Traditional retail seasonality is marked by the hustle leading up to Christmas, followed by the post-holiday doldrums when retailers are overwhelmed by returns and merchandise leftovers and markdowns, and consumers pull back the reins on spending. However, retailers should not take their foot off the gas. Post-holiday is the perfect time to continue the momentum into the new year. Get creative and start planning strategies now to build customer engagement and drive sales going into 2018.

Give a great bargain and maximize sale messaging
It goes without saying that there will be markdowns and that consumers expect them. Post-holiday bargain hunters will shift the focus from gift giving to scoring great deals for themselves. Your sale event will likely span several days as you clear out seasonal merchandise. Consider these strategies to maximize sale event exposure and keep the message fresh:

  • Create segmented sale follow-up emails by category. Use past purchase history to target shoppers with top sale items for the categories they are most likely to shop.
  • Take a phased approach to messaging during the sale event with headlines like “First Markdowns of the Season” and “New Styles Added.” Messaging that speaks to the total number of items on sale can also be very compelling. For example, “Thousands of items on sale now!”
  • Refresh the message on the homepage or in emails by featuring trending sale items in which you still have ample inventory. Social proof drives conversion and shoppers are keenly interested in knowing what deals others are taking advantage of.
  • Create a branded sale hashtag and invite shoppers to post photos of their end-of-season steals on Instagram.

Encourage gift card redemption 
According to CashCard.com, 72% of gift card recipients will spend an average of 20% more than their gift card value. As sales cool off post-holiday and consumers’ gift cards burn a hole in their pocket, it’s the perfect time to encourage gift card sales. Dedicated emails with personalized product recommendations and secondary gift card redemption messages throughout the site are a great way to persuade gift card recipients to shop.

Promote complementary items
Don’t miss the opportunity to promote cross-sells and accessories. For example, mobile phones require protective cases, winter coats need hats and gloves, and cameras need lenses and other accessories. Assume your customers received gifts from your brand, and suggestively message complementary items to go along with top-selling gifts throughout the site and in email campaigns.

If you can identify gift recipients through warranty registrations or some other means, that’s a prime opportunity to send personalized email campaigns featuring complementary items.

Socialize! 
Keep the conversation going post-holiday. Get creative with hashtags, and invite customers and gift recipients to join the conversation. Undoubtedly, consumers will fill their phones with photos and videos of their favorite holiday moments, selfies, and gifts they received that deserve social recognition. Create a branded hashtag and invite them to share their unboxing, gift experience, or first usage of your products.

The week after Christmas can be a great time to promote these hashtag campaigns as many people are relaxing with their families and spending more time on social media. Spread the word about your hashtag via inserts in outgoing shipments, email marketing campaigns, site messaging, order confirmation emails, and of course on social media.

Get creative with email campaigns 
Post-holiday, most email marketers are happy to catch their breath after the big Q4 push, but campaigns don’t stop. Here are some creative post-holiday email campaign ideas that blend full price messaging with typical year-end markdowns:

  • Best of 2017; Highlight your 2017 top selling products and incorporate product reviews into the creative.
  • Back in stock; If inventory of some of your key items got wiped out during the holiday season, “back in stock” messaging may help recover some sales.
  • Reinforce the benefits of your brand; The holiday season brings new customer acquisition and new email subscribers. Post-holiday is a good time to let customers know the benefits of your brand, highlight your loyalty program, and encourage them to follow you on social.

Grab your customers’ attention 
Clienteling, mobile, and social messaging are gaining traction and offer brands the opportunity to stand out and engage customers on a personal level. Think about ways you can use cross-channel data to spark a conversation with your customers post-holiday. Invite them into the store to preview a new collection related to their purchase history, hold an invite-only event, or suggest products to help them kick-off the new year.

We don’t need to tell you that the last three months of the year are enormously important to your business. But the holiday season can create a halo effect that drives sales and generates positive engagement with your brand well into the new year. Start planning your post-holiday marketing strategies now to set your brand apart and keep the sales momentum going.

This and much more is covered in our comprehensive 2017 Guide to Holiday Readiness. Download it today!