The holidays are fast approaching, and you should be getting ready to make the most from the holiday rush. For most businesses, now is the time when they experience the biggest sales volume of the year. So, a huge chunk of your annual revenue is at stake, and the marketing deadline is fast approaching. That means it is time to start prepping your business website for the holiday season right now. After all, you want to cash in on the biggest opportunity of the year. Case in point, last year, the average consumer spent £490 on holiday shopping, and 20% of consumers say they plan to spend more this year.
Therefore, it is not too early to start preparing your business for the opportunity today! As a matter of fact, if you wait too much longer, it may be too late to plan for the oncoming opportunity. Now is the perfect time to plan any changes to your business website for the upcoming holiday season. It doesn’t matter if you only own an online store, or you are service-based business. The end of the year will be a very busy period. But first, you need to have a plan so that when you implement your strategy, your business will be ready for great profits this holidays.
Here are seven things to consider as you prepare for the holiday madness.
Learn from last year.
If your business is more than one-year-old, there is no doubt that you witnessed what happened in the previous holidays. A smart retailer would dig into past reports from Google Analytics or whatever tools you normally use to check site traffic and performance. Ask yourself “What has changed since last year?”, “What worked?”, “What didn’t work?”, “What might impact your traffic?” and “What data didn’t you collect last year?” Do not just analyse your website, also analyse those of your competitors. See what your competitors are saying about last year’s holiday season and what they think will happen. Sometimes, you can learn valuable lessons by paying attention to what they are saying.
Having said that, here are a few things you need to look at from the past data:
Sales data — Where did your biggest purchases come from? What was your hottest selling product?
Campaigns and marketing — Which specific marketing channel/strategy had the highest ROI? Did you offer discounts, free samples or free shipping?
Website traffic? – Which specific pages/categories attracted the most traffic?
Trends/Change — Are there new trends that have emerged since last year that might affect the market dynamics?
What mistakes did you make last year? What great things did you do last year? Knowing all these things can help you to avoid the mistakes of last year and do more of what worked. As George Santayana once said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” Now is the time to learn the lessons of the past. Perhaps you ran out of stock, or you failed to take into consideration that you need more freelancers. Whatever it is, do not repeat the same mistakes or do not forget to implement what worked.
Plan your promotions.
Did you know that November and December account for more than 30% of annual retail sales? During this time, consumers’ hands are already in their pockets ready to pull out the wallet. However, you must create your holiday offers to entice the consumer to choose you over your competition. It doesn’t have to be discounts or anything specific. Just do what fits your company. You could offer free shipping, bundle discounts, promo code, upgrades or gifts. However, remember that you also need to make a profit; therefore, you should not go overboard.
Prepare your campaigns.
During the holidays, people are not just going to land on your website by some divine miracle. You will have to advertise your businesses to your prospective clients, and that is where PPC campaigns come in. Build your landing pages and prepare your PPC campaign early enough so that when the holidays arrive, all you have to do is to flip the switch to turn on the campaign. Preparing your campaigns now will allow you ample time to optimise your campaigns, giving you a head start over your competition.
Implement your SEO/content marketing strategy.
In anticipation of the holiday rush, you should ensure that your content/SEO marketing strategy is implemented appropriately. If you are planning on launching a brand new site dedicated to the holiday, then it might be too late for you because SEO and content marketing are not like making an instant cup of coffee. At best, websites take months to get their SEO going.
For you to gain competitive advantage, you have to think of content marketing because it is the most under-appreciated marketing channel. Many people jump into the bandwagon of SEO and PPC and ignore content marketing, yet content marketing results in the highest ROI. The good thing with content marketing is that it is marketing without marketing.
When producing content for the coming holidays, you have to balance between the need to gain links and the obligation to offer valuable information to the consumers. Although striking the balance may be a bit tricky, you have to get it right during the holidays. If you choose popular titles and produce engaging content, your website is going to gain links and attract traffic, which you can convert. This takes us to the next point.
Start a conversion rate optimisation strategy.
Getting lots of web traffic is a great thing, but if you are not converting that traffic, you might as well stop wasting your time with internet marketing. What is the point of attracting 2,000 visitors per day if none of them is converting into a paying customer? Carry out conversion rate optimisation to test which elements of the website is converting more visitors.
Conversion rate optimisation involves testing various elements of a website to see which ones perform better. For instance, you can change your Click to Action buttons, font colours, landing page text, etc. to optimise your conversions. If you don’t have the expertise to perform CRO, you can contract a reputable CRO firm to do this for you.
What will be your holidays working hours, free shipping deadlines?
It is important to communicate to your customers regarding what your holiday workings hours will be like. They also need to now early enough whether you will be offering free shipping, and for how long. This needs to be very clear to avoid misunderstandings, inconveniences and disappointments. Here are a few questions you need to answer as early as possible:
What is the last day a customer can place an order to receive it by Christmas Eve?
What is the minimum/maximum quantity that the customer will have to purchase to qualify for free shipping, discount or gifts?
What days during the holidays will you be closed? What will be your working hours?
What are your guarantees?
In short, let the customer have every bit of information now.
Social media preparedness
The truth of the matter is that during the holidays, you will be so busy with other things that you won’t have time to post on social media. Smart marketers normally plan and schedule their social media posts long before the holiday bells start ringing. It is such a simple strategy, but one which will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Don’t forget your holiday email list.
As we approach the holidays, it is safe to say that consumers will be bombarded with holiday promotional stuff because retailers will be looking to maximise their revenue. Many retailers will be sending out their newsletter daily. That is aggressive. It is critical to keep in check your mail out frequency lest you annoy your customer list and get hit with high unsubscribe rates. However, you can afford to increase the frequency slightly. For instance, if you have been sending out once every two weeks, your customers won’t mind hearing from your once every week or even twice weekly as long as you have something worthwhile to say.
Remember, not every email you send out during the holidays has to be about sales. As a matter of fact, no email should directly be about sales. You should endeavour to make your customer’s holiday more fun and easier. For instance, if you are in the food industry, you can give your clients fun ideas for hosting parties. In other words, you shouldn’t come across as a hungry salesperson out to sell stuff. Be resourceful instead.
As I conclude, this is the best time to perform any necessary website upgrades to accommodate expected traffic spikes during Christmas. If for any reason your site fails to run smoothly, you will lose a big chunk of customers to the competition during this once-a-year chance. Your website must also be responsive to accommodate all types of devices, from smart phones to desktops.
Joe Ryan is the Founder & CEO of UK online marketing agency, Digital Search Group, which specialises in smart internet marketing. He is a specialist in online marketing strategy and brand building. When he’s not considering the next best online marketing strategy with his team, he enjoys travel and spending time with his family.