Any good idea requires proper planning to go off without a hitch and give you the best chance at success. Before springing into action, take a second to plan out your holiday season from every angle.
We’ve made a list. You check it (twice). Hopefully your sales will be nothing but nice.
Review budget expectations – What revenue does your site require during the holiday season to cover costs for the year and turn a profit? What sort of extra costs can be incurred to offer discounts for customers and move discontinued stock? Does there need to be a budget for contracted professionals and seasonal support staff? What does your holiday advertising budget look like? These are a few things to consider as you plan to budget for the holiday push.
Create a marketing calendar – Prepping for the s-bowl of shopping requires a carefully crafted marketing plan that takes into account your store’s inventory and budget. Develop a calendar that maps out when your sale(s) will start being promoted, when product stock will need to be cleared out, etc.
Stock up top-sellers – You’re likely to see a large portion of your holiday revenue come a few popular products that sell well year-round. Have them well stocked to anticipate the seasonal surge.
Build some buzz – Newsletters, blogs and social media posts are great ways to drum up interest in your store, especially around select product lines or during sales. Contests that award access to “premium” products, exclusive promo codes or free gifts can help incentivize early adopters and get them to spread the word.
Work out the kinks – The last thing you need during a holiday rush is for any aspect of your store to not operate smoothly. Make sure your shipping and return policies are clear and easy to understand. Run through the checkout process from start to finish to ensure every step functions as it should. Experiment with different payment types and test shipping calculations. In short: Test everything!
Haul out the homepage holly – Holiday homepage graphics and banners promoting certain product lines or sales are highly effective ways to put shoppers in the holiday spirit. Use this tactic for social media flash-sale promotions as well.
Help shoppers find what they want – Create clear category labels so shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for. Consider building easy pathways to products for specific audience segments. For example, “Gifts for Her,” “Gifts for Every Budget” and “Last Minute Gifts” categories.
Don’t alienate anyone – Christmas may be the most hyped holiday of the season, but not everyone celebrates it. Be mindful of this when considering your site’s holiday design and promos. If you’re concerned about alienating anyone, opt for winter imagery and general “happy holiday” or “season’s greetings” messages.
Showcase the small stuff and related items – Shoppers often add on smaller-ticket items to complement a larger gift. Make sure they are easily visible as customers move through the shopping process, as this will help move inventory and increase average order volumes.
Black Friday & Beyond
Be extra social – These days, customers turn to social media more than the phone or email to ask questions about products, resolve shipping issues or voice concerns over their shopping experience. Be active, attentive and alert on social media throughout the shopping season.
Amplify the customer voice – Enable customers to easily share their thoughts on products and the shopping experience overall. Their effect can turn skeptics into believers and browsers into buyers. It can also benefit your SEO efforts.
Keep promoting – Take advantage of shopping’s greatest season. Send relevant messages and promotions across multiple marketing channels and optimize what works. You may lure prospects away from competitors, gain new customers and win repeat business that results in sales even after the holiday hoopla.
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