Holiday seasons have historically offered a key opportunity for building customer loyalty. In a normal year, shops can reach out to new customers with promotions and incentives, and do their best to hang on to them after the season comes to a close. This year is obviously no traditional year, but there is good news: the consumer confidence index remains higher than throughout 2020. That means you can still attract and retain new customers, and your number one goal should be converting these customers into regulars, or better yet, VIPs.
Building customer loyalty isn’t accomplished with just one exclusive discount. In fact, it’s better to show you care in a multitude of small, simple ways rather than one grand gesture. So where should a busy business owner start? Here are seven quick tips to motivate those first-time holiday shoppers to make a return visit.
If you create a worthwhile, truly unique experience for a first-time shopper, they’re much more likely to visit your business again in the future, whether in person or online. Gain an edge over large retailers by enriching your customer interactions—host interactive virtual experiences, offer online product demonstrations, or provide expert advice for best use of your products or services. You can offer these types of entertaining experiences all year round, not just during the holidays.
Developing relationships with your customers is very similar to gardening. For them to thrive, you need to expend some care and affection. Even during challenging times, consumer spending is expected to surge during the holiday season.
Think with Google reports that Q4 2020 saw a “seismic shift in consumer shopping behavior,” with a massive increase in ecommerce. The rate of increase of retail searches was over three times than Q4 of 2020. The shift to digital commerce is widely expected to continue through 2025 and likely for the long term.
To hold onto the high-spending customers, use Rewards to nurture customer loyalty and satisfaction after their initial engagement with your business. Enroll first-time customers in Clover Rewards and delight them with a discount or exclusive offer sent via email or text message a few days after their initial visit. Be sure to tout your ability to accept contactless payment in your messaging, a convenience many customers appreciate and in fact have come to expect.
The simple act of sending a personalized email thanking new customers for their business is a small gesture that can have a big impact on wooing them back. Same goes for their birthday and holidays. Send a note with a discount that can be redeemed during the recipient’s birthday month and another during the holiday season with a private deal, gift with purchase, tiered discount offer, or even an exclusive item available only to those on the mailing list.
When customers join your loyalty program via Rewards, they’re trusting you with their contact information. Treat them in kind by offering yours. Sales clerks should offer a business card with a phone number and the hours they’re available. As a business owner, share your contact information in your initial email mailing and invite your customers to contact you whenever they need assistance or have questions. Shoppers appreciate business owners that make themselves personally available (as opposed to big-box retailers who are run by faceless, nameless entities that are hard to reach). You can also ask customers to share their “wish list” items. Use these ideas to expand your offerings, then reach out once you have them in stock.
Forbes has written about the importance of brand expertise over online reviews. But don’t rely on customers asking for advice to demonstrate your prowess. Develop creative ways to proactively steer shoppers to specific items in store or online, including sections labeled Staff Picks, Customer Favorites, or Product of the Day/Week/Month. The consumer marketing app Rocket Responder can help you publicize these picks. Its easy-to-use editing capabilities elevate any product without requiring any design skills.
Savvy business owners use email marketing to do much more than just promote their product. To build upon initial interactions with your customers, create and share helpful, interesting content in your holiday marketing. If you sell gourmet food items, for example, write a short post about a recent health study involving nutrition. Or link to recipes that utilize ingredients you sell.
You can solidify long-lasting relationships with customers by exceeding expectations during the holidays. Consider mailing packages with 3-5 day shipping to customers who chose 5-7 day shipping. Use Promos to send high-value, real-time promotions via email, text, or social media to VIP customers and those you hope to reel in for subsequent business. (You can track success in real time and tweak future promotions accordingly if redemption rates are lower than you’d like.)
Another good way to go above and beyond is with your commitment to safety. Restrictions have eased in different parts of the country, but many people are still concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19. Be sure to have hand sanitizer available at the entry and register, and consider things like branded masks on hand for unprepared shoppers. The small price you’ll pay for these gestures may be repaid in full—and then some—in customer loyalty for weeks, months, and potentially years to come.
Despite all we’ve been through during the pandemic, the holidays still promise to be the busiest time of year for you and your business, and hopefully the most profitable. If you can implement even a few of these simple tips, you might just see an uptick in your returning customers when the holiday season comes to a close.