Holiday sales have traditionally been viewed as transactions with the customers buying gifts rather than as interactions with the people receiving the gifts. As a result, few brands put effort into winning customers' loyalty to retain them for the long term.

That's a lost opportunity: Holiday shoppers tend to be more receptive to new brands during this time of the year; to win them over, brands should make an effort to directly engage consumers.

Of course, engaging new customers isn't necessarily second nature to brands when up to 40% of their annual sales occur between November and December, according to the National Retail Federation. Rather, brands traditionally focus on efforts that drive holiday sales rather than prompting future business.

To develop loyalty with new customers, however, successful brands understand the importance of developing an ongoing marketing strategy that goes beyond the short holiday selling window.

This year, consider the following strategies to implement a more holistic approach that will allow you to capitalize on the busy season and build long-term relationships with these once-a-year customers.

1. Assume that holiday shoppers are in discovery mode

Since many holiday-season consumers don't necessarily know what they're going to buy, they're more open to suggestion than other times of the year. Their mindset opens the door for interaction—and developing loyalty.

For customers coming into contact with a new brand or product for the first time, education is the perfect form of engagement, especially if it helps them get what they want. Most shoppers have their mobile devices at the ready—something brands can use to their advantage in store

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Geoff Smith is SVP of marketing at CrowdTwist, a provider of multichannel loyalty and analytics solutions that drive customer engagement and incremental spend. He is a seasoned marketing technology marketer with 16+ years of experience in marketing email, loyalty, and CRM solutions.

LinkedIn: Geoff Smith