Boost Holiday Sales - Make Your List and Check it Twice

E-commerce holiday sales increased by 59% last year. To take advantage of this growing segment of the population, now is the time to make sure your holiday marketing campaign is well planned to ensure it can be successfully implemented. Now is also the time to ramp up brand awareness as you seek to increase sales.

Planning Build your email list leading into the holiday season. Start early with the creative to ease the amount of pressure your team feels once October and November arrive. Set up a calendar that helps you stay on top of various aspects of the holiday season. Include planned blog posts, email and ad campaigns, and various shipping deadlines. Establish when something needs to be created and by whom as well as who will push things out when (schedule as much ahead of time as possible). Make note of everything you need from site banners to pre-sale emails to post-sale “thank you” messages. And consider crafting special after purchase messages for new customers as you seek to nurture them into becoming repeat and, eventually, life-long customers.

Design & Content Freshen up your homepage with a holiday theme and special deals. Give product landing pages a holiday makeover, too. Decorate your site as you would a brick and mortar store staying within your brand guidelines, of course. Incorporate a “splash” page that details and links to the best holiday sales you are offering. Feature top selling products and services in prominent places on the site. Offer gift card options, especially if you sell specialty items or services that are best chosen by a gift recipient. Add a holiday countdown banner or calendar to your site. Include purchasing and shipping deadlines on the banner.

Develop different landing pages for specific promotions and products. Tweak product descriptions to include gift references in the copy and recommend complimenting items or gift basket grouping ideas on product pages. Shoppers tend to trust their peers over brand advertising so collect and display product reviews, especially on items you anticipate to be popular holiday sellers. Have a photo contest or contribution drive for pictures of consumers interacting with your brand in real life so you can include some of those pictures on product pages. Create and/or tweak Question & Answer lists on product pages to help alleviate pressure on your customer service team and add to those lists as new, common questions come in.

Create and use consistently a holiday hashtag. Create a holiday shopping guide. Include complementing items in groupings or sets. Use the guide as a blog post. Create and post hypothetical shopping lists for various personas based on age group, gender, activities, etc. Those also make excellent content for blog posts.

Review your return policy for any potential hiccups. Ensure that it is clearly displayed on your website, especially during the check-out process. Consider offering a slightly longer return window to accommodate time for gift giving and the longer mail delivery times that occur during the holiday season.

Ask this year’s consumers to review products. Include the request in a thank you message and consider crafting a fill in the bubble type of survey to make things as convenient as possible for your customers. It might be best to wait until after the holidays to send this request so the gifts have been given. Add a charity campaign and pledge a percentage of sales to a local shelter or advocate group or some sort of matching funds arrangement.

SEO Strategy Content is one of the keys to SEO success. Build a list of holiday related keywords and use it to create holiday specific content. Write holiday related blogs. Use your content marketing efforts to capture opportunities to build links and include social sharing buttons where you can. Submit an updated sitemap with new products and site changes as early as possible. Remember that SEO takes time and aim for a two to six-month lead into holiday campaigns.

Technology Offering a website that is mobile friendly and device responsive is essential for the holiday season as over half of all searches happen on a mobile device. Add zoom features to product images and opt for static images over carousels. Pay special attention to your check-out process. Offer payment options like PayPal or Apple Pay and disable autocorrect on those pages.

Site performance is key to a successful holiday season. Ensure the navigation for your site and product pages is sound and intuitive. Check your site speed. Ensure a clean code structure and optimize images. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to guarantee users are downloading data from the closest server possible. Ensure that your bandwidth can accommodate traffic spikes.

Offer a wish list feature that can be shared. Enlarge your search box to encourage longer search phrases and give it a place of prominence. Track key metrics to help inform next year’s efforts – traffic sources, abandonment rate, total revenue, page load time, and average order value are a great foundation of information.

Social Media Be festive with your social media posts – decorate them, too! Update your profile picture and messaging with holiday related content. Post teasers and save the date notices for holiday sales then share actual information about upcoming holiday promotions. Ask your followers to post pictures of themselves interacting with your brand (consider offering a promo code to anyone who acquiesces to your request).

Email Marketing Pre-sale promotional emails are a fabulous way to engage with previous and current customers and promote your products or services. Create a sense of urgency around anticipated holiday “deadlines” and feature limited time specials. Send out abandoned cart reminders. Personalize these messages to the extent that you can. At the very least, ensure the reminders reference specific items left in the cart. Send consumers who make purchases follow up messages of thanks and offer them extra perks to encourage more business.

Paid Advertising Spend some money on paid search on Google and Bing. Invest a little more money by scheduling paid ads with targeted audiences on Facebook. Use those Facebook Ads to target lookalike audiences and to retarget anyone and everyone who has engaged with your brand during the last 8 to 10 months. Retarget early and often.

Discounts The bottom line is the bottom line – make sure your holiday offers still afford your business the opportunity to realize a return. Provide discounts on groupings of items or services. Offer shopping incentives in the form of gift cards - $10 for every $100 spent or 5% off your next purchase type of thing. Free shipping is almost expected. You can always set a purchasing minimum before shipping is offered for free. Post platform specific deals and special perks for consumers who recover abandoned carts. Include holiday “thank you” gifts for loyal customers such as gift cards, a free item, shipping deals, etc.

The holiday season is an exciting time for shoppers and brands alike but it is also a time when consumers are overwhelmed by everyone’s marketing efforts. You have to figure out a way to stand out from your competitors who are also pushing out emails and social posts and getting festive on their websites. Use humor, thought-provoking content, play to consumer’s desires and needs – be unique. For ideas on how best to ready your brand for the holiday season and for all your digital needs, contact the marketing experts at Strategy Driven Marketing today.