There is a saying I’ve heard since moving to Kansas: “You make hay when the sun shines.” Well, for virtually all retailers in the U.S., the sun shines during the holiday selling season, which starts on Black Friday. This gives online retailers about three weeks to sell as much as possible.
In this article I will suggest five tips to gain more than your fair share.
- Review your website. Use multiple browsers and multiple devices. Your goal is to identify areas where the website is failing to provide shoppers with the next logical step. Also, look for any promotional and cross-sell opportunities. Your website should reflect the season. Put customers in a shopping mood. For example, we have created a variation on our logo for the holiday and we display holiday theme imagery throughout our website. This should help with conversions. Note that in this step I’m not suggesting major website improvements, just smaller tweaks.
- Review your cost-per-click advertising campaigns; look for social marketing opportunities. The competition for the best keywords is going to intensify, but your close ratio will likely be the best it’s been all year. You can therefore pay more for traffic. Make sure shoppers can find your site during the season. Bid higher and extend your budget, especially on your best producing keywords. We found that increasing our budget strategically allows shoppers to always find us. On the social media front, create events and promotions targeted around your biggest shopping days. Also, use social platforms to reveal or showcase new and unique products.
- Analyze sales during the year. Which products have been your best sellers? Can you identify a trend of bestselling items? Maybe it’s colors? Maybe it’s price points? The point is to have the same profile of items front and center so that your shoppers can easily find them and buy them. In our case, we’ve noticed that our perennial best selling artwork, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, has a tendency to double in sales during this period. Also, some religious-themed paintings do very well. Finally, certain color combinations tend to dominate during this season.
- Use email creatively. We all send email promotions to our customer base throughout the year. During this time of year merchants typically increase email frequency, which creates a much higher email volume to consumers. To combat this, offer short sales of only a few days. Determine the actual frequency based on what your customers are used to and the unsubscribe rate you experience for every email. We discovered that we experience the best success when tying our promotions to certain events or stories. Using the same exact offer, themed promotions create an average of 68 percent more sales.
- Consider your best customers. Create unique promotions and communication opportunities for the top 5 to 20 percent of your customers. Create a special service for them or even a limited edition item that only they can buy. Make them feel special. Last year we chose to offer a “concierge” service for our top 20 percent of customers. We called this “Project Top 20.” The response was incredible, which is not surprising as these were our best customers.
This is a list of five steps that you can take immediately to help ensure success during this most crucial of all seasons.
If you feel there is something I missed, please comment. If you have questions, please ask.