Do you want to make the most of shopping’s busiest period? Looking to boost your website sales as we head towards 2020? Want your eCommerce store to enjoy hundreds, potentially thousands more orders this Christmas? Then read on!
Now you may be wondering why on earth we’re bringing up the topic of Christmas in August, but our experience tells us it’s never too early to start preparing your Magento store for the busiest time of year for online shopping.
The warmer weather has started to cool, shorts and t-shirts are being replaced with jeans and jumpers, and the darker evenings have begun to roll in. The time has come to get your site prepped and ready for Christmas!
So where do you start?
Well, having confidence in your eCommerce marketing strategy and preparing your business appropriately can have huge benefits when global online shopping spend starts to increase. You need to ensure you’re ready for the influx of orders that can happen over the festive period, as well as being prepared to maximise things like promotions, discounts and up-sells. Remember that this is a unique time of year as your customers aren’t just looking for a single gift like other occasions – at Christmas they need gifts for their ENTIRE circle of friends and family.
Before all that though, this particular post is going to focus primarily around Christmas but the final part of the year is littered with big dates in the diary that you as an eCommerce store owner can leverage. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Halloween and Green Monday all spring to mind. Research from RCS UK has also shown that 38% of online consumers start their festive shopping before the start of November, which then leaps to 69% starting before the 1st December.
38% of online consumers actually start their festive shopping before the start of November, and this figure then leaps to 69% starting before the 1st December.Tweet this now
So as you can see, the final few months can (if managed correctly) be a goldmine for sales if you strike the right chord with your eCommerce marketing strategy and its execution.
To set you on the right path for the Christmas rush, we’ve compiled a list of our tips and best practices that are proven to increase your sales during this busy shopping period. Let’s get started!
Planning Is Key
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, as they say – and we couldn’t agree more.
In an ideal scenario, you need to get your eCommerce marketing plan finalised by the end of September. This is so you can launch into action and entice the early bird customers with your products.
As the autumn/winter weather begins to take over, people generally start to stay inside more and that increases the likelihood they’ll be browsing the web on one of their devices. If you’re already marketing and promoting your offers in September and October, you can attract the exceptionally organised people who are getting ahead of the game when it comes to Christmas shopping.
The best strategy in our opinion is to define your goals and make measurable plans to achieve them. Goals are a fantastic way to keep your mind and your business focused on moving forward, and without them you’ll struggle to compete during the festive period. One of the best ways to create achievable goals is using the SMART system.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based. They can include your larger and more ambitious goals, but they should ideally drill down into what you’re going to achieve by helping you see what you need to do to get there. Here’s an example:
Overall goal – To increase sales.
SMART goal – To increase overall gross profit by 25% during the month of December 2019 compared to December 2018.
Can you see the difference? The SMART goal is both targeted and specific, and ultimately supports the long-term, more general goal of increasing sales. You can set up SMART goals in plenty of different ways, check out this handy guide on SMART marketing goals.
Once you’ve figured out what your SMART goals are, you can then move on to understanding how you’re going to achieve them. More sales is great, but how exactly are you going to bring them in? You’ll have to choose the route that suits you and your eCommerce store best.
Get Things Started Early
As we mentioned before, a lot of Christmas shopping starts far earlier than you’d think.
In most cases, as soon as Halloween is done and dusted, attention switches almost instantly to Christmas and shoppers start to hunt around for early deals. If you’re prepared and ready to take advantage, you can capitalise and get the jump on your competitors.
This is the case for retailers around the world too, not just in the UK. eCommerce businesses in the USA, Australia and around Europe also look to leverage the impact Halloween has on shopping habits. A brilliant eCommerce marketing idea here is to try to continue the hype around Halloween into the festive period. You can do this in a number of ways, but perhaps the most effective is to encourage people that already bought from you during Halloween to come back and do their Christmas shopping with you too. Use Halloween as a way to draw attention to any promotions or special offers you may have coming up as Christmas approaches.
If you aren’t on the ball however and miss this opportunity, don’t panic. Late gift orders from forgetful friends and family members can still save you!
Let’s be honest; most people wish they could get all their Christmas shopping done in one burst, maybe over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend when prices on certain products drop dramatically. But life doesn’t work that way and in reality there are a lot of shoppers that still favour the last-minute dash – and these are the folk that risk the dreaded delivery mishaps, where an ordered gift doesn’t arrive in time for the 25th.
It’s this risk that has lead to a huge increase in digital gifts and gift card purchases. According to research from Riskified, it’s no surprise that Christmas Eve sees the highest number of digital orders by some margin. It’s so high in fact that it beats the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, coming in at over 30% of all orders. If you can’t prepare for the post-Halloween early birds, make sure you’re involved in this at the very least.
Make Mobile Shopping Easy
It’s fair to say having an eCommerce store that has been optimised for mobile devices is pretty standard practise in 2019 – if your site still doesn’t work well on mobile, stop reading this blog post and sort it out right now!
Searches on mobile phones have long outnumbered those on desktop, and this is only going to grow with every passing year. The very best eCommerce stores in the world aren’t just optimising their sites for mobile, they’re taking a mobile-first approach. It’s this strategy that couldn’t be more important as we head towards Christmas and the festive period.
Why I hear you ask? Well, research from Criteo shows that Christmas Day is actually the busiest mobile shopping day of the year.
Research from internet advertising company Criteo has found that Christmas Day is actually the busiest smartphone shopping day of the year.Tweet this now
Over half of shoppers in the UK will be buying items for themselves on a mobile phone on Christmas Day. Not only that, two thirds of all online purchases made on Christmas Day are carried out on a mobile phone, so if your eCommerce site is ready and waiting for these potential customers, you stand to generate a lot of business on Christmas Day itself. In the same breath, a poor mobile experience on your store and customers will simply go somewhere else.
Now we understand that getting an eCommerce store prepared for mobile users isn’t always straightforward, however here are a couple of tips to get you heading in the right direction:
• Responsive design is a must – although this isn’t a quick fix, you can ensure you’re always working towards a better, more optimised mobile-friendly site. Your store needs to be responsive at the very least to ensure the user experience is positive and you don’t miss out on sales purely down to the fact your customers get fed up.
• Avoid popups – We’re all for using a targeted, well-considered popup on desktop, but they can be a real annoyance for customers on mobile devices. If you do utilise popups, double-check they’re only appearing for desktop users.
• Consider digital wallets – One of the easiest ways to increase conversions is to remove as much friction as you can from the checkout process. Remember the last time you had to fill out card details on your smartphone? It’s a pretty annoying experience. Consider using mobile digital wallets like Apple Pay to remove the hassle and make the final (critical) part of the shopping experience easier for the customer.
Take a look at one of our earlier blog posts on mobile-first design and why you should be making your eCommerce store more user-friendly on smartphones.
Let Your Customers Know!
There are so many different ways you can market and advertise your products to your customers across the last few months of the year, in particular around key dates like Black Friday and Christmas itself. We’ve seen successful festive seasons for our clients across a whole range of industries and we can certainly give you a flavour of some of the tactics we’ve seen over the last few years that have boosted customer engagement and sales.
There are so many different ways you can advertise your products to your customers across the last few months of the year, in particular around key dates like Black Friday and Christmas itself.Tweet this now
The general rule at this time of year is that everyone in the online world is shouting about their products and promotions, so competing with that is tough – but you can still reap the rewards. Here are some of the most effective ways you can let your customers know about your festive promotions.
• Social Media
If you have a large following across your social media accounts, you can obviously try to build excitement for a particular promotion or offer you have lined up by posting about it. Providing direct links to the specific products you promote is vital here as many social media users will be on mobile devices, so anything you can do to simplify their journey will be welcomed. eCommerce marketing doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
If perhaps you don’t have such a sizeable following, you could consider running a competition that encourages users to share your posts and follow your page to qualify. These types of campaign generally get fantastic engagement if the prize on offer is exciting or unique.
Also, don’t forget that the festive period is a massive research phase for many shoppers. Many will be unsure what they want to buy and are looking for inspiration, while others know what they want to get but are looking for the best deal. In both the run up to Black Friday and Christmas, consider running a Facebook ads campaign or even a dedicated Adwords campaign to catch the attention of these consumers.
• Paid Search
If you have the scope to put some budget behind your seasonal promotions and offers, paid search across platform such as Google and Bing can help you reach those early Christmas shoppers. Targeting keywords related to your products – ‘Christmas’ and terms like ‘deals’ or ‘sales’ – can be a cost-effective way of reaching people who are looking for your products.
That’s the basics of finding your target audience while they’re searching for your products, but there are a range of other tactics you can employ to reach these consumers more effectively including a Google Display Network (GDN) campaign, countdown ad copy and promotional product feeds for Google Shopping to name just a few.
• Dedicated Landing Page(s)
Another great way to both attract and monitor your festive promotions is to set up dedicated pages specific for the occasion. For example, creating a category or page labelled ‘Christmas’ makes it easier for customers to find and also allows you to see exactly how well the page performs in your analytics account.
Customers struggling to find the page? Promote it on social media, or try to optimise the page for popular search terms. High bounce rate from users reaching the page? Try shuffling the product range, or promote products that you know are good sellers at the top of the page to catch their eye. Not making many sales? Check your competitors to see if you’re being beaten on price or cost of delivery.
• Email Marketing
The tried and tested method of sending out an email to your customers still has its benefits.
It’s a fantastic way to encourage repeat business by offering a discount code or free delivery (we’d strongly recommend you offer free delivery over the Christmas period as standard!). Email marketing is also unique in the sense that these customers have already bought from your store and are therefore interested in your products, unlike Google Adwords for example where you are targeting users based on their browsing and search history.
It’s up to you how you promote yourself at this point, but most email campaigns offer teasers to new products and advanced warning of special offers or sales – perfect for the festive season.
Start a promotional campaign at the start of December and build the excitement for your product range throughout the month. For the best results, you need to be working with a sizeable customer list of GDPR compliant email addresses.
Starting your seasonal marketing campaigns nice and early gives you the advantage of building a ‘buzz’ around your promotions gradually with a tactical, joined-up, multi-channel approach. Using social media, email, offline channels and search together to reach those early Christmas shoppers is how eCommerce stores can try and get ahead of their competition and have a successful end to the calendar year!
Follow all these tips and you’ll be all set for a fantastic Christmas! There are of course plenty of other ways to promote your eCommerce store from now until the new year, but we’ve tried to highlight some of the more traditional methods of increasing customer engagement and sales.
Our post comes this early to give you plenty of time to prepare for the busiest time of year. Remember that planning with SMART goals is absolutely crucial for measuring your successes and your site needs to be in the best possible shape when that surge of orders kicks in.
Hopefully you’re hit with that magic, inspirational marketing moment and you have your best Christmas to date – let us know how you get on!