With Christmas nearly over and the end of the holiday season in sight, you may be relieved to leave the planning behind and finally see the end of your holiday campaigns. Now it’s time to sit back and take a well-deserved rest.
Or is it?
Traditionally retailers have had to suffer through a post-holiday slump as consumers rein in spending from the previous months. Additionally, many retailers get hit by high returns rates, with costs for returned items often doubling what it cost to ship them out.
Last year saw better than usual January sales with figures 2.7% ahead of those in December 2015, despite this however, returns still had a costly impact.
So, what does this mean for your ecommerce site?
Regardless of consumer spending, all retailers are faced with the post-holiday problem of following on from higher than average sales in previous months. Without a follow-up strategy, any customers won during the holiday season will remain holiday customers. A month that already pales in comparison to the one before can quickly turn into a disappointing time for sales.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid having a January sales slump and instead turn it into a successful month, and even a successful year. The key to all post-holiday strategies is to leverage data, customers and other opportunities gained from previous months.
Email follow ups
Use segmentation and email automation to plan a follow-up email strategy, creating targeted campaigns designed to re-engage your holiday customers.
Use your ecommerce data to send targeted emails with further product suggestions based on their purchase activity during the holidays. These emails work particularly well for product categories, such as health and fitness. Customers that have purchased a product without purchasing any of the additional accessories might be encouraged to do so with an added discount.
But what about customers who have purchased the product as a gift?
While they may not be interested in related products immediately after Christmas, they may be interested in related products for future birthdays or events. If you have any ecommerce data for gift purchases, such as customers who have ticked a ‘this is a gift’ option at the checkout, create an email segment for them. Create a targeted thank you email to follow up on the gift purchase and ask for additional information, such as the recipient's birthday and other interests. Not only does this let the customer know you care, it also creates an opportunity for future sales.
If you haven’t already, you should introduce abandoned cart emails as an integral part of your email strategy. Over the holidays customers are even more likely to use their shopping cart as a wish list or store items there to purchase later, leading to higher abandoned cart rates. Create automated email reminders to combat this and offer a discount to encourage completion of the sale. For the last week of December, offer special January discounts for shopping carts completed in the following month.
Sales and discounts
You might be sick of the sales, but your customers won’t be. In fact, discounts are likely one of the main reasons a customer purchases from you in the first place. While it can be tempting to wave goodbye to holiday campaigns and set prices back to normal at the start of January, this can be a crucial time to entice customers back with more.
Offer a gift card or voucher to customers who purchase in December to spend in January. This type of discount has a few benefits, such as being an attractive incentive to potential customers in the last week of December. With Christmas money in hand, these customers are especially receptive to deals and discounts.
This type of offer is also a nice thank you to any customers who have purchased from you earlier on in the month and a gentle reminder of your brand name in the New Year. Plus, by keeping the spending period within the month of January, you can help inspire urgency in your customers.
It is also worthwhile creating a clearance category on your website. Promote these items through email and social media to let customers know about special deals and discounts in January. A clearance section is a great incentive for returning customers, but can also be essential in helping to clear out holiday inventory to make room for new season products.
Remarketing and referrals
To make January a successful month it’s important to reach out to every available potential customer, such as those that may have stopped at your site at the start of the sales funnel or during the research phase.
The holiday season will see higher than average traffic with many shoppers passing through your website without making a purchase. A remarketing campaign can reach out to these visitors as well as your holiday customers and those with abandoned shopping carts. Remarketing can be the reminder needed to bring those shoppers back, with statistics showing these campaigns can lead to 147% higher conversion rates and 26% higher shopping cart completion.
Referral schemes can also be particularly effective for holiday customers who have purchased a gift, and may not directly be interested in your products long term. While they may not be interested, their gift recipient or other friends and family might be.
Friends and family are likely to have similar interests and can make ideal potential customers. Offer an incentive such as a discount or cash for every additional customer referred to you and turn your current customer base into your best sales force.
Do something new
Celebrate the New Year with your customers by doing something different. Release a new product or product line, or even remodel your website. A website with improved user experience might be just what your customers have been waiting for. If you can’t give your website a complete update, even just reorganising categories to make things even more user-friendly can be an enticing change.
Whatever you decide to release, make sure your customers know about it. January is the perfect time for this type of strategy as it plays directly into customer’s psychological mindset for the New Year. It’s also a much better positive reinforcement than the usual rock-bottom discounts, which can create unwanted customer expectations.
Promote your new product for a limited time only January offer, or give a general discount to celebrate your new website. Whether customers return out of curiosity or for the discount, make sure to use all your conversion tactics and make the most out of the additional traffic.
There is a range of short term tactics and longer-term strategies that can help boost sales in January and encourage repeat customers that could last all year round. While discounts and sales are an important and a popular option, retailers should beware of the consequences of relying on this technique to tempt customers back short term.
If you’re worried about the dreaded January slump and could use some help on starting off the New Year right, contact one of our team today.