To say that the British public was crazy about Christmas would be something of an understatement.
Incredibly, research suggests that around one in every 10 households starts its Christmas shopping as early as July. In 2020, it was estimated that the average British adult would spend £476 on gifts for other people over the festive season. That’s slightly down from last year, but still huge considering the effects of lockdown.
Across the board, cumulative retail sales over Christmas in the UK hit an astonishing £83.1 billion last year. Before the second national lockdown was announced, 2020’s figure was expected to come out at £84.5 billion. Taking into account the possible slowdown in spending during current restrictions, economists now believe total Christmas spending for 2020 will reach around £73.5 billion.
Again, remarkable when considering how the economy has suffered over the past 11 months.
Dealing with the Inevitable New Year Hangover
Capitalising on frenzied demand over the festive period is something all online sellers can and should be doing. But what happens when the dust settles and the New Year financial hangover kicks in?
There’s no getting away from the unfortunate inevitability of the January slowdown. With people’s feet firmly on the ground once again, spending grinds to a halt and the public reconsiders its priorities. Coupled with the doom and gloom of the darkest winter days, there’s little to no motivation for most people to do anything at all.
The result of which is a major dip in sales for most online sellers. The chaos of Christmas reduced to a tiny trickle of sales – barely enough to keep many smaller businesses afloat.
But here’s the good news – there’s plenty you can do to weather the storm of the January lull. Even taking into account how turbulent times are right now, it’s within your power to give your business a competitive edge.
Here are just a few tried, tested and verified tips for boosting sales during the January slowdown:
Tip #1. Leverage the Public’s Collective Positive Intent
Each New Year brings what’s seen as the opportunity for a fresh start by millions of consumers. Once they’ve recovered from their initial New Year comedown, they set their sights on becoming fitter, healthier and more productive people. All of which can play right into the hands of the savvy marketer, who takes the opportunity to leverage this positive intent.
Products, services and even web content that focus on personal betterment fly off the (virtual) shelves each January. It’s a predictable yet strictly temporary spike in interest, which needs to be exploited to its full potential. Do whatever you can to support the collective good intentions of your audience…while they last.
Tip #2. Stress the Importance of Self-Indulgence
At the same time, it’s also a good idea to highlight the importance of a little self-indulgence – perhaps a well-deserved reward. Over Christmas, your customers were investing time, effort and money in finding ideal gifts for their loved ones. Some were hosting exhausting Christmas dinners, looking after kids and generally working themselves to the bone. In which case, what better time for a personal reward than January?
This is something that can be tied into your marketing strategy, pushing your products and services as personal indulgences as opposed to essentials. You’re not trying to persuade your customers they need your products – you’re reminding them that they both want them and deserve them.
Tip #3. Promote Your After-Holiday Sales through Social Media
Come January, a sizeable proportion of the UK population is bored half to death. The excitement of Christmas is over, the weather is lousy and there’s very little of any significance on the horizon. Precisely why this is also the time of year when social media activity peaks and remains peaked for some time.
It’s therefore essential to do everything you can to build and maintain a prominent presence on social media throughout the January lull. Social media also provides you with the perfect platform to promote your January sales and specials to your customers. Just be sure to keep things social and subtle – going for the hard-sell on social media tends to have the opposite of the intended effect.
Tip #4. Inject Urgency Into Your Offers
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals have become increasingly less impressive, ever since these annual retail holidays hit the mainstream. Research has shown that in a surprising proportion of instances, the deals showcased on both of these days are no better than those available at other times of year. In which case, why is it that so many stores generate record daily revenues on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
The answer – both events leverage the power and influence of urgency. Even if a deal isn’t great, the fact that it’s only available ‘FOR ONE DAY ONLY!!!!!’ makes it an irresistible prospect to many consumers. The same also applies to products available in ‘limited quantities’ only, even if this is far from the truth. Either way, injecting some kind of urgency into your offers throughout January can be a great way of keeping customers interested.
Tip #5. Focus on Practical and Useful Content
Conventional promotional content won’t get you far in a period when people don’t really want to spend their money. In addition, it’s not as if the average household these days is short on options where entertainment is concerned. By contrast, content that’s genuinely practical and useful is much thinner on the ground in general.
This therefore represents a prominent gap you could seek to fill with your own content strategy. Focus as heavily as possible on practical and useful content – tutorials, expert guides, FAQs, recipes, DIY projects – anything the reader/viewer can turn into something useful or tangible. This is something that can and should be tied in with the first tip above – leveraging the country’s collective positive intent at the start of the year.
Tip #6. Give Stuff Away
Freebies and giveaways go down a storm at all times of year. What makes contests and giveaways ideal for January is how they can take advantage of both reduced spending habits and the desire for entertainment. As simple as it may be, even the most basic of contests represents a form of entertainment, while at the same time paving the way for getting something for nothing.
Along with contests for predetermined prizes, this can also be a fantastic time of year for handing out free samples and keeping people interested in what you do. Remind loyal customers why they love you with unexpected freebies, while working to get new customers on board with samples of your products or services.
Tip #7. Take the Time to Demonstrate Your Appreciation
With business ticking over at a reduced pace, you’ve all the time in the world to work on a personalised email strategy. This is precisely the time of year when letting your most important customers know they are appreciated can pay dividends. Reaching out to them with genuine messages of gratitude could work wonders – especially if accompanied by ‘exclusive’ deals and incentives, selected for them.
You’ll already have detailed records of what they buy, how much of it they buy and how often, so use it. Aggressively segment your email list and send meaningful, useful and personal messages appreciation to those who matter most to your business.
Tip #8. Focus on Your Brand’s Story
Storytelling as part of a content marketing strategy gives you the opportunity to build stronger connections with your audience. Talk about the people behind the business, demonstrate empathy for the events of 2020 and map out your vision for the year ahead. Importantly, focus on all the fantastic things you’ll be doing for the benefit of your customers.
Get your staff involved and leverage the impact of user generated content (USG), putting human faces to your brand. Give your customers the opportunity to get to know you and ultimately trust you on a deeper level.
Tip #9. Get Your Website in Order
Low-traffic periods can also be the ideal time of year to get your website in good working order. If there’s any downtime or disruption along the way, it won’t have the same negative impact it might during busier times.
Plus, most consumers and households in general are somewhat on the glum, downbeat and impatient side right now. So unless you treat them to the smooth, seamless and speedy browsing experience expect, they won’t even give you the time of day.
Tip #10. Learn Lessons from Your Christmas Campaign
Lastly, you should be sitting on a wealth of invaluable data at this point from what took place over the Christmas period. All of which can and should be used as the basis of your New Year marketing strategy.
Tap into the information you have at your disposal to find out where your website and your value proposition in general could stand to be improved. Sell off (or give away) the products it’s clear nobody wants, showcase your most popular products more prominently and work on boosting your ongoing conversion rate. You’ve a comprehensive blueprint for the success of your business available at the touch of a button, so use it.
For more information on any of the above or to discuss any aspect of your New Year marketing plans in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with Tait Pollock today.