Just like most people who celebrate the holidays and move into a period of relaxation afterward, e-commerce brands typically think of January as a slow month for business. During this time, it’s common to see cuts to marketing budgets and less frequent communication with customers. But just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too.
Pulling back on your marketing and communication efforts in the New Year is a big mistake. Think about it; brands have just spent a ton of money drawing in new customers for Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) and the holidays. They’ve just witnessed a huge spike in new customers. So why are they letting those customers go?
If you don’t have a communication strategy to engage with all your new customers, those new buyers are going to forget about your brand. In fact, there’s a very short period of time (1-3 days) after a first purchase when someone is most engaged, which is when you should be sending them useful, engaging content to win them over as a long-term customer. After all, it’s not super profitable to spend on marketing and ads—but it is profitable to get loyal customers.
Take a look at the three strategies that we’ve used for years to keep customers engaged in the new year.
The Importance of Customer Retention
Online stores earn on average 43 percent of their revenue from retained customers, also known as repeat customers. For e-commerce businesses, investing in cultivating repeat customers only increases that number.
Customer retention is the process of keeping customers through a series of marketing strategies that keeps customers coming back. It’s not just about offering the best deals—it’s also about delighting customers through useful content to create positive associations between the customer and the brand.
Seems simple enough, right?
In reality, maintaining customer relationships takes a good amount of time, strategy, and work. One of the most crucial components of maintaining relationships is personalized messaging.
Creating Personalized Content
Think about the last time you received an email from a brand, and the body of the message was content and product offerings that you were totally uninterested in. Didn’t feel great, right?
That’s why personalized messaging is so important. It’s an approach to marketing that uses what you know about your customers to create the right content strategy.
You can craft excellent content and offers by utilizing an analytics platform, such as Klaviyo, to use the data collected on customers to learn what’s relevant to them.
If you have enough information on how they have interacted with your SMS messages and emails to learn what they buy and how much they’re willing to spend, that’s excellent. However, you should also use information about their location, where they like to buy, and their demographics, if that info is available.
Need help with new strategies to increase your customer retention? Chat with an e-commerce strategist.
Three Strategies for Retaining New Customers in January
Retaining your customers is important all year long, but it’s especially so after the holidays because you’ve spent so much time and money promoting your brand.
To make sure those don’t stay one-time customers, we have three strategies that have been very successful for several of our clients:
- New Year's resolutions campaigns: Frame a series of campaigns around your customers’ goals.
- Overstock campaigns: Overshot your inventory this year? Come up with some deals to get it moving.
- Top-of-mind content: Stand out from the competition to offer helpful content that isn’t focused on the sale.
If you'd like to use the same January email/SMS calendar we use for clients to plan their New Year's resolutions or Overstock campaigns, you can copy it for free here.
1. New Year's Resolution Campaigns
A lot of people start out the new year with big goals and dreams. Many people think about health, beauty, and fitness first, but there are actually many other ways to be clever and play off the “New Year, New You” theme.
- For an outdoor brand, you could go with “New Year, New Adventures”
- For a fragrance brand, “New Year, New Scent”
- For a golf brand, “New Year, New Par”
The list goes on.
Email and SMS campaigns should offer advice on how customers can achieve their New Year’s goals related to your brand:
- The outdoor brand might create a guide about the best places to camp based on the customer’s location.
- The golf brand might give advice on putting or create a blog post about what makes a good driver.
- The fragrance brand might give advice on dating, provide compelling stories about where the scent originated, or match a fragrance with an event.
You should send this content out all month, offering deals on the products along the way. If you have enough time to plan, tie new product launches into the theme.
2. Overstock Campaigns
When it comes to overstocking, brands fear one of two (sometimes both!) scenarios:
- They’ll run out of stock of popular products over the holiday sales season.
- They’ll have an overstock of unpopular products.
Some years, it’s bound to happen. But that’s not a reason to get bummed out! Instead, create an overstock campaign.
How does overstock work?
Starting an overstock campaign isn’t about correcting a mistake. It’s about strategically overstocking popular products and getting clever with unpopular overstock.
For both categories of overstock, it’s fairly simple: Offer discounts on those overstock products. In the past, we’ve had clients that offer larger deals in January than BFCM, just to get rid of the excess stock taking up warehouse space, and it’s been a huge success.
At the beginning of January, offer a generic overstock category-wide sale. Later in the month, for specific products that still have excess inventory, send daily deals with an even higher incentive.
3. Top-of-Mind Content
Top-of-mind content is more important than ever in January, especially since your competition is probably slacking on email and SMS communications. This is your chance to stand out and build customer loyalty.
The most important thing to remember about top-of-mind content is that it’s not sales-y. People have been getting offers on products for months at this point, so it’s time to give them a break!
Top-of-mind content should be educational and entertaining while still tying into your brand.
For example, one of our clients sells healthy and unhealthy cookies, so in January we send content about healthy snacks, new recipes to try out, and fun videos of cookies that didn’t come out just right. This not only engages all those new first-time holiday customers but also drives second and third purchases without the discounts from the holidays.
If done right, top-of-mind content drives high lifetime value, making all your advertising and marketing more profitable and keeping customers happy and in love with your brand.
Boost Your New Year’s Sales with SmartBug E-Commerce
Want more stellar strategies like these New Year’s campaigns? We’ve got ‘em!
Our e-commerce strategists, writers, and designers drive your revenue through email marketing and SMS that delights your customers and keeps them coming back—not just in January but year-round.
Ready to boost your sales? Get in touch with our e-commerce team today!
About the author
Ryan O’Connor was formerly SmartBug’s Director of E-commerce Growth, product manager, and sales director. He enjoys helping readers learn how to solve big business challenges through consumer psychology within the constantly evolving e-commerce landscape. Over the past 10 years, Ryan has helped 1000s of DTC brands navigate challenges to grow fast through intelligent marketing. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, having launched his own e-commerce stores from the ground up. Read more articles by Ryan O’Connor.
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