreadsheet will become difficult if the list grows too quickly for the person whose job it is to add them. Automatic input requires customer relationship management (CRM) software. Choose the right one for your business with careful consideration; there are some very good virtual CRM tools, as well as some that are included with point-of-sale software.
Consider, too, different approaches to obtaining customer name data in relation to a promotion or newsletter subscription request. Consider a screen pop-up for websites, a push notification to a smartphone when in the store, a form on a printed flyer, or an after-sales “Thank You” message. Test different techniques to see which yields the best result.
If someone makes a purchase at Christmas they’re more likely to a) subscribe to your communications, b) enter a promotion, and c) return to your store or website in the New Year. These are the most valuable customers in your Christmas sales period. They must be your number-one priority to nurture a relationship and build loyalty.
Perhaps the simplest advice, from the king of retail Sam Walton, is this: “Exceed your customer’s expectations. If you do, they’ll come back over and over. Give them what they want — and a little more.”