For ecommerce companies, the holiday season is definitely the busiest time of the year. Depending on the part of the world you are in, the holiday season will come at a different part of the year, but nonetheless, it will always be the time when you have to be pulling in the shoppers and also getting the conversions.
The good news is that there are many ways in which an ecommerce website can attract customers and convert. Some of these are practices that will work the entire year and that should be applied to the ecommerce website regardless of the season, often involving tightening up of certain features and aspects of your website. Others are more holiday-specific and they will work only during the holiday season.
So, without further ado.
Get Those Mobile Shoppers Spending
In 2015, the number of holiday shoppers who did their seasonal shopping on their mobile devices jumped by almost 70% when compared to 2014. Amazon is reporting that a quarter of their shoppers purchase on mobile devices. In other words, you cannot ignore mobile shoppers and if you have been doing it for whatever reason, consider this holiday season the perfect time to correct this.
Do everything in your power to put up a mobile version of your ecommerce website and make sure that it is not just a placeholder. It needs to be 100% functional and people need to be actually able to do some shopping on their smartphones. It would take far too much time and space to explain all of this, so I will just point you towards this great article on designing a mobile-friendly ecommerce website.
The important thing is that you cannot afford to ignore mobile shoppers and provide them with a comfortable and secure mobile shopping experience this holiday season.
Do an Overhaul of Your Website
Your website could probably do with an overhaul during the holidays and it should be done in a way that will make your customers feel like the holidays are here and that they should be more generous with the money they are willing to spend.
One of the ways to do this is to remind them that the holidays are a time of gift-giving. You will do this by painting certain items as the “perfect gifts for X” where the X can be a dad, a mom, a brother, a friend, a lover or anyone else you can think of. It can even be a pet. Don’t forget about all the people who purchase holiday gifts for their pets.
In addition to this, you can reorganize your categories to go with the holiday theme. Once again, you will have to decide which items work as gifts for which group of people and you will then categorize them in the appropriate groups. Believe it or not, but this can be a fantastic way to drive more sales.
Of course, a few visual tweaks will also go a long towards getting people in the holiday mood and reminding them that these are the good times that will only be made better if they spend some money on their family and friends.
Be Generous with Discounts
Often times, one very simple and brutal truth gets lost when people talk about attracting customers and selling to them via ecommerce websites – people want to spend as little money as possible. During the holidays, people are looking for the best deals and, according to Deloitte, the low prices are the primary factor in getting people to try a new ecommerce store.
Of course, this does not mean that you will start handing out such discounts that you will start losing money. This would defeat the whole purpose of running an ecommerce store. That being said, you will want to give out as many great deals as you can possibly afford for one very simple reason – this brings in new customers. As a result, you will be able to sell them non-discounted items too and with a few more smart practices, you will turn them into returning customers that are not just around for the holidays.
Use Precise Targeting
Not everyone who visits your website is the same. Some of them have never before visited your website, some of them are returning customers. Then, there are also the people who are just about to leave your website without making a purchase. You need to make sure you are doing the right thing to get each and every one of them to purchase something.
For first time visitors, you need to have an eye-catching landing page that will let them know who you are and what you do best. More than half of visitors leave a new ecommerce website within 15 seconds on average and you need to get them on board as quickly as possible. Hit them with your best offers and deals. Tell them everything about the incentives you have put in place during the holidays. Get them to stay and browse.
For your returning customers, it is crucial that you let them know their repeat business is highly appreciated. A great way to sweeten the deal is to offer them a discount simply because they are a returning customers. Show them that you care about your return customers (because you do, or at least you should) by treating them well.
As for the visitors who are leaving your website and especially those who are abandoning a packed cart, you should do everything in your power to change their mind. If your promo code required your customers to leave their email, get rid of this for abandoning customers. Just give them the promo code and hope it will be an incentive to complete the purchase. There is nothing worse than a shopper who leaves you at the last moment.
Unleash the Power of Email
While email marketing has been maligned over the last few years in favor of some “fancier” and “more exciting” online marketing practices, the cold hard truth is that it works. This is especially true for ecommerce websites.
The good news is that the holiday season is just the time to unleash all your creativity and fun-loving personality in your email marketing. Always make sure your holiday emails have that holiday cheer and that they are also sending the best wishes to your shoppers. In other words, do not make it all about selling. Try to let your potential customers know they can expect a cool holiday experience on your ecommerce website.
Another way to use emails in holiday ecommerce ecosystem is to have another go at the shoppers who abandoned their carts despite your efforts to change their minds. These are called cart abandonment emails and they can be a fantastic opportunity for your ecommerce website.
Be Smart About Shipping
Believe it or not, but more than 70% of online shoppers say that free shipping is the most important factor when deciding whether to make a purchase. Almost three quarters of all online shoppers will make a decision based on this. If you can afford it, free shipping is therefore one of the best things you can do to boost your sales during the holiday season, plain and simple.
However, giving just about anyone free shipping is not only expensive, but can also be counterproductive. Namely, you can use free shipping as an incentive for your visitors to shop more. For instance, you offer free shipping on all orders over $50.
In addition to being cheap (or free), your shipping needs to be as fast as possible. People are not exactly patient when expecting their orders and they get even antsier when the holiday cheer is in the air.
Finally, if you can afford to offer free returns, this would be a great way to really seal the deal with a number of visitors.
Customer Service is Key
Last but definitely not the least, the holiday season is the time to provide your customers and your potential customers with the absolute best customer service you can muster. Some ecommerce setups are smaller and it will be difficult for them to compete with the giant ecommerce players and their thousands of customer service people.
Still, you need to keep in mind that people have extra questions and needs during the holidays. This is why you should make customer service the number one priority during the holidays. People will have myriad questions about various deals, shipping and return options, as well as everything else you can imagine. Answering those questions will deliver a sure boost to the conversions.
It is possible that you might need to take on additional people to help you with this or outsource it for a few weeks, perhaps even add a live chat feature to your website. You need to be prepared to do this.
Instead of a Closing Word – Post-Holidays Sales
Immediately after the big holidays are over, ecommerce websites usually see a dramatic drop in traffic, accompanied by an almost depressingly low number of sales. It does not have to be this way. This period does not have to be this slow, as long as you know about it and have a few tactics ready. Among these, we would highlight offering deals that are tied in with the holiday shopping, follow-up emails that may include additional deals and offers, as well as running some post-holiday contests.
The important thing is that you understand this post-holiday period of time can be turned from a dud to a winner.