How to Prepare Your eCommerce Website for Holiday Season Shopping
That is the amount of money US holiday shoppers spent on the winter holidays of last year.
As a retailer, it is within common sense to want to tap into that market. Holiday shopping makes up a vast majority of online sales, with mobile sales slowly climbing to being the preferred method of purchase.
Having a successful holiday sale plan can make your business sink or swim. The sheer sale density during that duration is HUGE.
How should you tap into this market? How should you run and plan your promotions to maximize sales? What are the best resources to use to let your customers know what your current promotions are?
Buckle up, because we’re giving you all the answers.
If you still haven’t committed to doing online sales and are determined that your storefront is able to do all of your legwork, humor us for a minute here.
The Data Speaks For Itself
Online sales via eCommerce, mobile app purchases, and desktop shopping have been steadily trending at a 15% increase for the past 4 years. That amount is forecast to continue following this pattern. This 15% is accumulative, meaning that each year a smaller and smaller percentage of transactions are occurring in person.
Mobile online sales have taken a strong lead over the past 3 years. Where in 2012 only 16% of sales made on Black Friday could be traced back to mobile shopping, in 2014 almost 28% of sales were made via mobile.
Online sales made up $53 billion of total sales during the holiday season. Over $100 billion of the years sales in total were made up from eCommerce website sales. Cyber Monday alone accumulated $2B in sales alone. This amount is up 17% from 2013.
Amazon’s online sales alone topped over $28 million dollars last year, tripling its hold on the market from 2013.
From statistics and data alone, the message is clear; eCommerce sales during the holidays are a metaphorical cash cow. Even if you don’t have a dedicated eCommerce website, you can still use online venues such as Amazon to list and sell your goods and wares.
When Should I Start Planning Holiday Promotions?
The simple answer, “now” or “as early as you can”
Holiday promotions should be on your agenda and begin conception anywhere from the end of September to early October at latest.
Typically and traditionally, the holiday shopping season does not begin to gather momentum until late November. However, online shoppers are beginning to start earlier to beat the rush and take advantage of Halloween sales. This still gives eCommerce website managers ample time throughout the year to primp and prime their site.
A Google survey showed that more than 29% of shoppers started doing their holiday purchases before Halloween.
Preparation is Key
Before you can even begin to think about what promotions to run and when on your eCommerce website, it is quintessential to have a few ducks in a row.
1. A Planner
Setting up your holiday sales will be a whole entire task on its own. You need to start making a list of the holidays you plan to promote on your eCommerce website.
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Small Business Tuesday
- 12 Days of Christmas
- Christmas Eve
- December 26th
- New Years Eve
Do a little homework and find out when your business’ market has its highest peaks. ie; a video game store has its highest peaks on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas Eve. Each niche market is different, plan accordingly.
A standard practice with holiday shoppers; if you sell lower cost or “impulse” products, your sales will come in at the beginning of the season or at the start of the big holidays. Larger expensive products typically sell during November, when the customer is weighing out their options.
2. Promotional Materials List
What graphics, ads, banners, email blasts, etc are you going to use for the holiday season? Separate the materials into folders for each holiday you plan on doing a promotion for. All of your Black Friday themed promotions would be in a folder for Black Friday, Cyber Monday would be in its own folder etc. It is perfectly acceptable to recycle materials as long as they remain pertinent to the holiday you are promoting for. Don’t use Easter marketing for Thanksgiving.
It’s imperative that you keep in mind that holiday shoppers don’t just do their shopping over a small 2 day period. Rather they space out their shopping agenda based off of the sales and promotions that occur over the holiday season that best fits their needs as a consumer.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are typically the highest caliber sale dates. It’s always a good idea to run promotions and sales throughout the entire holiday period to diversify your sales and customer clientele.
Before you can even begin to market and promote any and all online sales, making sure your eCommerce website is in order is key.
A website that is buggy, lagging, unresponsive, or not mobile friendly will negatively impact your presence during the holiday season.
Make sure your eCommerce website is being hosted on a high priority hosting platform. The longer it takes for your website to load, the more likely the customer is to get frustrated and leave. Contact whomever is hosting your eCommerce website and make sure your site can handle a large spike in traffic. If your current host is unable to commit to large spikes of traffic, check this out.
4. Mobile Friendly is a Must
With nearly 40% of Black Friday sales having come from mobile devices, ensuring your eCommerce website is responsive and mobile friendly is top priority. Not having a mobile friendly eCommerce website not only impacts your sales, but your rankings on search engines. For more information on what makes a eCommerce website mobile friendly and why it’s so important, read more here.
5. Social Media Presence
Facebook boasts over 1.5B active profiles, while Twitter and Instagram have a respectful 300 million accounts. As a business owner, you should already be aware of the power of social media.
To make sure you are utilizing social media for its entire value, make certain the following has been done.
Set up profiles on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter. While LinkedIn is a powerful resource, it is only applicable if you are reaching out with promotions to other businesses mostly.
Make sure your holiday promotions are advertised thoroughly on your social media accounts. Make posts, images, infographics, run ad promotions. Just make sure that your social media accounts are reflecting your current holiday incentives.
A campaign is only as successful as the tools used to accomplish it. Start building a “tool belt” for the holiday promotions.
For those without a current email marketing platform, feel free to contact us and The Clever Robot will set you up with an e-marketing tool. We currently offer pay as you go on our email marketing solutions. Meaning you only pay for what you want to send.
For More Info On E-Mail Marketing
Holiday Landing Pages
Setting up specific landing pages that redirect users to your current holiday promotions helps ensure product awareness for the consumer. What is a landing page? A landing page is a page on your website that is set up around a certain type of content. Whether its about a current sales promotion, company initiative or to relay important information. The landing page is tracked to view the results of a campaign and allows you to gather in depth analytic data regarding your campaign.
Google offers free eCommerce website analytic reports that allow you to view your traffic patterns. Utilize this data. Find out what dates your customers frequent your site(s) and plan your promotions around this data. The analytic data will also show where the users came from and how they came upon your site. Whether it was a Google Ad that gave the user a gentle nudge in your direction, or a quick Google search.
Social Media Ads
Nearly 65% of shoppers discovered products via social media in 2014. Boosting your posts, or paying for advertisement through social media is a great way to garnish online sales.
Writing articles and keeping up a steady presence in the blogging world is a great way to help boost traffic to your site. Once you have created some pertinent articles that are SEO friendly, you will see a steep increase in traffic if done properly.
This is probably the biggest gamble of the tool belt. While pop-up ads that are native in your own eCommerce website may help encourage the users to “subscribe for sale information” they can also become overwhelming if improperly done. Keep in mind that a large percentage of online browsers use add on’s such as Ad Block specifically to avoid this type of marketing.
Congrats! That should cover all of your holiday promotional preparation. Now it’s time to begin planning the details and choose a marketing venue.
Do keep these things in mind though when choosing your marketing strategy.
The Big 3
Are your marketing plans currently at risk of going over your proposed budget? If so, are you prepared to fork out any additional expenditures or do you need to trim your marketing strategy? Running a successful eCommerce website takes a little bit of financial balancing, but should never “break the bank”
2. Know Your Audience
If your business sells quilting supplies a predominately older and female demographic may be your targeted area. As much as you would like to push towards an un-canvased demographic, now is not the time for that. Market to your audiences demographic. Most social media ad programs allow you to customize your ads to run to specific ages, genders, and demo-graphical regions.
3. Stick With What You Know
As tempting as it may be to choose this time of the year to learn new software and marketing mediums, don’t. Your efforts are best placed where you are familiar. If you have a strong Twitter following, but haven’t captured Pinterest yet; don’t worry about it. Focus your energies where your clientele exists.