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Retention Strategies for Beyond the Holidays


Have you planned your strategy for retaining customers once the holiday season has come to a close? Fear not, for we’ve rounded up seven ways to transform festive shoppers into loyal customers, from a simple thank-you note to referral rewards they can’t refuse.

Picture this. It’s January. Those Christmas marketing campaigns you slaved over? They aced it. You’ve won the shopping carts of consumers and now your holiday ecommerce metrics are looking great (unlike our waistlines after all those mince pies ?).

Now, you face a whole new challenge. How do you get all these holiday shoppers to come back to your ecommerce store and buy from you again? This is especially important when you consider that retaining existing customers is considerably cheaper than acquiring new ones.

You’ll need to get moving on your retention strategy before Christmas so that you’re ready and raring to go as soon as the big day is over.

To help you on your way, here are seven of our best customer retention strategies for you to transform your holiday shoppers into loyal customers who keep coming back for more (long after the last of the turkey sandwiches has been eaten!).

7 ways to retain holiday customers

#1 Consider a subscription model

If your products lend themselves to a subscription, January is a prime time to think about implementing this as a retention strategy. It’s a great way of locking in repeat business from seasonal shoppers and guaranteeing a steady stream of revenue.

Of course, better customer retention isn’t the only benefit of a subscription model. You can also enjoy increased return on your acquisition spends, better financial forecasting, predictable inventory management, and opportunities for richer relationships with your customers.

Talking of customers, a subscription model presents plenty of perks for them as well, including convenience, a personalised experience, saving money and better product discoverability.

Despite these benefits, it’s important to acknowledge that subscription models do present challenges, and don’t suit all businesses. It’s vital you do your homework and check if it’s an approach that benefits you. Can you make the logistics work? Is your ecommerce tech stack set up to handle it? How will your margins be affected? These are all factors you’ll need to consider before taking action.

#2 Leverage loyalty program tiers

When it comes to encouraging festive shoppers to come back to your brand, a customer loyalty program could be just the ticket. This adds an extra something to your offering and can help set you apart from competitors.

A tiered, points-based program entices consumers to return again and again, each time earning points and getting closer to unlocking an appealing reward (like free shipping, early sale access or a VIP product drop). An aspirational rewards program like this is a great way of saving customers from losing interest, as there’s always another level to reach.

Be sure to communicate with customers to let them know how many points they’ve accumulated so far and how close they are to the next tier – the idea of ‘reward proximity’ is super effective at incentivising future purchases.

To make your loyalty program even more appealing, why not run an exclusive promotion for loyalty program members throughout January – something that will highlight the benefits of staying loyal to your brand post-Christmas?

#3 Surprise and delight shoppers with personal thank yous

How about using the ‘surprise and delight’ tactic to bring some cheer to the new year and help improve your retention rate. You needn’t invest in any complex or expensive surprises – something as simple as a handwritten thank-you note or a free sample of a new product is enough to make a significant (and lasting) impression.

Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

Handwritten note

As mentioned above, a handwritten note thanking a customer for supporting your brand during the holidays is a simple and cost-effective way to brighten up a gloomy January.

This will be something of a novelty when they’re so used to receiving emails or SMS messages from retailers – ideal for differentiating your brand from the competition and inspiring shoppers to return with smiles on their faces.

Make your notes friendly and personal, mentioning customers’ names and their purchases. Avoid the hard sell!

Charity donation

How about making a meaningful thank you gesture and donating to a charity on behalf of your customers?

Not only is this a way of supporting a good cause close to your brand’s heart, it will help foster emotional connections with shoppers and encourage them to give you their ongoing loyalty.

Remember that today’s savvy shoppers will quickly suss out any disingenuous charitable efforts, so authenticity is key.

We’ve explored the link between corporate social responsibility and customer retention previously on our blog – take a look at what we found here.

Discount voucher

Sending a spontaneous discount voucher for a customer to redeem in January is another way of boosting customer satisfaction and inspiring purchasing behaviour.

Remember to personalise the message you send with your voucher to further encourage engagement with the promotion.

#4 Use data to personalise the customer experience

Think about all the valuable customer data you’ll have gathered by the time the holiday season is over, especially if you’re using tools like surveys and quizzes to get to know your site visitors.

Be sure to leverage this data in the new year as you work to retain festive shoppers. You can sync it with your marketing platforms (and other tech stack solutions) to create tailored experiences that build strong, meaningful relationships with customers and inspire repeat purchases.

We rounded up some of our favourite ways to use zero-party data to personalise the shopping experience in this blog post, but here are a few key takeaways:

  • Provide personalised product recommendations based on what you know about your customers. You can display these on-site or embed them in your automated email flows.
  • Build tailored email flows that resonate with each customer on an individual level. Try crafting unique subject lines according to their needs and preferences.
  • Tailor your on-site content to make customers feel seen and heard.

#5 Offer a referral program

How about rewarding your holiday customers if they refer a friend in the new year? Create an offer they can’t refuse, whether it’s incentivising them with free shipping for their next purchase, an exclusive discount or some store credit.

Check out this referral program from Shopify Plus apparel retailer Bombas to kickstart your thinking.

Promote your referral offer across your website and social networks, as well as in your email blasts. Get the word out there and make sure your posts are easy to share – this is essential for a successful referral program.

Remove any potential barriers by making information about your referral program as easy as possible to find on your website, and making the program itself easy to sign-up to.

Not only will a referral program boost retention by encouraging existing customers to stick with you (especially when their reward is redeemable on a future purchase), but it can help bring in new customers without the sky-high acquisition costs!

#6 Provide valuable content

You want to keep your brand top-of-mind after the holiday season is over, and one way of doing this is by providing valuable and engaging content to enhance the overall experience of your brand.

As well as providing customers with promotional content, consider the power of things like educational blog posts, how-to guides or lookbooks – not only will these keep your brand front and centre, but they demonstrate that you’re committed to customers’ experience and really care about them beyond the point of purchase.

For a great example of a content marketing strategy that communicates genuine care for and appreciation of customers, look no further than the blog of global baby dock brand DockATot. This has been carefully curated to provide real value for their target audience – essential for connecting with customers on a deeper level, establishing trust and encouraging brand loyalty.

Why not align your January content with the theme of New Year’s resolutions? You could provide useful resources that will empower customers to succeed as they set about chasing new goals for 2022, tying in with people’s new-year determination. Think about topics that tend to resonate with people at the start of a new year, like health, fitness and reflection – if these fit with your brand and your products, then why not leverage them in your content to try and improve engagement?

You can use a range of channels to disseminate this type of informational content, including your ecommerce store’s blog, social media channels and monthly email newsletters.

#7 Take your customer service omnichannel

Being present and ready to provide support across a range of channels is an important strategy when it comes to impressing and retaining shoppers post-holiday season. They are much more likely to shop with you again if they receive friendly, responsive and timely support wherever and whenever they may need your assistance.

And, if you can keep up this proactive, high-quality approach to customer service, customers will eventually become loyal brand advocates who purchase more frequently, spend more in each transaction and spread the word to family and friends.

Ensure that your customer support page can be accessed quickly and intuitively, whether customers are shopping via desktop or mobile. Be quick to respond to customer queries on social media as well, whether it’s people Tweeting you a question or leaving a query on one of your Facebook posts .

The bottom line

Whilst there’s no silver bullet when it comes to increasing customer retention, we hope you can use these tips to get rid of holiday shoppers’ January blues and encourage them to stick around for the long-haul. If you’re not investing in customer retention strategies in the new year, you could be missing out on some serious revenue, as well as the chance to save money on costly acquisition! So what are you waiting for?

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