25 Jul Time to prepare for the Christmas shopping season!
It is an exciting time of year, because my friends, if you are planning on an increase in sales during the Christmas period and in January of 2018, it is time to get out those calendars and start planning your strategy. NOW is the time to start to prepare your website for Christmas. So that you are not caught on the hop by the time October and November arrives.
Here are some tips for the months leading up to Christmas:
July 26th – At the time of writing, towards the end of July, you have about two months before you want your site to be ready for Christmas promotions. You probably don’t want to start a massive redesign of your site at this time. Although, if you do not yet have a website and you want to sell before Christmas, you REALLY need to commission a website ASAP.
What you can start to do is look at Ux (user experience design) and SEO. In terms of Ux, it is a good time to look at your site through new eyes and to analyse some of the analytics of how people are engaging with your website. Can your potential customers easily find what they are looking for? Are people engaged on your site? Do they spend time browsing your website and categories?
Are the labels of your categories unambiguous? Perhaps you could do some testing of your site with friends or family or clients and ask them to achieve certain tasks on your website. If you decide to do this, have them talk out loud about what obstacles they face and their thought processes while navigating your site. It will really help you to see what the problems with your site are, and where the stumbling blocks are. You can write notes or record them speaking out loud to get a good understanding of where the problems are.
July 31st – Now is also a good time to improve and further implement your SEO strategy. This will help your products to be found! I will write a special post about this next week, so look out for that!
August 7th – I generally plan out my email marketing campaigns for Christmas and January in mid July. If you haven’t already developed a calendar of weekly or fortnightly (or more regular) emails that you can send out to your lists starting in October and proceeding all the way through sale time in January, August is a good time to do this.
August 17th – It is also a good time to put effort into building your list. If you can attract and nurture more potential customers to your list now, you will have a greater impact with your email marketing come the Christmas season. If you want some help developing a strategy for building your list, let me know. The process is simple, but experience can help you to get this right.
September 1st – You may like to consider implement customer reviews on your site during September. These customer reviews can significantly increase the reputation of your site and products. Indeed, customer reviews can result in a 34 % increase in conversions on your site. Woocommerce provides functionality for customer reviews out of the box. You might want to encourage your past customers to write reviews by offering a gift voucher every month for the best review, or some other incentive, that will reward your customers for writing a review. It can also be a good thing to remind your customers of, in your new customer email sequence.
September 6th – September is a good time to hold a contest of some kind on your website to encourage your previous customers and new visitors to discover your products. You can promote this on social media and through email marketing to increase your reach.
September 25th – Having a secure site is very important to your customers. Have you implemented SSL (Secure Socket Layer) on your website yet? It can be done quickly and easily. It can also be done so that you don’t lose a single drop of your search engine rankings. I transferred Little Snail to https earlier this year, and did not lose any search traffic. I expect that it will have some effect on our search engine rankings coming up to the Christmas period.
October 4th -Don’t forget to stock up on your best sellers and favourite products, so that you don’t sell out during the Christmas period.
October 16th – October is a great time to start to ramp up your SEM (Search Engine Marketing) listings, by increasing your daily budget on Google Adwords or Google Shopping. If you do not already have a Google Adwords campaign then get someone to develop one for you, and link your shop to Google Shopping, which has even higher conversion rates.
October 25th -People often start their early Christmas shopping in October. Be ready by creating a dedicated page on your site for Christmas gifts. Also make sure that the products on your home page are customised for Christmas shoppers. Change the branding of your site without redesigning it completely, by changing your hero or slider images, your header or footer to have a Christmas theme.
November 3rd – The beginning of November can be a great time to send out an email highlighting your special Christmas gift ideas. For example ‘Special gifts for Christmas’. This email can be segmented according to the buying behaviour of your customers or by age, sex or location for maximum impact.
November 8th – If possible, November is a great time to offer personalised gifts on your website. This will boost conversions and score you some brownie points with your customers. For example you could offer a free greetings card with purchases, with a customisable message from your customers. Potential customers also really appreciate a free or low cost wrapping service. Don’t forget to stock up on Christmas paper and sticky tape!
November 24th – 27th You may want to go on sale in your online store for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These are held in the northern hemisphere on the fourth Friday (24th) and following Monday (27th) in November. It can be a great time to have a very time limited sale to entice customers to spend more at the start of the Christmas rush. This can be a good strategy even in Australia.
November 30th – It is important that your customer service staff are available during this busy time. Always ensure that your staff get back to customers within 48 hours via phone or email and have them wish your customers a Merry Christmas. This friendly and courteous touch will give a good impression of your business.
December 8th -The weekend of the 8th – 10th of December is the biggest shopping weekend in the retail calendar. Take advantage of this by increasing your visibility on advertising networks such as Adwords, Google Shopping and Facebook. Having graphics of your products on Google Shopping can increase conversions by 20 – 50 % at this time of year. Ao don’t be afraid to spend a little more on advertising for this weekend. Your ROI (Return on Investment) should be strong.
December 12th – Don’t forget to put your delivery deadlines in a prominent place on your website. So that your customers are aware of when they need to order to get their gifts for Christmas. This will avoid any nasty surprises over the Christmas period.
December 26th – Enjoy your rest during the Christmas period. If you are going on sale for Boxing Day or January spend some time in December planning for this, so that you can rest during some of the holidays.
I hope that your Christmas shopping season is absolutely fantastic this year! Don’t be afraid to get in touch if you want some help with it this year. Planning ahead can make your website shop more profitable and is much less stressful!