3 ways to create a winning Xmas e-commerce strategy

I hate to mention the C word before December, I really do but for ecommerce websites, planning starts as soon …

Published by 

Alexis Pratsides


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I hate to mention the C word before December, I really do but for ecommerce websites, planning starts as soon as the previous Christmas finished.

But maybe you haven’t planned and now the thought of missing out on a slice of £11bn Christmas spending sends chills down your spine?

You must have a clear digital and social media strategy and plan in place for Christmas promotions. At no other time of the year will your ecommerce failings be more obvious.

Planning also needs to take account of post-Christmas. Over £500m was spent on Boxing Day alone in 2013.


If you are lacking a plan it’s not too late to prepare activity for the next three months to maximise this lucrative time of the year. Some hard work for the next few weeks and a cunning plan with email, social media promotion and a retargeting PPC campaign will put you in a better position.

1. Email marketing

Ah, good old email marketing. It may not be as exciting as social media and content marketing but it’s still one of the most powerful drivers of purchasing. Good email marketing is:

  • Timely
  • Telling the reader what they should do, e.g. Buy now for 10% off
  • Mobile – over 50% of email is now opened on mobile

Email is an excellent way to remind people that you exist and, if you have a good offer, will boost sales.

Planning your email campaign

If your Christmas promotions are planned then start creating the emails now. (If they are not planned, go and do it now!).

This will vary from retailer to retailer but let’s assume you want to do the following:

  • A special 10% off day for all customers (many businesses do this at the end of November)
  • A special mid-week discount at the beginning of December for email subscribers (you could also use this to entice people onto your email list)
  • Reminder the week before Xmas
  • Reminder on Christmas Day that the sale has started

You will need to write and create four emails. Use your existing templates (this is all about being quick remember). You can do this now and set them to be scheduled for the relevant dates. If your email platform doesn’t allow this then you’re with the wrong one.

If you don’t have an adequate template, set one up now and not in November when you will be even busier.

Email campaign checklist

  • Does my email platform allow me to schedule email (Yes – excellent; No – change supplier)
  • Write copy for emails
  • Check template – it is appropriate for the emails you want to send? (Yes – epic; No – create one that does)
  • Create emails and schedule with the right lists
  • Make sure all links are using campaign URLs so you can track the campaign’s success in Google Analytics

Email KPIs

  • Open rate
  • Clicks
  • Goal completions on the website
  • Revenue per click

2. Google Ads and remarketing

Remarketing is becoming a powerful tool in the retailer’s paid advertising box, and it can be especially potent at Christmas.

If you’ve not used Google Ads before then it will be worthwhile to engage a PPC agency to do this for you. They will charge a set-up and management fee but it will save you time and money as you’re less likely to waste precious budget on the wrong clicks.

Retargeting involves setting up lists to show the user an advert when they are no longer on your site. There are four types:

  • Display network – shows the user your ad when they browse on other sites
  • Search adverts – shows your advert while users search
  • Dynamic adverts – shows the user a specific page or product they browsed while on your site, e.g. if they looked a pair of shoes, then the ad will show the specific shoe they looked at
  • Mobile app adverts – shows your advert within a mobile app

You will need to write ad copy and create ad artwork.

Decide who to target

Remarketing allows you to be specific about who you want to reach out to. This is done by creating lists. For example, if someone visited a particular product category page then you could retarget them about that category.

Other ways to retarget include:

  • Visitors who did not buy
  • Visitors with items in their shopping basket
  • Cross-selling to visitors who did buy

There are many options. If this is your first taste of remarketing don’t go overboard – you may end up wasting budget. Track results as they come in and if they are good, build on it.

You can plan the Adwords and remarketing campaign now ready for action in November and December.

Google Ads and remarketing checklist

  • Think about who you want to target in terms of products and behaviour on site
  • If you are not familiar with either tactic, take advice from professional PPC agencies
  • Write and create adverts
  • Set-up remarketing lists
  • Set-up campaigns

Google Ads and remarketing KPIS

  • Click through rate
  • Amount of wasted budget
  • Goals completed on website
  • Revenue per click

3. Social media promotion

Over the past few years, social media advertising has evolved and is now becoming a necessity if you want posts to be seen. Most networks have analytics dashboards – including Twitter’s analytics dashboard – and will show you how many impressions a post will receive.

The reality is that organic impressions will be low unless you have the Facebook following of Ronaldo. Promote all posts (especially those with enticing offers) in the run up to, and during, the Christmas period.

Social media advertising CPC tends to much lower than Google Ads and you can be specific about who you want to see it. Promote to existing audiences, as well as new ones. You’ll be able to refine this audience by age, location, gender and interests.

You will also be able to set the dates and times for ad campaigns so this is another task you can do well ahead of time.

Think about what you will promote, e.g. special offers, and what content needs to be created for it. Images are especially important for social media so make sure you use eye-catching ones.

Planning how often you will post, preparing the posts and scheduling them will save time when it’s busy. It also keeps regular communication flowing. There are many scheduling tools available (e.g. HootSuite, Buffer) that are easy to use and cost effective.

Social media checklist

  • Plan and create the content you want to post
  • Use attractive images when posting
  • Schedule the advert campaigns
  • Set-up posts using scheduling tools

Social media KPIs

  • Engagement rate
  • Click throughs to website
  • Goals completed on the website
  • Revenue per click

Plan for Christmas ecommerce success

By planning and setting up email and advert campaigns now, you will free up time during the busy festive period. It also reduces the risk of forgetting to send out an email or wasting money on a poor PPC campaign.

There is no reason why you can’t use the same plan next year (with a few tweaks). It will be even better as you’ll have the right data to know what activity worked well and what didn’t. You may even start planning in January…

Is your Christmas ecommerce and digital strategy being naughty? Do you have a wish list for a digital Santa? One of the leading digital agencies in London, MintTwist is the perfect choice for your next website project. For more information on how we can work together, get in touch today.

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

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