How to Retain Holiday Shoppers and Build Customer Loyalty

The holiday shopping season is now behind us. We learned that Black Friday and Cyber Monday, previously separate phenomena with huge sales volume, have become the tent poles of a shopping super-month, even where Thanksgiving doesn’t exist. Smart tactics can help retailers capitalize year-round on the craziness of November and December.

Did you did you run successful promotions that moved a lot of inventory and brought in new customers? Here are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re using smart customer retention marketing to turn these newly acquired shoppers into repeat ones:

1) Experiment with different messaging to newly acquired customers

Chances are your new customers were largely driven by the prospect of snagging some choice items at possibly the lowest prices of the year (certainly the lowest prices before the end-of-year holidays). Bargain shoppers generally don’t tend to exhibit much brand loyalty, but there are things you can do over the next couple of months to convert some of these new customers into loyal ones.

A good way to test the waters is to carve out a fraction of new customers and A/B test your marketing messaging. For example, rather than send out your usual email newsletter to everyone, you can target new customers specifically with recommendations on items that complement their existing purchase (e.g. a home theater system if they’ve purchased a smart TV set) or tailored subsequent discounts and promotions to stimulate a follow-up purchase (e.g. 10% off coupon valid for 7 days).

The key here is to design a nimble setup so you can test which messaging resonates, and ensure that you’re clearly capturing and interpreting customer actions. If you’re seeing clear results and decreasing the amount of time between purchases, you can look to expand this type of approach to more newly acquired customers, and continue onboarding new customers via special post-purchase messaging throughout the rest of the year.

2) Understand the full multi-channel path to purchase

Linear purchase funnels are a thing of the past: today savvy shoppers will do their research on their laptops, compare prices on their tablets, and use their mobile phones in stores to comparison shop.

Some of your first-time e-commerce purchasers may have been customers of your physical stores for years, and vice versa. Having a clear picture of all the different interaction points with a customer gives you the ability to model what your best customer looks like, and how much you should spend to acquire them. For example, by analyzing the behavior of existing shoppers, you might find that your best customers tend to have significantly larger basket sizes and higher lifetime value than the control group, and thus it would make sense to invest more to acquire other customers like them.

3) Suggest other items your new customers may be interested in

Following a big promotion, many of your newly acquired customers may not be very familiar with your brand or other items you carry that they may be interested in. For example, say you’re selling big-ticket electronics items and had a popular promotion on large-screen HDTVs this year. You can analyze the other items that customers who bought this item purchased over the course of the past year (e.g. batteries for remote controls, cables, etc) and then find ways to promote those, perhaps by offering additional discounts or fixed time sales to stimulate a subsequent purchase. Once again email might prove to be the easiest channel in which to execute this, along with some light personalization on your main web properties – e.g. by showcasing a different promo or a different welcome message on your homepage.

In any case, these tactics require a unified layer of customer data and a universal view of your customer’s behaviors, attributes, and interactions with you across multiple channels. The more data you have on your customers, the smarter you can be about your own advertising, marketing, and personalization efforts — as well as merchandising, new product development, inventory planning, and many other business problems that extend beyond the world of marketing.

Each individual interaction with the customer presents an opportunity — but only if you’re able to tie these cross-channel events together in a meaningful way and act upon them in a timely fashion. Those who execute well create a valuable data feedback loop that lets them deliver personalized customer experiences and ensure that their customers come back time and time again.

Originally published January 23, 2015

Ana Milicevic

Ana Milicevic formerly led Signal’s Strategic Consulting Group, which helps senior marketers and C-suite executives at global enterprise companies build data strategies and operationalize data assets to drive more value in a customer-centric, cross-channel environment.

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