It is right here.The festive season is standing right at your door, just about to knock.
Have you prepared to welcome it with all the pomp and show you planned for? Is your e-Store all decked up and stacked for the record breaking footfall you have aimed at?
If you are still under the conception that all the designs and strategies that worked last year, will be a hit this time as well; then you are betting on the wrong horse this time. You will not be eating the same cakes and sweets you had last year, neither will you be trying the same clothes in a different shade; then why present the same to your customers?
Even if ramping up your website just don’t decorate it like you do to a shop or home. The best part about owning an eCommerce business is, when you give it a makeover you have the liberty to transform it into something absolutely new and stunning.
And if you think you have done all that needs to be done; then let’s just carry out a quick check.
1. Do Your Homework Intime
A stitch in time saves nine, this old saying applies appropriately when it comes to organizing the Holiday Sale on your eCommerce website. Now, since we have year-round sales going on these days and almost all our sales-boosting strategies are somewhat used-up; it becomes all the more crucial to adopt and implement some really innovative approaches for the festive season profile-raising.
However, the more important part of the story is the preparations that you are supposed to carry out before you begin the celebratory sale. Here’s what to do:
a. Prepare for Enough Backend Support to Handle Holiday Shoppers’ Traffic
Do not fail your customers just when they have made up their mind and are about to click the ‘BUY’ button finally. Most websites do not pay much heed to the architecture of their e-Store and repent later. Just working on beautifying the front-end with attractive offers will not do the trick if the page takes more than a minute to load.
Make sure that your website runs quickly and allows the prospect to scroll to different pages at the blink of their eyes. Take the BlazeMeter test, trusted by big brands and you will know your capability of handling bottleneck traffic.
Furthermore, you will also need the support of technically smart experts, hence start hiring when you have time at hand; because last minute hassles might only give you personnel not professionals.
Image courtesy: Magentocommerce.com
b. Monitor Your Website’s Analytics to Scan the Traffic Flow
Even if you do it regularly now is the time to monitor, observe and draw out inferences from your Google Analytics reports. In order to get a clear picture on the effectiveness of your web design as well as content, carrying out a thorough surveillance on your analytics is must. Using tools like Tag Manager, Data Driven Attribution and Remarketing will help you understand the strategies behind converting a visitor to purchaser.
Work on your PPC methodologies right now to avoid being baffled when your tactics do not yield results. The best strategy is to categorize keywords into high CTR (Click-Through-Rate) and conversion rate; high CTR but low conversion rate; and low CTR but high conversion rate. This will ease your decision making as to which keywords you should go for.
c. Select and Implement Traffic Stirring Keywords
Applying the SEO strategies require time and the results are not visible instantly; hence it is advisable that you work on your SEO ideas much ahead of the beginning of the festive season. Using your Meta tags, Meta descriptions and even image ALT tags appropriately will be of aid. To be more precise you need to ensure that your selection of keywords is effective.
Apart from traffic generating keywords you also need to focus on holiday shopping related keywords which are rich in call to action. Set newer goals because what surged up sales last year will be ignored this time.
Include these keywords in your holiday promotional blogs too, and don’t forget to add suitable and worthy links, re-directing to your website.
[Tweet “Internet users have turned smart enough to use hashtags; it’s time to outsmart them to lure them”]
d. Test the Production Environment
Test your website based on the most combative usage it might face. Always exceed your estimated traffic, this keeps you on the safe side. It is important to test the limit of your website in advance so that you have an idea of the crowd that you will be handling on your bestselling day. And test it aggressively enough to bring the site down during the testing phase; but do it when it’s sleeping time for your customers.
2. Attract Traffic by Promoting More Holiday Specific Offers
The more targeted your approach, the better your impact will be on the customers. You need to be very selective in deciding the methodology you want to take-up this holiday season, for boosting the sale at your eCommerce store. It has been seen and most of you know that not all schemes are meant for everyone and some of these backfire quite loudly. Let’s keep a very calculative attitude so that you don’t end up overdoing or underplaying your promotion schemes.
a. Communicative and Complete Landing Page
Start with your landing page! It is here that you can exhibit your luring offers so that interested buyers know exactly which page they need to visit. Another interesting method is to give ideas to the buyers through the banners. For instance if a brother is confused about what to send as a present to his teenage sisters, and voila! There flashes the idea of a nice handbag or funky footwear He is impressed because you solved a problem for him and in return you have a happy buyer who might end up picking something for his girlfriend too.
Display advertising is the best approach because images are always more enticing than plain content. Moreover, if there’s a classy image displaying, ‘Get 50% off on these designer footwear’ you are more likely to visit that web page than a simple ad shouting out Sale! Sale!! Sale!!!
b. Prepare Customized Mailers for Your Subscribers
Keep your memory fresh in their mind. Make them feel that you are reaching out to them exclusively so that they can take advantage of the discounts available. Your emails should not look or even sound like an annoying publicity material. It should be attractive, interesting, informative and more importantly specific for the buyer.
You can use the cookies collected from the previous purchases and use it to send similar options. Many also suggest using a gender specific approach to give it a more personalized appeal. However, if looked at from a broader perspective I might not want to buy a laptop bag if I recently bought one; or I might not want to buy a pair of women’s trousers if I recently gifted one to my fiancé.
Image Courtesy: Magentocommerce.com
c. Promote and Advertise on Social Media
Paid Ads are turning into a beneficial option for both buyers as well as start-ups and SMEs; needless to say that the prominent sellers are already reaping profits. Social media is the best source for escalating sales and reaching out to a larger crowd, that too with localized appeal. However, using your social media intelligently is a crucial affair.
For instance, with a simple Facebook Page you can promote the ongoing or upcoming sales of your website, or do the same in the form of Tweets. Yet you will not be able to gather the same amount of visibility as in paid ads. Social media platforms like Facebook are regularly introducing new updates to help advertisers track back users.
And when you are paying for these ads then it is logical to stay to the point and yet glamorous, to be able to drive convertible visitors to your website. Just stay conscious when carrying out social media promotions, so that you do not overdo it and end up as an unintentional spammer.
d. Optimize for Mobile Devices and Platforms
Go mobile or you will be easily erased from the minds of your customers! I know most of you are already aware of the importance of a responsive website or mobile application for your business; yet it is equally important that you make your present client as well as prospects use the app as well as mobile websites to help you get your ROI.
Reach out to your customers by sending them special offers which can be availed if they use their mobile app. Or instigate them with notifications of ‘Happy Hours’ sale on their apps. I am always more excited about the notification I receive from the various eStore apps because they make me feel more connected and have a personalized appeal.
3. Avoid These Pitfalls
In the enthusiasm of organizing a mind-blowing holiday sale, do not blow up the opportunity by committing these silly but highly penalizing mistakes. The below-mentioned issues might seem really common to you and indeed they are; this being one the reasons why they are overlooked in most cases.
a. Too Much Pogo Sticking
Every shopper has a habit of comparing and they just cannot help it; whether it is in a tangible store where they are able to touch and feel the product or in an eCommerce store, where they are relying on product descriptions and images. Now imagine how confusing and irritating it will be for a customer to pull out a product again and again from a rack, in order to compare it with his other choice. This happens exactly in Pogo Sticking!
As Jared Spool aptly described it in one of his presentations, “The big brother of the back button is pogo sticking. Pogo sticking is what happens when the user jumps up and down in the hierarchy of the site like you’re on a pogo stick. Pogo sticking is this up and down movement.”
Rather if you provide the option of Recently Viewed Products; functions of Next and Previous buttons in your galleries it will save the hassles and give the buyer a better chance to compare products.
b. Missing out the Call to Action Keywords
I have mentioned it earlier and would like to restate again that you must ensure the inclusion of call to action keywords in your content, especially with the holiday sale appeal in it. There are few other factors one needs to be careful about:
1. First your call to action buttons must be noticeable to the user
2. Secondly your blog posts, press releases, emails, re-marketing efforts and even landing page should clearly include these
c. Duplicate and/or less Informative Content
Make sure you get rid of these as soon as possible. Duplicate content whether as product descriptions or in your blogs will cost you heavily. You might fall into the glare of Google Panda or Penguin updates any time and you certainly don’t want it to be during the peak sale times.
If your content lacks the required information it is certainly a big turn-off for the client because it increases the chances of making him believe that your website is unauthentic. If you are unable to convince your buyers with enough details, there is no way you will make it in the eCommerce sector.
4. Make the Shopping Process Easier for Your Customers
Imagine you go to a store, pick up your goods; go to the counter and suddenly there’s a board saying ‘Counter Closed for the Day’. How disheartening is that!
And you will certainly not want to put your customers in a similar situation because they have numerous options to pick from; thus they will hardly think of coming back to a store which caused such a big disappointment to them. You can keep such a situation at bay by being a little cautious during the sale season.
a. Easy Checkout and Free Shipping
If you let the visitors carry out a smooth selection, comparison and finalization; then why turn the whole experience bitter by making the checkout process pestering. Give them ample options to make their payments, however do not compromise on the security settings. If you put all the processes, terms and conditions in black and white the customer will also comply with the standards.
You can save the card details to make the future transactions faster and easier. And nothing impresses buyers more, than free and quick shipping facilities. When Amazon is preparing to adopt the drone technology for faster delivery of goods, you just have to make the delivery services prompt if not hi-tech for your eStore?
b. Coupons and Limited Period Offers
We all crave for it, the additional discount coupons they are a delight for us. To me it is like those savouring ice-cream treats from my father after a fun-filled family dinner. These coupons just make the buyers feel, ‘why not shop some more and make most of this opportunity!’
Moreover, when you send a mailer to the customer telling him about this special coupon he feels like an esteemed client of your store; and nobody hates that feeling.
c. Non-promotional Greeting e-Cards
Now just don’t be a seller all the time; it is often frustrating. You can be a humble promoter and wish your clients a Merry Christmas, when they are looking forward to greetings rather than being bombarded with promotional offers.
5. What to Note Before, During and After the Season
If you learnt from your mistakes then you will certainly not repeat the same; but it is not simply mistakes that we need to keep account of. A smart person will now which strategies will work best for his business and keep record of these.
a. Separate out Bestsellers and Not Sold Products
Before the festive season comes knocking, you need to simply plan out the different sets of products which can be a part of the bestselling types. At the same time there will be some which are better not included in the list because they do not suit the occasion.
Considering the present tastes of people it is somewhat challenging to create these groupings. Hence it is sensible to analyse the Google Trends pertaining to your industry to get a better insight.
b. Keep Updating Website Inventory to Avoid Disheartened Customers
If you have planned a Special Sale from 4p.m to 8p.m then make sure you remove the content or banner displays after the sale is over. It is often an off-putting situation for a buyer when he sees that he missed a certain beneficial sale.
c. List out the Ongoing Trends, It will Last for a Few More Months
Carry out a surveillance after the sale, to gauge the more popular and fancied selections of the buyers. You can endorse it for the season at profitable bids.
Planning, organizing and managing a holiday season sale for your eCommerce website is not a hard row to hoe; yet one step wrong and you will topple from the highest cliff. And it is certainly not about applying the same strategies every year. The buyers have turned pickier and they just love to compare every choice they make; after all technology avails it at their fingertips. Hence, instead of being the vulnerable businessman, be the smart baron who amazes his customers anytime and every time!