The most wonderful time of the year is right around the corner. You may be asking yourself, "Where did the time go?" We're actually not sure... what we do know is that ecommerce holiday sales are projected to increase by 15.3% over last year's already massive 17.8% growth. With so many people turning to the Internet for their holiday purchases, are you ready to claim your share of the holiday sales cache? Having a game plan is essential to your holiday success. Below is a checklist of things you can (and should) be doing now in order to prepare for the shopping rush.
✔️ Choose the holidays your company wants to participate in. Remember to consider the non-holiday dates such as Free Shipping Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, and Super Saturday. From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, here are all major dates to consider.
✔️ Plot your holiday marketing plan. Now that you have your target holidays in mind, it's time to start planning. A promotional calendar will help you execute your plans. Don't skimp on the details; a dynamic marketing plan will set you apart from competitors.
Promo graphics need to be updated, email marketing campaigns need to be created, social posts need to be drafted, and promotions need to be lined up. Document publishing dates for each, as well as stop dates for promotional campaigns. Take note of shipping deadlines; people need to know of these before placing their orders.
Be sure to schedule "drop dead" dates for your holiday preparations. Not having strict deadlines will very likely lead to problems. Who wants surprises (no, not the fun ones) during the biggest earning days of the year?
✔️ Update your product data and SEO. For maximum exposure potential, your product marketing campaigns need to be updated. Analyze keywords that drove success last year and implement them where applicable.
Be sure to consider voice-related searches. Modify your SEO to include your highest value phrases. You can also add terms like "gift," "gift idea," "holiday," etc. across your product listings to reflect holiday shopping searches.
Additionally, communicating urgency with terms such as "limited quantities," "online only," etc. can yield positive results.
GoDataFeed makes modifying product data easy and practical. Simply create seasonal text replacement rules for your products to append holiday-themed text into titles and descriptions.
✔️ Create/review promotional codes and events. Plan to entice your customers with any discounts or promotional codes this year? If so, start compiling a reference library with all codes and campaign flight dates. Test your promotions and make sure they work as intended.
Consider tiered promotions to drive sales and customer engagement. BOGO deals, Free Shipping over a certain amount, or "gift with purchase" promotions can go a long way.
✔️ Engage with your audience. They're looking to hear from you. Share promotional offers with your followers and stay active on social media. Post top products with links to drive consumers to your site. Tag your posts accordingly and respond to likes and comments whenever possible.
✔️ Retarget and remarket. Launch a hefty retargeting campaign on all those customers who have been poking around your site for months. Remarketing through Google or Adroll can yield substantial results during the holiday season. What better time is there to also target look-alike audiences than when everyone is already looking to spend money? The wider the net you cast, the more fish you're apt to catch.
✔️ Know your competitors. What are they offering customers? Think about implementing a price guarantee to really compete with the competition. Proper exposure is important, but promotional offers can set you apart from your competitors.
✔️ Work ahead of schedule. Graphics, copywriting, social posts, etc. can all be done months in advance. Preparing these assets ahead of time will insure timely and effective marketing. Not only that, you won't want to waste time delegating/producing late promotional assets when there will be so much else to do.
✔️ Plan your budget. Do you know how much you're willing to spend on your campaigns? Do you know what your projected ROI values are? Do you need to lift or set spending thresholds on your PPC campaigns? Your ad spend won't budget itself!
✔️ Prepare your inventory. Review last year's numbers and compare them with this year's trends. Will you have enough supply to meet the demand? If not, make the necessary adjustments.
✔️ Check your store's ability to handle extra strain. Can your order system handle a large influx of orders? How smooth is your site experience? Is there anything you can do to boost page loading speed?
✔️ Enlist reinforcements. Make sure your customer service bases are covered, and have an IT specialist on call during peak shopping season. Make sure the proper checks/balances are in place to make sure your team is notified immediately if something were to go wrong. It's not too late to add staff; the sooner you hire and start training, the better.
✔️ Review payment and shipping options. Make sure it's as easy as possible for consumers to pay for your goods. That might mean implementing more payment options. If it's not easy to go through your checkout on a mobile device, then it's time to make some changes.
Various shipping options allow for greater purchase flexibility. Offer expedited shipping, no-rush ground shipping, and whatever makes sense in between. The chaotic nature of holiday shopping calls for a variety of shipping options.
✔️ Simplify returns and review your policies. Maybe you need to be more flexible during the holiday season. Review your policies and make changes as soon as possible.
Hope for the best and plan for the worst. Understanding your weaknesses can help you better address possible faults. You can't ever be too prepared, especially if it just means having certain fail safes in place.
Run reports, learn from them, and act accordingly. If you're paying close attention to your analytics, there's no reason why you shouldn't be on Santa's nice list!