Ecommerce: How to Give Your Online Store a Profitable Holiday Season

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The holidays are the most important time of year for online business owners and the ecommerce industry. It's important to start preparing early to make the most out of this busy online selling season. Check out this guide with four steps to make it profitable. Also includes a printable calendar with specific actions!

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Ecommerce: How to Give Your Online Store a Profitable Holiday Season

  1. 1. Holiday Success Strategy Highlights 1. Determine promotions and featured products This crucial step allows you to build timelines and ensure that your business is on track for Four Steps to a Profitable the holidays. Holiday Season 2. Adjust your online marketing efforts Whether you need a few design The holidays are of the utmost importance to online business tweaks or a complete overhaul, owners. This is the season when customers come to the Internet start making enhancements now with credit cards in hand to find the perfect gift for loved ones. to prepare your site for the rush of Even amid the recent recession and retail sales decline in 2009, holiday shoppers. holiday ecommerce grew to an all time high. According to leading online analyst firm ComScore, $29.1 billion was spent online 3. Remind customers the during the holiday season – an increase of 4% from 2008. More holidays are coming importantly, this figure is expected to climb even higher in 2010. As the holidays come closer and closer, remind customers that you’re the perfect venue for their These growth numbers make sense when you think about the gifting needs. unique advantages ecommerce has to offer. Online shopping allows customers to satisfy even the most specific tastes 4. Optimize your site for by quickly browsing through millions of unique products. holiday conversions Ecommerce also lets customers shop from the comfort of their Once the holiday season arrives, own homes instead of fighting lines at retail stores. Because of there are several ways to adjust these trends and growth, the upcoming holiday season is far too your site to convert more holiday sales. Read on to find out more. significant for you to enter unprepared. Luckily you can start crafting your strategy now to help capitalize on this golden opportunity. All it takes is four important steps.
  2. 2. 1. Determine your promotions 2. Begin adjusting your online and featured products marketing efforts This is a crucial step as it allows you to build timelines The holidays are a completely different ballgame and ensure that your business is on track for the for online shoppers, particularly regarding product holidays. Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of your searches. Thus, you should start making adjustments time processing orders, so having a set strategy takes a to your search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per- big weight off your shoulders. click (PPC) efforts early on – SEO results takes patience and PPC requires fine tuning to find the right mix. First, decide which promotions you want to run. To determine which deals to offer, look back and see To get started, use your analytics tool to find which which offers fared well during the year and the previous keywords are driving traffic to your site. Also, pull a holiday season. Free or reduced shipping is one of the report from previous holiday seasons to see which most popular promotions for any industry. Discounts keywords brought the most visitors. Then, perform upon purchasing a certain number of products or dollar keyword research to see which industry keywords are amount are also well-received. important during the holidays – many of these will simply add the word “gifts,” “holidays,” or “presents” to In regards to timing, the retail and ecommerce industry your standard product keywords. Once these terms both acknowledge Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) are identified, start increasing your ad spend and as one of the biggest shopping days of the year. optimization efforts. Another huge day in ecommerce is Cyber Monday (the Monday following Black Friday). In 2009, over 80% of Another frequently overlooked online marketing online retailers offered promotions specific to Cyber aspect is design. Many of us think design is completely Monday. These are both prime opportunities to launch separate from marketing, but it’s actually one of the special offers that entice customers to buy. most powerful tools you have. Take a look at your site – is your design impressive to first-time visitors? Does the To coincide with your promotions, decide which appearance encourage shoppers to trust your business products you want to feature. This requires analysis of and purchase something? If not, you’ve got a problem. which items performed best throughout the year and Fortunately there’s plenty of time and options to make previous holiday seasons. It’s also recommended to improvements. Whether you need a few design tweaks conduct market research for any developing buying or a complete overhaul, start making enhancements trends in your industry. Deciding on these featured now to prepare site for the rush of holiday shoppers. products allows you to make plans on site adjustments and marketing campaigns once the holidays come closer. 3. Remind customers the holidays Finally, set specific timelines for your promotions and are coming featured products – this will allow you to focus on There’s nothing wrong with asking customers for bigger priorities like marketing and shipping. their business. As the holidays come closer and closer, remind customers that you’re the perfect venue for their gifting needs. Even if customers aren’t ready to purchase holiday gifts now, they’ll remember you and come back later.
  3. 3. During the holiday season, highlight your business and Tell shoppers the last day to purchase. promotions with tailored customer communications. You You can create a sense of urgency by letting customers can do this by providing featured products and coupon know the last day they can buy with guaranteed shipping codes in your newsletters, e-mails and social media arrival. If orders have to be made by December 22 for outlets. Include the dates for customer communications arrival on Christmas, inform customers of this ahead of in your plan so you have time to make your content as time so they won’t be disappointed later. effective as possible. Highlight your promotions everywhere. Sometimes the final push a holiday shopper needs is a 4. Optimize your site for simple reminder that they can save money. This means that you should spotlight your promotions throughout holiday conversions your webpages for continuous customer reference. Once the holiday season arrives, there are several ways to tweak your site to convert more holiday sales. Here Whatever the case, be sure to track results against your are a few tips how: metrics to see how you’re performing in each of your channels – this will allow you to make Make holiday design adjustments. proper adjustments. This late in the game, there’s no time for a complete site makeover. You can, however, make updates to your homepage and category graphics to give your website And voila! By following the above steps and a holiday feel. The idea here is to get site visitors into the catering them to your business, you’re well on holiday spirit so they’re more likely to spend. your way to one of the best holiday shopping seasons on record. Regardless of industry, this Adjust your categories for easy prime e-tailing season is ripe for revenue, so holiday shopping. make the most of it by planning ahead and Take your best gift items or featured products and place working hard. Once your done, you’ll be able to them in holiday-specific categories. Some examples enjoy the best holiday gift of all – online success! include “Gifts for Her” or “Gifts for Dad.” This tactic gives last-minute shoppers a quick way to dive into your products and find the perfect gift idea. Prominently offer gift certificates on your site. In 2009, over 60% of shoppers purchased gift cards or gift certificates during the holiday season. These items provide a quick option for shoppers and present you an opportunity for easy sales. With this in mind, promote gift cards throughout your site as a featured product or within your design template.
  4. 4. Month by Month Playbook for Holiday Success The most wonderful time of year for your online business is coming quick. Make the most of it by following our Month by Month Playbook for Holiday Success to keep you on track. You can print it out, laminate it, stick it on your fridge – whatever you need to take advantage of what’s sure to be a booming holiday season! July August Build your overall holiday strategy and timeline Define your holiday promotions Conduct keyword research for holiday SEO and Identify which products will be listed as PPC efforts featured products Establish a budget and wish list for site Start your design projects if undergoing a major design changes site overhaul Begin research to identify any oncoming buying trends in Optimize site content based on findings from your your industry keyword research Begin general PPC advertising September October Begin testing of email subject lines and promotions to Finish your overall site design see which resonate best with customers Move your featured products to the homepage of Check with suppliers to ensure inventory levels are secure your store for the next few months Include a section in your email newsletter reminding Install Live Chat software on your site to handle customers of the holidays customer inquiries Acquire any holiday or seasonal graphics for your Revisit and finalize your customer return policy site design Contact your shipping provider to check for any new or reduced rates November December Add holiday oriented ads to your PPC campaigns Send reminder emails to customers with promotions and Insert holiday design elements to your store featured products Send a dedicated holiday newsletter to customers Indicate the last day to purchase with guaranteed arrival on your website Create holiday specific categories (“Gifts for Dad,” etc.) Enable an overnight shipping option for Launch promos for Black Friday and Cyber Monday last-minute shoppers Sell, sell, sell – time is ticking! www.volusion.com Send us a note. sales@volusion.com Give us a call. 800.646.3517 op. 2 Experience Out of this World Support at support.volusion.com TM

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