Why it’s important to re-engage retail customers after the holidays
If marketing before the holidays is all about maximizing sales, then marketing after the holidays should be all about re-engaging customers to show them you want to build a long term relationship.
After the holidays, retailers have a great opportunity to strengthen their brand position, retain current customers, and build customer loyalty that keeps them coming back.
You can use customer engagement to achieve many of your retail marketing goals. For example, to:
✔️ gather reviews
✔️ collect valuable customer data
✔️ generate referrals
✔️ increase brand awareness
✔️ boost loyalty
✔️ increase lifetime value
✔️ drive sales for future promotions
Tip #1: Offer top notch customer service
After the holiday season comes the time for returns and exchanges.
According to the National Retail Federation, underwhelmed Americans returned 17.8% of goods from all retailers last year. This equates to $158 billion worth of merchandise.
Unfortunate as this may be, it presents the perfect opportunity for retailers to keep up the holiday shopping momentum and get the edge on competitors.
Make sure your customer service team is ready. Although their job title often won’t include “sales”, customer service reps should understand how their interactions with customers can help the company grow. Your customer service reps are the face of your company; every interaction they have with your customers can make or break your company’s relationship with its customers. If your customer service reps can handle returns and exchanges painlessly and exceed customer expectations, your customers are sure to remember that and keep coming back for more positive experiences in the future.
Customer service is one of the largest differentiators that will make customers choose your store over competitors. Studies show that “upwards of 90% of shoppers view customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company.”
After the holiday season, returns and exchanges will happen often, which will have a major impact on your overall service. This is often an unenjoyable task for customers, so work to establish unified customer service standards to keep customers returning in the future.
Make sure to train your staff on the proper protocols for returns and exchanges to ensure the process is seamless.
Also, optimizing the return process might include adjusting your website. How well does your website communicate the steps to return purchases? By featuring web pages that outline each step of your return and exchange process, you can reduce phone calls and save your business time.
Consider having customer service information located at the bottom of each web page for quick access. It could also be necessary to incorporate a FAQs page on your website.
Customer service, customer experience and customer engagement are separate but interdependent concepts.
- Customer service: Is the support you offer your customers before and after the buy your products.
- Customer experience: It is how customers perceive their interactions with your company. For customer experience to be great, every interaction along the customer journey must be exceptional.
- Customer engagement: At its most basic, customer engagement is the interaction a company has with its customers over multiple channels in order to strengthen the relationship. In other words, the goal of customer engagement is to deliver value beyond the potential transaction of products or services, and it´s mostly done through excellent customer service, valuable content, top level customer experiences, etc. If a retailer provides good customer service, this leads to positive customer experiences, and their customers will become more engaged. The opposite is also true.
Tip #2: Get your customers’ attention again
Shoppers have received their gifts. Lapsing customers have come back to the store. Program members have been rewarded for their loyalty. And new customers have signed up for your loyalty program.
Now it’s time to make the most of all that positive brand sentiment.
In the days after the holiday season, make sure to reach out again and cement the idea that you’re not just a place for holiday gifts and sales. Use information on their buying and browsing behaviors and target them with smart, relevant re-engagement messages.
You have various channels and tools to choose from, for example:
✔️ Segmented email campaigns
✔️ Push notifications or SMS
✔️ Loyalty app messages
✔️ Loyalty and reward programs
✔️ Social media channels
✔️ Ad campaigns
Getting recipients to open your email is the first hurdle you face in the inbox, and it often hinges on the subject line. In fact, 47% of recipients choose to open emails based on the subject line alone. To clear this hurdle, send targeted emails with personalized subject lines—it can increase email open rates by up to 50%.
Here are some fun examples of email subject lines, based on customer segments:
Tip #3: Learn more about your customers with advanced retail analytics
By giving meaningful insights into customer behavior, retail analytics helps in bolstering the relationship between a store and its visitors. It allows the retailer to get the right information across to the right recipient to ensure a rewarding shopping experience for the buyer.
Loyal Guru’s Retail Analytics module provides detailed, simple and visual reports on key performance indicators used to track transactions, units per customer, volume of sales, return rates and much more while enabling actionable and effective business insights.
To be able to collect, unify and access all your retail customer data, you’ll need to use a CDP which is prepared for both the data collection and marketing automation aspects.
After the holiday season, leverage your reporting and business intelligence solutions to access information optimized for retail’s high frequency purchases, high-volume product catalogs and deep product classification. Unravel all your new customer data, enabling actionable business insights for faster, more effective decision-making.
Track the KPIs most important to your business, build your own dashboard with selected categories and never again miss any red flags or major opportunities. These are specific reports and dashboards provided by Loyal Guru’s retail-ready solution:
✔️ loyalty program performance
✔️ customer segments
✔️ purchase behaviour
✔️ number of coupons per person
✔️ redeemed vs not redeemed
✔️ customer evolution
✔️ purchase frequency
✔️ summary of sales
✔️ average spend
✔️ monthly evolution
✔️ store performance
✔️ discount analysis
✔️ categories, products
Customer data includes info about each interaction with your brand, shops and products. As you know, not all customers are the same, and some are more valuable to your business than others.
The way to understand the value of your current customer base and predict the value of new customers inevitably includes crunching your data. This is not info you can take from industry benchmarks, competitors or companies in your same space.
A customer data infrastructure is mandatory to enable business across multiple departments. By using a CDP tailored for retailers you will be able to collect, cleanse, enrich, store and activate data from all online and offline sources and create a single, automated and updated Source of Truth that empower your marketing, product, IT, sales and operations.
If you’re a retailer and you’d like to say goodbye data silos and use a Single Customer View to unlock better customer insights and effective omnichannel campaigns, we’ll be happy to show you examples or talk through your company’s unique challenges.
Tip #4: Gather reviews
Online reviews are a valuable tool to support conversions and sales. The increased traffic and loyalty program sign-ups during the holidays creates the perfect opportunity to gather a large number of reviews that will benefit your business throughout the year.
The more customer feedback you gather, the merrier!
You could start out small by including a request for product reviews in your re-engagement campaigns after the holidays.
These are some clever ways to ask for reviews from your happy customers:
PRO TIP: Use incentives to get reviews Asking customers for reviews might go completely unnoticed. After all, even something as simple as a review takes away from people’s valuable time. That said, you can always turn to incentives in exchange for reviews. For instance, you can offer additional loyalty points, special rewards or a discount code when asking for a review. Also make sure to point out that you’re grateful for any kind of honest customer feedback and that their opinion won’t affect the incentive.
Tip #5: Drive social engagement
Usewith sharable contests, quizzes or highlighting customers on social
Contest emails have the highest average open rate compared to other email campaigns.
Social engagement and customer advocacy is the litmus test of success for most brands.
If customers have a good experience with a brand, it’s so easy for them to share it via social channels, which in turn influences others to seek out the brand.
Also, think of publicly recognizing and celebrating your loyal customers. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. A simple, warm and personal “thank you” goes a long way!
Tip #6: Drive emotional engagement
Emotions are often overlooked as the key driver behind engagement and loyalty.
But humans are emotional creatures, so delivering context and relevance to consumers goes a long way in reinforcing the emotional value they unconsciously invest a brand.
Shoppers are looking to connect with society by supporting businesses that campaign for mutual causes.
Leading retail brands show what they stand for.
In fact, Google reports that 46% of shoppers say that they make a conscious effort to shop at businesses that align with their values.
With this in mind, retailers should take the opportunity to engage their customers with messages that promote a good cause. Because people want to support good causes, they’ll seek out retailers that can fulfill that mission. Be sure to communicate on your website, social media, email, and in-store signage about your commitment to the cause—and pick one that resonates with both you and your target customer.
Thank your customers for joining your values-based initiatives.
Whether you are pushing forward values like coolness, health, aspiration, luxury, comfort, diversity or others, those are ideas your top customers will connect with. For example, you can let your customers support a chosen cause and donate their loyalty points or send his or her unused coupons to their favorite charity. This helps your customers do good and feel good and encourages positive word-of-mouth for your loyalty program.
Tip #7: Offer great free resources
Modern retail businesses implement an effective content strategy to grab a customer’s attention. The key is consistency and quality.
Even after the holidays, retailers can keep your customers coming back by reminding them how valuable their products are, but doing so with educational content, rather than straight-forward promotions. Content creation is publishing material not intended to sell a certain product. In fact, this content is designed to educate or stimulate interest in your products or services for consumers. Your small business could publish articles or create video content about topics to benefit your target audience.
When communicating with your customer base, try publishing a variety of content. Educational content might include:
✔️ How-to videos and tutorials
✔️ Frequently Asked Questions
✔️ Behind the scenes story-telling
✔️ Ebooks, guides and other written resources
✔️ Interviews with clients that share their favourite products or top tips
✔️ Interviews with experts
No matter the media platform, when you post quality and intriguing content, customers will continue to remember your brand.
Tip #8: Embrace user generated content
User generated content is a great form of organic marketing that will benefit brands and retailers. User generated content can include images, videos, or text featuring your product or service, but is not created by your employees. There is nothing more genuine than real customers enjoying your product.
Actually, this type of content is the newest form of word-of-mouth advertising. Social media has only empowered it!
A fun and memorable shopping experience will inspire customers to share UGC. One way to collect this content is by creating standard hashtags for your products. Encourage customers to post photos of them with their newest gift from your shop. Offer a product give-away or discount for participating customers. A budget-friendly way to stimulate UGC is placing a festive sign or photo backdrop outside of your store.
Tip #9: Provide loyalty discounts and Special Member Pricing
Reward loyal customers for sticking with your brand once the holidays are over. Special Member Prices reward loyalty members with exclusive deals in-store and online.
Many consumers will be feeling price-conscious after all their holiday spending. You can help put them at ease and encourage them to return to shopping by running a post-holiday promotion. Offer a percent-off discount, free shipping, or even a buy-one-get-one deal. Advertise your promotion on your site, on social media, and via email. Be sure to stress that your promotion will last only for a limited time in order to create a sense of urgency and FOMO.
For the weary in shopping spirit, it may be beneficial to lower prices of certain products.
As the holidays come to an end, provide clear instructions to employees about product mark-downs and discounts. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking an item is on sale when it was just misplaced or incorrectly marked.
Brick and mortar shops will often slip a coupon in shopping bags for a discount that’s valid after the holiday season. You can do the same thing with your online shop! Include a discount code in your receipt email that will not only show customers you appreciate their holiday business, but you hope to see them back on your site again soon.
Tip #10: Create (or review) your loyalty program
The appeal of a loyalty program is obvious: retailers get a way to promote their business that is truly cost-effective, and your customers are rewarded for staying loyal. In a busy holiday season, that extra boost—for both parties—can’t be underestimated.
Here’s how it’d work.
First, customers sign up to your loyalty program to start collecting points.
You add a VIP tier to keep customers excited about shopping with your store again and again. This means that they’re not just being rewarded for coming back—they’ve got a goal they’re working towards.
If you don’t already have a VIP tier, make one now. Loyal Guru allows you to give extra rewards to VIPs, which gamifies the shopping experience; if the next gift they buy pushes them into VIP status, they’ll be enticed to come back and get the upgrade.
To engage customer after the holidays, your goals, strategies and technology must be aligned. Then, you can get to work.
Here are the top features your should look for as you evaluate your options
✔️ Make sure you prioritize customer engagement solutions built specifically for the retail industry
✔️ Ensure their customer data platform truly collects and unifies data from all online and offline sources, to have accurate customer profiles
✔️ Ask about their data activation capabilities
✔️ Examine what omnichannel features and capabilities it offers
✔️ Make sure they work with leading retailers
✔️ Ask how strong their development team is, and how frequently they add new features
✔️ Make sure they give you full control and ownership over your customer data
✔️ Make sure they are GDPR a CCPA compliant
Of course, the initial step is to segment your customers based on transactional and behavioural data, because no strategy made for the whole customer base can appeal to each one of the individuals. Your customer engagement strategies shall always be targeted and personalized.
Then you can roll up your sleeves and design, plan and execute your customer engagement strategies. For example, prepare a series of communications, offers or promotions that are valuable, relevant and fun (don’t forget UGC, educational content and entertainment are powerful drivers in today’s day and age) and include a compelling call to action.