Christmas marketing ideas: 10 customer service tips to boost business

How to use the Christmas season to encourage customer loyalty

Christmas can be the gift that keeps on giving – but only if you play it right and capitalise on the seasonal opportunity to get closer to your customers.

With the mood festive, small but thoughtful acts of kindness could make a lasting impression when the world returns to normality in January. No matter what service or product you provide, there are a variety of quick and easy ways to encourage your customers to come back and buy from you again in the New Year.

Here are 10 Christmas marketing ideas:

Give customers small gifts

You can easily thank your customers for spending their time and money on you by sending them free gifts over Christmas. HMRC classes some gifts, such as a bottle of wine, chocolates, or a Christmas pudding, as ‘trivial’ and therefore tax free, if the cost of the items does not exceed the threshold. Spending less than £50 on these gifts means there is no unexpected tax bill in the New Year – good news for customers and business!

However, avoid giving away a hamper or a case of wine as this is likely to be seen as a taxable benefit. Vouchers too, which are subject to specific legislation, are taxable irrespective of how much they are worth. So keep it ‘trivial’.

Order branded gifts customers might actually use

The more personal the gifts, the more likely it is that customers will remember that it was your business that sent it. You can send them branded goods. Choose carefully as while fridge magnets, coasters, and pens with your logo on may appeal to some, others may deem your gift worthless clutter. By branding your carefully selected items, you also show a ‘conspicuous advertisement’, which means no tax if the product is worth under £50. Alternatively, you can send them a sample for a product or service that they have expressed interest in, but not yet bought.

Send customers a specially designed Christmas card

Personalised Christmas cards are an ideal way to say thanks to your customers for their business. It makes customers feel appreciated and not just ‘another sale’, especially if it was a highly involved purchase where you built a personal relationship.

You can receive discounts on bulk mailing if your addresses are accurate and you print the addresses in an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) font, so a machine can read where they need to go. Discounts are also available if you organise the cards by postcode.

Run promotional activities for a limited period

Take a look at what other businesses in your industry or area are offering their customers. Although it is difficult to compete with larger competitors, there are always small incentives that could influence the buying decision. If you own a shop, offer a free gift wrapping service for purchases of over a specified amount. If you run a service-based business, such as a garage, throw in a free oil and water change or tyre pressure check for customers spending a certain amount. Even a mince pie and cup of tea while customers are waiting can make all the difference. Use any opportunity you get to know your customers better. Show them excellent customer service, and save them a job when they get home.

Put an offer on a daily deals voucher code site

Although daily deals work best when they are recommended by a friend or family, they can still be effective. According to digital media market research house eMarketer, 32% of consumers would be interested in deals from trusted daily deal websites, whereas only 6% would be interested in deals hosted on a social media website . Around Christmas, when people are looking for cheaper, more unique presents, voucher code websites can provide the answer. Be sure that you can afford to provide the deal that you are offering, as they will often sell out and many small businesses have come unstuck treating it as cheap marketing that backfires badly.

Reward your loyal customers

It’s more common to see businesses offer great introductory rates to new customers. Make sure that you don’t forget those customers that have stayed with you through the year leading up to Christmas. A tiered loyalty system will cater to all of your customers. Offer new customers initial benefits, but increase the value of them as they continue to purchase with you. Standard schemes and cards will offer new customers the same as loyal ones, but a tiered scheme can be viewed as an attainable goal. Take a look at Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club. At the first tier, all you need to do is sign up and you start receiving benefits, which include discount parking and car hire. Customers are encouraged to spend more to reach the higher tiers that offer birthday bonuses and access to Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses. Although the heights of the Virgin brand may seem in the distant future, start your business off the right way by inspiring customer loyalty. A customer relationship management (CRM) system can help with this as you grow – take a look at our guide to CRM for small business to find out more.

Use customer data to share news of special offers

A good business will keep a record of a customer’s contact details. Big seasonal events are the best time to put those emails to good use, providing they are comfortable being contacted by you. To cross-sell and up-sell, but with the incentive of offering money off, email your customers a few, select deals that are only available online and include the special code in the message for them to redeem the offer. If you have no special offer to share, sending an e-card wishing them Happy Holidays may have a similar effect and help to keep your business in the fore front of their mind the next time they look to buy.

Offer guaranteed delivery by a certain date

Christmas has to be perfect, especially when it comes to having the presents. Customers will want their items in store or their services delivered promptly before the big day arrives. Even cutting it close can cause distress. Make sure your customers know:

  • When the last date and time is that they can order something and have it delivered/completed by Christmas
  • When they are expected to have their product
  • If they have ordered past the last possible time to get it delivered before Christmas, other places they can get the item.

Showing them where they can get the item, even though you are not making a sale, you are showing consumers that you care about their holiday.

Organise a Christmas party where customers are invited

Christmas drinks and canapés or a sit-down meal can be a great excuse to get closer to your customers at a staff event. While this will inevitably depend on the type of business you run and the extent to which you have built up personal relationships with them, it can be a good way to get to know them better in an informal setting. Be sure to only invite customers to a party where they will feel comfortable and where your business will not later be embarrassed by the behaviour on display. To stop HMRC seeing your corporate function as a taxable benefit, the cost per head needs to be below £150, including VAT and all expenses. It’s a great way to instil festive spirit into your employees, whilst keeping it cost effective.

Get the New Year off to a great start with January sales

Even more than Christmas, the January Sales are among the most anticipated event in the retail calendar. But you don’t have to be in retail to capitalise. Don’t underestimate the power of a ‘SALE’ sign. Know your audience and select a meaningful discount, so 10% off for a product or service worth £100 may well be enough. Figure out what is selling well now, in the run up to Christmas. Contact your suppliers and bulk-buy these products to get them cheaper. This will allow a bigger margin when selling at a sale price, as well as helping to clear your suppliers’ stock before their year-end. Finally, don’t forget that customer service starts with your employees. If your workforce acts as brand ambassadors for your business, they’ll be more inclined to promote it themselves. They’ll keep your customers happy, and in turn, get your sales firing on all cylinders come the New Year.

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  1. Some great ideas in this blog about improving customer loyalty at Christmas.

    Boosting business through getting press coverage is also a great thing to do at Christmas as newspapers and magazines regularly carry stories from November onwards. But the key thing is to start your PR activity early as they often start planning very early.