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Post-holiday strategy: how to avoid a slow January

Post-holiday retail is normally a sleepy time. But it doesn’t have to be. 

For many ecommerce merchants, the last few months have been a blur. You’ve most likely splurged on ads, and spent a ton of time and energy acquiring new customers, and converting returning ones. 

While January may be a slow time in retail, 68% of holiday shoppers plan to continue browsing and buying in the week following December 25. This means there’s an opportunity to overcome the post-holiday sales slump. Here’s how:

  1. Retarget customers acquired during the holiday season
  2. Take advantage of a clearance sale
  3. Use seasonality as a sales tool
  4. Promote gift card redemption 
  5. Leverage email automation 
  6. Keep returns in mind

Retarget customers acquired during the holiday season

For the last couple of months, you’ve (probably) spent a lot on paid media to attract potential buyers to your site. You’ve probably encouraged quite a bit of them to convert, too. So it can be somewhat disheartening when you learn that many shoppers acquired during the holiday season have a lower lifetime value -  64% of them might never buy from you again.  

But when you consider that it’s five times easier to convert a returning customer than a first time buyer, it might be in your best interest to market to this crowd. Because not only is it easier to convert them, but they spend up to 3x more than one-time customers.

The value of return vivistors

And the more they buy from you, the more likely they are to keep buying from you. 

Chances of someone returning to your store

So it's a missed opportunity if you're not trying to convert these customers. Incentives them to purchase again by offering special promotions: 

  • Loyalty programs: Invite these customers into a loyalty program, and reward them with extra perks with their next purchase. 

  • High-value, relevant emails: You should have collected a number of new email addresses now that the holidays are finished. Send your email list some extra love during this slow time, giving them high-value content and sharing recent customer reviews to keep up engagement. You could even create a juicy offer solely for your email list. 

  • Social Ads: Retarget holiday shoppers and share user-generated content within your ad set to remind these customers of their experience with your brand.

Take advantage of a clearance sale

No matter how strong your inventory planning skills are, chances are you’ve ended up with excess products after the holiday season. (Hey, it’s better than running out of stock by December 1st, right? 😉)

Why not take advantage of this extra inventory by driving traffic to your site with a clearance sale?

People have gift cards and cash they’ve received as gifts to spend. Running a post-holiday sale is a fantastic way to keep your sales momentum going strong. By setting an end date to the sale, you’ll create a sense of urgency that will compel visitors to buy. 

Use seasonality as a sales tool

Although clearance sales will ease you from your excess inventory, your after-Christmas messaging doesn’t have to focus solely on sales and promotions. 

Winter provides an abundance of opportunities to grow your seasonal sales. Warm clothing and skin care products are in high demand right now. Use this to your advantage!

The entirety of your audience might not be located in the cold, so add some personalization to your site to ensure relevant seasonal promotions appear to all visitors. For example, an apparel company can show Florida shoppers swimsuits on their homepage, while winter jackets appear for those shopping from New York.

A great example of this is Very weather, who personalizes their homepage based on the weather in your current location. 

Very Weather summer weather

Cold Winter Weather Very Weather


Another option is to market to the New Year attitude. While toys or electronics might not be high on the list for some consumers, items that enhance their New Year’s goals are. 

If you have products that boost productivity, cleanliness or that are focused on fitness, now is the time to call them out on your site. 

Promote gift card redemption

The number one requested holiday gift in the United States are gift cards! It’s the no-brainer of gift-giving, and the saving grace of last-minute, panicked shoppers. In 2018, US shoppers spent $160 billion on these hot items. 

Gift cards are great for recipients, but they also have some great benefits for store owners, too. They provide great brand exposure and do wonders for repeat business: 41% of recipients visit a new store because of them, and 72% of recipients make a return trip to that store. Not to mention recipients tend to spend $28 more than the value of their card. 

If you’ve focused your promotional messaging on these hot items, chances are you’ve sold a few during the holiday rush. Since ~27% of shoppers plan to spend their gift cards shortly after Christmas, now is the time to give these recipients a little push to buy. Use your promotional messaging to remind shoppers to use their cards. 

This is especially true if you’ve sold e-gift cards: follow up with recipients by email to remind them of their gift.

Leverage email automation 

On average, 98% of your traffic doesn't buy. But that doesn't mean they’ll never make a purchase.

One of the perks of the holidays is the growth of your email list. With the surge in traffic and sales, you’ve probably seen a nice spike in your subscriber account as well. 

If you haven’t done so yet, welcome these new email subscribers in style. Send friendly and educational emails. Share educational content. Show them why they should buy from you. 

Be consistent, and you can gradually move these visitors down the sales funnel and convince them to buy from you.

Keep returns in mind

Chances are you’ve updated your return policy during the holidays to account for gifts. January is peak season for returns, and you must be prepared to deal with them. 

Keep the return process as simple and quick as possible, and ensure any information consumers are seeking is easily available on your site. Consider offering instant refunds, store credit or automated real-time exchanges to keep customers happy.

The goal is to ensure these customers leave with a pleasant experience, because then they’re more likely to return to buy something else. 

. . . . .

January might feel like a welcome break, especially after the surge in traffic during Q4. But you can still have a strong start to the New Year if you market to the mindset that appears once the holidays are finished. 

Laura Kluz

Ready? Let’s Talk.