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Prepping for a Successful E-commerce Holiday Season

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All the things we typically associate with fall – hello, pumpkin flavored everything – have started making their appearance, which can only mean a new season is on the horizon. With fall officially starting later this month, another season is quickly approaching as well – holiday shopping season.

We’ve grown accustomed to think of the major shopping days at the end of the year just as much as we do the holidays we look forward to. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are the biggest money makers for retail businesses throughout the year, partially due to the anticipation of the sales that people can take advantage of while checking everyone off their shopping list.

Typically, that shopping happened by people lining up before the sun came up on Friday morning (or Thursday night for those that were really dedicated) and fighting through flocks of people to get everything they were looking for. But now, society is more comfortable with shopping online. Because of this, more stores are moving their sales that were traditionally only available in-store or for a short window on their website to being fully available online.

Having a strong online presence for your business during the holiday season is key to seeing the revenue growth you want. Case in point – in 2019, Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. historyand record e-commerce shopping growth continued in 2020, both in single-day spending and total spending over the course of the holiday season. Projections are the same for 2021, with more people enjoying the ease of shopping from their laptop or phone rather than fighting large crowds in store.

With the promotion of sales starting earlier each year, time is running out to make sure your business is prepared for what will undoubtedly be another busy shopping season. Here are our top tips to make sure you’re ready:

  1. Elevate your marketing efforts
  2. Get your site in shape
  3. Have a solid customer service plan
Elevate Your Marketing Efforts

Before people can decide to buy your products, they have to know you exist. And during the holiday season, they’re more likely to come across a new brand by seeing something pop up on their social media that matches what they’re looking for or it comes up at the top of their Google search for a specific gift idea. This is where online marketing and ads come in.

If you aren’t already optimizing everything on your site for keywords that will put you at the top of search engine rankings, now is the time to start. Put together an SEO strategy that matches your ideal buyer persona and focus on those words and phrases. Share customer reviews and make your site feel real so it’s more likely to organically filter to the first page of people’s searches.

Then start a pay-per-click campaign. PPC advertising allows you to narrow your audience even further, making it more likely that you see a better return on investment. Plus, it gives you access to metrics that show you what ads are working, what areas are thriving and what could use some improvement since you can easily track link clinks, leads and other valuable information about potential customers.

Another key piece of your holiday marketing strategy should be social media ads. It’s almost guaranteed that your customers (and potential customers) are on some social media platform, and that they check it at least once a day. These ads will help you catch their attention where they already are while filtering down your audience to match whoever they are – gender, age, location, interests and more. And this can be relatively cheap which is great for anyone trying to cut down on operational costs.

If your focus is bringing previous customers back for the holidays, email marketing is a great tool. Make sure you’re capturing people’s emails when they’re on your site and targeting them with messages and deals that match their buying patterns or the products they look at most. This will help you draw in people that already know you but might have forgotten all you can offer them.

Get Your Site in Shape

Like we said before, more people are turning online for their shopping needs, especially during the holidays. During that peak shopping period – Black Friday through Cyber Monday – sites and servers will be flooded with traffic and potential sales. The last thing you want is for customers to go shop somewhere else because your site crashes, takes too long to load or is unresponsive. Because let’s face it, most people are too impatient to stick around while you figure out what’s going on. To help avoid these issues during peak traffic, here are some things to work on or double check in the next few months:

  • Site security – If you don’t already have it, get an SSL for extra security. Also ensure that whatever platform you use to capture payment info is safe and trustworthy.
  • Site speed – If there’s anything keeping your site from being lightning fast, optimize it for maximum performance.
  • Internal links – Make sure anything someone could click on while on your site goes where it’s supposed to and loads properly.
  • Support team – Know who to contact if issues do pop up with your site (and how to reach them quickly). Establish this relationship with your support team early so they’re familiar with your site before they need to be.
Have a Solid Customer Service Plan

It’s no surprise that people are wanting to take advantage of all the holiday deals and try to get as much shopping done as possible during that five-day window of big sales. This rush to find the right gifts can easily lead to mistakes when ordering – the wrong size, incorrect shipping address, mistyped personalization, just about anything you can think of. And ultimately the world of e-commerce thrives on keeping customers happy.

If something like this happens, you’ll save yourself (and your customers) a lot of stress if you have good customer service plans already in place. Lay out on your site what your shipping process and timeline is for anything bought during the holiday season, what your return policy is (including what can be returned and what they get back), and the best way to get in contact if they have questions about anything (having a contact form where they give you all the necessary info before the conversation even starts will speed this up). This way there are no confusions on their end, and you aren’t having to figure things out on the fly while you’re swamped with orders.

How We Can Help

Even if you’re a marketing and web management/maintenance guru, ramping up all these things for your e-commerce site can be a lot, especially with a short amount of time to do it. That’s where we come in.

Our marketing team can help you craft the right copy and media (graphics, photos, videos, etc.) that will take your ads to the next level, so you see increased engagement and interactions now and through the holiday season. Our development team will get into the back end of your site and do everything necessary to make it fast, reliable and secure and put you in the best spot to avoid any issues. But just in case anything goes wrong while your site is flooded with traffic, we’ll also be ready to tackle any issues and get them fixed ASAP.

We know how important the holiday shopping season is for businesses big and small alike and that you want to work with someone you trust and know will care as much as you do. We can be your one stop shop to get ready for the busiest season of the year, and we promise we’ll do everything we can to make it a success. Read more about all our services on our site, then give us a call. We’ll talk through all your needs and put together a custom plan that best serves you. We look forward to working together soon!

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