Every year…right around this time…I feel the need to remind my clients (especially the Ecommerce ones) that the holiday season is just around the corner. The notion that anyone would need a reminder might seem silly; however, this is a HUGE opportunity to capitalize on the potential up-tick in site traffic. We want to turn these visitors into shoppers and ultimately buyers; make that repeat buyers. Now that we have identified the goal, how do we make it happen? Is there a secret recipe? Not really, although there are a variety of proven tactics that should be taken into serious consideration:
Support the demand for your product or service. You can achieve this by increasing your budgets (daily/weekly/monthly). Traffic will no doubt spike during the holidays and you will want to cover your bases by ensuring that your ads remain active.
Plan ahead with inventory. Pay close attention to your online orders; be prepared to restock whenever necessary. Utilize an analytics tool to determine which keywords are leading to the most sales.
Be smart with pricing. Price has always been a factor, but even more so with today’s economy. Take the time to do some comparison shopping and analysis of what your competition is offering. You do not have to “give away the farm”, but you ought to be competitive.
Offer Free Shipping. This is a critical piece of the puzzle. I strongly encourage retailers to take advantage of this incentive to boost sales. According to ComScore, “The percentage of online sales transactions that included free shipping increased to 42 percent in the third quarter of 2009 from 31 percent in the first quarter of 2008”.
Utilize the most compelling Landing Pages. Send your traffic to an offer driven page that is relevant to the keywords that have been searched on. All your buyers should need to think about is entering in their credit card information.
Offer Gift Wrap. This is especially attractive for shoppers who are shipping gifts to another state. This is a surefire way to provide that extra convenience.
Believe it or not, it won’t be long until the holidays are here. To avoid last minute headaches, now is the time to start thinking, planning, and even implementing website changes to get ready for the holiday season. Many of these changes will help to improve the overall user experience; however, some may also have benefits from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective.
If your site has internal pages that are of particular importance this season, create awareness of those pages by modifying how users can navigate to them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to re-organize your entire site. Instead you could feature links or images on your homepage that lead to your popular holiday products, featured items, etc.
We all love things that are free. Consider offering free shipping, free gift wrapping, or a free gift with purchase. Feature these types of offerings on the site as well as in relevant title and description tags. The title and description tags are typically the text that is used to populate the clickable link and snippet of text on the search engine results pages. When incentives are included, you increase the likelihood that someone will click through to your site instead of a competitor’s site.
Make sure your contact information is prominent. This sounds obvious, but it’s especially critical during the peak shopping season. If someone has an issue during the checkout process, the last thing that you want them to do is leave the site frustrated. Make sure you prominently feature your contact information, especially a customer service number, so that you can help to make the shopping experience as easy as possible.
Don’t forget about gift certificates. If you offer gift certificates, these can be a good item to feature on the homepage for those who are unsure of what to purchase as a gift.
It’s also important to think about the things that you can do off-site. Participate where your audience is currently spending time on the Internet. This may be Facebook, Twitter, or within the blogosphere. Comment on blogs, especially blogs that are well-known within your industry. This could open up opportunities to generate conversations about your products or services. It may also enable you to get in front of a new audience that you haven’t yet tapped into. Social media channels can also be a great tool to monitor what people are saying about your products or brand.
Build additional pages to enable you to target popular search terms, such as keywords with the word “gifts”. The search volume for “gifts” alone spikes around the holiday season, so take advantage of this opportunity where possible.