By Neil Patel
This is a great marketing opportunity for your ecommerce business.
You have a small operating window to effectively execute your plan.
These are some of the most common days to mark on your calendar during the holiday season:
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- New Year’s Eve
- New Year’s Day
These all happen within a month or so of each other.
Sure, there are other holidays spread throughout the year.
You can still run promotions for holidays like April Fool’s Day, Mother’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
But the holidays at the end of the year can be extremely profitable for you if you’re building enough hype for your ecommerce site.
Ecommerce is on the rise, and it goes up 12% during the holiday season.
Online shopping is convenient for consumers.
They don’t have to sit in traffic or wait in lines.
Shoppers can buy from their homes, offices, or mobile devices whenever they have free time.
Sure, not everyone loves shopping on ecommerce platforms.
In fact, 49% of shoppers say not being able to touch, try, or feel a product is their biggest problem with shopping online.
Regardless, ecommerce is still trending upward.
This is especially true for the holidays.
The average adult in the United States plans to spend $419 on their holiday gift purchases.
Take advantage of this.
Building up hype for your ecommerce site can get you a piece of that number.
I’ll show you how to get exposure for your website during the holiday season.
This will increase your traffic, conversions, sales, and revenue.
Start planning early
Don’t wait until the last minute to execute your holiday promotional strategies.
Waiting until December to start marketing for Christmas is way too late.
Let’s take a look at some numbers.
Consumers are shopping less during the pre-holiday dates.
Look at the trends over the last three years.
Just because your customers are waiting to buy does not mean you should be waiting to promote.
Look, I’m not saying to launch your campaign in July or August, but you can certainly start planning ahead.
If you wait, you could potentially lose the edge to your competitors.
Start preparing for factors outside of your marketing strategy as well.
Make sure you have enough inventory.
You’ll also need enough staff on the schedule who are familiar with your procedures to fill and process incoming orders.
Touch base with your web hosting service.
Find out if your website has enough speed and bandwidth to accommodate a potential surge in visitors.
Slow loading times or a site crash could be detrimental to your company, so get all of this sorted out ahead of time.
Planning ahead for unforeseen circumstances will save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.
Offer shipping benefits
Give the customer a reason to buy from you over the competition.
Shipping could be the deciding factor resulting in the sale.
In fact, 9 out of 10 consumers list free shipping as their top incentive for shopping online.
Free shipping isn’t the only motivation you should offer.
If possible, offer priority shipping or even overnight shipping options. Don’t exclude those last-minute shoppers.
If it’s the week before the holidays and people still need to buy gifts, they won’t use a company that takes two weeks to deliver an order.
That shouldn’t be your business. Let your competition make that mistake.
Sure, for overnight shipping or expedited packages, it may not be practical to offer free shipping.
Just make sure your customer has the option to choose when their package will arrive at the most affordable rate.
Be upfront about your shipping prices.
Consider that 61% of consumers said that unexpected costs like shipping, taxes, and fees were the reason for not finalizing their checkout process.
You definitely want to minimize shopping cart abandonment.
Offer free shipping whenever possible, and be transparent about extra costs before the customer reaches your checkout page.
Don’t alienate last-minute shoppers with long delivery dates.
Retargeting must be a top priority
Target your existing customers during the holiday season.
Sure, it’s always great to get new business.
But think about your marketing budget.
It can cost you up to 7 times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing customer.
The holiday season isn’t the time to experiment with a new customer acquisition strategy.
Focus on the people already familiar with your brand and products.
If you don’t market to your current customers, they may turn to your competitors instead.
Look at the data above.
During the holiday season, consumers are open to shopping on websites they haven’t visited before.
You can look at this in two ways:
I would strongly recommend focusing on that second point.
We just talked about the cost of acquiring a new customer compared to keeping an existing one.
If you get new customers, that’s great.
But don’t make that your primary strategy for building holiday hype.
I would be much more concerned with losing one of your customers.
Launch your most successful retargeting strategies for your next holiday campaign.
Create a sense of urgency
Give your customers a reason to make the purchase now.
If they are just browsing, entice them to buy immediately instead of later.
Amazon uses this strategy on their platform all year round.
Look at this example.
Do you see how they created urgency here?
Only 1 item left in stock.
The customer may panic.
Even if they were just browsing, now they have a reason to buy it right away.
The customer knows their loved one really wants this item as a gift, so they don’t want to risk it being sold out before the holidays.
Implement this strategy on your ecommerce site.
- Limited quantity remaining
- Only 2 hours left before sale price expires
- Free shipping if you order before midnight
These are some phrases you can use to encourage buying.
You should do this all year, but it’s especially effective during the holidays.
People want to buy the perfect gift for their friends and family members.
Entice them to purchase those gifts from your website.
Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices
I often speak about the importance of mobile optimization.
The holiday season is no different.
It’s essential for your customers to be able to make purchases on their phones and tablets easily.
Look at the mobile ecommerce trends from last year’s holiday season:
Earlier we established that people wait until the Thanksgiving weekend to do the majority of their holiday shopping.
The above graph shows purchasing statistics over 3 important days for online retailers:
- Thanksgiving Day
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
These dates are within five calendar days of each other.
On each of these days, over half of the ecommerce traffic came from mobile devices.
Purchases from mobile users were 40%, 36%, and 35%, respectively.
Those numbers cannot be ignored.
If your platform isn’t mobile optimized, there’s no chance you’ll get a significant number of sales.
Your page has to load fast too.
Mobile users will leave a site 57% of the time if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.
Earlier we discussed the importance of planning ahead for the holiday season hype.
Mobile optimization and mobile load times should be at the top of your list.
Run a same day promotional event.
Flash sales work great.
This relates back to the concept of urgency.
Here’s a great example from the J. Crew Factory Store.
Take a look at the two points I highlighted here:
- ends tonight
- online only
These are both great ways to create hype.
Sure, this isn’t an advertisement focused on the holidays.
But you can use those terms during seasonal promotional campaigns as well.
Here’s another thing you want to consider when running a flash sale.
Timing is everything.
If you’re going to run a same day sale or a promotion lasting for a few hours, you need to plan it perfectly.
Find out what time of day your customers are shopping.
The data above shows consumer shopping habits from Cyber Monday last year.
For the most part, activity was much lower during the normal working hours of the day.
What does this tell you?
Starting a sale at 10 AM and ending it at noon probably isn’t your best bet.
However, starting your sale in the evening and running it through 8 AM the following day would be much more effective.
When planned and executed properly, flash sales are a great way to build hype during the holiday season.
Focus on your pricing strategy
Consumers are always price sensitive.
The holidays may not be a bad time to focus on your prices.
Compare your pricing to that of the competition.
Where do you fit?
One of the perks of online shopping for consumers is that they can compare prices between different sites in just seconds.
Chances are, they will buy the least expensive product.
Take a look at these researching habits:
Consumers even visit websites before making a purchase in a brick and mortar store.
Understand the psychology behind pricing.
People love feeling like they got a good deal.
Make sure your products offer them value.
What makes your company different?
If your product is the same as those of every other brand on the market, why should the customer pay double for yours?
The holidays are also a great time to offer discounts and deals.
We already talked about how important it is to offer free shipping.
Discount the products as well.
Mark the initial price higher if necessary, and then slash the prices with flash sales and other promotions.
Know your audience
Whom are you targeting with your holiday campaign strategy?
If the answer is anyone and everyone with access to the Internet, it’s a mistake.
Narrow your focus, and choose your target audience.
Does your business have a Facebook page?
If it doesn’t, you need one. But I won’t get into the importance of that right now.
For the time being, I’ll assume you have a presence on Facebook.
It’s a great way to find out the demographics of your target audience.
Go to the “Insights” tab on your Facebook page.
This will show you valuable information about everyone who liked your page.
You’ll learn their:
Take this data, and create campaigns for your followers.
Based on this information, you can potentially figure out which holidays your followers celebrate.
Use multiple distribution channels
How are you planning to advertise during the holidays?
Your answer should be both, plus every other distribution channel you can find.
Make sure your brand has an active presence on different social media platforms.
Facebook is effective.
But that shouldn’t be your only resource.
Use Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to connect with your customers.
Billions of consumers are active on various platforms each month.
If you’re running a promotion such as a flash sale, which we talked about earlier, advertise it on all of your active distribution channels.
This is the best way to ensure it reaches the largest number of people.
It may sound obvious, but too many ecommerce stores look over this concept.
They may advertise a promotion on Instagram but not on Twitter.
This doesn’t make any sense.
It will only take an extra minute or two out of your day to get this campaign up on all of your platforms.
Don’t slack during the holiday season.
Use all your resources to promote your products and brand.
The holiday season is a great opportunity for ecommerce stores to generate high profits.
It’s a time when people are looking to spend money over a short period of time.
The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the peak time when consumers shop for the holidays.
Run most promotions between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
Those few days are a popular time for online shopping.
Make sure you’ve got plenty of staff and inventory ready for a potential surge in online orders.
Online shopping is growing in popularity, especially on mobile devices.
Your ecommerce store needs to be optimized for mobile users.
Create a sense of urgency with each campaign.
Run flash sales, and target your existing customers.
It’s cheaper to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one.
When you’re running a flash sale, pay special attention to the timing of your promotion.
Know your audience. Research the demographics of your customers, and market to those people accordingly.
Customers are sensitive to pricing, so make sure you focus on your pricing strategy.
Offer incentives like free shipping.
Don’t forget about last-minute shoppers.
You also need to advertise next day shipping whenever possible.
Promote your brand on all your distribution channels.
Following these techniques is a recipe for success if you want to build hype for your ecommerce site during the holidays.
How will you promote your ecommerce store during the holiday season to increase sales?