I have a confession to make.
I hate shopping and I avoid the mall during the holiday seasons like the plague. There's just something about the rush of holiday shoppers, the jostle to the cash register, and dark spaces that smell overwhelmingly of perfume that make me anxious. But put me down in front of a computer and I can browse online catalogs for hours, adding things to my shopping cart and generally spending WAY more than I should.
The holidays are one of the most profitable seasons for most businesses, with a majority of revenue coming from e-commerce sales. In fact, statistics from the 2013 holiday season revealed that the holidays account for 23.7% of total U.S. retail e-commerce sales and generated over $46.55bn.
Make your list and check it twice, because the holidays are upon us. What's your e-commerce marketing plan to increase your holiday online sales? Here's the ultimate guide to help you get started.
Establish a clear holiday benchmark
You want to make sure that you figure out a benchmark against which you can measure your holiday efforts. Then, set a goal that meets - or exceeds - this benchmark. Your goal could be anything, from increasing sales to more customer engagement on social media.
By doing this, you can not only create a plan of attack but also assess the efficacy of your marketing tactics for future campaigns. Depending on the goal you set, you can then devise ways to measure your campaign. For example, you can create varying coupon codes based on your different advertising channels in order to track where your customers are finding you online.
Speaking of coupons...
Set up your holiday discounts
There's truth in the old adage, "You gotta give a little to get a lot."
Consider this: 94% of polled consumers said that discounts will be important to their purchase decisions, and 91% of shoppers say a low price is an important factor in their decision to buy. (Source)
Shoppers want a good deal, and if they can't find it with you, they'll go to someone else. Therefore, encourage them to purchase by discounting your popular products and best-sellers; if they've hesitated buying your product before, they won't do so now.
Offer free shipping for the holidays
"73% of online shoppers consider free shipping as the #1 criterion for making a purchase." (Source)
I can speak from experience that this is absolutely true. There have been countless amount of times when I've abandoned my cart and told myself that I'll come back to it when I get a free shipping offer. Do I ever come back to it? Usually not.
If you're hesitant about the possibility of your profit decreasing with free shipping, consider offering it only if they meet a minimum purchase requirement. Think about the Amazon business model. You get free shipping if you order at least $35 worth of products. For many people, it's worth it to buy more products and avoid the high shippping cost than to just simply pay for shipping.
Therefore, increase your online holiday sales and profit by offering them better shipping deals.
Strengthen your customer service
"45% of consumers say service is worse during the holidays, and 29% share poor experiences or say they'd never shop at that store." (Source)
With all the rush and craziness of the holidays, customer service may be the last thing on your mind, when in reality, it should be at the top of your list. During the holiday season, people neither have the time nor the patience to deal with poor service. Therefore, bulking up your customer service so that your customers are helped quickly will go a long way in gaining their loyalty and enticing them to come back.
Remember to take good notes on all of your customers' compliments and complaints, as this is a good opportunity for you to learn the aspects of your business that are popular with your customers so you can better highlight them in your marketing campaigns and the parts you need to work on fixing.
Optimize site for mobile
101.7 million consumers in the U.S. will make purchases via their mobile devices this holiday season, a 37.3% growth from last year (Source)
There's no denying that people use their phones and tablets for everything, including shopping and browsing for products online. Therefore, mobile optimization is one of the biggest factors in any e-commerce marketing campaign, and the fact that online sales increase during the holiday season highlights its importance even more.
Ensure that user experience is good on mobile devices in order to minimize customer frustration and increase e-commerce conversions. Google's Mobile Usability feature on Webmaster Tools is a good way to determine the areas where you can improve.
Set up your holiday email drip campaign
Email marketing is one of the most common e-commerce marketing tactics you'll see during the holidays, but that's probably because it's one of the most effective. In fact, email marketing statistics show that 80% of online shoppers are influenced to buy when they receive email offersThat's 3/4 of your online sales right there!
Therefore, invest thought and time into the emails you send to help you increase online holiday sales for your ecommerce marketing campaign. Don't know what to do? Read up on some email marketing tips to help you get started.
Personalize your thank you's
Give your customers a more personalized and exciting holiday experience by changing up the way you deliver your packages and how you thank them for their order. Whether it's packaging their order in holiday wrappings, including a holiday thank you card in their box, or simply changing the thank you email they get after placing their order, make sure they get a jolly season's greetings with their purchase.
Create big & beautiful holiday banners
"Visual content generates more views for your posts, generating up to 94% more views if you add compelling visual elements and graphics." (Source)
Graphics are a great way not only to catch people's attention but also to quickly show customers your holiday offers as soon as they hit your site or social pages. Therefore, update the banner graphics on your site and the cover photos for your social pages with a new holiday banner, like what Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters did.
Enhance your search appearance
A nifty thing you can do to entice people to click on your product listing right from Google is to create structured data for your products. Structured data basically enhances your product's apperance on search. You can add an image, customer ratings, price, and availability next to the search result.
This is an effective way not only to differentiate your product listings from those of competitors in search results but also to boost your holiday site traffic and increase your ecommerce conversions.
Ensure your product pages are SEO-friendly
Whether they're searching on Google or on your site's search bar, you want to make sure that the right products appear in the results. Here are just some basic SEO tips to prepare you for the holidays:
- Optimize on-site product descriptions
- Update meta data to include current holiday offers
- Ensure your images are high rseolution and have alt text
- Make sure your site architecture is clear and accurate
Provide alternative payment methods
A customer has shown interest in your product and gotten far in the checkout process. The last thing you want to happen is an abandoned cart, because they didn't feel like filling out their credit card information. Therefore, offer an alternate means of payment, like PayPal, and reassure your customers that your site is secure and their information is protected.
What's your e-commerce marketing plan for this holiday season?