As an eCommerce merchant or marketer, you have probably experienced all the challenges accompanying seasonal selling. A peak season with high sales is typically followed by the off-season stagnation. While some businesses are managing to survive the off season, others are struggling to make ends meet and stay profitable.
The off season is the perfect time to focus on your email marketing efforts. This way, you can not only improve your overall marketing strategy but also keep selling your products during the low season.
To help you get started, this article focuses on the best off-season marketing ideas that will help your business prosper despite the seasonal slumps.
The benefits of off-season email marketing
Before you get to learn the off-season marketing ideas, let’s first cover the basics and dig deeper into why you need an off-season email marketing strategy.
- It gives you a competitive advantage
By marketing off-season, you can start expanding your mailing list and engage prospective customers early on. By starting earlier than your competitors, you will have enough time to attract and nurture prospects into paying customers.
- It helps you build up brand awareness
Online awareness is particularly important for eCommerce stores. The off-season period is a perfect time for you to create an online presence and build up brand awareness. Email marketing enables you to show prospects the competitive advantage and benefits your eCommerce store has to offer.
- It minimizes the overall marketing costs
In general, off-season marketing is cheaper than high season marketing because fewer competitors are bidding on advertising space. Plus, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your products online.
- It helps you survive the off season
Most importantly, a well-thought-out email marketing strategy will help your business stay afloat during the off season. Moreover, you can keep selling and even out your high season and off-season revenue.
Now, as you know all the advantages enabled by off-season email marketing, let’s learn how you can achieve these benefits for your eCommerce store.
Off-season marketing ideas
Here are the top ten off-season marketing ideas that will help you keep selling despite the seasonal slumps.
- Use email to stay in touch
Don’t let the customers forget you during the off season. Your customers won’t know that you’re selling off season if you fail to inform them.
Get customers’ permission to send them important updates and promotional emails. Build up your email list, and create engaging email copies to keep your customers informed about the high season and off-season activities.
- Up-selling and cross-selling
Up-selling is a sales practice of encouraging customers to buy an upgraded product compared to the one in question. For instance, companies that offer premium membership options upsell their services.
Cross-selling is the practice of offering related or complementary products to customers making a purchase. For example, offering a matching (not necessarily discounted) T-shirt to a customer buying a pair of jeans is cross-selling.
Send out emails listing related items that can cross-selled together. To make your efforts more effective, offer an additional discount to the email subscribers who purchase a combination of items.
- Offer off-season specials
Another way to improve sales is by offering off-season specials to your audience. Try offering special discounts to customers for paying early for the next season. Email is the perfect channel to inform your customers about off-season specials. Also, you can use email to promote special off-season packages.
- Run a contest
When people are not ready to buy your products off season, they’ll still be open to winning them. That’s why running a contest or a giveaway is another great opportunity to engage more prospects during the off season.
Send out emails or create social media posts to invite prospects to enter the competition. Make sure to state the contest entry requirements, rules, prize, and deadline to avoid any confusion.
Besides increased engagement, contests bring other benefits. By launching a contest, you can expand your brand’s reach, encourage user-generated content, and build up your mailing list.
- Launch a referral program
A referral program is a great way to promote your products. In fact, 84% of consumers see referrals as the most trusted and influential form of advertising. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If someone you know tells you how great a product is, you’ll be more interested in giving it a try.
The off season is the perfect time to launch a referral program. Use email to contact satisfied customers asking them to refer your company to their family and friends. Offer special discounts, promo codes, or complementary products as a way to thank customers who successfully refer you to others.
- Use multiple communication channels
Social media and email are not interchangeable communication channels. When managed properly, they can be mutually beneficial, providing valuable content to your customers and helping you sell off season.
Potential customers will likely browse your social media pages for information and reviews before making a purchase. What this means for your business is that social media presence offers countless opportunities to engage more customers off season.
Start by learning more about what other businesses do on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. After all, these platforms are among the most popular social networks worldwide.
You can use social media to engage with your audience, promote special offers, share customer reviews, and build up excitement for the peak season.
Alternatively, social media is a great place to share how-to guides and useful tips related to your products. A great example is when an online shop for smartphones shares free high-speed VPN for iPhone resources on Facebook. In this case, the content is industry-related and relevant to the target audience of users looking to purchase a smartphone.
Make sure to promote your social media accounts in your email campaign and encourage email subscribers to follow you.
- Collaborate with a local business
Another great way to keep selling during the off season is by partnering with local businesses. Choose a local business, either for-profit or non-profit, that struggles during the off-season too. By combining your efforts, you can achieve great results and inspire future collaboration.
Here are some collaboration ideas to help you get started:
- Create collaborative product lines
- Create a gift guide/gift box together
- Sell products of other manufacturers on your website and vise versa
You can use your email campaign to promote collaboration and educate your customers on what you’re doing. For example, if you partner with a local non-profit, you can create emails introducing the non-profit to your audience and explaining how you contribute to supporting the cause.
- Showcase customer reviews
We live in a world where online reputation, and particularly customer reviews, play a decisive role in customers’ journeys. Studies show that as much as 90% of customers read online reviews before visiting a business. Further research suggests that online reviews have been shown to impact 67% of buying decisions.
The numbers prove – customer reviews matter and your company’s profitability depends on them. If you want to win more off-season sales, you should start gathering customer reviews during the peak season.
Share the best reviews in your promotional materials, including your email, website, social media, and blog posts. Add pictures of customers enjoying your products to build up social proof. This way, you will help customers who are hesitant to buy from you off season make up their minds.
- Launch a customer loyalty program
Find a way to reward your most loyal seasonal customers with off-season special offerings. Create a special customer reward system to award points to customers for making repeated purchases. It’s a great way to show your appreciation to loyal clients and encourage them to buy off season.
To keep your customers engaged, offer additional easy ways to earn points. For example, you can give extra points to the customers willing to share their preferences and provide feedback. This way, you will learn valuable insights into customer preferences while keeping your audience engaged.
Use email marketing to promote your customer loyalty program and educate your audience on the benefits of joining in.
- Create excitement for the peak season
Lastly, you can use email marketing to build up excitement for the peak season. As you’ll be less busy during the off season, you can use this time to take care of your marketing projects for the next season.
Employ the above strategies to generate the right kind of interest and excitement for the peak season. Use this time to promote upcoming product releases, season discounts, and new content. These early birds will help you stay in the customers’ minds during the off season and for the time to come.
The bottom line
The end of the peak season doesn’t mean that you can’t keep engaging customers and selling your products. The off-season period is a great opportunity to strengthen your email marketing efforts and generate interest for your brand.
By implementing these off-season marketing ideas, you can not only keep your business afloat during the low season but also generate more customers, build up the interest for your product, and even out your high and low season profits.