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It’s already October and the clocks are running fast toward the holidays. From Black Friday onward, holiday shopping season will be in full swing. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas…the mad rush of the holiday season.But, when you run an online store, the holiday onslaught means something much more: you’re about to enter the most profitable time of the year. Data from the National Retail Federation shows that 20% to 40% of the year’s total sales for smaller and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year.
But to get most of the holiday season you need to start planning early. Here are some tips and a checklist to make it easy for you.
Be ready with your calendar
Before preparing any holiday campaign for your eCommerce store, you should learn as much as you can about the end-of-the-year holidays. You should have a list of all important days and know how each one affects online sales.
The most important upcoming holidays are:
Last year according to Statista, $106.22 billion dollars were spent online during the holidays in the USA alone. This is about a 16% increase from the previous year.
The following table shows the highest U.S. e-commerce spending days during the 2016 holiday season.
Plan your campaigns:
To get the most out of your social media posts, plan the campaigns in coherence with your overall holiday marketing strategy. It will help you to achieve consistency in messaging over various marketing channels.
There are many types of campaigns like hashtag campaign, giveaway campaign, user generated campaign etc. Now, depending upon your brand, your target audience and social media platform you need to choose from these various campaign types.
Here are some holiday season campaigns inspirations from successful brands on social media.
Update your social profiles:
As soon as you know what campaigns you’ll be running, the first thing you need to do is update your overall social profiles.
It’s really important that your pages show what you’ve got for your audience.
So, what do you do? Look for ways to promote your campaigns or holiday info on your profile pages. Update your banner to include holiday-specific offers, use the link of your holiday landing page and so forth.
Create a content calendar:
This holiday season, start your social media preparations early. With a social media content calendar, you can plan your posts weeks in advance. Also, with a campaign calendar, you can feel confident that you are creating a consistent brand experience.
Schedule your posts:
Begin crafting your social media posts as soon as you can. This will save time later when the rush of the holiday season is upon you. The best way to schedule your posts is to use a social media scheduling tool. There are many such tools out there, you need to pick the one which suits you best.
Setup your Facebook ads:
Facebook ads are a great way to bring in new traffic to your site and drive sales, particularly around the holidays. If you are ready to cough up some money on Facebook ads, stay prepared with it as well.
You should start serving your ads right from the beginning of October. That’s because 20% of shoppers start buying holiday gifts in October, with 49% of shoppers starting in November and 24% starting in December.
No later than October, you should be serving conversion ads to your audience, and really pump your message and budget in the months of November and December.
Enhance your email strategy
Schedule your holiday campaigns
Year over year holiday email marketing continues to rise among online retailers due to its exceptionally high ROI. According to Mailchart’s Holiday Email Marketing Guide, email marketing is responsible for 20% of holiday sales. As you ramp up your marketing efforts across the board this holiday season, don’t forget about your email marketing campaigns!
Via email, you are reaching out to your highest engaged audience – customers and subscribers you already have. That’s the reason a decent email strategy can bring more revenue than your best performing paid ad campaign!
Here are the most important campaign types you need to consider while planning your holiday email strategy:
i) Holiday specific offer emails.
ii) Cart abandonment emails with holiday special offers.
iii) Upsell/ cross-sell product recommendation emails.
iv) Best selling products promotion.
You will find some inspiring holiday email campaigns here.
Once you have planned your email strategy, start creating and scheduling those emails to avoid the last minute hiccups.
Revise your regular campaigns:
Revise the emails you are already sending. Make sure your transactional emails like order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails also maintain the same holiday vibe as in your promotional emails.
Update your store SEO
Prepare Holiday Keyword List:
You already have a list of top-performing keywords for your store. However, forming a list of holiday-specific keywords will help your business attract new customers searching for the perfect gift. Dig into Google Trends reports to discover the search terms customers are frequently using and update your keyword list for these changes.
Also, dig into your last year’s search analytics data to identify the keywords which brought sales. Make sure you include those keywords into your holiday keywords list.
As one of the most popular shopping destination in the USA and in many other countries, Amazon is a great place to find keywords for holidays. Try searching around the product you are selling and you will find some cool suggestions.
Once you have a list of holiday-specific keywords, start creating the landing pages/collection pages.
According to the 45-Day rule, publishing your content a week before a major holiday will allow you to engage in 50% of the search engine traffic while starting 45 days in advance will help you participate in over 90% of the search traffic.
Publish blog posts:
Based on your keyword research, identify some topics that align to the buyer journey for your most popular products. Instead of thinking about transactional keyword like “buy X,” or “order X online”, think about the questions that customers might ask before they’re ready to buy.
That’s where blog posts can come in and add huge value to your conversion funnel.
Revise your PPC campaigns
Now’s the time to revise your paid search strategy for the upcoming holiday season.
However, if you aren’t running PPC ads already, I will not suggest starting at this moment as it will be highly competitive and much more costly in the holiday season.
Here are few tips to update your PPC campaigns for the holiday season:
Lookback to last years data:
First, take a look back to last year’s paid search strategy. What combination of keywords, bids, and timing worked best?
Note the keywords, ad copy, and promotions that targeted the most relevant traffic, and the time of day or day of the week traffic times peaked. Use this combination of keywords and timing to bundle the perfect paid search plan and adjust your budgets for bidding.
Create holiday specific landing pages:
High quality landing pages are crucial to driving conversion in Google Ads. During the holidays it’s especially important to make sure that any promotions are featured prominently in your landing page. If you mention “50% off sale” in your ad copy, the user should see this same promotion above the fold once they click the ad.
If you are using your homepage or collection pages as a landing page, make sure that you advertise your offers on the top of the pages prominently with banners.
Update your ad copy:
Instead of using the same ordinary copy you’ve used all year, adjust your ad copy to promote holiday sales or promotions. Engage potential customers with clear CTA’s and relevant copy, while enabling a variety of ad extensions, such as callouts, sitelinks, promotions, and more.
Start a Loyalty & Reward Program
You’ve spent a lot of effort growing your business and bringing new customers into your sales funnel. Now, you need to retain these customers.
A proven way to reward loyal customers is with a loyalty program. This is a great way to engage over time, which will serve to drive future sales and many return visits.
On top of this “stickiness,” a loyalty or rewards program can add direct extra value to the customer experience your online store provides.
There are many loyalty and referral Shopify app out there. Try these apps and pick the one suitable for your reward program.
That’s it for the first part of the article. In the second part, we will discuss how to prepare your store for the holiday traffic.