With the busiest season of the year for ecommerce rapidly approaching, your ecommerce site should be well into its final stages of preparation. In case you’re running behind, here are 7 items that should already be under your belt.
Here’s a wakeup call for all you procrastinators out there: Cyber Monday is coming.
Yes, the most profitable day of the year for ecommerce sites is right at our doorstep. And with Cyber Monday sales reaching $1.25 billion in 2011, the coming weeks are critical to ensure that your online business is ready for the big rush.
To gauge how well prepared your ecommerce site is for the holidays, check out these 7 items that should already be scratched off your to-do list.
1. SEO changes
I’m placing this one at the top of our list because it’s one of the most important and takes the most time to execute. Planning and implementing your SEO changes should be well underway so that your adjustments actually have time to take hold. Some of these tasks include: identifying and optimizing your most important landing pages for pertinent keywords, adjusting your title tags and meta descriptions and implementing longtail keywords into your content strategy. To learn more about some of these ideas and how you can act on them, check out this recent Two Minute Tuesday video, 5 Must-Do Tasks for Holiday SEO.
2. Coupon strategy and calendar
Online shoppers are looking for deals, and online merchants are readily providing them during the holiday rush. To keep up with this trend, you should already have your promotional calendar planned for the coming months, including exact discounts, timelines and communications efforts behind each coupon and/or discount. Keep in mind that 55% of shoppers expect free shipping on their orders, so do some solid math to ensure you can offer this promotion without hurting your bottom line. Once you have your discounts all figured out, put them in a spreadsheet and print the document for easy reference.
3. Seasonal design assets
Just as retail stores set up Christmas trees and holiday décor to set the mood, so should your ecommerce site. From homepage graphics to design assets for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, having a collection of design elements to quickly implement on your site will save time while ensuring consistent branding. Even more, it’s a good idea to already have your timeline established for when you’ll post and remove your holiday design materials – no one wants to be that tacky neighbor with their Christmas lights still up in February.
4. Holiday email calendar
In 2010, retailers, on average, began their holiday email campaigns 69 days before Christmas, which fell on October 17. Furthermore, 89% of top online retailers increased the frequency of their email sends in November and December by 47% compared to the rest of the year. In other words, you should be sending more emails, more often during the holiday selling season. Naturally, planning for email sends takes time, including copywriting, email design, testing, sending, etc. Because of this, you should’ve already decided when your promotional emails will be sent to ensure that you’re fully prepped to leverage the mighty power of email marketing during this important season.
5. Submitting product feeds to shopping engines
As comparison shopping becomes more and more popular, so do comparison shopping engines (CSEs) like Google Product Search, Amazon Product Ads and Nextag. This makes it ever-important for your online business to have its products listed where shoppers are flocking, which means you should be optimizing and testing your product feeds to be compatible with various CSEs. Keep in mind that some engines have up to a 3-4 week turnaround time before your products can be listed, so submitting them sooner than later is definitely in your best interest.
6. Social media promotions
Whether you’re using a social media management tool or creating your promotions from scratch, having your holiday game plan ready for social is a must. For example, you’ll need to have any design or graphical assets ready, along with your contest/offer finalized and a communication strategy in place. Leveraging social media during the midst of the holiday selling season is a great way to encourage your loyal fans to share your business with their networks, which helps increase exposure and easy sales.
7. Your mind and internal resources
As web traffic and orders begin to increase, so will your need to be internally prepared for the additional time and resources to keep up. For example, you’ll likely see an influx of customer service requests, so ensuring that your phone and live chat support are prepared will help facilitate the additional volume. Even more, you’ll still need to take care of yourself during the holidays, including enjoying them with your friends and family, so go ahead and shift your mindset to prep for the extra time investment.
If this list of action items hasn’t quite been completed, don’t fret – you’ve still got some time to get them done. Just stay focused and keep your eye on the prize, remembering that preparation is key to ensure smooth, profitable operations for what’s expected to be the most lucrative holiday selling season in ecommerce history.
-Matt Winn, Volusion