If you sell products online, you’ll know how important it is to understand trends in your business. One of the biggest seasonal trends of any business’ year is Christmas.
According to a report from IMRG, the UK’s online retail association, in 2017, “online retail sales were up 9.7% year on year in December 2017.” An estimated £15.86bn was spent, emphasising the annual trend of customers doing their Christmas shopping online. However, the same report highlights a “monthly decrease of 13.3% from November” suggesting that consumers are doing their Christmas shopping earlier in the year.
The trend toward shopping on mobile is increasing as well. Campaign reported that on Cyber Monday 2017, a day which is fast becoming one of the prime Christmas shopping days, 60% of all online sales were attributed to mobile devices. This coming after mobile sales first overtook desktop in February 2016.
But this trend toward online sales doesn’t mean your business will automatically succeed in that area. Online shoppers can move from one online store to another quickly and easily, shopping around for the best deals – so it’s important to hook them in.
In order to succeed in online sales and to stand out from the competition, businesses must start investing in their digital strategy now.
Analyse and learn
Your first step is to analyse and learn from previous performance – what went well for you in previous years? This could include your top-selling products and which days had the best traffic. By analysing this data, you can review what you will do again and what you can improve on.
You can use Google Analytics to help you answer some of the following questions and more:
- When is my site getting the most traffic?
- When is my website seeing the most eCommerce conversions?
- Which pages get the most traffic?
- Which pages result in the most eCommerce conversions (i.e. sales)
- Were there any pages that underperformed in previous years?
Sign in to Google Analytics and go to Acquisitions > All Traffic > Channels. Look at your website conversion rate from October 1st 2017 until the end of February 2018.
For this particular website, you can see how the conversion rate accelerates throughout November and in December, highlighting some key shopping dates. The next step is to leverage this data in your campaigns.
Similarly, you can also identify the top landing pages on your website during this period and see which ones provided the most conversions in previous years.
This data can help you learn which products or services to promote on the homepage of your website. You’ll also gauge an understanding of when the best time to target promotional campaigns and offers that will result in the most conversions is.
Preparing your website for Christmas sales
One of the most important elements of your Christmas strategy for online sales is the shop window that is your website. Here are a few examples of how you can use SEO, PPC, email marketing and social media to take advantage of the holiday period.
To attract Christmas shoppers, your website needs to have a Christmas focus that enables it to rank well in the search results for Christmas-themed queries, and one which showcases your Christmas products in an appealing and user-friendly way. You can also add other holiday-themed pages such as Black Friday offers.
Source: The Range
This makes it easy for consumers to find what they’re looking for and helps them rank better.
Searches carried out in the winter months will vary greatly to searches conducted in the spring and summer, so keyword analysis is important at this stage.
For example, if you were looking for a dress in June, you would be more likely to enter the term “summer holiday dresses” or “beach dresses”. In contrast, when it comes to October your search will switch to something along the lines of “Christmas party dresses” or “dress for new year’s eve”. You can see that a number of clothing retailers are already using such strategies:
Depending on the nature of your business, seasonal SEO plays an important role in helping you rank for search variations. It is vital to ensure you are targeting the right keywords that will drive the most relevant traffic to your website. There are a number of keyword research tools you can use to help you identify the best terms to optimise your page for.
Once you’ve chosen your target keywords, you need to implement these across the relevant pages on your site.
You can also use the data identified in Google Analytics earlier to help decide which pages to focus your optimisation efforts on.
Optimise for mobile
As we saw earlier, there is a shifting trend towards purchasing with a handheld device, hence you need to ensure your website is optimised for mobile. More consumers are browsing online from their handheld devices than ever before. They compare prices, review products and complete full purchases. According to eMarketer, nearly 60% of digital buyers will purchase via smartphones this year in the UK.
If it’s not already, ensure your ecommerce website is responsive or built mobile-first, so that you can effectively meet consumer expectations.
Preparing your marketing communication
So, you’ve set your stall out and prepared your ecommerce website for Christmas. You’ve done your research, optimised for search and mobile and you’re ready to start selling. Now it’s time to start telling people about it.
Here are a few tips by channel:
1. Email marketing
As we reported in a recent blog, email marketing is a very powerful way of informing customers of your Christmas promotions. You can use it to target your festive promotions accordingly and to drive further traffic to your website. Here are some of my key tips for using email marketing this festive season:
Cleanse your list – Start by cleaning your email marketing list. Utilise this quieter time in September to tidy up your database and ensure all your data is correct. This will help you target your campaigns better.
Personalisation – Speak to your customer directly. Personalisation is not just limited to names and locations, you could even personalise emails by purchasing history. If somebody bought a Christmas jumper last year, they may be interested in seeing this year’s range.
Segmentation – Put relevant messages in front of the recipients who are most likely to convert. If you have a location-based offer for a specific store location, target customers by geography.
Analyse Basket Abandonment – Send follow up emails to people that have left items in their basket without completing their purchase. This is a great way to generate more sales from your website. You can also use Google Analytics to identify which stage of the check out process most basket abandonments occur and use this data to improve your website checkout process.
Real-time – Promote daily deals in real-time using email marketing. If you are offering free delivery for one day only, email is a great way channel for communicating this message to your existing customer base. You can use the ecommerce conversion rate data identified in Analytics earlier to find out when the best time to send these emails is.
Remind them of the virtues of purchasing online – No more busy queues or cold, wintry trips to the shops. Ensure you include deadlines – for example, The Royal Mail’s last shipping day for the UK is Tuesday 18th December for 2nd class post and Thursday 20th December for 1st class post. Introduce a sense of urgency to commit a consumer to purchasing a product now.
2. Social media
Your social media posts in the run-up to Christmas can all be festive-themed. Consider your objectives when creating your plan and use a mix of different posts targeted at engagement, click-through links to your website and sales.
Consider offering some promotional codes, such as free shipping or a free gift to encourage sales.
Together this will build relationships with potential and existing customers, building loyalty and brand advocacy. Consider how you can use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for best effect. For inspiration, look at what your competitors did and what worked well for them.
3. Seasonal PPC
Google AdWords is another great way to ensure your products (or services) are seen by a large number of relevant people. You will need to make sure you follow these 4 steps:
- Conduct seasonal keyword research
- Create seasonal campaigns
- Write seasonal Ads
- Monitor campaign performance
As with SEO, you will want to look at trying to get your Ads displaying for seasonal search terms. Carry out seasonal keyword research and create seasonal campaigns accordingly.
The usual rules apply for seasonal PPC campaigns and you need to ensure that your ads are relevant as possible. Write copy that engages human users, and direct users to the most relevant landing page for their search term on your website. Your seasonal landing pages should already have been optimised for the relevant search terms for SEO.
The example below shows how notonthehighstreet.com are already taking advantage of using seasonal PPC ads. I have highlighted how the ad has been written so that it is relevant to the search term used by potential site visitors:
When you click on the advert, it correctly takes you to a relevant landing page that provides a list of Christmas ideas for kids:
The title on the page clearly highlights what the content on the page is about. There are also sub-headings that break gift categories down by age, new products, personalised gifts, and many more.
Is your business Christmas-ready?
The examples above are just a few ways in which you can get your online business ready for Christmas. Get your tactics right and you could cash in on the increased demand for online shopping over the festive period.
If you would like to discuss your Christmas digital marketing strategy, give us a call on 0115 928 0123 or get in touch with us today.