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How to retain your Christmas customers

by team Holly & Co

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen? Do you also know your customers are like the reindeers that pull Santa’s sleigh? They will be the ones carrying you through this season. But if you look after them, they can also be the ones carrying you through the rest of the year, too. Because unlike Santa’s reindeer, your customers shouldn’t just be for Christmas. 

According to research, acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing one¹. So it really does pay to look after the ones you’ve got. And the good news is this means there is no need to stare aimlessly into the abyss of social media for new champions of your brand. It’s a far simpler job to entice someone back into the fold who has already fallen in love with the scent of your candle or shown their appreciation for your beautiful new product photography or ideas, for example.

Why it’s important to share your story

It’s such a wonderful feeling to find out that a sale has been made. Someone has voted with their money, and they’ve voted for you. Whether their purchase is for them or someone they love, by buying your product they have reached out a hand and the opportunity is with you to reach back and shake it. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and like any friendship, it needs nurturing. 

The key is communication, and this doesn’t mean the kind where you bombard them with a flurry of unpersonalised marketing messages. Every interaction with your customer can be a moment of valuable exchange, where you can share your story and also discover more about them. Think of the warm glow you get when someone who you’ve only met briefly remembers your name or asks about that birthday gift you bought last year and offers some ideas in case you might need something again this year. By keeping the customer and their needs at the forefront of your mind, you’re more likely to be at the forefront of theirs when they next consider where to shop. 

Human beings are storytellers, and many of us underestimate the power of our own stories. What was it that propelled you to create your product? What special elements have you included that make it amazing? Your story is your brand’s heart and it’s what distinguishes you from everyone else. When someone pours their coffee into your mug will they remember that it was handmade in a cottage by the coast? When they go for an evening out in your earrings will they recall that your inspiration came from autumnal leaves collected on family holidays? For many shoppers, these details affect how they subsequently re-engage with your brand after their purchase. Making sure your story is woven throughout your website, your branding and your social channels will make you more recognisable and far harder to forget.

Find new ways to connect with emotion

Regardless of the external factors at play, did you know that as consumers, our shopping habits are driven by emotion? When David Hieatt sat down to talk with Holly for Conversations of Inspiration he spoke passionately about the 18-inch distance from our heads to our hearts, and how important it is to connect the two. How are you going to take your consumer on that journey, to keep them coming back? How will you encourage them to not just think about you, but to feel something for you, too?

Human beings are storytellers, and many of us underestimate the power of our own stories. What was it that propelled you to create your product? What special elements have you included that make it amazing?

Including magical touches is a great place to begin. Handwritten thank you notes tucked into beautiful packaging will surprise and delight your customers, time and time again. Creating an ‘experience’ when they open your product will also encourage them to share their purchases on social channels. Confetti and stickers are an inspired choice here. Customers are more likely to re-engage with your brand when they remember how it felt to receive your product the first time round. Make sure your customer feels they have your blessing to share their experience by adding a small card with your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and relevant hashtags too, and include a line or two to say how much you appreciate seeing their images and shares. Not only will this attract new customers on your behalf, but the person posting also becomes a voluntary brand ambassador. Your product has become part of their personal online story which makes a perfect starting point for you to nurture this relationship.

As human beings, we love to feel special. Being made to feel like part of a cherished ‘club’ creates a relationship of mutual value. Reaching out to those who have previously shopped with you to share unseen insights into how you created your new range, for example, is an excellent way of creating momentum before a product launch as well as making your customer feel part of your story.

As consumers are becoming more socially responsible, showing how your brand feeds into their passions will help cement your relationship. If profits from your business are going to charity, make sure your customers know why that is important to you, as it’s likely to be important to them, too. Remember, it’s the things we care about most that unite us.

Encourage lovely loyalty

In a market flooded with choice, it’s easy to conclude that customer loyalty is dead. But if we approach this on the flip side, perhaps because there is so much choice, shoppers are hungry for a connection with a brand that speaks directly to them. 34% of us are willing to wait if a product from our preferred shop is out of stock, with 18% of us going as far as to sign up for restocking update². The stats indicate, therefore, that customers themselves actually don’t mind sticking around if it’s a brand they like and are trusting of them to fulfil their needs long-term. Learning about your customer often starts by striking up a conversation with them. This might be about replying to DMs on social or if you have seen that someone has added something to their basket but they didn’t make it to the checkout finish line, reaching out and gently asking them what made them pause might give you an insight into a consumer mindset that revolutionises how you sell your products going forward.

The same goes for negative comments. Criticism can be hard to take, but be careful not to jump into defensive mode. A customer who has spent time feeding back to you is a customer that cares, and it’s an opportunity for you to show how much you value them and their opinion. Mistakes happen, and the best relationships always begin with honesty. Spending time rectifying issues in a seamless and hassle-free way will build customer trust and increase the likelihood of them staying with you into the future and staying loyal. 

As human beings, we love to feel special. Being made to feel like part of a cherished ‘club’ creates a relationship of mutual value

Loyalty programs are an excellent way of retaining customers. How many times have you discovered a slightly crinkled coffee loyalty card in your coat pocket and chosen to visit that café over all the others on the high street (even if you’re five drinks away from your free festive latte?). Fitness brands like Nike and Peloton are experts at keeping customers in the fold. Nike’s Training Club positions your health at the centre of its marketing, and with exclusive member rewards for those using the app, soon your purchase decisions and your day-to-day activities are inextricably linked. Rather than offering discounts for fleeting one-time purchases, nurturing pre-existing relationships with customers by sending them a loyalty discount will encourage repeat purchases from shoppers who won’t then vanish into thin air.

In the stress of Christmas, purchases can be made with a ‘crisis’ head on. As the parcels begin to arrive at the door, many of us are left scratching our heads thinking ‘Did I order this?’ Take this as an opportunity in the future to remind them. Especially if they’re new customers. Or conversely, if we are met with disappointment when the product on the top of our wish list is sold out, how could you help? Reaching out and offering an alternative or a gift voucher might ease the blow. If someone’s shopped with you, do you have an email ready to send out as a follow-up to explain how much a purchase meant to you as this will keep you in your consumers’ minds and hearts, too.

Rather than offering discounts for fleeting one-time purchases, nurturing pre-existing relationships with customers by sending them a loyalty discount will encourage repeat purchases from shoppers who won’t then vanish into thin air.

Now is a good time to remember that the success of the festive season is not only down to how many products you have sold or how many customers you have brought in, but how many you can keep happy. Like Santa’s faithful reindeer, what you want is customers committed to coming back again and again and carrying you to the stars and beyond.

Key takeaways:

  • Share your story: The more people know about you, the more likely they are to want to support you year-round so keep them regularly updated and connect with real emotion.
  • Remember that every customer is potentially your brand’s best friend: rewarding loyalty will show your customers how much they matter, and sharing the story of how your brand came to be will keep them interested and engaged from their first purchase. 
  • Keep the dialogue going: if the feedback is good, encourage conversation to learn more about what makes your customers tick and if the feedback is critical, use it as an opportunity to put things right and regain their trust.  
  • Include magic touches to make you memorable: a warm, handwritten note, a video showing how you bought their product to life, packaging that would make the elves stand back and take notes, take time to create ‘sparkle’ moments that will make you and your brand unforgettable. 

Thoughtful marketing with Bloom & Wild

Bloom & Wild explore how to incorporate emotion into your product that will encourage consumer connection with your brand.

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