Every marketer knows that the holiday season is hugely important. But while the short-term implications of holiday traffic are well-understood, sometimes the long-term potential is less appreciated.

Surveying retail marketers, Marigold Engage by Sailthru found that 24% expect the holidays to be responsible for more than 40% of their annual revenue. That revenue is coming from two groups of customers. The first are those who are already familiar with your brand and have successfully purchased from you before. But that same survey found that a full 32% of holiday traffic comes from newbies: people who’ve never shopped with you before. Seventy-seven percent of those marketers said the best way to build a relationship with those newcomers is via email.

Brands need to nurture these new customers. The way they do that should be different from the way they communicate with established brand loyalists. By making the most of interest from new customers, brands can use the holiday season to lay the foundation for sustainable, profitable growth that powers them well beyond 2019. Here are some ways to appeal to new holiday customers throughout their shopping experience and prime them for a repeat purchase:

Establish a Great Onboarding Stream

When a new shopper signs up for your email or downloads your app, make sure they’re greeted with a great onboarding experience. And by “great,” we mean “personalized.” Use this opportunity to introduce your customer to the brand, show them around your app, get them excited about your loyalty program, and make offers that are exclusive to new members.

Leverage “Most Popular” and Urgency

Many of your new customers will be gift-givers who may not know your brand particularly well. Recommending best sellers and trending items is a great way to convert new customers, especially when you create a sense of urgency around purchasing them. That may mean time-bound discounts or an extra reminder of the importance of ordering soon in order to qualify for free shipping, something consumers have increasingly come to expect.

Make Sure You’re Mobile-Ready

Last year marked the first time mobile devices accounted for more than half of retailers’ web traffic, while mobile commerce is perpetually on the rise. Make sure your mobile experience is exceptional and take it further by promoting your app. Post-purchase messaging is the ideal time, when someone is most excited about their new purchase. Once a customer has downloaded it, strong mobile messaging can keep them engaged.


Discount Future Purchases

Everyone loves a deal, especially during the holidays. Use strategic discounting to entice a new shopper to become a repeat customer. Look at this email from Saks Fifth Avenue. The retailer offers gift cards in increasing denominations for customers as they make larger purchases.


Rescue Last Year’s One-and-Dones

During the holidays, customers may shop categories that interest them once a year. Take a look at last year’s one-and-done customers and see if you can offer them a special incentive to become repeat customers. This strategy also works post-holiday. During the new year, Food52 emails gift card holders with relevant content to nurture that purchase. 

Promote Your Loyalty Program

Holiday competition is fierce. Once a customer has found what they want, it’s probably available pretty much anywhere, and likely with a discount. An offer of loyalty points, or to level up a new customer who purchases at a certain threshold within a certain period of time, can persuade a new customer to choose you over your competitor.


Yes, the holiday season is stressful for shoppers, which means, basically, everyone. But they’re also a great time for discovery. These strategies will help your brand become a go-to source among holiday shoppers chancing upon it for the first time. Check out our 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide for even more inspiration this season!