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This time of the year has to be one of the most profitable for selling online.

A few days ago Shop.org released its 2014 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales in November and December to grow between 8 to 11 percent over the last holiday season to as much as $105 billion.

It’s also the time of the year you’ll likely want to be doing other things. Who really wants to be tied to a laptop, when they could be nibbling at mince pies and sipping mulled wine?

To keep enable you to take a much needed festive break, you’ll need to keep things ticking along with your business. So how are you keeping your sales primed over the holiday season?

Make the most of scheduling

Get stuck in and start producing great content now. Sure, you might not be feeling enthusiastic about yet another content drive, but having content in reserve will ensure you’ve got enough to keep your updates flowing and fresh over the festive period.

You won’t personally have to be there to publish your content to your networks either. Blog posts, emails and Social Media updates, can all be scheduled for publication. This means they’ll wait in a queue and will be sent out on a pre-set date and time.

An interesting idea is to have a festive-themed giveaway or freebie. Free stuff is always popular and can be set up so your readers can download the item with a click of a button. Things like Checklists and eBooks are great little freebies to say thanks and to spread your festive cheer.

Pro Tip: Tools for Scheduling Content

Buffer
Edgar
Socialooomph
Hootsuite
Get into the festive spirit

Another way you can keep your customers engaged over Christmas is to embrace the festive spirit yourself. I don’t mean draping digital tinsel over every object on your website, that’s just over the top. However spreading a little cheer can go a long way.

This is a UK example from Marks & Spencer. The email newsletter is a great example of festive done sparingly. They’ve kept their design to something simple and minimal, yet have highlighted their best festive deals and embellished them with colors synonymous with Christmas.

Think about ways you can tie the season in with your current marketing. You could:

Create extra resources with valuable advice such as festive to-do lists, tutorials and case studies.
Use video to create an instructional resource, product demonstrations or a custom Christmas message to your customers.
Provide free tips on festive subjects such as decorations, wrapping and gift guides. You can then link back to relevant products.
Theme your social media avatars with a little Christmas cheer. Add some baubles to your Twitter header or a Santa hat to your own personal image.
Decide on holiday specials

This is the perfect time of the year for you to use your creativity on special offers, festive discounts and product bundles.

If you sell physical products from your online store, don’t forget the power free shipping can have on your customers. According to Deloitte, 66% of people are more likely to shop online if the store is offering free shipping.

Make sure you map out your calendar and coordinate the scheduling of your content across email, your blog and social media. This will help you get the right deals to your customers at the right time, without you having to be there personally to push the publish button.

Don’t forget to promote

Using social media is a great way to humanize your brand and build engagement with your customers. In addition to regular conversations, if you have the money it’s worth looking into paid ads. Two of the main platforms are Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

Google Adwords is great for reaching new people that are already researching or looking to buy the products you’re promoting.

Facebook is another option that allows you to use targeting to reach potential new customers. You can also use the re-targeting option. In custom audiences, you can create an audience of people who have visited your site and then target them with a specific ad.

Measure your holiday efforts

When the holidays are over and you’re back in the swing of things, it will be time to dust off the mince pie crumbs and measure the results of your festive efforts. This is just as important as the act of promotion, as it will allow you to know what has and hasn’t worked, enabling you to make improvements next time.

When tracking your efforts, it’s best to use campaign specific tracking. It’s as simple as using a unique, trackable link, called a UTM parameter for each of your paid advertising campaigns.

Here’s an explanation of how to use UTM parameters by Kristi Hines on the KissMetrics blog. To create your campaigns, you can utilize Google’s URL builder for campaigns.

For more information on setting up Google Analytics via Selz, you can read our step by step guide Adding Google Analytics to Your Selz Store.

Get set for the New Year

Now is the time to avoid the January blues by thinking about post holiday sales. You could create a special product bundle, or discount and email relevant segments of your customers who recently purchased from you.

The email could be something along the lines of:

“Thank you for choosing _______ As a little thank you I’d like to offer you a discount on
__________, ___________, or ___________. Just use the code _______ when buying _______ in the checkout. Wishing you happy New Year.”

Or encourage customers who purchased one item with a discount on a complimentary product. Remember to be gentle, because most people (okay, especially me) have probably spent a lot of money during the holidays.

Summary

The holidays may be in full swing, but it’s never too late to get started with your holiday campaign.

Sign In now to get your online store ready for the Holiday Season.

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About the author

Geoff Austin

I talk and write a lot. Some of it about ecommerce, selling online, startups, SEO, digital marketing.

Currently, head of analytics for an automotive business in Sydney, facilitating a culture of data-driven decisions. Delivering data-based insights and intelligence.

Chauffeur to twin daughters and a pizza chef master.