It seems as though the holidays arrive sooner and sooner.  As I was back-to-school shopping in September, I noticed Christmas decorations already out! Now with Halloween passed, Christmas décor is fully prominent in stores.  As an online retailer, we have to think about how to get traffic to our site to capitalize on the holiday season.  

Looking at last year’s data will help formulate this year’s plan:

ComScore reported that Cyber Monday sales in 2013 reached $1.73 billion in desktop online spending, up 18% from 2012. Cyber Monday was the heaviest shopping day, followed by Tuesday, December 3, and Green Monday, December 9, both bringing in around $1.4 billion. Despite the hype around Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, finished as the fifth-busiest shopping day.  Two other high traffic days not often mentioned are Singles Day (11/11) and Free Shipping Day (12/18). With all those great shopping days ahead of us, it’s time to start marketing!

Market, market, market

I once worked at rental car agency and had a manager who came in every Friday, handed me boxes of bagels, and said, “Market, market, market”. Off I’d go with the bagels and a big smile on my face.  I’d hand out a dose of goodness in hopes that the local car shop or insurance agency would remember this warm bagel next time they needed a rental car. Not much has changed over the years, but the avenues have improved. A strong Black November plan requires you to:

  • Look at last year’s performance and note what promotions worked, what didn’t work, and if there were days and times that certain deals worked better than others.
  • Make sure your top selling products have “best of web” pricing. Shoppers look for deals and the lowest price wins.
  • Advertise your deals on your website. Push extra inventory.
  • Leverage all social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Shoppers are desperately searching for that perfect gift.
  • Increase your search budget.
  • Have a robust email marketing plan.
  • Fully leverage the affiliate channel.  The affiliate channel is full of affiliates who market in different ways: from coupon sites, to mommy bloggers, to site comparison.  Make sure each affiliate has the correct offer details so they can let their customers know about you.
  • Make sure every path to your website accommodates your shoppers whether they’re on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Yes, this means shopping your own site.
  • Look into mobile marketing options such as SMS and geo-targeted marketing, especially if you have brick & mortar stores.

Site foundation is crucial

Your marketing strategy may be top notch but if your site crashes it won’t matter.

  • Test your website to ensure it can handle the increased traffic.
  • Check to make sure the search bar, product details, shopping carts, coupon codes, and other features are working correctly.
  • Have a backup plan in case some of your systems fail.

At the end of the holiday season, analyze what worked, what didn’t work, what you didn’t have time to try, and put together a game plan early for next year. A little bit of preplanning will ensure that everyone gets a warm bagel with a smile!