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Leverage the Holiday Season's Home Stretch Extend promotions, build long-term relationships and be last-minute shopper-friendly. Building customer rapport is a year-round matter.

By Mike Canarelli Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday firmly in the rearview mirror, it's time to look toward leveraging what's left of the holiday season.

By most accounts Black Friday and Cyber Monday were less than impressive for retailers this year. Whether this was due to an economy still in recovery or promotional deals that began before most people thawed their turkey is still up for debate.

What isn't in question, however, is that many retailers saw this year's Black Friday figures dip 11 percent from last year's. And while Cyber Monday saw an 8 percent hike in sales, it was still a far lower increase than what many analysts had expected.

If you're still hungry for a great sales holiday, here are three ways to benefit despite the unappetizing numbers that marked Black Friday this year:

Related: Re-Create the Magic of Manhattan's Holiday Windows: 5 Design Secrets for Small Retailers.

1. Extend promotions to the end of the year.

Although it's the savings that motivate people to spend on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most retailers offered deals well before the weekend started and after they were over. Don't let your company's offerings be overshadowed by competitors' relentless promotions.

Jump into the fray and extend your promotions the same way you extend your holiday hours. Doing so will let you take advantage of the extended online and in-store browsing habits of today's highly informed consumers, who may be newly equipped with gift cards and holiday cash.

Related: The Holiday Mobile-Marketing Strategy That Retailers Really Need

2. Capture future business.

Holiday shopping traffic can be lucrative but it can be a short-lived wave of activity. Use promotions and in-store traffic to collect information like email and mailing addresses that you can use for later marketing efforts. At other times of year, building a mailing list can be difficult. Over the holidaysif you require an email address for receiving a promotion or discount, the transaction becomes a mutually beneficial exchange.

3. Make last-minute shopping less difficult.

Many shoppers get fleeced as Christmas Eve approaches. Retailers looking to maximize revenue understock their shelves to increase demand or hike prices on coveted items for last-minute shoppers. While this may seem like a good way to cash in laggard consumers, the practice itself is shortsighted.

While shoppers may have no choice but to buy from a restailer when they're in a vulnerable position, they may make it a point not to buy from that merchant when the holiday season is over.

Remember, the holidays come and go every year, but building a long-term relationship with customers and engaging with them via email and social media year-round is what's crucial for success. If you can execute an effective digital-marketing strategy and retain happy customers, the sales will follow.

Related: Transform Seasonal Shoppers Into Loyal Shoppers Year-Round

Mike Canarelli

Web Talent’s CEO and Co-Founder

Mike Canarelli is CEO and co-founder of Web Talent Marketing in Lancaster, Penn. His Internet marketing agency specializes in content marketing and PR, search engine optimization, paid search management, social media and website design and development. 

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