The Christmas decorations are up. The high-street is booming with people panic buying presents they know the receivers don’t really want. The stores are prepared with seasonal promotions and hiked up prices. But is your E-commerce business prepared?
According to a report from digitalcommerce360, in 2018, E-commerce will represent 16.7% of all holiday spending, according to our estimates, up from 15.2% in 2017. The 16.7% is higher than eCommerce’s usual share of total retail sales, which Internet Retailer estimates are around 13%. Gift-giving lends itself to online shopping, as shoppers may want to browse different sites for ideas and deals. In addition, online retailers increase digital marketing during peak season shopping periods. This often leading to more sales online than non-peak periods.
The trend toward shopping on mobile is increasing as well. Shopify reported that on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018, a day which is fast becoming one of the prime Christmas shopping days, 66% of all online sales were attributed to mobile devices.
But just because online shopping is becoming more and more popular every year, that your eCommerce site will automatically succeed. Online shoppers aren’t like high street shoppers. They can move from one online store to another, with just a click of a button. Always shopping around for the best deals. So, it’s important that you give them something that makes them want to stay.
Analyse and Learn
The first thing you need to do (and quite frankly, should be doing) is analyse and learn from your previous year’s performance. As a business owner, you should know what went well for you in previous years, and what did badly. You should know what your most popular products were/are and which days bring you in the best traffic. By analysing this data, you can review what you will do again and what you can improve on.
We’re big advocates of using Google Analytics to help our clients understand what works best for them. It can give you the information you need to make more informed decisions and work out what’s working for your eCommerce business. Google Analytics can help you answer some of the following questions:
- When is my site getting the most traffic?
- When is my website seeing the most eCommerce conversions?
- Which pages get the most traffic?
- Which pages result in the most eCommerce conversions (i.e. sales)
- Were there any pages that underperformed in previous years?
If you already have Google analytics, pick a time frame e.g. October 2018 – Today; see if your conversion rates accelerate (or decelerate) through this time. The spikes in the graph will show “key shopping dates”. You can use this data, ie. Which days are doing best, what time people are shopping etc. to improve your campaigns.
Equivalently, you can also identify the top landing pages on your website during this period and see which ones provided the most conversions. This is great opportunity to do A/B testing on landing pages; when creating a campaign, make two landing pages in different layouts and copy. But ensure you’re offering the same offer to see which your visitors respond better too.
The data you unearth can help you learn which products or services to promote on the homepage of your website. You’ll also have a greater understanding of when the best time to target promotional campaigns and offers are. All whilst resulting in the most conversions.
Never has the saying, “knowledge is power” been so important.
Preparing Your Website for Christmas
When thinking of your Christmas strategy for online sales, you need to consider its most important element… the shop window. By shop window, I obviously mean your website. It’s more customisable than brick and mortar, it can be a more personable and unique experience for each visitor than ever walking through the door of an actual shop.
You should be using Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics, Pay Per Click (PPC), email marketing and social media to take full advantage of the Christmas period.
When it comes to attracting Christmas shoppers you need to think like a Christmas shopper. Your website needs to have a seasonal focus that enables it to rank well in search results for Christmas-themed queries. It needs to showcase your festive products in an appealing and user-friendly way.
You’ll have already noticed that brick and mortar stores have dedicated Christmas sections. Walk into any John Lewis or The Range and you’ll see it decked out in Christmas decorations, with festive gifts sectioned into different areas. Your website should take on this way of thinking. Tweak it so it has a festive appearance and creates pages for visitors to find what it is they’re looking for. If you sell jumpers and you have Christmas Jumpers to sell, you should have a separate page for those Christmas jumpers so they’re easier for your visitors and Google to find. This makes it easy for consumers to locate what they’re looking for and at the same time, helps your website rank better.
Searches carried out in the winter months will vary greatly to searches conducted in the spring and summer, so keyword analysis is important at this stage.
Depending on what your business is, seasonal SEO will play an important role in helping you rank for search variations. It is vital to ensure you are targeting the right keywords that will drive the most relevant traffic to your website. There is an abundance of keyword research tools you can use to help you recognise the best terms to optimise your page for.
Once you’ve selected your target keywords, you need to implement them across the relevant pages on your website.
You can also use the data identified in Google Analytics earlier to help decide which pages to focus your optimisation efforts on.
Optimise for Mobile
As I mentioned earlier, there is a shift towards purchasing on mobile phones. I, personally, am awful for a bit of late-night browsing on my phone! So, you need to make sure your website is optimised for mobile. With such easy access to your website from wherever they are, they can compare prices, review products and complete full purchases, with just a click of a few buttons. “80% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies with mobile sites or apps that help them easily answer their questions.” (Google, 2018)
If it’s not already, ensure your eCommerce website is responsive or built mobile-first so that you can effectively meet consumer expectations.
Preparing Your Marketing Communication
Your website is looking Christmasy, and you’ve done your research; checked Google Analytics and optimised for search and mobile. Now’s the fun part – marketing. But how are you going to start telling people about your website?
Email marketing is an incredibly powerful way of informing customers of your Christmas promotions. You can use email marketing to not only target your festive promotions accordingly but to drive further traffic to your website. Here are some key tips for using email marketing this festive Christmas:
Have a clear out – Start by having a spring clean… in the quieter time of September. Utilise this time to tidy up your database and ensure all your data is correct. This will help you target your campaigns better.
Personal touches (it is Christmas after all) – Personalisation of emails will help you stand out from the crowd. But don’t be lazy, personalisation is not just limited to names and locations. You can actually personalise emails by purchase history too. If somebody bought a Christmas jumper last year, they may be interested in seeing what you have this year.
Segmentation – Put relevant adverts in front of the recipients who are most likely to convert. If you have a location-based offer for a specific store location, target customers by geography.
Basket Abandonment, why do they do it? – Are you one of those people that leave things in your basket – secretly hoping someone else will check out and pay for it for you? Me too!!. Normally, it can be as simple as you forgot to check out; so how about you send follow up emails to people that have left items in their basket without completing their purchase? H&M do a great email when you’ve left things in your basket, normally along the lines of, “don’t forget about me”. This is a great way to generate more sales from your website. You can also use Google Analytics to identify which stage of the check-out process most basket abandonments occur. Then use this data to improve your website checkout process.
Daily Deals – Promote daily deals in real-time using email marketing. If you are offering free delivery for one day only, email is a great way for communicating this message to your existing customer base. You can use the eCommerce conversion rate data identified in Analytics earlier to find out when the best time to send these emails is.
Remind them of the virtues of purchasing online – no more fighting for the last jumper on the shelf or making yourself look reasonably presentable just go out for a card. No more queuing or being cold. You can put the jumper in your basket, and think about in your own time, wearing jogging bottoms with no make-up on.
It’s imperative though that you include deadlines- for example, The Royal Mail’s last shipping day for the UK is Tuesday 18th December for the 2nd class post and Thursday 20th December for the 1st class post. Create that endorphin releasing, exciting sense of urgency to compel a consumer to purchase your product straight away.
This is your chance to have a lot of fun. Social media is an incredibly important part of anyone’s business. In the lead up to Christmas, you can go full blown festive-themed. Consider your objectives when creating your plan and use a mix of different posts targeted at engagement, click-through links to your website and sales.
Have a look at offering some promotional codes, for things such as free shipping or a free gift to encourage sales, always making sure to link back to your website. By linking it to landing pages, you can treat it like A/B testing and find out which offers, or promotions do better.
Together this will build relationships with your existing customers and any potential customers too. This will lead to building greater loyalty and brand advocacy. Consider how you can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for best effect. Get inspired. Take a look at what your competitors did and what worked well for them and make it better.
Seasonal Pay Per Click
Google AdWords is another godsend. It is a fantastic way to ensure that your services or products have the ability to be seen by the right people.
To do this, you’ll need to:
- Conduct seasonal keyword research
- Write seasonal Ads
- Create seasonal campaigns
- Monitor campaign performance
As we mentioned before with SEO, you will want to look at trying to get your Ads displaying for seasonal search terms; make sure you do your seasonal keyword research and create seasonal campaigns accordingly.
You need to ensure that your ads are relevant as possible if they appear ‘spammy’, Google won’t rank you. Direct users to the most relevant landing page for their search term on your website. Do this by writing copy that engages them as a human being. With Christmas (and other holidays, promotions, events etc.) upcoming, your landing pages should already have been optimised for the relevant SEO search terms.
Is your website Christmas ready?
In fact, is it just “ready”?
These are only a few examples of ways in which you can get your business prepared for the holidays. If you would like to discuss your digital marketing strategy, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on +44 (0)845 003 7246