The air is sweet with the smell of bbq’d sausages, sunglasses are out and the beaches are packed. Summer is here and it’s Christmas again!
While everybody is enjoying the great outdoors, retailers are hard at work. Of all the holidays, Christmas is the most important in terms of business, and for many companies, the time when they make most of their money.
Festive food, presents, garden furniture and outdoor pursuits, the opportunities for separating us from our hard-earned cash are countless. But of course, so are your competitors, and in the pre-Christmas scramble, those who have harnessed the power of the internet will come on top.
E-commerce has been playing an ever increasing role in Christmas shopping as it fits better in our lifestyle: no need to get to the shops before they close, you can shop online at any time of the day and night without leaving your home; you don’t have to contend with crowds or queue at the checkout; or travel to a shop to find that they have run out of that super-duper remote controlled car that you – ahem, you mean your son – wanted so ardently for Christmas. In addition, people have caught up on the fact that they can compare prices much more easily and therefore get much better deals online.
As a result, businesses have been concentrating on promoting themselves online, if not more, than in their stores, and standing out to increase website traffic is more crucial than ever. Here are a few tips which will put you on the right path:
Search Engine Optimisation and Content Marketing
Search engine optimisation aka ‘SEO’, i.e. building organic traffic to your website, is a critical element of e-commerce success. If you are a retailer, understanding the holiday search trends should prompt you to research which keywords and phrases are popular for your business (through tools such as Google Keyword Planner) and build a solid strategy to grow organic traffic to your site through great content development and and promotion (content marketing) . There are two golden rules: don’t fake it – your content must be relevant to what your business is about-, and don’t overdo it – the practice, known as “keyword stuffing” will attract Google’s wrath and you risk being penalised. Focus on what your competitors need, and create great content that will be shared naturally, in turn improving your SEO results and website traffic.
PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising
Another aspect often neglected in e-commerce is that you have the opportunity, in theory, to reach the whole world. So, if appropriate for your business, create a targeted pay per click campaign (aka Google Adwords) to generate traffic to your site from other countries that will also be experiencing an increased in online searches. Setup specific landing pages that are relevant to the keywords you are targeting and provider the best user experience you can for people that come to your site. Once the silly season is over you can simply pause the Adwords campaign and either reduce media spend or turn it off altogether, sitting there waiting until the next Christmas season!
It’s Christmas, so talk about it on your website or in your blog, as it will also be on everybody’s mind. Possibilities are endless depending on your business: festive recipes for the food industry, homemade presents, gifts for those who have everything, how to organise a party, etc… Anything that will be useful and engaging for Christmas shoppers and encourage them to visit your website.
This seasonal content should be picked up by search engines naturally and drive high-quality traffic which will be more likely to be converted into sales. It’s relevant, it’s newsworthy, so join in the discussion.
Over half of all internet searches are now done from a mobile device, smartphone or tablet. Studies have shown that customers browsing the internet from their phones are already in “purchase mode” and ready to buy, so you want to make sure that you can capitalise on this by offering a mobile-friendly version of your website and ensuring that completing a purchase is simple and safe.
If you are spending money on Google Adwords or running Remarketing campaigns to drive traffic to your site and have enabled mobile targeting, then if you are sending people to a site that is either not mobile friendly or responsive then you are effectively throwing money away. Don’t waste your money on Adwords if you have not invested in a suitable mobile experience for your customers, you will leave money on the table with reduced online sales, and you’ll be damaging your brand and reputation by delivery a poor customer experience. So make sure your mobile experience is awesome and that next season you’ll be ready!
Discount Codes, Conversion Rate Optimisation and Testing
Unsurprisingly, Christmas is the time of year when most money is spent, and therefore most people will try to find the best possible prices to limit the pain to their wallet. It is therefore your chance to win new customers over by offering promotions and discounts and tempting them away from their usual favourite shops.
Hopefully during the year you have been performing conversion rate optimisation aka ‘CRO’ so by the time Christmas roles around you know exactly what types of promotions, creative, calls to action and landing pages work best for your business and customers. If you’ve not been implementing these sorts of tests then now is the perfect time to run a few with the increased number of people searching for products and services online. Treat this year as a ‘test’ campaign, then analyse the data and make changes accordingly so that this time next year you’ll be in a better situation to take advantage of all the learning and insights!
Use Social Media – Because People Are On It
Social media is a fantastic way to advertise your business for free. Tweet about your latest promotions, engage directly with your target audience, start seasonal topics with the online community, the world is your oyster. While Facebook has recently monetised its programmes, there is still a huge market to tap into which do not necessarily require you to fork out loads of cash to ‘boost’ posts etc. However, with the extreme reach that Facebook has, then investing in advertising is probably money well spent. As mentioned earlier, you could look at this year as a way of testing out different forms of advertising to see what provides the highest return on investment, so that you can then start the campaign earlier next year with the confidence and knowledge of what worked the best for you the year before.
Used sensibly, email marketing is a tried-and-tested way to drive quality traffic to your website. Don’t send emails indiscriminately though, but target campaigns to specific interests, demographics, previous purchases, etc, and collect data to analyse them and fine-tune your strategy over time. If you’re a retailer then you know that at this time of the year people are ready to purchase, so be sure to take advantage with well crafted emails that offer something really enticing!
So, in summary, how can you tell whether you are being effective? That’s very simple – when Santa himself places an order with you!