To create long-term customer loyalty and profits, marketing professionals need to find a way to extend the yearend holidays' sales momentum into the New Year.

Marketers often spend months preparing for the holiday rush. They undertake ad campaigns, data collection initiatives, and mobile commerce site optimization. The light at the end of the tunnel is often December 26, when Black Friday is a distant memory, Cyber Monday is over, and Christmas has come and gone.

However, there's no reason to consider the season over just because the mistletoe has come down.

As people begin to resume their normal lives armed with gift certificates they want to redeem and sweaters they want to exchange, the holiday longtail—between December 26 and the end of January—is a crucial time period to close last-minute sales and form new customer relationships while reinforcing existing ones.

Here are five ways that marketers can make the most of that holiday longtail.

1. Update landing pages

The first step is to make sure that all email communication, ads, and Web pages are free of Christmas imagery and language as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 25.

Customers are thinking of New Year's Eve and going back to work or school. If they're visiting your site after the holidays, you can ensure better interactions by providing a timely and updated experience.

2. Use your data with precision

Quick adaptability and customization are the key to winning modern marketing. Analyze your data in real time to find which tactics are proving most successful and how others can be improved.

Are you losing customers at the checkout stage? Simplify the process! Are your customers consistently choosing one version of a product over the other? Incorporate key insights into marketing efforts and discount offers to move inventory and increase sales.

3. Get personal

After the holidays is a great time to connect on a personal level with your customers, whose schedules are finally slowing down, even if just slightly.

Consider sending an email to shopping cart abandoners who browsed but never purchased during the holiday season; ask them to take another look using a compelling offer to encourage them to take action. Alternatively, offer discounts to your social media followers, encouraging them to treat themselves to the gift they wanted but didn't receive.

4. Make your customers work for you

Each person who bought something from you over the holiday season has at least one or two friends or family members who did not. Grow your customer base by asking customers for a referral. Incentives can include discounts, sneak peaks on new products, or special group rates.

Word-of-mouth is still as powerful a marketing tool as any, so harness your current customer network to ensure that as the 2015 holiday season rolls in, your customer base will be much larger than it was in 2014.

5. Maintain and grow relationships

The holidays may be over, but that doesn't mean you have to wait until next October to get back in touch. You likely had a lot of new visitors to your site or newsletter subscribers during the rush, but turning casual visitors into long-term, loyal customers is the real challenge.

Make sure to keep in constant contact during the holiday longtail by sharing information on sales, new products, discounts for birthdays, etc.. Start as soon after the holiday season as possible, while customers still remember their experience of searching your site or purchasing from your store.

* * *

Remember, December 26 is not the end of your marketing efforts. Rather, think of it as just the beginning—when you can get back in touch with potential customers who dropped off during the holiday season or turn casual browsers into loyal customers.

The key is data and unified marketing—collecting the right data in a timely fashion and using it to personalize your communications and outreach strategies to serve all the needs of your various customers well into 2015.

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image of Jay Calavas

Jay Calavas is chief evangelist at Tealium, provider of enterprise tag management and real-time unified marketing solutions.

Twitter: @jaycalavas

LinkedIn: Jay Calavas