Will your online tills be ringing this Christmas?

Christmas ecommerce strategy

The Coca-Cola advert is on TV, the lights are festively hung throughout the high street and we’re bah-humbuggedly resigned to the fact we’ll be hearing jingles, carols and one-hit wonders everywhere we go for the next couple of months. Of course it’s that love-hate season, Christmas.

Panic buying, over-indulgence and TV specials aside, we all know that for many businesses this time of year is one of the most crucial opportunities to grow their customer base, bolster their annual revenue and put something in the coffers for leaner times of the year.

With traditional high street retailers struggling to pull in the crowds, online retailers continue to prosper during the festive season. According to consulting firm Capgemini, the two peak shopping weeks of Christmas this year will net £4.6bn in online sales, including £920m spent through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

So, are you ready for the rush?

Thinksgiving: A very American example

Depending on your target market November, December and January all present unique opportunities to effectively market your business and generate new sales.  For example, in the United States, Thanksgiving (22nd November) and ‘Black Friday’ (23rd November) unofficially mark the start of the festive shopping season, whereas Christmas, New Year and the ‘January Sales’ are seen by worldwide audiences as the prime time for a bit of retail therapy.

Your website

Whether your business is wholly on the web or supplemented by online sales, creating a seasonal feel to your website can help increase website conversions, encourage impulse purchases and show your customers your business is getting into the spirit too.

But what are the options?

That’s a big question and, depending on your objectives, the answer can vary.  Here’s a little of our brandy-soaked food for thought:

Dedicated seasonal landing pages

Create a dedicated section(s) of your website which showcases the products/services your customers will be interested in at this time of year.  Make sure to include the page(s) in your main navigation for those who like to browse before they buy.  If your website has the capability, don’t overlook creating promotional banners and “hero” areas to drive your visitors to the dedicated pages.

Introducing discounted or free delivery may reduce your margins in the short-term but the customer data you gain means you can intelligently re-target again during Christmas, Boxing Day and the January sales, when their average spend will be higher.

Shareable wishlists

Online shoppers at this time of year are not only looking for that great present, they’re also looking for the types of things they want to be bought. Creating a ‘wishlist’ function on your website gives your visitors the option to save the items they want for themselves and, by making the list shareable via email and social networks, increases your brand exposure to a new audience.

Sending reminders to customers who have set up ‘wishlists’ can help to keep your brand front of mind and encourage re-interaction with your website.

The personal touch

It’s always difficult to find that perfect present for a friend or loved one and browsing through countless websites can take its toll on even the most experience e-shopper.  Key to the successful conversion rate of any business is giving your customers exactly what they’re looking for.  While your visitors are browsing through your items, having the functionality on your website to suggest or recommend similar or complimentary items has been proven to increase conversions (and impulse buys) tremendously.  And the beauty of investing in this functionality is that it can be used to increase sales all year.  A prime example of a company that uses this technique to outstanding effect is Amazon.

Social media

With the holiday season approaching fast, it doesn’t take an genius to realise your customers will have more time on their hands and a growing number of them will be spending it on social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Facebook offers a wide range of opportunities to promote your business (especially for B2C brands), to get creative and offer your customers special deals, promotions and marketing messages straight to their daily hangout.  Seasonal apps, a targeted and well executed marketing campaign and highly shareable content can help to spread your messages amongst like-minded individualsand your potential target audiencewhile a Black Friday/Christmas/New Year cover photo shows you’re as excited for the season as they are.

Facebook ads are also a cost-effective way to reach an active customer base outside of those who ‘like’ your page.

Likewise with Facebook, creating a Black Friday/Christmas/New Year design for your Twitter profile and linking your Twitter bio to a dedicated landing page lets your followers know that you have seasonal products or services available.

This week Pinterest introduced a new business page element to their offering.  As a visually-led website Pinterest lends itself very well to B2C businesses. Creating mood boards surrounding such topics as ‘Christmas menu recipes’ or ‘DIY Christmas’ linking to relevant products or areas of your website is a perfect way to take advantage of this.

There are a number of other useful social networks and each can be tailored to produce the best results and highest level of engagement through posts, competitions and incentives.

Email marketing

Do you support a good cause?  Do you have special offers and promotions?  Are you active on social networks?  Yes? Then let your customers know about it.

Recent studies have shown that 73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause (source: goodpurpose) and an offer in the email subject line had higher overall revenue per email than those without offers (source: Constant Contact), with ‘x per cent off’ offers increasing revenue per email by 95.4% (source: Experian).

Generating a targeted, share-worthy email campaign not only increases the revenues from your existing customer base but also introduces the potential of like-minded buyers being exposed to your brand.

Wrap-up

Each year Christmas and New Year seem to take forever to get to and then within a blink of the eye are all but forgotten about until next year.  In a time of recession and consumer wariness, a good digital marketing strategy is essential to the prosperity of online businesses.

MintTwist can help you to capture the optimum numbers of seasonal shoppers and maximise your online revenues through tailored and considered activities.  To find out more call one of our consultants today; but be quick, I can hear sleigh bells on the horizon.

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