I’m not mad! I know what time of year it is but online retailers should start planning now – here’s why:
As the Christmas Holidays fast approach, savvy online retailers are already preparing for the upcoming festive period. Last year, online shopping reached a new high during the 2012 holiday season with both small and large retailers reporting strong sales.
Figures from Experian revealed visits to retail websites were up by 86% on Christmas Eve and 71% on Christmas Day. Boxing Day set a new record for online shopping with 113 million visits going to retail websites in a single day which Experian attributed to consumers being savvier in their sales shopping strategies by using the Internet to research the best deals.
Don’t just think of the run up to Christmas: During and after Christmas present great opportunities.
Last year, EConsultancy.com data backed up the Experian report by finding that post Christmas order values we’re higher than before Christmas day with consumers taking advantage of post Christmas sales to purchase higher ticket items and/or larger shopping baskets. This highlights the need for online retailers to not only think about the run up to the festive period but also consider how best to satisfy consumers all the way through to the January Sales.
Many E-Commerce websites will simply carry on with business as usual as far as their SEO and PPC is concerned but this is destined for failure. To get the most out of the impending festive season you need to start planning now and getting your ducks in a row.
Here’s an essential guide for every E-Commerce website this Christmas:
PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising For Christmas.
You may already be using Google AdWords or Bing Ads but start thinking about adapting your adverts, keywords and landing pages for the Christmas period. Take a look at Google Trends and get an idea how much interest peaks in your products over the Christmas period and consider what budget you’re willing to apply to your PPC Campaigns during the Christmas period to accommodate the extra traffic.
If you’re not using PPC Advertising yet then start now, usually it takes time to get a PPC account running as you’d expect so start now and be ready to bring home the bacon (or Turkey 😉 ) in December.
Don’t forget Bing Ads either: Searches will likely increase everywhere and not just Google so aim to catch as many as you possibly can.
Product Listing Ads
Product Listing Ads, (or “PLA’s”) launched in the UK in February 2013 and replaced the free Google Shopping System. A recent report from US firm Marin Software clearly demonstrates how PLA’s deliver for both consumer and retailers:
•PLA Click Through Rates (CTR’s) have increased each month since February 2013
•Shoppers find PLAs more relevant to product searchers than text ads: Year-over-year the share of PLA clicks to standard text ads increased by 93% and in July PLA Ads saw a 21% higher CTR than text ads. Given the more engaging and visual nature of PLA ads it’s unsurprising we’re seeing better performance.
It’s important to note that PLA cost per clicks are also on the rise as more retailers are investing more into Product Listing Ads. However, despite the rise in CPC, PLAs enjoy relatively low CPCs compared to traditional text ads.
PLA’s work great because they give shoppers key information within Google Search Results such as price, name of the product and an image. This means by the time a searcher clicks on your PLA Advert they already know it’s the product they are looking for at the price they expect.
If you’re using PLAs already then get them optimised ready for the festive season: It’s likely you’ll see more search volume over Christmas so make sure you keep an eye on your budget and raise it if necessary to take advantage of the extra buyers.
Re-Marketing (or Re-Targeting) is hugely important all year round especially at Christmas. Shoppers will start researching gift ideas way before Christmas and shop around for the best deals. Re-Marketing allows you to show your adverts to previous visitors of your website and stay fresh in their mind as they visit other websites around the Internet. With the new Google Dynamic Re-Marketing system you can even show them specific products they’ve viewed on your website and keep reminding them why they should come back to you and buy.
Consider setting up Christmas specific re-marketing lists to target those that shop on the run up to Christmas, during the holidays and of course the January Sales. Here’s an example of how you could segment your marketing lists:
- 4 Weeks before the holidays: Offer a discount with a voucher.
- 2 Weeks before the holidays: Offer “Free Shipping” until the last postage date before Christmas.
- Up to the last postage date before Christmas: Remind visitors the last postage date is fast approaching and they can still buy in time.
- Boxing Day – Advertise post holiday special offers.
- Jan First – Advertise January Sales.
- And so on…
It’s important to start collecting cookies (adding visitors to your re-marketing lists) as soon as possible to increase the number of potential customers you can target so start planning your Christmas Re-Marketing now!
Remember, on the run up to Christmas consumers go bonkers, make sure you are always there fresh in their mind so when they decide to buy, you are ready and waiting. Start planning now and set dates in your calendar to ensure you run the correct adverts at the correct times.
Re-Marketing on Facebook
Don’t forget about Facebook: You can re-market to your visitors on Facebook too. Imagine the sheer number of conversations on Facebook during the run up to Christmas! It doesn’t matter if a Facebook users follows your Facebook Page or not, if they’ve visited your website theres a good chance they’ll see your Facebook advert.
We love (and use) AdRoll for Facebook Re-Marketing, give the AdRoll guys a shout if you want to handle it “in house” rather than use an agency like ours!
SEO for the Christmas Holidays
Yes, SEO is a long term online marketing strategy but get your Christmas range published now and start getting it noticed by Search Engines. Think about your product descriptions: are they informative? Do your product images represent your products well?
Seasonal SEO is very important and you should prepare well in advance: You will likely have an idea what the “Must Have” products are in your sector for this year so start writing about it on your blog to start encouraging natural links to your website. Think about what other blogs you can create with a Christmas theme which are going to be engaging and interesting to readers. Getting natural links now for Christmas will help your optimisation efforts and result in you being ready to mop up sales during and after the festive period.
Think of festive search terms that are relevant to your offerings. Think of phrases that include Gifts or Presents for example and do your research: Which terms relating to your products garner the most searches?
Social Media at Christmas
Christmas is a great opportunity to engage with customers on Social Media. Start now and build your audience so you’ve got a ready made community to share your Christmas products and special offers with. If you’re re-marketing on Facebook make sure your Facebook page is active and you’re engaging with fans. It’s a huge turnoff if a potential new “liker” lands on your page and sees an out of date stagnant profile.
Don’t expect to make the effort in December and see results, start now, consistency is the key.
Don’t forget your website. Make it as navigable as possible and A:B test different landing pages to discover which perform the best. Act now and you’ve got time to improve your conversion rates ready for the festive season. We recommend Optimzely: It’s simple and incredibly powerful.
Plan your graphics:
Get your Christmas banners ready now, in fact, get your New Years and January sales banners ready too. Consider tweaking your design to give it more of a festive feel. It will likely cost you but it does indicate to a visitor you are ready for Christmas and ready to deliver.
Plan your sales:
Everyone is looking for the best deal when doing their Christmas shopping. Offer a deal on the run up to Christmas and be decisive such as “Free Shipping on Everything,” “Free Gift Wrapping” or “10% Off Everything.” Make sure it’s clear and obvious and you promote if across all of your Social Media profiles and on your website during the Christmas build up.
Look at your Analytics for last year:
Specifically November and December and look at the most popular keywords sending traffic to your website and which pages performed the best. Furthermore look at how your website is performing now: are visitors dropping out of your checkout process? Could you reduce this by removing a step or making things simpler? Simplicity is key: make it easy for people to buy from you and they will.
It might still be summer but Christmas comes around fast. Start planning now and be prepared. Consumer spending is going to swell hugely and someone is going to get the sales, it might as well be you!
Any questions or anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!