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5 Steps to Holiday Success - Online Readiness Checklist

Posted on November 20, 2012

1. Ramp up your advertising

Once your website is ready to go, you need to drive some new traffic. Earlier in the season (there is no 'too early' for this!) work on your search engine optimization, or SEO in order to optimize your stores placement in the organic listings before the holiday season arrives. According to a 2011 Marketing Sherpa Marketing Benchmark Survey (1), 75% of marketers consider search engine optimization to be effective for their business. 29% felt that SEO was more effective than any other form of marketing.

After August, concentrate on more quick- win efforts like blogging and PPC campaigns. Pay-Per-Click remains one of the best ways to drive traffic to your store, even if your store already has good search engine placement for your major keywords.

Nobody wants to start thinking about the Biggest Shopping Season of the year while on summer vacation, but the truth is: If you haven’t started preparing yet, your competitors may have a head start on you already! To help you get started and get your online store in shape for the holidays, we’ve prepared a little Holiday Checklist – make sure you check it twice! eCommerce has the services to help make this your best holiday sales season ever! And to help you out this holiday season, we’ve outlined 5 steps to prepare your online business success.

75% of marketers consider SEO to be effective for their business. — Marketing Sherpa Marketing Benchmark Survey01

2. Refresh your store design.

Search engines love new and dynamic content. Holiday shoppers love clean, modern sites that simplify navigate and make it easy to find what they are looking for quickly. If you haven’t updated your store template in the past 18 months, now is the perfect time. Almost as important, make sure that you have a fresh and current blog to stir up interest in your products. Now is a good time to make sure that your blog matches your online stores, so that customers will recognize your brand. Some things to think about: Clean, simple navigation is one of the most critical elements in your control to help convince browsers to become shoppers once they’ve reached your site. Make sure your navigation supports shoppers by providing categories like ‘For Him’ & ‘For Her’ or ‘Gifts for Dad’ and ensure they can sort the products in each category by price, name, popularity, etc.

3. Maximize Online Shopping Engines.

Make sure your products are listed in aggregate shopping engines. When trying to find a lot of gifts, consumers start on sites that display a lot of products to try and start narrowing their search. Make sure your products are listed in popular comparison shopping engines like ‘Shopzilla’, ‘TheFind’, ‘PriceGrabber’ and ‘’ so your store can be found./p> 4. Execute Enticing Email Offers.

Email Marketing is still one of the best ways to spend your marketing dollars in 2012. Email will boost traffic to your website, help reinforce your brand, and drive repeat customers. To maximize your sales with email marketing this holiday season, use a trusted email provider to ensure the best delivery for your marketing messages - don’t send from your personal outlook, or gmail account! Also, personalize your email to maximize opens and click- through’s, include a strong call-to action and be consistent in your message across the holiday season; eg “Avoid the lines, avoid the traffic, shop online for the Holidays!”

5. Engage a call center to handle volume.

By now the holidays are quickly approaching. You love the look of your new store template, you are showing strong in the search engine pages, both in the organic and paid results, and you have email marketing campaigns rolling out regularly – and you are likely running out of hands. A good call center goes beyond simple customer service help. They can answer all your phone calls or just the overflow (talking to customer C instead of making them wait on hold while you talk to customers A & B!) They can help you during regular business hours, or just at nights and on weekends when you are off duty. They can be trained to sell, upsell and cross-sell your products, handle returns & exchanges, answer email, or even run live chat on your site.

Sit back and fulfill your holiday orders!

When designing your website consider this: 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience

— The Gomez Peak Time Internet Usage Study conducted by Equation Research, February 2010

The period between Halloween and New Year’s Day accounts for as much as 40 percent of some retailers’ annual sales. — National Retail Federation (NRF)

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Here are additional sales driving Holiday Ideas

Start With A Review - Review your holiday efforts from last year and create a list of ‘What worked’ and ‘What didn’t work’. This will give you a good starting place to focus your efforts this year.

Create a Social Media Strategy - You worked hard to build your social presence through the year - building communities and relationships on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and on other blogs and forums – and the holiday season is the time to leverage those relationships. Try posting coupons, daily deals, hot new products, and gift suggestions for specific family members – “Still looking for a gift for Dad? Check this out…”If you think you are going to be too busy to put in time on your key social media sites once holiday business picks up, consider hiring a dedicated social media optimization specialist who can work with you to leverage your online presence and drive traffic and more holiday sales.

Coupons & Other Post-Sale Advertising - A significant portion of an online businesses yearly revenue comes from the holiday season. Include catalogs or sell sheets with all outgoing orders, or include a compelling coupon and deliver it to your customers via a post-sale autoresponder message as a thank you. You’ll endear your business to your customers and drive repeat business.

Holiday Design Themes - This is an obvious one, but so few online stores actually do it! Even if you don’t refresh your entire store, show some holiday spirit and engage a web designer to create some seasonal images to enhance your customer’s holiday shopping experience!

Upsell! Tis The Season To Be A Little Bit Pushy – Holiday shopping is stressful, but gift selection becomes easier and people will buy more if you create bundles of related or supporting products or direct people to similar products once they have found something they like, using a featured/related products option. A post-sale upsell, offering ‘Gift Wrapping’ or ‘Personalized Cards’, can be created using a shopping cart feature, like product options or a checkout upsell feature. If your customers enjoy their shopping experience on your site, they will consider buying from you again – so take the time to say thank you!

Online Gift Certificates (eCertificates) - Gift Certificates are one of the most popular holiday gifts in today’s busy world, where everyone has everything, already. This is also a fantastic way to extend the shopping season into next year as new customers come in to redeem the certificates they received as a gift.

Social Media Sharing - Make sure your customers can share their purchases or wish list items with their friends on Facebook and Twitter. Suggestions from friends who find a great product or a good deal go a long way during the holidays!

Gift Receipts - Everyone tries to hunt for great deals during the holidays, but nobody wants their gift recipient to know how little they spent. Enable gift receipts if available and make a point of letting shoppers know on your website.

Gift Wrapping & Personalized Cards - You will be amazed at how many people pay a little more to get the gift pre-wrapped! Online shopping is the ideal way to buy for a long-distance relative or friend and having it delivered directly is the way to go!

Be Prepared! - The holiday season is a time for great discounts and sales, but a bad experience will spoil customer relations faster than you can say ‘sorry’. Make sure your sales folks have everything they need to support any marketed offers, and ensure your fulfillment folks are ready for the resulting spike!

Don’t Forget About Shipping! - Make sure your shipping is easy to understand and calculate. Include shipping schedules to show shoppers when they can expect their purchases. Think about offering a discount or even Free Shipping above a certain order amount.

Check Your ‘Technicals’ - Is your Domain, Web hosting, and SSL renewed through the holiday season? Can your Servers handle increased capacity? Do you have a good 404 error page to redirect customers back to your catalogue?

Have A Clearly Outlined Return Policy – Consider extending it just for the holiday season. This can often be a selling point for many holiday shoppers.

Stock Up On Shipping Materials

Marshable Business 2011 Group, Inc. | 12808 Gran Bay Parkway, West | Jacksonville, FL 32258



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