Marketing Advice

The Q1 Survival Guide - 5 Tips to Excel in 2016!

By Ryan Gilmore on January, 11 2016

Ah! The holiday season is here and soon you’ll be able to cheer with some bubbly to welcome the New Year!

New years are for new beginnings, but unfortunately for online retailers those beginnings are statistically speaking very rocky. In fact, online retailers see a 40% drop in revenue (Nosto statistics) from the dizzying heights of the festive season, and in February revenue still sits as 20% less than the yearly average.

Having spoken to some of our over 13,000 merchants using Nosto about the challenges they face during Q1, we here at Nosto decided to create a guide to ensure you avoid the January sales dip. The strategies presented should ideally be implemented before the change of the new year and certainly as early in January as possible to ensure you will be able excel in 2016!

Read all solutions on the challenges below and all 10 holistic personalization strategies by downloading The Ultimate Ecommerce Q1 Survival Guide.

Here’s to turning adversity into opportunity!


1. Combat high returns by filtering recommendations and providing excellent customer support.

As items are purchased as gifts, unfortunately retailers see a higher than usual return rates in Q1 and not only does it take a big chunk out of the profit you thought you had made but you are also making a further loss due to the cost of postage and packaging.


    • Research has found that as little as 7% of products could be driving up to 50% of returns, so what you want to do is identify your ‘toxic items’- those pieces which drive the highest amount of returns and stop actively promoting them.

    • Describe as clearly as possible what your customers would be buying. Give as much information as possible in the product description, display clear product photos and allow customers to leave reviews.


 Country Dreams does a great job with their product photography, providing multiple detailed photos for each product. 


 2. Combat the lower margins caused by discounting stock by driving increases in AOV 


Q1 is the season of sales and there is no ignoring the fact that discounts for your customers means less profit for you. With many merchants feeling the pinch of lower margins during this period, it is important to increase the average order value.


    • Upsell and persuade your customers to spend a little more than they had planned, and, according to Econsultancy, you can drive over 4% of revenue. Recommend items from the same category that are either more expensive or have a higher profit margin. So, for example, if a person is looking at computer in your mid-range, suggest that they buy the same model but with higher specs, costing a little bit more.

Package deals to get rid of excess stock, but also to increase average order value. Remember that your customers are more like to buy and spend more if they are encouraged to do so (i.e. if they get a discount for doing so).


Organic Surge bundle together three of the same product in different scents and offer a small discount.

3. Increase conversion by creating a sense of urgency in your store


The majority of sales are lost due to undecided, hesitant buyers. Sometimes we all need that little extra push across the line - whether it is getting up in the morning or treating ourselves to that new watch we’ve had your eye on.  


    • Enable time-limited targeted pop-ups to encourage customers to act now. With 32% of customers leaving because they deem the overall price to be too expensive, this could be just the thing you need to convince them to stay on track to the check-out.
    • Send Abandoned cart, we miss you and order follow-up emails with coupon codes to entice your customers back shopping with you in January.


The Abandoned cart email of Melvin & Hamilton entices the customer back to the store. 

4. Acquire new customers by increasing and personalizing your advertising effort


While you want to bring old customers back to your store, you don’t want to give up on attracting new customers. The problem is that competition is fierce and with many other companies experiencing the Q1 dip, it is only going to get fiercer, with everyone pulling out all the stops. Standing out from the crowd is therefore imperative. 


    • Use retargeting in your social advertising efforts. Personalized Facebook Ads take your selection directly to your customers’ news feed, automatically displaying tailored recommendations according to customers’ past browsing and buying behavior.
    • Use retargeting in your display advertising efforts. 54% of consumers find personalized ads to be more engaging and 45% find them more memorable and compared to “static-one-size-fits-all” ads. Furthermore, automated, dynamic product ads can generate performance improvements of up to 400%.


Personalized Facebook Ads of Eton Shirts


5. Make Q1 work for you for the entire year by converting sales customers into long-term sales.


Since heavy discounting will be driving a lot of your traffic in Q1, it is likely that a lot of the shoppes you are attracting are going to be one-off and discount-driven. This unfortunately means that they will fail to deliver long-term value to your business. 


Implement a loyalty reward scheme. See the opportunity in your discount led customers and encourage loyalty from these otherwise fickle shoppers by rewarding repeat business.

  • Gether contact details of prospects that would otherwise be lost forever through e.g. pop-ups. This allows for continued, timely and relevant marketing communication, that will drive future revenue

Taft_Clothing.pngPop up of Taft Clothing, offering a discount in exchange for newsletter subscription

So there we go, a look at some challenges you might face in the beginning of 2016 and some solutions to tackle these challenges. Get a deeper understanding of how to optimize Q1 sales by downloading the Survival Guide.



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