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Monday, November 6, 2006

5 Last Minute Tips to Boost Your Holiday Sales

Posted by @ 1:22 am

Are you afraid your holiday sales won’t meet your budget targets? Feel like your holiday campaign needs an extra boost? Here are 5 last minute tips (and a bonus tip!) on how to boost your holiday sales in the 2006 season!

Fire Up Your Paid Search Marketing

Do you have great holiday offers and all you need is more visitors to your site? Search engines are a natural place for holiday shoppers to start their online shopping trip, but you won’t see any results of your natural search engine optimization in time for this year’s holiday shopping season if you’ve just started your SEO now.

You can significantly increase your site traffic almost instantly with paid search advertising, for example with advertising programs like Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing. The keywords your potential customers are using to find your products might be different than those they use at other times of the year, and you also want to make sure your ad copy appeals to holiday shopping needs. If you carefully select the right keywords, craft effective holiday shopping ads and set appropriate budgets, you can make sure that your holiday offers are seen by many qualified holiday shoppers and that your cash register keeps ringing.

Tempt Past Holiday Shoppers to Return to Your Site

The holiday sales season is not only about acquiring new customers for your website, but also about reminding existing customers of your great offers. While this is certainly far from a comprehensive and segmented database marketing strategy, you could make things simple for yourself by creating a list of everyone who bought from you during last year’s holiday season (assuming they’ve granted you permission to email them) and the type of product(s) they bought last year. Based on this information, you can easily create an email with customized holiday shopping recommendations based on last year’s purchases – and don’t forget to mention your holiday promotions to everyone!

Finding Gifts Made Easy

Do you offer your visitors easy ways of searching for the perfect present? Your customers might need a present for a man or woman, for a particular age group, for a particular interest or have a specific budget they want to spend. If your site search function does not allow your users to search using these criteria, think about creating special gift finder pages for the holiday season where you present links to themed product lists.

Free Shipping or Other Promotions Increase Your Conversion Rate

Deals like free shipping or discounts help convert unplanned purchases. Many of the Internet users who come to your site might only be researching gifts they are planning to buy offline. You significantly increase your chances of turning them into buyers if you present them with a deal or offer that’s just too good to pass by. Examples include:

  • Buy Widget 1 and get Widget 2 half price.
  • Buy widgets for more than $xyz and get a x% discount on your order value.
  • Get free express shipping for orders over $xyz.
  • Free gift wrapping for orders over $xyz.

Beef Up Your Customer Service

What else can make your holiday offers stand out from the rest? Great service! You potential customers don’t only want to find the product they are looking for at a great price and with fast and free shipping; in some cases, they might not be sure about some product feature, want reassurance in regards to delivery dates and return procedures or would like some advice about the most popular gifts for grandma and grandpa.

You might not be able to address all of those questions with the copy on your web pages, so it’s a great idea to make sure you customer service team is fully manned and ready to answer any questions you may get via phone or email.

If you don’t use live chat on your site yet, this may be the time to implement it, as it offers a fantastic way of dealing with customer queries in real time and in a customer-friendly way. If you won’t be able to get live chat up and running for this holiday season, make sure you’ve tested it before the next festive season comes round!

Bonus Tip: Offer Last Minute Gift Ideas

According to research from Bizrate, 39% of online shoppers aren’t planning on starting their holiday shopping until early or mid November, 15% plan to start during the Thanksgiving weekend, and 14% plan to leave their online holiday shopping until December. That means there are an awful lot of folks out there who will be looking for great last minute ideas. So, make sure you highlight your express delivery options and provide ample information about shipping deadlines and costs (if applicable).

Alternatively, promote your gift ideas that are not dependent on physical delivery, like the range of gift vouchers that you offer. To give your customers more options, allow them to choose whether they want email or paper vouchers. You might even want to offer gift wrapping and gift card options for your vouchers or set up voucher offers aimed at corporate customers.

Good luck with your last minute holiday e-commerce action plan. We’d love to hear from you if you have other great last minute ideas you’d like to share.

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