Traditional retail seasonality is marked by the hustle leading up to Christmas, followed by the post-holiday doldrums when retailers are overwhelmed by returns, merchandise leftovers and markdowns, and consumers pull back the reins on spending.

However, retailers should not take their foot off the gas. Post-holiday is the perfect time to continue the momentum into the New Year. Get creative and start planning strategies now to build customer engagement and drive sales going into 2017. As a Senior Strategist in our Retail Practice organization, I’ve seen what works. Here are six post-holiday marketing strategies to get you started:

  1.      Give a great bargain and maximize sale messaging

It goes without saying that there will be markdowns and that consumers expect them. Post-holiday bargain hunters will shift the focus from gift giving to scoring great deals for themselves. Your sale event will likely span several days as you clear out seasonal merchandise. Consider these strategies to maximize sale event exposure and keep the message fresh:

  •        Create segmented sale follow-up emails by category. Use past purchase history to target shoppers with top sale items for the categories they are most likely to shop.
  •        Refresh the message on the homepage or in emails by featuring trending sale items in which you still have ample inventory. Social proof drives conversion and shoppers are keenly interested in knowing what deals others are taking advantage of.
  •        Create a branded sale hashtag and invite shoppers to post photos of their end-of-season steals on Instagram.
  1.      Encourage gift card redemption

According to, 72% of gift card recipients will spend an average of 20% more than their gift card value. As sales cool off post-holiday and consumers’ gift cards burn a hole in their pocket, it’s the perfect time to encourage gift card sales. Dedicated emails with personalized product recommendations and secondary gift card redemption messages throughout the site are a great way to persuade gift card recipients to shop.

  1.      Promote complimentary items to take advantage of the post-holiday gift glow

Don’t miss the opportunity to promote cross-sells and accessories. For example, mobile phones require protective cases, winter coats need hats and gloves, and cameras need lenses and other accessories. Assume your customers received gifts from your brand, and suggestively message complimentary items to go along with top-selling gifts throughout the site and in email campaigns. If you can identify gift recipients through warranty registrations or some other means, that’s a prime opportunity to send personalized email campaigns featuring complimentary items.

  1.      Socialize! Keep the conversation going post-holiday

Get creative with hashtags, and invite customers and gift recipients to join the       conversation. Undoubtedly, consumers will fill their phones with photos and videos of their favorite holiday moments, selfies and gifts they received that deserve social recognition. Create a branded hashtag and invite them to share their unboxing, gift experience or first usage of your product. For example, in 2015, UGG used the hashtag, #MyFirstUGG, to capture post-holiday excitement and build social proof for future sales.

The week after Christmas can be a great time to promote these hashtag campaigns as many people are relaxing with their families and spending more time on social media. You might also consider a branded hashtag campaign to tie into the New Year when customers start using your products in pursuit of their resolutions. Spread the word about your hashtag via inserts in outgoing shipments, email marketing campaigns, site messaging, order confirmation emails and of course on social media.

  1.      Refresh remarketing and abandoned cart campaigns

More than ever, we see consumers using their shopping carts as wish lists. Chances are they’ve saved a couple items in their cart during holiday for purchase consideration later or on another device. Remind them of the items they were interested in and promote complimentary products in remarketing banners and abandoned cart emails. Given high traffic volumes during the holiday shopping season, don’t miss the opportunity to reclaim abandoned carts with fresh messaging and by revisiting your campaign strategy.

  1.      Get creative with email campaigns

Post-holiday, most email marketers are happy to catch their breath after the big Q4 push, but campaigns don’t stop. Here are some creative post-holiday email campaign ideas that blend full price messaging with typical year-end markdowns:

  •        Best of 2016 – highlight your 2016 top selling products and incorporate product reviews into the creative.
  •        Back in stock – if inventory got wiped out in some of your key items during holiday, “back in stock” messaging may help recover some sales.
  •        Reintroduce the benefits of your brand – holiday brings new customer acquisition and new email subscribers. Post-holiday is a good time to let customers know the benefits of your brand, highlight your loyalty program and encourage them to follow you on social.

We don’t need to tell you, retailer, that the last three months of the year are enormously important to your business. But holiday can create a halo effect that drives sales and generates positive engagement with your brand well into the New Year.  Start planning your post-holiday marketing strategies now to set your brand apart and keep the sales momentum going!