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Tips for Turning One-Time Holiday Buyers Into Loyal Customers

By: Jeff Dahlby
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This article was originally published on TotalRetail.

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season is upon us and merchants are looking for ways to take a piece of the holiday pie. But holiday giving doesn’t have to end in December. Merchants need to start looking ahead and think about new approaches to turn holiday shoppers into year-round customers. It’s all about consumer behavior and how merchants interpret and interact with buyers that can make the difference between a one-time holiday shopper or a loyal customer for years to come.

Here are a few tips to help navigate through the holiday season and beyond.

It’s All About the Customer Experience

Merchants must strive to convey their uniqueness through the customer experience. Since the customer experience permeates every part of the purchasing process, merchants must leverage technologies to offer customers personalized and consistent interactions with their brands. With strategies like omnichannel growing in significance, merchants should ensure experiences link across digital platforms throughout a customer’s journey. Taking the time and effort to recognize a consumer’s preferences and behaviors ultimately benefits the business. Gartner’s What’s Hot in Digital Commerce report tells us personalization engines improve engagement, decrease cart abandonment, and increase conversions up to 71 percent and profits up to 15 percent. In turn, while consumers will be shopping and spending more this holiday season, they also expect great service and a more rewarding customer experience, both of which will lead to repeat purchases long after we ring in the New Year.

Subscriptions Are the Gift That Keeps Giving

Subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving — and not just for the recipient. They provide a huge opportunity that extends well beyond the New Year for businesses to grow a new loyal customer base. By using current, happy customers as unofficial spokespeople for the brand via gift-giving, subscriptions can become a great avenue for brands to develop relationships with new consumers. Once a plan nears expiration, the recipient may choose to extend the plan and purchase one on their own.

To capitalize on this opportunity, subscription companies need to tidy up their value propositions and then communicate them to both their customers and the market. The overarching value of giving a subscriptions gift should also be highlighted — recipients won’t have to worry about recurring costs as they try out a new product or service, and givers are satisfied with sharing something enjoyable. Businesses that can match these messages with the right audience have the opportunity to help their customer win at holiday gift-giving while pushing their business into the black.

Category Affinity vs. Privacy

Recapturing the attention of prospective customers after they’ve abandoned their shopping carts is a battle for online merchants. To remain top of mind, sellers have retargeted shoppers with both email promotions and online advertisements. Expect that once again they’ll resort to these tactics; however, they must walk a fine line to not pester shoppers or impede on a consumer’s privacy.

Category affinity is the key to finding this retargeting balance. This year, merchants should challenge themselves to more deeply understand which products align with one another. Using these insights, they can periodically show prospects products related to previously viewed items as part of their retargeting efforts to draw customers back to their site without sounding like a broken record.

The holidays are a busy time of year for everyone, but it’s also a time to show people you care about what they want and need. For merchants, it’s time to stop thinking about the holiday season as your one chance to get a piece of the holiday pie. Instead, view it as an opportunity to turn a “holiday shopper” into a long-term customer that keeps on giving.

Jeff Dahlby is vice president of MarketForce, Digital River’s in-house agency.

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