Retailers have done a lot to stretch the holiday season. Black Friday sales started in July this year, and post-holiday sales stretch all the way through January where they can now successfully merge with Valentine’s Day promotions. But there’s no avoiding the post-holiday sales slump, when credit card statements hit mailboxes and retailers see the last trickle of returns and exchange traffic. Spring is a tough season for retail.

But with enough preparation you can create a digital marketing plan to see you through the lean times. Here are five ideas for promotions strategies that will help pad out a slow couple of months in retail.

1. Use email segmentation and customer purchase history to suggest add-ons to holiday gifts

Segment your email lists based on customer purchase history. For instance, if your sporting goods store sold hundreds of a certain model outdoor grill over the holidays, now would be the time to send an email to all customers who purchased that grill with an offer for 30% off grill accessories, especially those that match specifically to the model they purchased.

2. Skip storewide sales and send targeted digital coupons

Instead of running a store-wide sale (since, you know, all retailers are doing that at this time of year), use digital marketing and promotions software to send personalized coupons based on targeted segments. You can segment your data based on any customer behavior or demographic you have stored in your system, and use that data for creative promotions strategies that motivate your past customers to purchase again (as with number 1, above). Digital promotions software can help you personalize coupons down to the user, even creating unique discount codes for each recipient, and can help you manage and control view limits and expiration dates to ensure coupons are redeemed while the retail season is still slow.

3. Run a contest or sweepstakes — and make it about personal goals

Just because people aren’t leaving the house to go shopping doesn’t mean they won’t actively engage with your business online. This time of year people are thinking a lot about themselves: about buying those things they weren’t gifted over the holidays, about getting organized, about traveling somewhere exotic, about losing ten pounds. Use those universal post-holiday themes as the basis for an integrated digital sweepstakes that rewards your email list, social fans and text subscribers with just the thing they need to kick their new year off right. A calendar? A trip to Europe? Whatever it is, make sure it’s something your customers who don’t win the contest can buy from your website or store. Now is the time to promote those things that speak to what your customer is thinking about in the new year.

4. Start a birthday or anniversary club

It’s someone’s birthday every day. Use automated email or text message marketing software to subscribe your customers to a birthday or anniversary club that will automatically send them a discount message when their special day rolls around. Birthday coupons are a great way to ensure at least a small trickle of traffic at any time of the year.

5. Send beautifully-designed sale email

Fine — go ahead and run that store-wide promotion. But look good while you’re doing it! If you want customers to respond to your email marketing sale message, keep your email short and sweet — and visual. Showcase the best your shop has to offer with striking imagery that leaves recipients wanting more, especially if you have an online shop where they can continue to browse. Keep in mind that more and more people are shopping via their mobile phones and make your email design mobile-friendly. Need inspiration for beautiful shopping emails? Check out Pinterest.

So, what has your retail business done to drive post-holiday sales? Have you found certain marketing methods to be more effective than others?

photo credit: michale via photopin cc