If you’re a successful e-commerce company, you have to be thinking about the holidays right now. After all, the majority of e-commerce sales happen on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And last year, Adobe Analytics reported that Black Friday pulled in a record $6.22 billion in online sales, in addition to Cyber Monday’s $7.9 billion, which was up 19.7% from $6.6 billion in 2017.
Planning ahead for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holiday season thereafter is essential to driving key revenue to your business in Q4, as well as the rest of the year. It can be overwhelming to prepare for the biggest online sales week of the year, but here’s a guide to make your holiday e-commerce season run as smoothly as possible.
Online sales account for an expected 57% during the holiday season, so make sure your touch points are meaningful and you’re not wasting users’ time throughout all channels, especially email. Build lists organically using welcome and exit popups on your site, in addition to continuing to market to prospective customers and those who might have unsubscribed.
You’ll want to personalize and use dynamic content in order to make sure subscribers are receiving relevant products and offerings based on what they opted into. Utilizing a promotional calendar and A/B split tests before the holiday season helps you stay organized and know when, where and to whom you are sending.
When email inboxes are more cluttered than usual, it’s going to be critical that your content pops. The promotion of gift cards, final sales, shipping dates, gift guides, content links and FAQ/contact information for holiday-related inquiries will be much easier. Creative content generates more clicks, but the call to action must be straightforward, using text or buttons rather than images.
Build curiosity with headlines like “exclusive offer” or generate urgency with “last few hours left.” Because mobile retail is more popular than ever, with U.S. mobile retail revenue expected to reach $338.03 billion in 2020 (up from $207.15 billion in 2018), it’s also important that you focus on mobile creative and user experience design.
During this busy time, competitors are going to be making a lot of noise to stand out, and advertisement inventory is going to be limited. The earlier you start driving awareness, the more users you can remarket to, and the lower your costs and the higher the conversion rate will be.
Plan for rising costs and create lead generation funnels and email captures in Q3. It will incentivize customers to give their email addresses so that they can have the first notice on exclusive offers like product releases and promotions, adding touchpoints for each customer. Having assets — especially video — will allow you to test creatives, content and promotions to see how different customer segments invest time and, ultimately, convert.
Engage your readers with timely, relevant and fun seasonal and interactive content. Articles and blogs are great, but putting together how-to guides, unboxing videos, user-generated content from your community, checklists, listicles and games can really separate your campaigns from your competitors.
I’d recommend posting your holiday-specific blogs as soon as possible — no later than September. This way, Google will index your pieces and they’ll develop SEO juice in time for the end of November and beginning of December. Utilize social media as well, and leverage the versatility of your content assets by sharing blog posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can’t forget about email newsletter pushes, either.
Other Best Practices
It’s ideal if you can harness your customers to buy for themselves, but even better if you can convince them to buy for their family and friends as well. Creating holiday-themed campaigns and also creating assets such as holiday gift guides can help increase revenue, average order value (AOV) and repeat purchases from the same customer. Then, take that holiday theme to ad copy, subject lines, social media campaigns and any other aspect of your marketing strategy for additional opportunities to drive profit.
If you’re hoping to sell in bundles and want to deploy a gifting strategy, keep in mind that people start gifting ahead of holidays such as Christmas. You can run a sale in early November or December, like a 48-hour flash sale, with a countdown clock to get people to buy early and quickly. BOGO is a great strategy, as well as limited-time offers. While every brand and audience is different, a pre-Black Friday sale with Black Friday/Cyber Monday pricing held a couple of weeks before the date is an interesting tactic worth looking into, as consumers haven’t spent their holiday budget yet.
Last but most definitely not least, your company’s ability to deliver is the most important part of the holiday e-commerce cycle. On the purchase page, consider the ease of checkout. You’ll want to have a streamlined process so that users don’t bounce when they’re about to make their purchases from your site. Perform a quality assessment on your website in general, and since customer journeys are mobile-heavy, a fast mobile site with a clean UX is the gold standard to maintain.
Part of the ability to deliver isn’t just having a quality physical site but also quality customer service. Staffing up, training your customer service team, updating your FAQ page and giving as much information to the consumer as possible is key to customer service and purchase satisfaction. Shipping must also be a high priority, as nothing upsets holiday shoppers more than weak or nonexistent fulfillment.
If you tighten up all of the strings on customer delivery on and off your website, loosen your brain to allow unique and attention-grabbing content to flow and get moving on your strategy, your e-commerce campaign for the holiday season will be ready to go — and has never looked better.