How to Turn Seasonal Shoppers Into Year-Long Customers

The holiday season brings Santa, a touch of magic and a huge influx of brand new shoppers to your door—all of which are apt to vanish come Christmas morning unless you try hard to hold onto them!

In fact, 32% of your annual holiday traffic comes from new people—every year. Many of them will come looking for gifts, lured in by specials and sales. Converting those seasonal shoppers into regular customers in order to promote your brand’s long-term growth, however, can be harder than keeping your family out of the Christmas cookies you’ve been hiding.

Let’s talk about how you turn those bargain hunters into year-long shoppers:

1. The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Focus On Data Collection and Email

A customer’s email address is a holiday gift for your business that keeps on giving. Take the opportunity to collect each new shopper’s contact information at the point of sale and have a sign-up sheet for interested customers who don’t actually make a purchase.

Pro Tips:

  • Make sure that your email is optimized for mobile. These days, everybody has a smartphone, and 75% of emails in the United States are opened on mobile devices.
  • Send a welcome email immediately with an introduction to your brand. Links to useful blog posts about product use, your brand’s story or entertaining content can help build a budding relationship.
  • Cross-promoted content from non-competing brands you partner with can help you engage more of your customers and get them clicking on your links. Cross-promotions help tap into existing markets and encourage new customers to explore.
  • Follow your initial email with an invitation to take advantage of end-of-season sales in order to get some of the customers back in your door (or on your website) right away.

Give those one-time customers a good reason to stay in contact. The more familiar customers become with your brand, the warmer your connections—and that’s something to be merry about all year long!

2. The Miracle on 34th Street Concept: Offer Superior Customer Service

Every weary holiday shopper wishes at some point that Santa’s elves would show up to help—so that’s what you need your staff to become. Your customers, new and old alike, are at their most harried—which means that you need your staff to be their most attentive. Put extra staff members on the floor and train them to go out of their way to help customers who seem overwhelmed.

If your customer service stands out during the holiday season, you may easily win customers for life. Good customer service is a driving force behind brand loyalty.

Pro Tips:

  • Have your elves—er, sales staff—offer to help customers who seem lost find the perfect gift for someone on their list. You may increase sales that way and gain a customer who appreciates your service!
  • Remember that people are in a hurry at this time of year. Consider putting sales staff on the floor with credit card readers in their hands on your busiest days to keep lines to a minimum and get customers on their way even faster.

Remember, excitement and good cheer are contagious. Make sure that your staff is spreading both in abundance to keep your customer’s holiday spirits lifted!

3. More Than Reindeer Games: Nurture Your Social Media Connections

As busy as you are during the holiday mayhem and sales, you can’t afford to “Grinch out” and neglect your social media. Don’t forget to ask customers for their reviews and encourage them to join your other online social sites, whether that’s Facebook or some other platform.

Reviews, comments, and likes help generate a buzz around your brand and improve your local search marketing efforts. Plus, soliciting a customer’s review lets that customer know that you genuinely care about his or her experience—and that’s also part of good customer service.

Pro Tips:

  • Respond to both good and bad reviews and make sure you pay attention to comments on your other social pages, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Customers who leave good reviews crave your attention just as much—or more than—those that leave negative ones.
  • If a mistake leads to a negative review, own the issue immediately and offer to make the situation right. A professional response that shows genuine concern for the customer’s experience will add to the perceived integrity of your brand and bolster the emotional currency you carry with that customer and everyone who reads the exchange.

It’s also absolutely essential to update your social sites for the holidays. Deck the halls and hang the lights by updating your headers, themes, color, and content for the season. Do Santa proud and build a festive atmosphere that directly reflects the mood you’re trying to create for the season!

4. Lead the Sleigh: Don’t Overlook Your Existing Customers

Your existing customers deserve your good tidings and cheer as much as your new ones, so don’t forget to show some Yuletide warmth their way! Just as good customer service can draw new customers to you, poor customer service can drive longstanding customers right into the arms of a waiting competitor.

Coupons or bonus rewards for existing email subscribers who make their way to your store or site during the holiday rush can reinforce your existing relationships.

Pro Tips:

  • Loyalty cards that confer bonus points for each purchase are an easy way to motivate existing customers to stay with your brand. Consider a tiered program where rewards increase with each milestone a customer reaches.
  • Send existing customers shareable links through social or email and give them a discount for every referral that brings a new shopper to your door.

Offering new customers a discount without offering something to your existing customers is certain to make a few of those customers say, “Bah, Humbug!”

5. Auld Lang Syne: Reinforce Your Connections Early in the New Year

Do you think Santa gets to take a break after Christmas? Absolutely not! There’s too much to do already for the coming year! Just like Santa, you have more work that needs to be done—at least, if you want to see those fragile new connections with your holiday shoppers turn into lifelong bonds.

Start an email campaign designed to lure as many customers as you can back through the doors with deals and discounts.

Pro Tips:

  • Give every customer who makes a purchase between Black Friday and Christmas Eve a $5 coupon or something similar (with increasing rewards for spending more)—but make the coupons usable only during the first month of the new year.
  • Send targeted emails offering discounts on accessories and items related to a buyer’s other purchases. For example, if you own a music store, send customers who purchased an instrument a special coupon good for free sheet music after the first of the year. If you own a jewelry store, send an email to anyone who made a purchase offering a free cleaning.

Customer loyalty comes through a sense of comfort and confidence—and that’s largely a matter of giving people the attention they want and deserve from their very first visit onward.

From the moment that you offer a cheery, “Season’s greetings!” to every customer who walks through your door or visits your site, focus on giving each person an amazing experience that will keep them coming back through your door all year long!

Conclusion

As great as seasonal shoppers are, if you don’t make the most of their visit to your store, they’ll be gone just as quickly as they came. Fortunately, by applying the tips mentioned in this article, you should be well on your way to turning seasonal shoppers into year-long customers!

How do you make the most of seasonal shoppers? Any additional suggestions you’d add to this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Kelly has over 20 years marketing, sales and customer service experience. He is a champion for small businesses and prides himself in helping them compete and thrive in a digital world. Kelly is currently the VP of Marketing for Boostability, a company dedicated to helping small businesses grow online.

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