’Tis the Season for Sales: 5 Ways to Prepare for Holiday Shoppers
I don’t know if you’ve looked at a calendar recently, but we’re now into October and Pumpkin Spice season is in full force, meaning that it’s almost Halloween and therefore basically Christmas. With November (*cough* Black Friday *cough*) and December quickly approaching, it’s time to make sure your ecommerce site is in top shape to handle the influx of Q4 sales and holiday shoppers.
Think your website is ready? Not until you’ve checked off these five must-do steps to prepare for holiday shoppers:
Clean up Your Email Marketing Lists
Undelivered messages, spam complaints, and unsubscribes all send a signal to email marketing overlords (you know, ISPs, spam monitors, email security services) that your messages might not be legit. Don’t risk landing in the spam folders of all your actual customers and holiday shoppers because your list got a little messy!
Getting rid of inactive subscribers and outdated addresses will help boost your open rates and potentially also drive costs down, as many email marketing platforms charge on a per subscriber basis. Emailing real people who are interested in what you’re selling? Instant ROI.
Optimize Your Mobile Shopping Experience
In our “mobile-first” society this should be a given for the entire year, but if you haven’t prioritized this yet now is a good time to get your mobile site ready for action. During Q4 in 2015, 72% of US mobile shoppers used a smartphone to research an item prior to purchasing (Business Insider). Make sure that you’re utilizing a mobile responsive website design or even a mobile app. Holiday shoppers will be inundated with savvy marketing this season, make sure you stand out from the crowd with top-tier material – across all platforms.
Make Sure Your Site Can Handle the Additional Holiday Traffic
Ecommerce sales poured $4.45 billion (with a B) into the US economy over Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2015 (Bluehost). If you are utilizing a shared hosting service, start checking in with your provider now to make sure that a) you have enough bandwidth to handle a traffic surge of holiday shoppers on your website and b) your website isn’t going to slow down if someone else’s website gets busy.
If you find that you’ll need to upgrade your bandwidth to ensure a smooth shopping experience, make sure that you’re using a host that’s flexible and can work with your seasonal ecommerce needs.
Show Your Site is Secure
With everyone from Equifax to HBO getting hacked recently personal security (and avoiding GOT spoilers) is top of mind for a lot of consumers — people are becoming more and more careful with what they click. Give your customers peace of mind by showing them that your website is a safe place for them to do their holiday shopping.
Recent research shows that more than half of consumers surveyed recognize that the green padlock indicates added trust, and you need to give your customers reassurances that they can safely do business with you (CIO). Many ecommerce platforms, like Shopify, will automatically display a secure server notice at checkout. If yours doesn’t, make sure to display your SSL certificate or letting customers know in a sidebar or footer text.
Finally, it’s not a bad idea to make sure that your ecommerce website looks like what holiday shoppers would expect. For example, the Space Jam website is a treasured Internet relic, but can you imagine actually making a purchase from an online store that looked like this in 2017?
Of course not!
Aaaah, much better. Thanks, Paperchase!
Develop a Strategic Marketing Plan
The holiday season is the Super Bowl of ecommerce, and it’s time to start getting your team ready. This is the time to over-prepare, so schedule as many social and blog posts as you can ahead of time and have your targeted ads and marketing plan ready to go. This will take major stress off of your team, allowing you to make minor adjustments as the season progresses, rather than throwing it all together and potentially missing something important. Consult your ecommerce and social media analytics to determine the best audiences for ad targeting, but keep a close eye on your ad spend and conversion rates as the season progresses.