It’s that time again.
And if you’ve got an e-commerce site to run, it's both exciting and stressful. The holidays bring a great opportunity to grow your business, but it's also easy to get lost in the mess of it all - especially online.
In this article, we cover tip and tricks that we use with our clients to help them make the most of their holiday season.
1. Send out a gift guide
You know all the products that you offer, and which of your audiences they are perfect for. So, why not tell others about them? With some simple graphic design and essential product selections, you can turn this into an engaging piece of content that will drive customers to your site, and showcase your top products.
B2B company? No problem. One solution is to send a tongue-in-cheek gift guide.
For example, if you sell industrial paper shredders, then why not send a guide full of paper shredders (e.g. ‘The Best Paper Shredder for your Father-in-law’). After all, the holidays are supposed to be fun!
If you want to take your gift guide to the next level, segment it by audience type. Split your email contacts into streams and send a ‘personalized’ gift guide to each. You could base this on purchase history, demographic information, browsing data, or some combination of these metrics.
2. Increase digital ad buys
Most consumer companies spend more on their ad buys and bids around the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you should bow out of your programmatic and PPC campaigns.
It’s just a matter of running high-conversion traffic only to focus you spend where it’s going to do the best.
So you may want to focus on your best-performing keywords and strip back your programmatic to primarily retargeting campaigns. This will ensure you can cope with increased bid prices without losing your marketing budget.
It’s also worth running sales-driven holiday creative around this time. Customers are inundated with marketing messages right now, so to cut through the noise, keep it simple and clean. Now’s not the time to build your brand – now’s the time to sell.
3. Add a holiday landing page
A holiday landing page will help customers arrive for what they’re looking for, nab the product and get out. People are busy at the holidays – save them some time. Plus, a properly developed landing page will boost your SEO, which is always nice.
4. Add product recommendations/referrals
Take a page from Amazon’s book with some tailored product recommendations. Be sure to include a ‘People Also Bought’ section on your product pages to upsell and cross-sell your visitors.
Or you can use your transactional emails (which everyone always opens). For example, in the email receipt that you send out to customers, why not include a message saying ‘people also bought this – do you want to add it to your order?’
It’s an easy way to improve the average number of items purchased per transaction and grow your sales significantly.
5. Add early bird free shipping
Reward people for getting their holiday shopping done early with free early bird shipping:
- They get to feel smug about nabbing a deal
- You get their business before your competitors have a chance to take the sale
- Everyone love free shipping
6. Include the ‘order by’ date for arrival before Christmas
On your site, be sure to include a panel that indicates the last day an item can be ordered and still be delivered in time for Christmas.
Again, this is similar to how Amazon work with their ‘get it by XX date if you order in the next 12 minutes!’ but with a holiday twist - the idea is to build urgency, especially as the holiday gets closer.
7. Provide live chat
Even if it’s not active on your site all the time, it’s worth shelling out for a live chat tool around the holidays.
Again, people are busy around the holidays. Customers want their purchases taken care of as quickly and painlessly as possible. So when holiday crunch time comes around, many shoppers may not be willing to send and email with a question and wait to hear back.
Plus, whenever buying for someone else, a shopper suffers more indecision – especially if the product is out of their comfort zone, or something they aren't familiar with. Live chat can help answer your customers’ questions on the spot, and lock down the purchase right away.
8. Reward your loyal members with discounts
Whether you have a formalized loyalty program or just a list of VIP customers (not that every customer isn’t important!) the holidays are a great time for you to say ‘thanks for your business over the year.’
Nordstrom's e-commerce loyalty program
This can be as easy as simply offering a special discount or offer to those who have stuck with you.
One strategy is to phrase this sort of communication (promoted via social media DM, email, or direct mail – whatever works for you) as a ‘thanks for being a part of our organization’.
9. Improve loyalty programs with enhanced seasonal rewards
Another strategy if you do have a loyalty program in place is to offer unique seasonal rewards.
PC Plus Extreme Redeem Loyalty Offer
Similar to Loblaw’s ‘extreme redeem’ offers, a holiday offer that either improves your existing program or boosts points on holiday purchases can help you drive sales. Double points, increased points on specific holiday products, or enhanced points for gifts are all good ways to deepen your customers’ relationship with your organization.
10. Use analytics to pinpoint holiday haymakers
The holidays will likely deliver a surge in overall business. But do you know how you can increase this even more? By pinpointing the particular products that correlate with high holiday spend.
The best example of this is Canadian Tire.
In order to maximize sales, during the holidays in 2015, it looked at all its data of in-store and online transactions to work out which products led to the most valuable holiday sales.
Those customers who bought Christmas lights went on to spend significantly more with Canadian Tire than those who didn’t.
Of course, being Canadian Tire, they then went on to do oodles of product development and market research to really make the most of this insight, as well as promoting Christmas lights aggressively in their stores.
Naturally, not every company has these resources. But you can still take a leaf out of Canadian Tire’s book by finding your own ‘Christmas lights’ product.
First, build a buying profile of your top customers from around October 15 – December 24 for the last three years:
- Are there any commonalities in what they buy?
- Are the purchases holiday related or are they more general?
- Do top spenders buy tried-and-true products or do they buy trending items?
From this analysis, you can then begin to get an idea of what products are going to drive better sales this holiday season.
Then, it’s just a matter of using that information in your marketing channels:
- Test your shortlisted products in programmatic ads
- Feature key products in PPC ads
- Hero products in email blasts
- Use this data on your home page
With this strategy, you can focus on products that bring in customers that you want and lets you talk to them about what they want, both of which will help drive great Holiday sales.
11. Run flash sales
Before the holidays, consumers are inundated with sales messages. So the question is: how do you stand out?
By running time-sensitive sales.
First, you put a clock on it. People hate missing out, so saying it’s only a 24-hour sale is sure to pique interest.
Second, because it’s short, you can offer much more competitive discounts.
Third, if you run one or two, people will begin to watch your site for flash sales – expect your site dwell time to increase and lead to (hopefully) a subsequent increase down-funnel in sales.
Of course, the flipside of a quick sale is that you need to be able to promote it aggressively in the short lead up and during the sale itself. You don’t have weeks to ‘let it run and see how it does’ – you need to act fast. Opportunities include:
- Programmatic ads targeted to your most likely buyers. If you can link this to email, that’s even better
- Up-weighted PPC ads for competitive keywords
- Special exclusive deals with affiliates (if applicable)
- Email marketing carrying the message
- Social media ads and promotion in the lead-up and during the sale
Lastly – and this is for us is the cherry on top – after the sale is over you still have something to talk about. You can email your customers saying:
Did you miss out on our Flash sale? Customers nabbed a crazy 75% off! Watch this space for the next one!
This helps build suspense and anticipation, two of the hardest emotions to build in an audience.
So there you have it. 11 strategies that will help you make the most of the holidays this season. To recap:
- Send out a gift guide
- Increase digital ad buys
- Add a holiday landing page to your site
- Add product recommendations/referrals
- Add early bird free shipping
- Include the ‘order by’ date for arrival before Christmas
- Provide live chat
- Reward your loyal members with discounts
- Improve loyalty programs with enhanced seasonal rewards
- Use analytics to pinpoint holiday haymakers
- Run flash sales
With these in your back pocket, you can’t go wrong.
Have a great holiday season!