The holiday season is here and as Ned Stark (for all of you GOT fans) said: Winter Is Coming.
Indeed! If you are an online store owner, it’s high time to prep up for the grandest sales of the year. I know it is a hectic task; sleepless nights, agonizing hours of thinking, and a lot of pressure is coming your way.
If your online retail business isn’t ready yet, you’re walking on thin ice. If you don’t start now, you’re leaving money on the table; you may miss out on some opportunities to earn big time.
So what should you do now? Prepare. Obviously.
The best thing you and your team can do to ensure a smooth sail through the cyclone of extra holiday traffic is; follow these tips, and you should be good to go. These tips include your social media workout, your logistics tracking, your security measures, and much more.
What’s the wait? Let’s get to it, shall we?
- An Effective Email and Ad Campaigns
The time has come to make some serious inroads in your customers’ mind. Let the mind games begin. By mind games, we certainly don’t mean you start your hypnotic mumbo jumbo because that’s not possible. What you can do is, make your customers know that you exist, make them remember your name. How can you do that? By designing some kick-ass, and targeted, campaigns for this holiday season. You can also have a look at this post, and start designing your campaigns.
An Ad campaign is what might do the trick. However, your Ad campaign should be different; a little unique would be great if you please. An effective Ad campaign in this regard, is the one that a consumer can easily retain in his/her mind and is focused on these three principles:
- Finding New Traffic – This is self-explanatory, if not, then let me make it simple; find your potential audience.
- Dial in Retargeting – Now, this is tricky. include re-targeting in your overall marketing strategy if you aren’t doing yet. This ploy will slightly increase your conversion rate, but in the longer run, it’ll reap some great benefits.
- Design Better Landing Pages – Once you’re done with your traffic and ad optimization, start working on your landing page’s layout. Not just that, do keep a tab on your landing page’s performance. Evaluate all available metrics, A/B testing is a good way to analyze performance.
Now comes the Email campaigns, considered as the back-end funnel to make the most out of your investment, Email marketing can be a handy companion to wake your customers up and let them know you mean business.
Oh Yeah! One more thing, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. – Can’t deny the facts now, can you?
- The Early Bird Catches the Worm
So here is what’s up; customers have saved enough to spend it all in, they have their internet ready, their phones are charged up, they are eyeing for the best deal. It is now your turn. Come up with the best deals and take the throne.
Try panning out your offers and discounts ASAP. You can’t wait for others to take limelight now, can you? Be the first, be the best.
Here is one fun fact for you, 40% of mobile users look for or redeem mobile coupons when shopping. This is the research, not us.
- Your Website Is Your Key
I guess you are ready for the big holiday stampede but is your website ready?
Take a critical look at your website and see how things are stacking up together. Observe the layout, keep an eye on your competitor’s layout and design too. Trust me; you need to be vigilant, give your website some small touch ups come the rush hour. Keep it optimized, make it mobile friendly, and add a little pizzazz to it with lively content. There is an awesome infographic that covers the best steps to optimizing your ecommerce website.
- NO – I REPEAT – NO Drastic Changes to Your Website
If you think you still have time to revamp the layout of the website, you are totally wrong. You don’t have time to make big changes. As it is discussed above, minor tweaks and adjustment, that’s what you can afford at this time. Work on improving the user experience, if you may.
- Toughen up Your Security
Data breaches are on the rise, let’s face the facts: hacker have become smarter, and passwords have become dumber (Hello123, like seriously?). Jokes apart, online retailers must take all the necessary precautions to ensure their customer’s information is taken care of. This approach works to the benefit of both the parties i.e. Customer and Retailer. It’ll increase the level of confidence of your customers in your business, as they would be sure of their credentials being safe with you.
- Holiday Discounts – Make It Count
I call the Ecommerce giants, The Big Dogs. If the big dogs aren’t afraid to show off their skills to lure in customers with exclusive discounts, why can’t you do the same? These retail giants cash in on every excuse they get to offers discounts. Be wise, and follow their lead.
Offer coupon codes, put in promotional offers and discounts. Oldest trick in the book. Period!
This can land you some good, unique traffic and strengthens the bond with the existing ones as well.
I know, I know. You’re on a tight budget; you can’t just hand out free money like this. But, think of it this way; lose a little, gain a lot.
What better discounts than Alibaba, right?
- All Hail the King – SEO
As the topic suggests; SEO is actually the king. If you don’t know what keywords suits your brand or campaign, start planning now! All the companies are fighting for the top ranking on every search engine. You wouldn’t want to feel left out, right?
Do not go for the popular keywords; it’s a “been there, done that” kind of a situation. Go for unique and relevant keywords.
According to a conducted research, Organic search drove 18% of online orders on Black Friday. This means your SEO knives must be sharpened.
- Use Your Social Media Right
Now that Facebook extended options for paid promotions, use it. Pinterest, Twitter, and even Instagram gives you the best platform to market your business. With the options like targeting the audience of your choice, you can do wonders for your business. Think about it.
Some smart people conducted a smart research and here is what they found, 27% of respondents stated that messages about additional discounts or clearance sales influences them to make a purchase.
- Stock up, Fill up, & Be Ready
What’s heartbreak? A girl breaking up with a nice guy over a cool dude? No, that’s not a heartbreak. Imagine having customers ordering your best seller-of-a-deal and you, running out of your inventory at that moment. *Tears*
I can feel the agony. Do not let that happen.
- Call in Back Ups
You customers are expecting honesty from you. They want the same treatment they get other than the holiday season. They don’t care about the volume of orders you get.
Make sure you’re equipped with the right resources during this shopping frenzy. Hire a backup team; skilled professionals who can help you tackle the mess you might get during this season.
- Prepare for Traffic Spikes
Ecommerce stores need to be ready for a flood of orders and with tension, the traffic will rise. Scale up your resources; optimize your website with additional storage capacity otherwise, things aren’t looking good for you and your business. You can scale it down as the seasons draws to a close but till then, improvise.
- Is Your Shopping Cart Working Fine?
Online shoppers expect a streamlined checkout process (they deserve it, don’t they), in this regard, a standard shopping cart might not be a good job. The best shopping carts display items, order status, and offer valuable reviews. That’s not it, though, product ratings, images, discounted prices, it’s all in it. The question is; are you doing it right? If not, you must.
If online retailers can’t make the checkout page a breeze, they’re making a big mistake. Try upgrading and simplifying the checkout process, it’s for your own betterment.
- How Are They Going to Pay You?
Decide your payment methods. Cash on delivery and credit cards payment are just two ways. If you are sticking to the basics, you might want to find a secure gateway for all your online transactions.
- Plan Returns
Selling a product is one thing, selling a bad product is another, and not planning on how to process the returns is just plain rude. With higher purchase rate; return rate might go up, let’s face it, you can’t please everyone. Nevertheless, not treating your customers right after the purchase is a Retailer’s Sin. Be ready to greet your customers with a smile even if they’re returning a product. It’ll just build more trust among the customers, and eventually, this compelling factor will bring the customer back to your website.
- Give a Festive Feel to Your Customers
Holiday shopping is an emotional experience, remembering all your loved ones and buying gifts for them. Ahh! That feeling, seeing your loved ones happy with your gift. Divine!
Back to the topic, stop weeping, please. You are a strategist, come on. You must not let go of this opportunity. Capture the true essence of the holiday season, use great-looking pictures, and themes to bring the joy of giving. Book a place in your customer’s heart with your website. It’s possible, give it a shot.
- Mobile Responsiveness Is MANDATORY
More or less, almost everyone has a smartphone these days. And you’re saying your website is not mobile responsive? Wow. Just Wow. More and more people are now shopping through their smartphone.
Did you know? 51 percent of smartphone holiday shoppers have used their device to get the best price and to save money. You see, how important it is.
P.S: This year’s projections suggests that the sale confirmation through A SMARTPHONE, during the holiday season, will beat all the previous records.
- The All Mighty Support Army
Role-play time. So a customer made a purchase, he didn’t like it and wanted to return it. Or, he has some issues with the product, let’s say he doesn’t know how to use it. What should he do?
Any Guesses? Yes, turn to customer support.
Through emails, calls, live support chats, and other social channels; all these medium should have a responsive team of support staff.
- Decide on Your Hosting Provider
This is the best one; I saved the best for last. Communicating your requirements to your hosting provider is actually the foundation of your online strategy. Review your environment and make sure you and your hosting provider are on the same page. Some good hosting providers are ready to take you on board, in case you’re not satisfied with the existing one. Cloud hosting would benefit you at this point in time. You can easily migrate your website, and would not have to worry about managing your server during the holiday season. Focus on sale. Earn big bucks and spend it during the holidays season.
Wrapping it Up
Start your preparations, pull out the big guns and aim for the stars. Because, if you want to earn big, the sky is your limit. Do one more thing, make your efforts trackable, measurable and justifiable, so that whenever you feel a void in your efforts, you can make the adjustments. This is important because every effort takes a toll on your mind, minor trackable tweaks won’t do much harm anyway.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.