With the holiday season fast approaching, marketers are contemplating different ways to attract and engage their customers. Since a company’s website is usually the first point of contact for most consumers, optimizing it for the festive season and creating maximum impact only makes sense.
Companies that rely on online sales understand the importance of the marketing funnel and the role of its website in facilitating the customer’s buying journey. The holiday season is a time when retailers expect high turnovers as consumers open up their wallets to spend on family, friends, and themselves.
In 2021, online sales during the festive season were recorded at a whopping $204.5 billion, an increase of 9% from 2020. This year, the number is expected to rise even further, so if you gear up your eCommerce marketing strategy for the holidays, you can end your business year strong with record sales.
The retail peak season has spread over the last five months of the year thanks to year-round promotions and sales. Consumers seem to be inspired by early holiday shopping, with 12% starting in late August, 18% in September, and 41% in October and November. Everyone loves a good deal, and retailers must be prepared to offer customers the best deals wrapped in festive spirits early in the year.
Your e-commerce store must inspire customers to start their holiday gift shopping with you, and the following are ways you can achieve that this season.
As e-commerce continues to grow, customers have several options when it comes to online shopping. According to statistics, 40% of users leave a website that doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, which means the slower it takes your webpage to load, the higher the chances of users abandoning the page for a competitor’s site.
Your site’s speed affects not only your user experience but also your Google page ranking and traffic. Since 79% of shoppers confess they wouldn’t revisit a page after facing trouble with the loading speed, optimizing your e-commerce store for speed this holiday season should be a priority.
You can start by testing your site’s speed with online tools such as PageSpeed, Pingdom, or Lighthouse. Once you have tested your website with a reliable tool, you can increase its speed by removing redundant codes, avoiding pre-purchased themes, and optimizing your site using other techniques.
According to Statista, 39% of online shopping during the holiday season of 2020 was done through smartphones. The next year saw an increase in mobile users, and this year isn’t going to be any different. With more and more customers accessing e-commerce stores through their smartphones, it is vital that your site is not just mobile-friendly but also optimized for mobile users.
While most websites accurately display on smaller screens, adding features such as text-based phone numbers that trigger direct calls and email addresses that redirect to email messages can help enrich the user experience.
A mobile-optimized store is easier to navigate as it reformats content, displays larger navigation buttons, and optimizes images according to the screen size. If you offer customers a favorable user experience, you can expect them to explore your site and return to it in the future.
Optimizing your website for mobile means that visitors stay long enough to engage with the content, thereby increasing the chances of conversions. Also, Google now factors a site’s mobile SEO into its regular SEO, so if your site isn’t designed for mobile users, it may hurt the result.
Mobile SEO helps with local SEO, too, so if someone is looking for a place to shop and your eCommerce store pops up, they’re more likely to drop by and make a purchase.
Online shoppers are always searching for special events because that usually implies discounts and sales. The holiday season is the King of special events; therefore, your e-store should be able to convey to the visitor that your business has something new and different in store for them. Whether it is holiday bundles, special discounts, or new holiday-inspired flavors– your website should look festive and inviting.
Suppose you don’t want to change the user interface of the entire website. In that case, you can focus on the landing page and customize it with holiday-inspired color palettes, illustrations, and photographs. You can also give an edge to your promotional campaign through festive infographics, trivia, GIFs, and explainer videos.
For a minimal look, you can decorate your professional CTA buttons with inviting icons that hint at a holiday celebration.
When preparing your e-commerce store for holiday sales, you should know where your website stands amongst the competition. You can start with a free or paid keyword ranking tool to determine if your site rankings are per expectations.
You can also check out tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to find precisely which words trigger customers in their shopping journey. Incorporating holiday keywords in articles, titles, image tags, descriptions, etc., will help optimize your site’s content and make it easier for potential consumers to find you.
Here are a few keyword examples that set the right tone and inspire your visitors to make a purchase:
a.) New year free offers
b.) Black Friday off
c.) Holiday bundles
d.) Cyber Monday sale
e.) Christmas discount
f.) Winter Sale
g.) Last-minute Christmas deals
You should also consider incorporating valuable terms like ‘sidewalk pick-up available,’ ‘free shipping,’ ‘lowest price,’ ‘offer expires,’ etc. to your website’s content to attract users regardless of what holiday they’re celebrating.
Holiday seasons are busy periods for e-commerce store owners, and customer queries never cease no matter how many calls you attend. For small businesses especially, replying to consumer queries can take a lot of time and effort, which is why adding an FAQ section is an excellent idea.
An FAQ page helps improve user experience because they can find the answers they’re looking for all in one place instead of browsing various pages. You can include questions related to your holiday offering and delivery periods since this is a time when prompt delivery is of utmost importance to buyers. You can also mention your policies for gift returns, vouchers, etc. in the FAQ section.
An FAQ page also works for organic search. It provides you an opportunity to answer questions related to your product/ service, industry, and even your competitors. When readers find your answer on Google search, they follow the link to your website to learn more, thus discovering your business.
An FAQ page is also an ideal place to capture voice search queries which tend to be more natural and conversational. Since adding a whole question to your web content may look awkward, an FAQ section serves as a natural fit for these sorts of queries.
As discussed earlier, customers tend to start shopping before the holiday season actually arrives. So, while preparing your website for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas, you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity for early sales.
You can run promotions and announce flash sales on your e-commerce store to engage customers. This will benefit you in two ways– One, they will either avail the deals you are offering and buy holiday gifts early. If not, the constant discounts and reward offers will keep customers interested and engaged until the final purchase right before the holidays.
When devising a marketing strategy for the festive season, it’s always better to plan early. You should decide what products are going to be available at a discount and whether the reduced prices will benefit your business.
If you plan on selling your products and services in holiday bundles, you should advertise that before the season starts, so customers know what to expect and can plan their budgets accordingly. A good example is Sephora, the makeup and skincare brand that announces its gift sets early in October.
Although every stage holds its own importance in a customer’s digital journey, checkout is the final step of the process that most e-commerce stores struggle with. According to the Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69.8% which amounts to a significant amount of lost sales.
Several reasons are responsible for such a high abandonment rate, but the leading one is high extra costs like shipping, taxes, and convenience fees. Another one is a complicated checkout process, according to Accenture, as 87% of online shoppers are reported to leave their carts if checkout is complex, and 55% are not likely to return to the same retailer.
You can simplify your checkout process as an online retailer by allowing automatic payment population, one-click checkout, guest checkout, transparent total costs, etc. Even offering various payment options, such as PayPal and Apple Pay, can add credibility to your site and remove any hesitation customers may have at the final stage.
Your goal is to turn site visitors into customers during the holidays; therefore, making your checkout process user-friendly takes you one step closer to the finish line.
A blog can benefit your e-commerce store in many ways. From building your brand image to drawing visitors to your website, a blog allows you to create a store personality and keep your customers updated on new products/ services, deals, and more.
Since most online retail stores already have a blog, streamlining their content with the holiday season can help attract their target market and generate leads. Marketers and writers can brainstorm and generate ideas about how they can advertise a store’s products as ‘holiday specials.’
Using keywords such as ‘Christmas 2022,’ ‘Black Friday,’ and ‘Christmas Gift Ideas’ can help you rank on search engines and attract customers to your e-commerce store. Once they land on your blog, you can explain why your products are worth their attention and direct them to the related page through internal links.
Nothing puts a damper on festive shopping like poor customer service. Did you know that 90% of Americans consider customer service a deciding factor when selecting a company for online shopping? This places a high responsibility on e-commerce stores to provide satisfactory services and increase the chances of a purchase.
The holiday season means a lot of customers and an equal number of queries. While a FAQ page can certainly help move things along, a live chat option or easy contact access significantly changes the customer perspective of the store. Therefore, you should ensure your site is prepared to handle a large number of traffic and queries without disappointing customer expectations.
The first thing to consider when improving customer service on your website is to provide visitors with different contact options. Make sure all the channels listed on the site are available so customers don’t have to wait for answers.
Real-time customer care is also a game-changer in e-commerce, as every customer agrees that fast response time equals excellent customer service. Nowadays, customer attention span is very low, and they easily lose interest in a page that doesn’t respond quickly. Therefore, live chat solutions can help keep your visitors engaged and push them further through the sales funnel.
The holiday season is the perfect time to attract new customers to your e-commerce store and encourage old ones to repurchase. But since this is a special event that consumers look forward to all year, their expectations run high in terms of great deals, quick delivery periods, and alternative payment methods– everything related to the online shopping process.
E-commerce stores can use this festive mood to their advantage and prepare in advance to maximize sales. Since competition is very high, creating a competitive edge through your website can help stores convert holiday shoppers sooner rather than later.