The holiday season can represent a large percentage of your small business’ annual sales; 20-40% on average for a 5-6 week time period. If your business is humming at this time of year, then you are probably so busy fulfilling orders that you don’t have a lot of time to think about building long-term customer relationships.
The thing is, all of these holiday customers represent not just a short-term boost to your personal economy, but an opportunity for long-term happy customers. With a little planning and the right tools, you can collect information from your customers right now that you can use to build those relationships when things level off after the New Year.
Get the Big Details
If your business gets a holiday boost, you will benefit from a mix of customers both new and returning. These customers have one thing on their mind: shopping! And likewise, you don’t have time for much other than making sales, fulfilling orders, and hopefully fitting in a few last minute holiday promotions.
This means that you don’t have time to grill your customers for a lot of information. But if you are making sales, you should find a way to collect some information. Every major retailer is asking for email addresses at check out these days. This is because they know that sending email offers is a great way to get customers to come back for more. Take a page out of their playbook and start collecting email addresses, even if you don’t yet have an email marketing strategy. There will be time for that later.
If you make your sales online, make sure your checkout form asks for the email address and, if possible, other information that will help you target your marketing in the future. Be sure to include a check box asking for permission to send emails.
Fill Up Your CRM
Okay, now that you are thinking about collecting some customer details on checkout, you’ll need a place to store those details. You can put your email addresses right in your email service provider, of course, but you will probably want to keep track of additional information, like what the customer bought.
CRM software is perfect for this. You can keep all of your customer details together in one place, so that when you do have time to follow up (after you recover from “holiday madness”) you will be able to see the whole story on your customers.
To save yourself valuable time, hook up your web form directly to your CRM. And if you are taking details at checkout, have an internal form that you can fill in so you don’t have to do data entry later on.
Organize and Follow Up
The best part of this is that you don’t have to spend a lot of extra time collecting details that will really help your business later on. Once you have contact details in your CRM, you can get around to following up with them when you have the time.
Use your CRM to sort your customers. For instance, you might tag everyone who purchased a gift card or who spent a certain amount of money during the holidays. You can then create a list of those people and send them a special offer email that takes into account their past purchase.
By organizing customers and following up with relevant offers, you can turn that one-time holiday purchase into a long-term happy customer relationship. Just a word of warning: if you do a good job at this, your next holiday season may be even crazier than this one. At least you’ll know how to make the most of it!
This guest post is by Bradford Shimp (@bradfordshimp), content manager and marketing analyst at Batchbook. Bradford thrives on helping small businesses by providing them with helpful information through Batchbook’s site and blog. He also contributes to the company’s social media presence and customer newsletters.