Practical Ecommerce

Procrastinator’s Guide to 2014 Holiday Ecommerce Sales

Procrastinating ecommerce business owners and marketers who, for any number of reasons, are far from ready for the coming holiday shopping season still have some hope of boosting Christmas-related sales and profits. But it is going to cost them.

There is a supposed procrastinator’s motto that asks, “Why put off today what you can put off tomorrow?” Unfortunately running an ecommerce business this way can hurt the bottom line. So whatever the reason, if a company has waited until now to get ready for what may be the most important part of the year for sales, there are still some things that can be done.

Buy Lots of PPC Ads

Pay-per-click advertising is a popular online advertising model, wherein advertisers — procrastinating online stores in this case — only pay when a potential customer clicks on a promotion. Google AdWords is the best known and most used PPC network.

PPC advertising can be part of a healthy and ongoing marketing campaign. But when time is short, goals are vague, and testing and refining are a luxury you don’t have, PPC can still be a way to drive a whole lot of traffic.

Here are some PPC tips for last-minute marketers.

  • Bid on gift-related keywords like “Gifts for Dad” or “Gifts for Kids.”
  • Target mobile devices (assuming you have a responsive website).
  • Hire a professional copywriter to help with ad creation.

Be careful about getting into ego-driven bidding wars over particular keywords. PPC can help rescue the holiday shopping season, but it can also be incredibly expensive.

Advertise on Pandora

Pandora is a popular Internet music service with an estimated 250 million registered users worldwide and roughly 175 million registered users in the United States. In any given month, about 75 million folks are active listeners.

Pandora has a number of advertising opportunities that can help procrastinating ecommerce businesses save Christmas sales.

Pandora has a number of advertising opportunities that can help procrastinating ecommerce businesses save Christmas sales.

Pandora offers a number of advertising opportunities, including audio commercials, display advertising, and even video advertising.

Expect to invest at least $5,000. But also expect to get good results in spite of waiting until the last minute.

Advertise on YouTube

Video advertising is powerful stuff. If a retailer has the means to hire a local professional to shoot a short holiday commercial, YouTube can be a good way to save the Christmas season that should have been prepared for months ago.

Video commercials running on YouTube can help earn holiday sales.

Video commercials running on YouTube can help earn holiday sales.

Christmas commercials can run before videos, next to video, or in search results. Advertisers only pay when potential customers watch, and it is relatively easy to target viewers.

Expect to invest about $5,000 for video production and ad placement. The video production might have been less expensive if you had planned ahead.

Run a Sweepstakes on Facebook to Get Email Addresses

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools an ecommerce business has available. Unfortunately, it can take a long time to build a good email list, and if you’ve procrastinated until now, you’re going to have to build in email list in days not years.

Here is the plan.

First, sign up for a service like Woobox and create a Facebook-powered sweepstakes. Make the prize worth winning — think $250 American Express gift card or the like. Require folks to register for email marketing messages when they enter.

Next, advertise your sweepstakes. Buy ads on Facebook, PPC ads on Google, Bing, and other networks, even consider using Pandora and YouTube to promote the contest.

With each new entry, you get an email address.

Once you have a nice, shiny, new email list, commence a standard holiday email marketing campaign. This is much better than “renting” an email list, which is never a good idea.

Sell on Amazon, Sears, Newegg, and Similar

Amazon, Sears, Newegg and similar online marketplaces are already ramping up holiday promotions. This is good news for ecommerce businesses that have been procrastinating.

Here the strategy is simple: Take top products and list them on the top marketplaces. Businesses that are new to these marketplaces will have to compete on price, but that may still be better than missing out on holiday sales.

Buy Newspaper Ads

If an ecommerce business is too late to reach tech-savvy shoppers who shop online, there is still the opportunity to market to the ever dwindling number of newspaper readers.

With good reason, print advertising, especially in small newspapers, is pretty cheap (think $50 for a quarter-page ad in small town weeklies). If an ecommerce business can make a compelling offer, this sort of ad can work.

Pay for Express Shipping

The final consideration for the procrastinating ecommerce business may be inventory. A well-run ecommerce operation would have placed holiday orders in July, August, and September, depending on the industry segment, to ensure that there were plenty of good products to sell.

Unfortunately, if a business has waited too long to order or reorder for the holidays, there will be a price to pay. These late merchants will need to pay for express shipping and, perhaps, priority order handling, to receive inventory quickly.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Apptive November 18, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Armando. These are great tips. We would add that you still have time to get a mobile commerce app up and running, even before Black Friday, to take advantage of engaging customers directly on their devices. Considering that 33 percent of shoppers this holiday season will be mobile shoppers, it’s worth looking into. Thanks again!