How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return and Convert


During the holiday season, everyone’s shopping. it’s the perfect time to amp up your targeted marketing strategies.

But what about getting those shoppers to return in the new year?

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas accounts for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers. Unfortunately, read into that data a bit more and it can tell a grim tale….

New shoppers who make their first purchase during the holiday season are 19% less likely to convert into repeat customers compared to first time shoppers the rest of the year.

So how do we ensure those new shoppers become loyal year-round customers? This article will break it down.

How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return: Gather Customer Information

You’ve seen this before: you’re shopping online, and as you’re browsing around a pop up window appears asking for your email address. Something along the lines of “Don’t wait! Get access to our spectacular deals now!”? Have you ever wondered why some companies use this in your (virtual) face strategy?

They use it because they recognize the value of customer information. This is an effective way to build your list and can produce great results, when done right. How do you do that? Make sure you are friendly and highlight the benefits to your visitors. They’re inviting you into their inbox. Make sure you’re earning it. When you do, you’ll end up with a mailing list of highly engaged, happy subscribers, and that can be incredibly powerful.

The mailing list is a great marketing tool to retain existing customers and convert first time users to loyal customers. Encouraging your customer base to join an email list is a great way for you to track customer interaction with your products and website.

Be informative about the perks of joining your email list. Talk about discounts on select items, exclusive email-only specials, and notice of sales before the general public. Phrase your list-building message as a favor being offered, rather than a demand to spam their email with promotions they may not care for.

When it comes to getting email sign ups, start by sharing your expertise. Sharing the knowledge you hold on the products you offer with the customer (for free), can actually entice customers and prospects to give you their email address or phone information. For example, if your website offers high-end, expensive clothes, and your customer is looking for the best trends fashion has to offer, give a short briefing on these tidbits of information on your website. Inform them that if they wish to get updates regarding this season’s trends, and all the other upcoming seasons, all they need to do is provide their email to stay on top with your content. You’ve become a source they want to keep up with, to gain the same knowledge you offer to provide.

With the information you collect from users based on their profiles or browser history, you can then funnel them into a customized online experience. You can format your website to remember customer preferences and display targeted products and offers they will be interested in buying when they land on your webpage. Upon arrival, they will see personalized, customized promotions tailored to their previous search inquiries.

Here are a few tips on successful customization strategies:

  • Greet users based on their location
  • Greet customers by their first name
  • Recommend products they’ve abandoned in your ecommerce Cart
  • “Ask your friends” buttons so users have the option to gather opinions before purchase
  • Add the ability to create wishlists and “save for later”

You can also use social media to encourage sign ups. If you have a following on your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, you can offer deals, discounts, and special behind-the-scenes information through your email list. Using customer data and browsing history, you can use targeted advertising to display your products and services – even when they leave your website and begin browsing on others. Keep in mind, personalization generally increases conversion rates.

How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return: Incentives

During the holiday season, customers may throw their loyalty to brands out the window in favor of a good deal. Incentives can be used as an attention grabber.

What are the right incentives though?

You’ll want to ensure your incentives encourage an extended relationship with the customer. One time coupons work here and there, but don’t mean customers will necessarily return. Try using incentives that encourage sign ups on your email list or with your product.

A few examples:

  • Sign up for X and receive Y! The idea of “do something for me, and I’ll do something for you.” This could be free blog content, a eBook, a how-to manual, or really anything related to your product.
  • Offer a source of inspiration for your customer base. Forever21 sends emails with a lookbook: the hottest “looks” or outfits of the season available on their website).
  • Send personalized emails with content related to their interests.
  • Offer exclusive sales that they won’t find anywhere else.

The key is ensuring you have realistic goals for the incentive, knowing how those metrics affect those goals, and having an effective management over the customers brought in or engaged by the incentives. That way, in future holiday seasons to come, you know what customers enjoyed and engaged with, and what didn’t work so well.

If you offer a loyalty program that continues to draw in customers and generate sales, the incentives will pay themselves off.

How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return: Loyalty Programs

A lot of brands are taking the route of loyalty programs, and that’s because it pays off.

When your first time shoppers come during the holiday season, be sure to make them aware of the program you offer. You can advertise boldly on your front page, strategize exit popups that appear with deal information before they leave your page, or place information regarding the perks of your loyalty program before checkout.

Give a clear outline of your loyalty program. What makes your program so great? What kind of deals do you offer?

The most important rule to these programs is knowing your audience. What type of people shop with you? What products do you offer? Are they into seeing discounts?

Offer rewards for sharing with friends. One great example of this is a company called “Postmates”. When you sign up, you receive $10 off your first order. If you share your download codes with friends, you receive $10 off and they receive $10 off. It encourages the share factor, thus generating more sales.

Your incentive should either help your customers solve a problem or enable a behavior that you want your brand to be involved with (such as sharing on social media).

Plus, who doesn’t like to feel special? That’s exactly what these loyalty programs do.

How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return: Branding & Merch

Make your customers remember your name! Through the holiday seasons, shoppers will come and go. Some might not even remember where they bought certain things in their blur of holiday ? shopping frenzy. Make your branding stand out. 90% of consumers say a free gift with purchase increases brand loyalty.

The perfect example comes to mind: Victoria’s Secret. They are well known amongst women for their “free reward with X amount of purchase” promotions. Knowing that it is extremely easy to run up a decent tab at Victoria’s Secret, customers consider this a solid deal.

Don’t underestimate the power of a constant visual reminder of your brand to drive further customer engagement. Add branded merchandise for free.

Brand awareness is all about building associations. A gift engrains your branding in the memory of potential customers. It assists in associating your brand with something positive, whether it’s a useful tool or just a miscellaneous, quirky decoration. It makes a solid impression in your prospect’s mind, which also makes your brand easier to remember.

How to Get Holiday Shoppers to Return: Go Above and Beyond

Buzz Lightyear might’ve had the best marketing slogan of all time…”to infinity, and beyond!”. Okay, maybe not the best, but you get the point. Go above and beyond your customer’s expectations. And this is especially during the holiday season, where every business out there is working hard to attract new customers and make those sales. It’s a hungry market out there!

A great example would be Home Depot vs Lowes…

They offer the same exact items at extremely similar prices, with a very similar marketing approach. So what makes you choose one over the other?

Maybe you had a bad experience at Lowe’s and now you only go to Home Depot. Maybe someone at Lowe’s went above and beyond, ensuring you got exactly what you needed, even if it wasn’t necessarily in stock at the time. Now you don’t really want to go to Home Depot.

There could be a thousand other companies that do exactly what you do or sell exactly what you sell. The key is giving customers that extra ingredient that others may not provide.

Exceeding expectations provides an overall positive shopping experience. Providing these type of experiences creates an extremely positive, memorable, and valuable outcome for the customer. They are more likely to share your information with friends, family, and social media if they leave your website gleaming from a positive interaction.

  • If you have an expected delivery date, try to get it there quicker.
  • If you offer free returns, ensure your process is seamless to avoid any frustrations.
  • Ensure your employees are proving a top notch customer experience, whether it’s face to face, via telephone, email, or live chat.

One bad experience can leave negative associations with your branding, and send your customer running to your competitor.

Keep in mind, outward-facing experiences can also depend on what goes on within the company. Encourage strong company culture. Listen to your employees. Provide a positive and friendly environment, so this radiates within your team when they are having those customer interactions. That way, your customers will always get the top notch, VIP treatment they want.

Putting customers first will help increase your revenue in the long run. Do what’s in the best interest of the customer. Maybe someone came into your store and really wanted something, only to find that it’s out of stock. Can you place an order for a new store shipment? Can you recommend similar items? What can you do to optimize their experience?

Emergency orders and last-minute changes should be accommodated when possible, especially for important occasions such as weddings or other important dates. Customers remember these times of need, and they will always remember your flexibility and prompt response to their needs. Being accessible wins loyalty.

Focus on the User Experience

Remember, the key to a successful holiday season is keeping your customers wants and needs in mind. Be aware of the marketing strategies you implement. Ensure they are reaching your customer base and producing results. Be sure your strategies will align with your customer base, and your customers values. The goal isn’t just to produce one off sales, but convert these holiday shoppers to year-round loyal customers.

Now you’re ready to tackle this post-holiday season! Promote positive experiences from within, create a strong and memorable brand experience, and implement those wonderful incentives customers love to take advantage of!

About the Author:

David Hoos is a Marketing Strategist at The Good, conversion rate experts who deliver more revenue, customers, and leads for your business. David and the team at The Good have made a practice of advising brands on how to see online revenue double through their conversion rate optimization services.


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