Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be behind us, but the holiday shopping season isn’t over yet! 2020 has been a unique year, but in spite of the challenges, we’re still on pace to see a record-breaking amount of online spending during this holiday season. We hope you’ve experienced some of that success—and seen a big uptick in customers over the past few weeks.
But those holiday shoppers are often people who have never purchased from your store before. They haven’t yet formed any sort of relationship with you, and that means they’re not likely to term into long-term customers without a little work. Since returning customers spend three times more than one-off customers, failing to turn seasonal shoppers into repeat customers is a lot of missed revenue.
Here are some important steps you should take to convert holiday shoppers into regular customers.
Email marketing offers perhaps the best return of any digital marketing channel. It’s hard to beat email marketing’s $44 ROI. It’s five times more effective than direct mail (PDF) and 25 times more effective than banner ads (PDF).The holidays bring a surge of customers who have never purchased from your store before, but there are many ways to turn them into loyal customers. Click To Tweet
Begin to engage your seasonal shoppers immediately by wow-ing them with a well-crafted email receipt. Use this email to thank them for their purchase, upsell additional products, answer common questions, ask them to share your brand on social media, or collect some feedback. You can also send a separate thank you email, timed to deliver relevant information when your customers need it (e.g., like a product manual or how-to guide).
Next, you should enroll all new customers in your welcome series. A welcome series is a sequence of emails that introduces customers to your brand, educates them on anything they need to know (like your main value proposition, product best practices, or your involvement with a charity).
This Craftsman email welcomes you, teaches you where to find Craftsman products in stores, and lets you adjust your email preferences.
A welcome series can be as long as seven emails, so keep your emails short and simple. The seasonal shopper doesn’t have a connection to your brand at this point, so don’t ask them to read too much or they won’t bother.
Your goal here is to keep them engaged so they’ll eventually make an additional purchase. Each time a customer makes a purchase they become more likely to make future purchases.
Updating your customers on the status of their orders throughout the fulfillment process is another important use of email to develop a positive relationship. This eases the natural anxiety customers have when buying from a new store. For instance, notify them when their order ships.Each time a customer makes a purchase they become more likely to make additional purchases in the future. Click To Tweet
Most interesting: nearly half of customers say the right time for a business to gain their loyalty is during the first purchase.
And there’s no doubt that loyalty programs drive revenue. According to Forrester, customers who take part in loyalty programs spend $42.33 more in a three-month span than those who don’t.
Enrolling your seasonal shoppers in a loyalty program as soon as they make that first purchase means getting in front of them at the point when the data says they’ll be more impressionable and willing to sign up for your program. Loyalty programs also necessarily require participants to create an account with you, which will make it easier to contact your customers or do things like recover abandoned carts in the future.
You can get these new shoppers started right away by awarding points, credits, rewards, or cash (or whatever currency your program uses) for completing basic tasks like opening their account, making their first purchase, or filling out their profile. Give them a sense of accomplishment and the feeling they are working toward something.
Loyalty programs are great tools to keep a customer’s attention by offering them something they can’t get elsewhere. This creates a bond between the customer and your store.Loyalty programs are great tools to keep a customer’s attention by offering them something they can't get elsewhere. Click To Tweet
Retargeting is the practice of sending relevant ads to people who have visited your site and/or made purchases in the past. It’s a good technique to employ any time throughout the year, but especially during the holidays when you have an influx of new shoppers.
It’s super effective, too. Businesses who retarget their customers can increase their conversions 300-400 percent.
You’ll have to be clever about what you promote to these people. In many cases, their holiday purchases were really for someone else, so advertising something similar won’t catch their eye. Consider promoting with a general coupon they can use anywhere on your site.
Great customer support is always important, but that’s especially true during the holidays. Because so many of your customers will be making their first purchases, you’ll have more opportunities than usual to make a good first impression through support. Your first-time customers will be judging whether your store deserves their future purchases.The holidays are an important time of the year to really make a positive impression on your customers. Click To Tweet
How do you provide exceptional customer support?
- Be flexible with returns and exchanges. Don’t be afraid to bend your policies a bit to make someone happy.
- Help new customers find what they’re looking for. Their desired purchases may be obvious on your site, but they’re new. Guide them compassionately.
- Take their complaints seriously. The holidays can be a stressful time for many people, so respond to their problems quickly. Resolutions are good, but it’s also important to be empathetic.
- Make sure your website is 100 percent functional. No crashing, errors, or slow loading.
- If you have the funds, hire some additional support staff for the holiday season to cut your response times down.
Live chat is a great tool for giving your customers a positive experience, but it’s especially powerful for new customers because it’s useful to them before they make a purchase. If they’re browsing your eCommerce store for the first time, they may have questions about your products. Live chat makes it easier (and faster) for them ask before they buy so they make an informed purchase.
Consider adding a live chat widget using a service like Olark or SnapEngage, even just for the holidays. You can always remove it if you don’t have the resources available to keep it staffed the rest of the year.
Once your new holiday shoppers enter your system, it’s important to start learning about them as much as possible. The sooner you have data on their preferences and buying habits, the sooner you can market to them effectively.
eCommerce surveys are great ways to learn more about your customers’ experience with your store. What did they like? What didn’t they like? What do they think you could do better? Make the survey a focus of one of your welcome series emails.
This Withings email asks customers to take a short survey to give them feedback about the product and their shopping experience.
Email and over-the-phone interviews can work, too. They’re harder to scale, but the feedback is more valuable than an impersonal survey form. Identify the first-time shoppers who purchased during the holiday season and reach out to them with some questions about their experience.By incorporating feedback your seasonal shoppers into your products, website, and checkout experience, you can do more to delight them and turn them into repeat buyers. Click To Tweet
All the above tactics are great, but as we said: email really takes the crown. It’s effective, it’s versatile, and it’s scalable. Here are a few suggestions of what to send to the first-time customers who purchased from your store during the holidays.
Everyone likes free stuff, right? That’s true, but especially your new holiday customers. These customers most likely purchased for someone else, so it’s nearly impossible to determine what they like, and they may not be primed to buy something for themselves at all. Incentivize them to treat themselves with a coupon.
What makes your products or business special? What unique benefits do you offer customers? Seasonal shoppers may know what their friends or family want, but they might not actually know anything about your company or products. Explain your value proposition to convince them you’re a brand worth buying from again in the future.
If your product requires special instructions or tips to get the most value out of it, send those over to your new customers. If the information is really important, instruct the customer to forward the your tips to their gift recipient. This type of content lends itself very well to video or PDF guides.
In their gift-buying craze, your new customers may not have taken the time to explore your products. Give them an opportunity to learn about your best selling products by sending over a guide or catalogue
Since you don’t know much about your new customer (there’s a good chance they purchased for someone else), ask them to visit a page on your site where they can update their email preferences. This will tell you how to personalize future content, and avoid you wasting time trying to market to someone who is really just not your customer.
There’s always a chance your new customer may have to return or exchange their purchase. Make this process as simple as possible by being completely transparent about your return policy. Add links to these services at the bottom of every email and consider sending a special email that covers the topic in depth.
All those additional sales you made over the BFCM to end of year run are great, but the holiday season is also a valuable time for locking in long-term growth for your eCommerce store. By taking steps to delight your new customers, get them connected to your brand story, and marketing to them off your site, you’ll turn seasonal shoppers into regular customers who buy again and again.