Make a plan and prepare your online business NOW for the fast approaching holiday shopping season!
By: Catherine Perry
Most of us are just now beginning to feel the cooler temperatures that signal the fall season. This past summer seemed to stretch on forever adding a few more days of late summer heat. But, even though a chill is finally in the air, if you own an online business there is no doubt that you are already thinking of the holidays and how you will be ready for the biggest shopping season of the year.
According to www.marketingland.com, a company that focuses their business on digital marketing, nearly 75% of retailers say that the holiday season accounts for approximately 20% of their annual sales. That’s one-fifth of the sales for the entire year made in only a couple of months!
While retailers experience lower sales volume in the summer months, sales for the holidays begin to gain traction in the fall and you need to be ready. We don’t want to scare you, but right now, you have about 80 shopping days until Christmas!
Now is the time to get your online business poised and on board for this very important season! We know that you are already busy wearing many hats as the owner of an online business. We get that. So, we’ve put together just 6 tips that can optimize your time in preparing you to gain as many sales as possible during the 2017 holiday shopping season.
Tip #1: Create a Holiday Marketing Calendar
First things are first, decide the holidays you will market. Between now and the end of the year, you have a “holiday” marketing opportunity about every other week. There is President’s Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday just to get started. So there are many events to which you can attach your marketing.But, you probably don’t have the time to market for every holiday that occurs in the next 2 months, so you need to decide which one(s) you will put your marketing efforts into.
That’s why it is important to create a holiday marketing calendar and outline the holidays you want to focus on during the busy holiday season. We suggest focusing on the holiday season after Thanksgiving for the biggest return on your investment. If you find you have “extra” time, then pick out a couple of the other holidays for sales to fill in.
Tip #2: Collect Email Addresses
To prepare for a strong marketing campaign, you need to collect as many email addresses as possible. The email address is a very powerful tool for you both in the short- and long-term.
Jeremy Smith, a digital marketing expert, posts on his blog that you “can create an incredible connection with the customer long after they leave your site” through an email address. And, it isn’t as difficult to obtain as you may be thinking. The best method to get email addresses is to offer incentives that you give in return for obtaining their addresses. Such things as free shipping and discount coupons are great ways to get email addresses. Additionally, you can offer to give customers “heads-up” information first about upcoming sales and specials through if you have their email address.
Tip #3: Provide Customers Information Through Your FAQ & About Us Pages
You are going to be extremely busy during this shopping season and may find it difficult to keep up with answering all the questions that come in. A great way to provide information relative to initial, frequently asked, and common questions is through your FAQ page. Don’t overlook keeping this page filled out. Anticipate what your customers may need to know and questions they may have. Put the answers on your FAQ page for their assistance. Potential and current customers appreciate the help and will consider this part of your top-notch customer service!
It is also important to have an “About Us” page on your online business. It is a great platform to give your customers a “warm welcome”! You can share information about your business and why they should shop with you. By having this additional information it can help build a trust that many online customers are searching for when they shop at an ecommerce business.
Tip #4: Use social media to Reach Customers
Social media, social media, social media – we can not say it enough! There is no debating the fact that many people get their consumer information through social media, so you need to really “up your game” on social media this time of year. People get recommendations, see advertisements, click on e-commerce sites and find out about great deals through social media these days. We’re talking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Make a conscious effort to increase your presence by spending money, time and energy. It can impact your sales in a big way!
Tip #5: Have Enticing Shipping Terms, Return Policy and Discounts
People want to have convenience at their fingertips when they shop online. By offering consumers incentives like free shipping and discounts, you are giving them something upfront that entices them to shop with you. This is very important in gaining sales. However, you don’t want to give all of your profits away either. Spend time studying your numbers in order to calculate the discounts you can afford. Shipping costs can be tricky so really focus on how you can offer this to customers and still be profitable.
A liberal return policy goes a long way for people to feel more comfortable in spending their money online with you. For a drop-ship business, more than likely you aren’t the one receiving the returned items. Be sure you have this covered with your vendors so that returning merchandise is handled smoothly.
Tip #6: Have a Festive Feel To Your Website
Your online business needs to look like you are in the holiday swing of things so put some time into giving your homepage a festive look. Having the holiday “look” on your site helps get consumers into the mood and stimulates them to buy. Many people shop early but don’t buy until closer to the day; that’s okay. Just have the site show that you have a focus on the holidays.
One thing not to do is change your site in a big way at the holidays. Don’t reorganize the site’s categories or navigation at this time because it may confuse the shopper. Just spruce it up with holiday cheer!
We hope these 6 tips have given you some ways to prepare for the 2017 holiday season. Start working on these things now. Focus on planning and then executing. We are confident that, by working diligently now, you will have a great season of sales in the coming months!