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Nine things every e-commerce business should do to prepare for the holiday season

By Chris Birkholm / November 6, 2013

By Brad LaRock, vice president of marketForce, and Chris Birkholm, project manager, Digital River

As the holiday season approaches, here are a few proven tips that can help your business get ready to cash in on upcoming sales:

  1. Promote early, stay late and think globally – Holiday sales are no longer just about Black Friday and New Year’s Day. There are new milestones like Cyber Monday, Green Monday and Free Shipping Day to drive holiday sales. Analyze your historical metrics to understand the key promotional dates for your business. Then create a promotional plan with special deals and limited-time offers to capitalize on these new shopping traditions. If your site operates in locales around the globe, make sure you know the nuances in terms of special sales dates in those countries. For example, Cyber Monday in the U.K. is commonly referred to as Mega Monday, but it happens on the same day as the United States’ version of Cyber Monday. On the other side of the world, Cyber Monday is the commonly used term in Japan, but last year Amazon started using the term in reference to the second Monday in December. Last year in India, Google partnered with a large number of e-commerce companies to host a Cyber Monday on December 12th.

  2. Optimize your site for tablet and mobile shoppersToday, more people than ever shop online using their mobile devices. We expect that this trend will hit a new high this holiday season. Today, mobile makes up more than one in three page views online in the US and half of Google searches originate from a mobile device. Make the most of this trend by ensuring your site meets the requirements for these shoppers. We recommend implementing a full responsive redesign. If that’s not a near-term project, you can get started by adding new search landing page designs, or email templates that leverage responsive design. These simple starting points can help you capture some of these mobile shoppers. Google data indicates that 67 percent of shoppers are more likely to buy from a site when they have a mobile experience, while 61 percent are more likely to go to a competitor when the experience isn’t tailored for mobile. You should ensure that your site is responsive and tagged appropriately so that you can begin to understand the actual impact mobile has on your holiday commerce. Understanding these trends can play a large role in your success in years to come.

  3. Create Landing Pages Around Holiday Keywords ­– It’s important to understand historical trends for particular keywords and how those relate to your search traffic in the upcoming holiday season. While Cyber Monday was not a highly searched or competitive term at one point in time, it has grown so much that when examining Cyber Monday Deals alongside Black Friday Deals the terms are nearing the same volume:holiday-tips-trend

  4. Utilize Facebook Open Graph Tags – Not only does this ensure that consumers are able to share their most recent purchases and the most amazing deals online, but it allows you to control what they are sharing when they do. Utilizing Facebook OpenGraph you can control the title, image, description and the ability to display reviews.

  5. Push with Your Re-Targeting Campaigns – As consumers crawl the World Wide Web looking for the best deals in town, it doesn’t hurt to remind them just what they were looking at before and offer them an incentive to come back to your site and make a purchase. More than ever, this is the best time of year to drive home your conversions with re-targeting campaigns. A good initial experience will be top of mind for them when they are looking for that something special or a hard-to-find gift.

  6. Establish Highly Visible Email Sign-Ups – With the drastic increase in traffic to your site, ensure that you have a highly visible way for consumers to register for your communications. Shoppers are more receptive to these types of engagements through the holiday period, and this can dramatically increase your registration rates. This is an easy way to increase your revenue during the holidays and create more opportunity for future sales down the road. Your brand advocates are expecting this type of communication from you. If it’s done well, they will amplify your offers to their networks during the holiday season.

  7. Utilize Countdown Timers Give shoppers a reason to buy now. Sometime seemingly simple things can have an important impact to conversion. Creating a countdown timer on your homepage and other landing pages can help facilitate the purchasing process with consumers. If utilized in conjunction with holiday sales, flash sales and other store discounts, it can create a sense of urgency with a consumer by providing that additional reason to make the purchase now rather than waiting. You could try using this in conjunction with shipping dates and methods; it will provide the consumer a means to know exactly when they need to order by to have a product delivered before the gift-giving period.

  8. Keep Your Checkout Simple – During the checkout process, your customer is no longer shopping. Don’t clutter the process with upsells, bundles, pop-ups and redirects – be strategic in your promotional decisions and make the journey to the “buy” button as short, smooth and clean as possible. Remember to take advantage of your real estate post sale. You have a number of consumer touch points like order acknowledgements, shipping notifications, shopper satisfaction surveys that you can leverage to extend the lifetime value of your customer through the holidays.

  9. Don’t Short Cut the Creative – You are competing with the rest of the World Wide Web for shopper attention. In a report from Comscore, spending in 2012 went up 14% to reach $42.3 billion worldwide. In fact, “Free Shipping Day” on Monday Dec. 17th saw a 76% increase year over year. Share of voice and share of wallet become dramatically harder to capture, so beyond these tips we have covered above, invest your creative resources to think outside the box and be inventive. This can be the final key to setting your company apart from the masses of advertisers, marketers and other websites. Never underestimate the power and draw of a creative and original idea.

Do you have any other holiday tips that worked for you? Please share them in the comments field.

One response to “Nine things every e-commerce business should do to prepare for the holiday season”

  1. Jim Vaillancourt says:

    Great article, this guy is a genius.

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