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6 Customer Retention Ideas for the Holidays

The holiday shopping season from October to December is a boom time for most retailers. Sales are up. New customers are plentiful. So why not use the season to boost sales year around?

Repeat shoppers are typically worth more to an ecommerce business than three or four first-time buyers. Numerous studies over the past 20 years have shown that even small, incremental improvements in customer retention have a significant impact on profit. Perhaps the most famous of these studies, a Bain & Company and Harvard Business School report from 2000, suggested that a 5-percent increase in customer retention rate could drive a 25-to-95-percent increase in profit.

…why not use the season to boost sales year around?

Indeed a savvy business owner or manager might contemplate increasing the company’s retention rates during the holiday shopping season with its many new customers.

What follows are six ideas to help your business retain more shoppers during the Christmas season. Not every idea will make sense for your business. So use these ideas to inspire your own holiday customer retention tactics.

1. Measure Customer Retention

Zig Ziglar, the sales and business coach, said that “if you aim at nothing you will hit it every time.”

If your business is not tracking its customer retention rate, any improvement may be accidental. And you won’t know why you’re business is becoming more (or less) profitable.

Tracking customer retention is often done with time brackets. It may take a month or more to establish a company’s retention rate. So start now. Include customer retention rate with the key performance indicators you regularly use to monitor the business.

2. Offer Subscriptions

Nothing reduces customer churn like an ecommerce subscription. Subscriptions also make good Christmas gifts. This may be especially true for folks shopping for faraway friends, family members, or business associates.

For example, grandparents in Grand Junction, Colo. might order a KiwiCo project crate subscription for a grandchild in Orlando. A dutiful son in Boston might order Shaker & Spoon’s monthly cocktail subscription for his parents back in San Francisco. And a salesperson in Seattle could get a BirdieBox golf subscription for a favorite client in Palm Springs.

Subscription boxes make good Christmas gifts and improve customer retention rates. This example is from KiwiCo, a provider of youth art projects.

Subscription boxes make good Christmas gifts and improve customer retention rates. This example is from KiwiCo, a provider of youth art projects.

To use subscriptions to increase customer retention this holiday season, your business must have:

  • A gift-worthy subscription offer,
  • A way to retain the recipient after the gift runs out,
  • A way to retain the gift giver.

3. Introduce a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs encourage shoppers to come back again and again. They often provide a vehicle for remarketing to customers who may have otherwise never returned.

If you’re reading this article as late as September or October, there is still time to start a loyalty program that could help you retain shoppers after the holiday season.

There are many loyalty program apps for ecommerce. Each may have different capabilities. But the goals of your customer retention loyalty program should be:

  • Capture customer information and permission for marketing messages,
  • Encourage a second purchase no more than 45 days after the holiday order,
  • Offer long-term incentives (rewards) to drive repeat purchases.

4. Segment for Email Marketing

Segmenting your company’s email marketing messages may be one of the best ways to encourage additional sales and, thereby, boost customer retention.

For example, in a 2017 study, MailChimp found that segmenting email campaigns increased open rates 14.31 percent and drove clicks up 100.95 percent.

Unfortunately, many ecommerce companies may simply be sending the same email message to everyone on their list. If your company is one of these, prepare a segment-specific post-holiday campaign aimed at encouraging customers acquired during the holiday season to make a purchase in January.

5. Use Email Automation

Create a triggered email welcome series, drip campaigns, and win-back campaigns. These automated emails should be specific to a product or category and should encourage the shopper to make an additional purchase or otherwise engage with your business.

The engagements might include:

  • Joining a loyalty program,
  • Posting a product review,
  • Providing customer service feedback,
  • Engaging in social media,
  • Sharing products with friends and family.

In each case, your business will develop customer relationships that should lead to repeat sales.

6. Send a Personal Note and Offer

Consider sending a personal note thanking a new customer for making a purchase and encouraging her to return. Your handwritten message could include a coupon code for free shipping, a free product with purchase, or a simple discount.

This note will help make your company and brand stand out. It will give the impression that your business provides an excellent shopping experience.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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