5 2011 Holiday Tips to Spark 2012 Sales

The holiday sales season is the make or break period for many merchants. When so much is riding on a short period of time, focusing on the immediate instead of the future is understandable.

But if processes are put in place prior to the rush, short and long term benefits can be gained. Here are five tips for keeping the 2011 holiday sales spirit going in the 2012:

Know your customers well enough to type new members
Customer acquisition is typically at an all time high during the peak season. Being able to type new members will save marketing dollars in the coming year. A high percentage of customers acquired during the holiday season are hit-&-runners. They only purchase once or twice because they aren’t part of the target market. Investing marketing dollars during off season is a waste.

Capture email addresses at every touchpoint
Email marketing is one of the most effective and efficient ways to generate sales revenue. Getting customers to opt into your program is a top priority. Streamline the process so it doesn’t interfere with the transaction speed so customers aren’t annoyed.

Create an email marketing campaign series for new captures
Adding new email addresses to an existing marketing campaign is the easiest method. It is not the most effective. People want to know that they are valuable to your company. Sending them a series of emails designed to welcome and engage them encourages future orders. Start with a welcome email that thanks them for being a special customer. Follow it up with emails that offer specials and items that match preferences and buying patterns.

Capture social media user information
Social media activity is becoming increasing important. Social customers – people who participate in the company’s online communities and purchase products or services – spend more and purchase more often than their non-social counterparts. Connecting with them online is challenging because there isn’t an efficient way to match customers with user handles. Asking for the information at the point of sale provides direct access and identifies the platforms where your customers are most active.

Offer coupons for discounts to be used after the holidays
Discretionary funds are often available after the holidays. People receive money for gifts or they return unwanted items. Including discount coupons for future use may just be the motivation that is needed to get customers to return for the items they wanted but didn’t receive.

Debra Ellis is the founder of Wilson & Ellis Consulting (www.wilsonellisconsulting.com), which specializes in improving customer acquisitionand retention using marketing, analytics, service, and strategic planning.

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