The folks at Volusion are projecting a 20% increase in online holiday sales for small to medium- sized online businesses this season!
How do you get the most out of this ever-important holiday season without burning your budget? Go into the game with a solid plan and sell, sell, sell. We're about to enter the most wonderful time of year for ecommerce. Volusion created these tips to boost your success.
- Gift Cards – prominently display gift cards and gift certificates on your homepage and make a category for them – over 2/3 of shoppers gave gift cards last year. When sending physical gift cards or certificates, include a decorated box that can be wrapped up and given as a gift. Don’t be afraid to charge extra for this.
- Overnight Shipping – Cater to last-minute shoppers by providing an overnight shipping option to customers so they can receive their package in a hurry. Tell customers on your homepage the absolute final day they can order and still receive their package in time for big holidays. Check with your shipping provider to see if there are any new or discounted rates available. If so, you can lower costs for your business and customers. (Remember that December 18 is officially National Free Shipping Day – seriously. Consider offering free shipping on this day to stay competitive this close to the holidays. If you're selling internationally, be sure to include international shipping rates on your site.
- Special Touch – Provide a warm greeting and promote any upselling opportunities on your thank you page once customers place an order or subscribe to your newsletter. Include a card inside the shipping box when you send customers their order. If you have time, make a hand-written note with a discount inside. This will give your customers a warm, fuzzy feeling and encourage them to come back for more!
- In-store pickup – Offer an in-store pickup option if you have a retail location. This will save you and your customer cash on extraneous shipping charges.
- Free Return Shipping – Consider offering free shipping for returned items. Stealing this straight out of Zappos’ playbook, but it’s an idea that instills customer confidence before clicking the Buy Now button. Consider extending the returns period during the holiday season to help reduce headaches once the holidays are over.
- Create urgency – Place a countdown on your landing pages and homepage that indicates how many days are left until important holidays. Place shipping deadlines directly in your PPC ad text. For example, try something like, Free shipping through (insert date)!
- Decorate – Add some sort of holiday-themed design to your logo or run a social media campaign that asks your fans and followers to submit holiday-themed redesigns of your company logo. Some ideas include hanging a bough of holly over one of the letters or changing your logo to include Christmas lights or a Santa hat. Google does this quite frequently for various events and it adds a fun, personal touch to your brand. Set a date as a deadline to have your holiday design changes removed from your site, making sure to save your images and code for next year. You don’t want to be that tacky neighbor who never takes down their lights.
- Customize Descriptions – Jazz up the content of your product descriptions. For example, The perfect gift for any man, even those who are hard to please, is much more appealing than listing technical specifications.
- Gift Sets – Create bundles or gift baskets of your products and create a specific category for them. You can also place these bundles in other categories you already have. Talk about cross-selling!
- Personalization – Allow your customers to include unique gift notes upon ordering. You can either have them place this in the order notes or create a custom field on your checkout page for that extra touch. Offer personalization add-ons to your products, such as engraving or embroidery, if appropriate.
- Give back – Try a campaign where you donate a certain percentage of sales to a local charity, like March of Dimes. Everyone likes to give back, so make it easy for your customers to do so.
- Holiday Upsells – Consider offering a promotion where shoppers receive a gift card in addition to a certain order price. For example, if a customer spends $50, they receive a $5 gift card. If they spend $100, a $10 gift card, etc. This is a great way to get customers back to your store.
- Gift wrapping – Offer free or reduced price gift wrapping to help shoppers in a pinch. And make sure you load up on paper and tape!
- Exclusive Discounts – Offer exclusive discounts for Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (first Monday after Thanksgiving). These are both huge days for online sales.
- Gamify – Try a campaign where you hide a small image of something, like your logo, deep on one of your pages. Give a gift to a certain amount of users who find it first. This will encourage people to navigate all over your site and expose them to more and more of your products.
- Email Marketing – Send an email to your entire customer base with a special greeting that thanks them for their business. This will remind them to pay your site a visit when looking for gifts. Pull your abandoned carts list each week and send a reminder to these users to come back and complete their purchase. Highlight your newsletter signup to increase the number of contacts you have. Remember, repeat customers are much cheaper to manage than acquiring new ones. After customers make their first purchase, send them a specialized newsletter that features all of your popular products and includes a “new customer” discount. It’s never too early to start building customer loyalty.
- Live Support – Step up your support by spending more hours on live chat and by the phone to answer any questions. Extend your brand personality at every customer touch point. If you have a call center, make sure you answer the phone with a catered greeting or include a branded message on your live chat module. Even unsatisfied customers can't decline a well- wishing. Become familiar with your phone order system if you’re not already – some people prefer to call in and place their order after asking a few questions.
- Paid Advertising – During the holidays, adjust your PPC campaigns to include holiday-related keywords, such as gifts or presents. Step up your competitive PPC bidding. Potential customers are looking to spend a little bit more to find the perfect product, so you should be willing to spend a little more by raising your daily minimum on PPC. With comparison shopping on the rise, well-written, strategic ad text can steal a sale from competitors. Cater your PPC ad text and keywords to target shoppers who are looking for gift ideas for loved ones. For example, use a keyword like “gifts for Dad” with ad copy that includes suggestions like, “We have holiday gifts for men like watches, golf gloves and tie tacks for less.”
- Search Engines – Resubmit your site map sooner than later with new products and categories so search engines can index and rank them before the selling season takes off. Strengthen and adjust meta descriptions on categories and popular products to include pertinent keywords that will help the page rank of your category and product pages. Adjust your homepage headline and/or copy to show shoppers that you’re the perfect place to purchase gifts, being sure to include similar keywords as before so you don’t lose ground in your existing rankings.
- Engage Social Media – Redesign your social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, to be edgy and branded. Share your discounts and highlight featured products daily via social media – this creates a sense of urgency and helps extend your online reach. Try a social media campaign where you ask customers to submit videos, photographs or letters on why they enjoy your products and business. Give respondents a discount on their product of choice, and then use their quotes and images on your website. Remember, testimonials are huge! Try a poll on your social media channels, asking, “If you could have one thing from (insert your store name), what would it be?” Then follow up by offering respondents a discount on the product they mentioned!
Download Volusion's entire list of 101 Ecommerce Tips to Boost Holiday Sales!
Note: We've included our affiliate link for Volusion throughout the article. Volusion is the leading ecommerce solution for small to medium sized businesses. Since 1999, thousands of companies have used Volusion to succeed online, with the average merchant outselling the competition, 3:1.