The holidays are an incredibly important time for internet retailers as well as non online retailers. Holiday revenue is expected to account for approximately 20% of retail sales in 2014. Some companies can generate as high as 40 to 50% of their entire year’s sales during the holidays, making it a critical time for nearly every businesses in the United States.

1) Know Your Customers

Knowing how your customers tick is essential for any business, especially during holiday times. Do your customers procrastinate and wait until the last possible few days to place their orders? If so, make sure you can fulfill quick last minute orders so that your customers are able to receive their purchases in time for holiday deadlines. For online retailers, it is important to prepare for customers with all shopping tendencies, allowing your products to be efficiently purchased and delivered anytime during the busy holiday season.  Make sure all products are in stock and ready to go before the holiday rush begins.

  • —Customer Demographic Holiday Shopping Tendencies
  • —Competitors Discounts / Tendencies
  • —Look At Other Black Friday Deals
  • —Look At Last Years Trends
  • Look At What Customers Are Saying on Social Media
  • —Don’t Be Afraid To Spend Money!

2) Invest In The Major Traffic Channels

Simply focusing on one method of traffic generation is not going to cut it in today’s massively competitive eCommerce world. There are six major pillars of driving traffic to a website: Email, Organic search, Paid traffic, Social traffic, Referral traffic, and Direct traffic. Make sure your promotional strategies are geared to each of these six traffic methods, if possible. However, with limited resources it might be best to focus on the traffic channels you know are most effective for your business.

—1) SEO:

SEO is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, and can generate 50% of traffic or more to many types of businesses. Investing in a holiday SEO strategy can help boost sales and web traffic.

  • Blog / Content
  • On Page SEO
  • Backlinks

—3) Social:

Social media is the best way to stay in constant communication with potential and current customers. Leverage the major platforms to get the word out about your holiday marketing efforts.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin

5) —Direct:

Direct traffic to your website is correlated with the strength and exposure of your brand. A strong holiday marketing campaign will bring consistent direct traffic to your website.

  • Branding
  • Promotions
  • Exclusive Deals

—2) Email Marketing:

Email marketing can have a massive ROI with averages being 40 to 1 for most businesses. It is the best way to get the word out about your holiday promotions and is a must do for holiday marketing.

  • —Promotions
  • —Newsletters
  • —Events

4) —Paid Advertising:

More people are searching the web for products during the holidays. This is the time to ramp up paid spending online in order to reach more customers on the major online advertising platforms.

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo

6) —Referral:

Promote your business on other websites, especially if you have deals that sell other companies products. Find ways to partner with other websites or companies to promote your services and/or products.

  • Local Listings
  • Niche Websites
  • Partners

Here is an example of a very successful small business website that leverages all the major traffic channels. Paid search traffic is new to this business, but will eventually grow to become a bigger channel balancing all six traffic sources.

Traffic Acquisition Google Analytics

 

3) SEO

SEO may seem like a long term strategy, but it should always be on your marketing radar every week if you want to be successful. Use the holidays to create content targeting keywords with words like Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Valentines Day, Christmas, Hannukah or whichever holiday may be on the horizon. This is the perfect time to tie in your products and services with the holiday season.

SEO Platforms To Utilize:

  • —Moz
  • —Advanced Web Rankings
  • —Google Analytics
  • —Google Web Master Tools
  • —Conductor
  • —Raven Tools
  • BuzzStream
  • Bing Web Master Tools

Some Holiday Strategies:

  • —Holiday Promotional Content
  • —Blogging (e.g 10 tips to make x a great present)
  • —Quality Backlinks (Holiday Promotional Sites)
  • —On Page SEO Holiday Promotions
  • —Holiday Landing Pages
  • —Holiday Keyword Research
MOZ SEO Rankings

4) Social Media

If there is any time to put more effort into social media, it is the holidays. People love learning about new fun and creative holiday promotions during the early winter months. Take the time to utilize the major social channels to get the word out about your holiday deals and further promote your business and brand during the lucrative months of November and December.

Platforms:

  • —Facebook
  • —Twitter
  • —Google Plus
  • —Linkedin
  • —Pinterest
  • —Youtube
  • —Niche Social Sites (e.g Bizsugar)

Holiday Tools / Strategies:

  • —Buffer
  • —Hootsuite
  • —Buzzsumo
  • —Post Holiday Articles
  • —Post Promotions / Flash Sales
  • —Be Fun and Festive!
Social Media Holiday Promotions

5) E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing is arguably the most effective method for promoting your business during the holiday season and beyond. Running promotions, contests, or any other type of e-mail marketing campaign, can generate new e-mail leads that can have major payoffs beyond just the holiday months.  E-mail marketing is a valuable customer retention asset, allowing your company to easily access and expand its consumer base any time.   There are many affordable email marketing platforms, therefore budget should never be an excuse when it comes to a lack of email marketing.

  • —Don’t Use Cyber Monday
  • —Experiment With Subject Lines
  • —Call To Actions
  • —Photography / Visuals
  • —Prioritize Information
  • —Keep it Succinct
  • —Flash Sales
  • —Create Urgency
  • —Holiday Themed Emails
  • —Don’t Be Afraid To Send Multiple Emails
  • —Abandoned Cart Reminder Emails
  • —Make It Easy to Scan
Email Marketing

6) Paid Advertising / Display

Paid search is the only way to guarantee more traffic to your website by simply paying money. With as much as 20% of retail sales expected during the holiday season this is a time in where a guaranteed increase in traffic can be very helpful.  More and more people search to buy online or buy in store during the holidays.  Leveraging major search online advertising platforms as well as social media advertising platforms is a great opportunity to get more traffic and sales from the Internet.

Platforms

  • —Google
  • —Bing & Yahoo
  • —Display Network
  • —Landing Pages
  • —Facebook
  • —Twittter
  • —Pinterest
  • —Youtube

Strategies / Tools

  • —Increase CPC
  • —More Search Volume = Increase Spend
  • —Promotional Ads
  • —Exclusive Deals
  • —Word Stream
  • —Holiday Themed Display Ad Graphics
  • Criteo
  • Raven Tools
Paid Advertising Promotions

7) Referral Traffic

Referral traffic can be a major source of traffic for websites that have quality backlinks. Additionally, quality backlinks are one of the major SEO factors for rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Therefore, the holidays are a great time to identify websites that you may be able to advertise or get a referral link / traffic on. For instance, if you sell a manufacturers products, you might be able to find promotional opportunities on their website because you are only helping them sell more of their products.

  • —Advertise Promotions on Local Listing Sites
  • —Referral Holiday Link Opportunities
  • —Advertise On Relevant Industry Sites
  • —Look At Google Analytics Referral Traffic
Black Friday Deals

8) Direct Traffic

The holidays are by far the best time to increase direct traffic because they are the most likely time to run promotions. If your customers know you are offering competitive promotions during the holiday season, they will come directly to your site rather than looking first on social media or the major search engines. There are many ways to create exciting promotions that make potential customers go straight to your website.  It is essential to be creative in coming up with compelling promotions that give customers a reason to think about your business during the holidays rather than your competitors.

  • —Holiday Promotions
  • —Holiday Graphics
  • —Holiday Videos
  • —Exclusive Deals
  • —In Store Promotions
  • —Direct Mail
  • —Outbound Sales
  • —Free Giveaways
  • —Holiday Content
  • —Holiday Contests

9) Promotions

As expected, the holidays are going to be a major promotional opportunity for almost every business. Flash sales for early shoppers, as well as late shoppers, are a great way to incentivize customers with all types of buying habits. Make sure your customers know your fulfillment dates if you sell online; they will want their products delivered on time!

  • —Flash Sales
  • —Custom Theming
  • —Promotional Homepage Graphics
  • —Promotional Banner Ads
  • —Late Shopper / Early Shopping Promotions
  • —Make Sure Your Customers Know Your Shipping Fulfillment Dates!
ecommerce banner ads

10) Conversions

During the holidays traffic to your website will most likely increase. This is a great time to utilize conversion optimization platforms like Optimizely and Crazy Egg that make it easier to get significant results with a larger traffic volume. At the very least, stay on top of free tools like Google Analytics to make sure your website is optimized to be the best that it can be for the holidays.

Platforms:

  • —Optimizely
  • —Crazy Egg
  • —Google Analytics
  • —Visual Website Optimizer
  • —Unbounce
  • —Kissmetrics

Ideas / Strategies:

  • —Test Cart Page Promotions
  • —Test Homepage Promotions Graphics / Slideshow
  • —Test Product Page Ads
  • —Test Banner Ads
  • —Test Shipping Methods
  • —Test Checkout
Optimizely Conversions

Conclusion:

The holidays are a tumultuous time for retailers. Holiday sales performance will affect many businesses for the entire year.  To help maximize the lucrative holiday months start by remembering these simple tips:

  • —It Takes Money to Make Money
  • —Plan In Advance!
  • —Invest in All Traffic Channels Not Just One
  • —Test Different Strategies
  • —Don’t Be Afraid To Send A Lot Of Emails
  • —Prepare For Increased Traffic Loads!
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