Holiday shoppers are starting earlier than ever this year, so I’ve put together some information and strategies for getting ready for and maximizing the holiday shopping season on your website, email, search, social media, retargeting, and more. I referenced some tools and SaaS products, which I have contacts at these companies and can set-up a demo if you want to see it. I’m a huge fan of cloud-based ecommerce functionality, so let me know if you want to discuss anything referenced in this document. To start off, the following graphic show you when people will be starting their holiday shopping:
The Important Holiday Dates to Focus Promotions Around:
November Shopping Dates 2013
11 November – Veterans Day (US)
27 November – Hanukkah
28 November – Thanksgiving (US)
29 November – Black Friday (US)
December Shopping Dates 2013
2 December – Cyber Monday
24 December – Christmas Eve
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Boxing Day (Canada, UK)
31 December – New Year’s Eve
Website and Search Related Holiday Strategies and Tune-up Ideas:
Holiday themed main graphic – on the home page. Special promotions. Killer sales. Free Shipping is the #1 promotion that motivates consumers.
Holiday themed company logo. Adding a little graphical flair to your logo for the holidays, like garland, snow, and/or pieces of a wreath.
Launch “Pre-Holiday Deals” page on the website that can be linked to with a graphic on the homepage, header or side column. And promoted via email and social networks.
Create a page on your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals that can be linked to via email, Facebook, and the home page main graphic. Create blog posts for “Top 10” lists for multiple product categories, such as “Top 10 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals on Gadgets.” My agency’s writers can do these types of blog posts inexpensively. By dropping the retargeting cookie on your article pages, it can add to your remarketing reach during the holidays.
Holiday themed header/footer– Adding some ornaments, garland, or other holiday items can add a nice season touch and make visitors know you’re timely. The header and footer are good places to advertise promotions as well.
Free Shipping Offer – consumers love free shipping, it’s the #1 promotion in ecommerce. Push it in emails, website graphics, social network pages, live chat, and the phone sales center.
Retargeting Banners and Facebook Ads – make sure your retargeting banner ads and Facebook retargeting ads are using a holiday theme with a holiday discount promotion designed into them to be more effective. If you need a good retargeting company let me know. We are retargeting on Facebook now with Adroll, and doing slide-out on-site offers with SteelHouse. SteelHouse has their own ad server for retargeting so banner ads with higher click through can be achieved with SteelHouse retargeting. It’s for bigger budgets but has some killer functionality.
Product Catalog – Make sure your product feed is all updated so it can be syndicated to the shopping engines and tracking the conversions. We are using GoDatafeed.com to track conversions from shopping engines and making sure the feed is formatted properly. Less than $100/month to use their service. Adds it to a few or several shopping engines.
Server Load – Make sure your website server can handle the influx of traffic very well and is loading as quickly as possible at all times. NO EXCUSES POLICY needs to be in effect. Nothing kills conversions like a slow loading website. Check into “load balancing” and server error reporting, to keep an eye on it. Use website monitoring alerts so you know when your site goes down.
Abandoned Shopping Cart Follow-ups – Use abandoned shopping cart follow-up emails to convert more visitors. We have a couple of providers for that. It’s a must in high-volume traffic time frames. See SaleCycle.com or Listrak.com.
SEO – Blog Posts – post about holiday deals, ex. 10 Top Holiday Gifts for Kids for 2013 (insert product category). I have a team of writers for blog posts, we do articles at $29/each for a 400 word optimized post. We also do online press releases through PRWeb.com.
SEM – Paid Search – making sure your paid search ads are updated with holiday offers this time of year, especially for your branded terms. Expanding keyword lists into holiday gift related product and niche search phrases.
Affiliate Marketing – Holiday banners, text links, and offers/promotions.
Mobile Website – make sure you have a good mobile version of your website live, I recommend mShopper or dudamobile.com. But there are other plug and play ones if you don’t have a custom build mobile app. You absolutely need a mobile version of your site this time of year with more people shopping on their phones. I have contacts at these companies let me know.
Pro-Active Live Chat – I LOVE this tool!! Pops up from the footer on all visitors with a Holiday themed box stating, Welcome, can we help you with anything? We are now providing Live Chat support as an agency service to boost conversion rates. It’s an info first, promotion second chat management strategy that adds the human element to your web traffic, tracked with coupon codes. Proven strategy to increase conversion rates. You can handle the chats internally or we can with some logistical training and review. We use Olark.com at $15 per agency, and then as a monthly fee or % of sales.
Email Database Holiday Strategy:
Email Creative – Launch a series of killer holiday themed email offers for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then leading up to Christmas, and then Post-Holiday. My designer can whip these up in a day or 2 if you need HTML emails turned around quickly.
Test Subject Lines – Refine subject lines, include first name in the subject line whenever possible.
Responsive Design HTML Emails – these are mobile friendly emails and a must this holiday season. We are able to design and code responsive emails, let me know.
Email Platform – I am recommending SaaS product called Listtrak for email database platform management and ROI tracking for email campaigns. I LOVE their email pop-up on site traffic to capture email and then send drip follow-up emails and measure the return. It’s amazing and really affordable. Let me know and I will introduce you to them if you want a plug and play solution for email marketing platform. I know how to work with any platform and I have an excellent editor that works for me, so if you need newsletters or emails created and deployed let me know.
Frequency – I recommend daily deal emails and weekly seasonal emails into the holiday season, so you have to plan and design numerous promotional emails to send out in succession. I have good email design resources so let me know if you need assistance there. I’m on all the major ecommerce retailers’ are cutting-edge ecommerce site’s lists, so I see everything they are sending out.
Don’t be shy – Email is the #1 revenue generator for ecommerce, so make sure not to under-do it.
Social Media Holiday Strategy:
Holiday-themed Sweepstakes or Photo Contest – NEW iPad Sweepstakes! As you may know, my agency launches and manages social media strategy for some our select clients. We do quite a lot of sweepstakes and contests to pump up fans, followers, email opt-ins, and web traffic. You could do an amazing Holiday Season Sweepstakes or Holiday Photo Contest to increase fans, email opt-ins, and viral sharing. It’s also a great strategy for converting your email databases into fans on Facebook so you can engage with them there. Typical budget would range between $500-2500 for a contest, depending on how big and exciting you wanted to go with the sweepstakes. We use a sweepstakes tool called woobox.com which is $29/month and handles all of the functionality. All you have to do is fund the prize budget and we can handle all the design elements for you. These can be promoted on your website, on your fan page with Promoted Posts, and to your email databases. Not to mention when the winners get their prize we ask them to share a picture on the fan page holding their prize which is promoted on Facebook. Press releases can also be done for the sweepstakes. Here is an example sweepstakes.
Holiday-themed Fan Page Cover images – to be added in advance of all the main Holiday promotions.
Holiday-themed Fan Page profile thumbnail
Facebook Fan Advertising – consider allocating budget to advertise for more fans on Facebook before and into the holidays so you can market deals to more people with “Boosted Posts”. Then using Facebook Offers and Facebook Promoted Posts to monetize your fans and track the ROI of your fan advertising. We can handle this process for you.
Twitter Ads – We can manage direct to site traffic and follower acquisition. Really interesting case study: https://business.twitter.com/success-stories/rockcreek?utm_campaign=EM_US_NW_SMB_October&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua
Instagram – You MUST be on Instagram with a company page and posting pictures and links to it, with hashtags to gain followers.
Conversion rate “boosting” strategies that can be looked at to generate more sales from your impending website traffic:
Customer Referral Program – we use CureBit.com
Pop-up Live Chat – Olark.com
Pop-up email capture in exchange for a coupon on organic traffic – Listrak.com
Shopping Cart Abandonment Email Follow-ups – Listrak, Salecycle
Retargeting on the Web and Facebook – Adroll, SteelHouse
Trust Logos – Norton’s Trust Seal
Internal email sending – i.e. frequency, design, subject lines, promotions.
Running sweepstakes that can be advertised on the website to collect more visitor data, so they can be remarketed to via email and Facebook. See: WooBox.com
Time is of the essence, let me know when you might want to discuss these suggestions on a call or feel free to share internally and those staff members contact me with any questions.
Evan Weber, CEO
Experience Advertising, Inc.