Online sales are huge year-round, but everyone knows the holiday season is where you really make the big bucks. As November and December roll around, here are a few fast facts and tips to get organized for Q4.
Let’s look at the numbers
Industry growth seemingly knows no ends. U.S. online sales on November 30 – Cyber Monday – saw a 12% year-over-year increase, climbing to a record $3 billion in one day in 2015. That’s a staggering pace with no signs of slowing down and great news for publishers.
40 percent of consumers report they will start holiday shopping before Halloween, meaning the time to start planning was yesterday. Get yourself organized with a content and promotions calendar if you haven’t already.
Really dig into the timing and their mindset. Search Engine Land reports show that over half of people begin researching Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving, but the majority of purchases occur in mid-December. Google’s holiday survey suggests that 57% of consumers begin researching holiday purchases before Thanksgiving, but 77% don’t purchase until after Thanksgiving.
How you can capitalize on Q4 trends
- Make each customer your #1. According to MarkLogic.com, “Consumers are asking for a 1:1 relationship with retailers – with customized products, promotions and rewards.” Personalization is key, from things as small as using a mail merge tag to send what looks like a customized email blast to on-site shopping recommendations based on past click behavior.
- Know the dates and rates. If you do any PPC or online advertising during Q4, you know bids are notoriously higher as purchase intent is higher. You don’t want to be spending a huge chunk of your budget testing headlines and copy at the highest market rate so make sure you know which of your ads perform and convert the best before those crucial dates. Prices will obviously peak on Cyber Monday and Black Friday, but December 5 and December 12 are also huge online shopping days to get your name is in front of people. Similarly, don’t assume the shopping season ends December 25. Consumers love post-holiday sales.
- Don’t overwhelm consumers. It’s easy to want to blast out promotion after promotion, but that leads to inbox fatigue. Instead of sending one email for “Cyber Monday,” social media posts for “Cyber Tuesday” and entirely different messaging for “Web Wednesday,” consolidate all your discounts and offers into one neat “Cyber Week Sale” or “Black Friday Weekend.” That way, you can keep all your promo codes straight and your customers have one place to reference all sales.
- Create a sense of urgency with time sensitive offers. The holidays are when everyone is rushing. It’s stressful, forgetful and consumers are looking for any relief they can get. Make sure to ease their mind by offering things like free shipping, free gift-wrap, two for one specials, anything to make their life a little easier if they act right now. Ensure your site has subtle nudges like countdown timers, which are a great way to drive action.
- Don’t skimp on the mobile experience. Mobile shopping is one of the fastest growing segments of e-commerce. It’s vital that your site is optimized for mobile devices with a clear, easy checkout path. The “add to cart” button should be large, obvious, and above the fold with bonus points for auto fill forms.