Customer Experience, Industry Trends, Retail

Tips for retaining customers after the holiday season

With the busy 2019 holiday shopping season coming to a close, retailers can fully set their sights on executing their goals for 2020. While final numbers have not yet been released for the entire holiday season, the National Retail Federation reports that a record 189.6 million Americans shopped during the 2019 Black Friday weekend (up 14% from last year), with average per-consumer spending up significantly as well. All signs point to a very successful 2019 holiday season for the retail industry.

That being said, 2019 shouldn't be where the success from holiday shopping season ends. The post-holiday season is the perfect opportunity for retailers to get the ball rolling on their plans for retaining customers in the coming year, especially given the potential influx of first-time shoppers that could become long-time customers.

The main challenge in retaining customers after the holidays (and really any time) is connecting with them in ways they deem meaningful and valuable. Simply including a customer's name and a "Thanks for purchasing!" note in an email will only go so far these days. Not to say that shouldn't be done (quite the opposite, in fact), but today's shoppers desire enhanced personalization that makes them feel appreciated and seen.

Here's a look at some of the most effective ways to increase the likelihood of retaining customers now that the calendar has flipped to 2020.

Send follow-up discount and promotional offers

It's no secret: everyone loves saving money. Prominently advertising discounts and promotional offers on your website, on social media, and in emails are simple and cost-effective ways to grab the attention of both new and existing customers. One major issue though is that many other companies, particularly your direct competitors, are likely promoting similar offers on these same marketing channels.

In order to maximize the impact of your offer(s), it must be as compelling to your audience as possible. This is largely dependent on the preferences and transaction history of your customers, which is why customer data analysis is critically important when creating these offers. For example, the last thing you want to do is send a post-holiday email offer to a customer that refers to a discounted product they just bought...and at a higher price. That's a quick way to get on their naughty list and lose future business.

Encourage them to sign up for loyalty and rewards programs

Offering your customers a loyalty/rewards programs is a great way to demonstrate their value to your business that simultaneously (in many cases unknowingly) encourages them to make more purchases with you. This is extremely pertinent when you consider that repeat customers spend three-times more than one-time shoppers, according to research from Yotpo. Additional Yotpo research also found that nearly 40% of loyal customers are willing to spend more for a product even if there are cheaper options available.

Free guide: How retailers can turn holiday shopping magic into year-round  profitability.

This is incredibly valuable on both a sales and customer retention front, as it means that they can worry less about what competitors are doing and focus more on providing the best customer experience possible. That's not to say that price isn't a factor in retaining customers (because it is), but if you can create an environment where customers are comfortable spending more with you because they feel they'll benefit from it for it in the long run, this is a huge win-win. Not only have you kept them coming back for more, you've also offset or completely eliminated any potential sales losses from the rewards they receive.

If you don't have one already, we recommend putting a loyalty program on your to-do list for 2020.

Offer a subscription-based service (if possible)

This method is a bit more niche than the previous two, but another great way to stay in front of your customers and keep your business on their minds is to provide a subscription-based service. These types of offerings have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly for clothing and food (think Stitch Fix and Blue Apron, just to name a few examples). Subscription services offer customers freedom and convenience when shopping with you while exposing them to items they may not have considered purchasing otherwise.

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Additionally, subscription services also make great gifts (perfect for the holiday season). So not only have you gotten sales from one party, you've now exposed your business to others and expanded your customer base. It would also be a great idea to reward the gift-giver in this scenario with a discount/promo of their own to thank them (and begin the cycle of customer retention with them).

Stay proactive when retaining customers

Today's consumers are extremely savvy, more informed, and wield more power than ever before, which is why retaining customers is harder than it's ever been. The key to success is understanding the habits of your customers (both old and new) and in-turn providing them with the experiences that they desire, regardless of the channel they seek it on. If you fall short of meeting their expectations, odds are they'll take their business elsewhere, and you'll have lost out on all the benefits a loyal customer provides.

If you're struggling to get to understand your customers and engage them in meaningful ways, we want to help. Reach out today to learn how better insights into your customers can help your marketing team produce more effective cross-channel marketing campaigns.

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