How to build relationships and engage customers after BFCM and the holidays

| By Kelly Vaughn

How to build relationships and engage customers after BFCM and the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of year - holiday shopping season! From Black Friday and Cyber Monday right through to New Year, Shopify merchants around the world see an increase in orders from both new and returning customers. The holidays bring different audiences to your store, and it can be challenging working out how you can really nurture those relationships with each audience to foster loyalty throughout the rest of the year. Today we’re looking at three different audiences you’ll want to engage with and what you can do to build a strong relationship.

Audience #1 - The BFCM Bargain Hunter

As the name suggests, this audience are those new customers who came to your over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales period. They might be completely new to your brand, or the discount you offered convinced them to finally take the plunge and click “Checkout”. Either way, it can be tricky building a relationship with this customer. After all, their first purchase was a discount so that sets their expectations at that price point. Whilst you can’t always convince them to make a full price purchase, there are still ways you can engage them to encourage a regular purchase or to join in with your next sale.

Make your order presentation memorable

It’s easy enough to put a product in a box, stick a label on, and send it on its way. After all, the customer only cares about receiving the order right? Well, there’s a little bit of truth to that but if you want to really hook a new customer then first impressions count! A recent survey found that 40% of customers are more likely to repeat purchase from an online merchant that uses premium packaging. There are lots of small ways you can make the presentation of an order memorable for a new customer such as:

  • Coloured/patterned tissue paper
  • Custom branded boxes or packaging
  • Stickers and business cards
  • Unique filler - crinkle paper, biodegradable packing peanuts, etc.
  • Handwritten/printed thank you note

Use Email Marketing to introduce your brand

You can’t tell from the order itself whether a new BFCM customer knows your brand already or not, so it’s important to get off on the right foot and introduce yourself. Segment first time customers who purchased over BFCM weekend using your preferred email marketing platform, and set up a short introductory workflow of emails. It can be as simple as three emails sent over a period of a couple of weeks giving details of your brand and products. You’ll want to cover:

  • Your brand story and purpose
  • Product development and production process
  • Unique milestones for your brand - e.g. awards, accolades, features in publications etc.
  • Best-selling products
  • Your brand community 

This will give your new customers the opportunity to buy into your brand more, and give additional context to the products they purchased.

Follow up with them

Following up with new customers is crucial - it not only shows the customer you care, but it also gives you the opportunity to gain some social proof. A couple of weeks after the holidays, use that email marketing segment we mentioned earlier to send an email checking in with them and asking if they’re happy with their purchase. It’s important to do this after the holidays, as they may cross over with holiday shoppers - our next audience. 

Audience #2 - The Holiday Shopper

The customers that come through your virtual doors at this time of the year won’t always be people interested in your products. Rather they’re buying gifts for someone else who is interested either in your brand or the product category you specialize in. These customers are definitely difficult to engage, but that’s when the customer experience can be your secret weapon. 

Provide amazing customer service

The holidays can be stressful for a number of reasons, and slow customer service can be a nightmare for customers. Ensure your store and team are well prepared to offer prompt, efficient customer care:

  • Make sure your FAQ is up-to-date
  • Create a troubleshooting guide for your team with common issues and how to escalate them
  • Follow up with the customer once the issue has been resolved to check they’re happy with the outcome

Your holiday shoppers might not be purchasing for themselves so may be unlikely to make a repeat purchase for themselves, but a really positive experience with your store’s customer service may make them more likely to recommend you to someone else. 

Communication is key

Another stress for customers is knowing when an order is going to arrive. If your holiday deadlines are fast approaching, make sure these are communicated on any public facing platforms. For existing orders, send regular updates - when it’s being packed, when it has been shipped, expected delivery day etc. If there are any delays with your chosen shipping partners, make sure the customer is made aware. There’s no such thing as over-communication when it comes to gifts arriving on time!

Recommend and Educate

Just because the customer may not be the end user of your product doesn’t mean you can’t still educate them. Send emails specific to their purchases with any details about your brand, product care, and returns policies. This means they have all the information to hand to offer to the gift recipient if they’re also unfamiliar with your store. Throughout the rest of the year, offer recommendations at key sales periods such as summertime and the run up to BFCM showing products similar or complementary to their previous purchase.

Audience #3 - The Loyal Customer

Your bread and butter audience - the customers who keep coming back for more. Whether it’s your product quality, customer service, engagement, or something else, you’ve got a loyal customer who has bought into your brand. However don’t take that for granted, you want to continue to build on that already solid foundation to ensure they remain loyal. 

Develop an exciting rewards program

Rewards programs are an excellent way to foster brand loyalty with repeat customers. Think of any rewards programmes you are subscribed to yourself - whether it’s discounts, freebies, or more, it’s always nice to be rewarded! There are many different ways you can set up a rewards program:

  • Points-based Rewards; customers earn points either for dollars spent or total number of orders
  • Referrals; customers earn rewards by referring friends to make a purchase
  • Scale-based Rewards; rewards available are based on an customer’s total spend over a certain period of time

There are Shopify apps you can use for your loyalty program such as, LoyaltyLion, and Swell.

Give them access to some great perks

If developing a rewards programme is a little too much to get stuck into at first or you want to offer even more to loyal customers, you can offer additional perks to keep them interested and engaged.

  • Early access to sales
  • Exclusive discount codes
  • Periods of free shipping
  • Free samples

These don’t have to be structured in the same way as a loyalty program; you can offer these throughout the year as part of your wider marketing strategy at key sales periods throughout the year.

Shine the spotlight on them across your marketing channels

Your loyal customers are bought into your brand, and you should make them feel like they’re part of that. Featuring your loyal customers in your marketing helps develop a much more personal bond with them, and shows new customers that you care about your brand community. Here are a few examples of how you can feature your loyal customers:

  • Social proof; showcase their reviews and social media posts with their opinions of your brand and products.
  • Email marketing; do a series of emails featuring photos of customers with your products alongside their reviews and opinions
  • Social media; repost content from your customers featuring your products


By finding unique ways to engage different audiences and tailoring your approach to suit their profile, you can develop a solid customer base that you can rely on year-round. Then when the holidays roll back around, you’ll be the first brand that comes to mind when they need a really great experience.

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