Wednesday, July 31, 2013

5 Ways to Start Preparing Your Online Business for the Holidays

Last year, holiday e-commerce sales came in at nearly $42.3 billion between November and December. It is expected that online sales will rise by nearly 13% this year. With only a few months left until the biggest e-commerce shopping season of the year begins, now is the time to prepare (if you haven't done so already).

The following tips, as laid out by Volusion Marketing Manager, Matt Winn, are intended to help you prepare your marketing, email and website strategies for the upcoming holiday rush.

1.  Create a Promotions Calendar:  Volusion Marketing Manager, Matt Winn, suggests that e-commerce professionals start preparing for the holiday season by creating a promotions calendar, highlighting important dates and milestones making up the biggest shopping season for e-commerce. This calendar will serve as the basis to all of your other marketing materials. Important dates to include:
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday 
  • Hanukkah 
  • Green Monday
  • Free Shipping Day 
  • Christmas Eve 
  • Christmas Day 
  • Day after Christmas 

2.  Create an Email Calendar: Email marketing should be one of your biggest efforts this season. According to 3dcart, 80% of online shoppers and 71% of in-store shoppers say that email offers influence them to buy during the holiday season.  Compose an email chart (based off of your promotions calendar) highlighting the days in which you plan to send email campaigns. Begin planning out offers, coupons and other content. Once you have this in place, you can begin designing your email templates.

3.  Plan Ahead for Holiday Website Design:  Now is a good time to start on your website design strategy for the holidays. Whether you make the changes in-house or rely on the help of a web design company, it takes time to implement, design and test any changes to your website. By planning now, you're leaving enough time for trial and error, ensuring your website stands out among the competition.

4.  Holiday SEO Strategy: Search engines are extremely competitive during the holiday season, which is why solidifying your SEO strategy is important. Start searching now for important keywords and ways to optimize your site. You may even want to consult the expertise of SEO companies (such as Vayu Media) to analyze your website and provide advice based on your current rankings.

5.  Optimize your Website:  According to Econsultancy, the average online shopper expects pages to load within two seconds. After three seconds, up to 40% of shoppers can abandon your site. You should be doing this year-round, but now is a good time to ensure that every aspect of your website regarding usability is up to date and easy to navigate. Everything from load times to the checkout process can affect your sales this holiday season.

by Samantha Warner
Marketing Extraordinaire