This is a guest blog post from Daniel Levine, a content marketer for our partner, RJMetrics, a cloud-based data infrastructure and analytics platform.

According to the latest research from RJMetrics, holiday customers spend less per order, make fewer purchases, and have a lower lifetime value than customers acquired during non-holiday months. Not great, right? But these customers continue to play a huge part in the business plan of the most successful ecommerce companies. So how do you make this equation work? By understanding where holiday shoppers differ, you can use that information to fine-tune your marketing strategy.

So how different are holiday shoppers from those purchasing in the off-season? Based off the findings in The Ecommerce Holiday Customer Benchmark, not that much. But understanding where their behaviors diverge provides a clear remarketing strategy focused on increasing the number of orders through opportunistic follow-up.

How many customers are acquired during the holiday months?

For ecommerce companies, the holiday represent a huge opportunity for attracting new customers. One reason may be that shoppers aren’t buying for themselves; they’re purchasing from shops they would not otherwise interact with.

Regardless of the explanation, the numbers shed light on just how much opportunity the holidays represent; acquisition rates in these months are much higher than the average – 29% higher in November and 59% higher in December to be exact.

Not only do we see a huge swell of new customers in the last two months of the year, but we also see a dip from January to February. This gives us a great indication of the dangers of missing this acquisition window.

New customer acquisition by month

But before you kick off a spending spree to get more holiday shoppers, let’s first take a look at what a holiday customer is actually worth.

How valuable are holiday customers?

Although acquisition rates are extremely high during holiday months, customers making their first purchase during November and December are worth, on average 13% less than their non-holiday counterparts.


AOV number of orders CLV

What we’re seeing is that the holiday season is a game of acquisition attrition. If you can capitalize on the influx of customers, the low customer lifetime value (CLV) ceases to matter. Or if you’re trying to boost that CLV number for your specific segment, you can focus on increasing the number of orders these customers place, but how do you do that?

How to get holiday customers to buy again?

While holiday customers make fewer purchases, their window for a second purchase is well-defined. By looking at how many days from the first purchase second purchases are made, we see how small this window really is.

Holiday Customer Orders Since Day First Purchased

There’s a small hike of second orders at 365 day later, but it pales in comparison to the number of purchases that occur within 30 days.

To gain further perspective, we can also look at the percentage of next purchases by time of the year.

When next purchase was made

Keep in mind that the holidays are a much smaller window than the 10-month off-season. While the percentage is higher, you can see from the first graph that immediacy is key.

The best time to remarket to holiday customers

Holiday customers spend less per order and make fewer purchases, yes, but acquisition rates are so high during the holidays that the economics work out – as long as you have a retention plan in place. This means remarketing within the first 30 days after the first purchase.

While it may seem aggressive, remarketing to customers as soon as possible increases the probability that they’ll make a second purchase. Whether it’s through email or social media, whether you’re offering discounts or a loyalty program, immediacy is the key ingredient to turning first-time holiday shoppers into year-round customers.