7 tips to turn holiday shoppers into loyal customers

December 3, 2019

As classic crooner Andy Williams famously sang, “It’s the holiday season!” What the song doesn’t mention is that it’s also the season of building customer loyalty.

A recent study by Blucore discovered that retailers only manage to retain 10 to 15 percent of first-time shoppers in the six months after the holiday season. With retail sales expected to total nearly $1 trillion this year, your number one goal should be converting these customers into regulars, or better yet, VIPs.

Building customer loyalty isn’t accomplished overnight or with one exclusive discount. In fact, it’s better to show you care in a multitude of small 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.

1. Entertain and engage customers.

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. Gain an edge over large retailers by enriching your customer interactions—provide tactile or interactive experiences, offer product demonstrations, or distract children while parents shop. Have the magic of the holiday season carry throughout the New Year and offer these types of entertaining experiences all year round.

2. Follow up and follow through.

Developing relationships with your customers is very similar to gardening. For them to thrive, you need to expend some care and affection. Otherwise, their interest in your business will wither. Holiday spending is no joke. Deloitte’s 2019 Holiday Retail Survey reports that the average household plans to spend about $1,500 this season. More than 75% of shoppers also reported that they plan to spend the same or more as they did last year.

To hold onto these high-spending customers, use Rewards to nurture customer loyalty and satisfaction after their initial engagement with your business. Sign first-time customers up with Clover Rewards and delight them with a discount, exclusive offer, or a special event sent via email or text message a few days after their inaugural visit. Be sure to tout your ability to accept hands-free payment in your message. That convenient feature will make it even more likely that you’ll turn a busy holiday shopper into a repeat visitor.

3. Go the extra mile.

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 successfully wooing them back through your doors. 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.

4. Get personal.

When customers join your loyalty program via Rewards, they’re trusting you with their personal 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 cannot be reached). 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.

5. Be the expert…

Forbes has written about the importance of in-store expertise over online reviews. But don’t just rely on customers asking for advice to demonstrate your expertise. Develop creative ways to proactively steer shoppers to specific items, including sections labeled Staff Picks, Customers’ Favorites, or Product of the Day/Week/Month. The consumer marketing app Rocket Responder can help you attractively publicize these picks. Its easy-to-use editing capabilities elevate any product without requiring any design skills.

6. …in more than just what you sell.

Savvy business owners use email marketing to do much more than just promote your product. To build upon initial in-store interactions with their customers, they create and share helpful, interesting content in their 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 items you sell.

7. Exceed expectations.

The holidays are usually filled with stressful moments: family gatherings, holiday travel, overwhelming crowds, even lost packages. Each situation feels more nerve-wracking than the last. 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 visits. (You can track success in real time and tweak future promotions accordingly if redemption rates are lower than you’d like.) Or add a small free gift to every purchase. The small price you’ll pay for these gestures will be repaid in full—and then some—in customer loyalty for weeks, months, and years to come.

Wrapping up

Yes, the holidays are the busiest time of year for you and your business. But it’s also probably the most profitable time. 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.

[image: Nantucket Holiday Stroll – Nantucket by Massachusetts office of Travel & Tourism on flickr]

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