Here are 11 Tips for the 2014 Holiday Marketing Season

Tis the season for holiday marketing. Many e-commerce retailers began their holiday marketing in September-October. When will “you” roll out your marketing campaign? What steps can you take to ensure that your customers have an enjoyable shopping experience as they traverse your store?

Here are 11 Tips for the 2014 Holiday Marketing Season:

Utilize Your Homepage
Your homepage is the first impression that your potential customer has with your business. Make sure it provides them with a great first impression. Update your homepage main graphic banner or slideshow to focus their attention to the featured categories or products that you wish to promote!

Display Customer Deadlines
Tell your customers on your homepage the absolute final day they can order and still receive their package in time for the upcoming holidays. No one wants to hear that they will not be receiving their expected package until after the holiday has taken place. If some items have a different processing time (think customization) list the final order date directly on that product page. Make this a prominent area of your stores item page, your shoppers will thank you for it.

Cater to Last Minute Shoppers
Provide an overnight or two-day shipping option to customers so they can receive their package in a hurry. Keeping in mind the cutoff dates that the various carriers use during the holiday seasons.

Extend Returns Policies 
Unfortunately, returns happen every holiday season, and shoppers scrutinize retailers’ policies closely before making purchases. If you usually allow 30 days for a return, try extending this policy to 60 for order placed during the holiday period. Return policies have also become a point of contention: Shoppers don’t think they should have to pay for return shipping, since they don’t have to pay for in-store returns, while retailers worry that paying those costs will adversely affect their bottom lines.

Use Mobile Platforms
Online shoppers are now more likely to visit retail websites via tablets and smartphones than through desktop and laptop computers, and mobile usage is only going to grow in coming years. Statistics show 56% of American adults are smartphone owners. 70% of shoppers used a mobile phone while in a retail store during the holidays, 62 percent accessed that store’s site or app and only 37 percent of respondents accessed a competitor’s site or app. E-commerce companies that don’t have a mobile commerce plan and don’t optimize their sites with responsive or adaptive Web design risk losing customers almost every day.

Don’t ‘Rush’ the Holiday Rush
We all know that you want to get an edge up on your competitors’ holiday campaigns, however the early bird doesn’t always get the worm when it comes to e-commerce marketing. Pushing your holiday marketing too soon can actually push away the customers who aren’t in the holiday shopping spirit as of yet. Compare previous seasons’ campaign performance for clicks, likes, and conversions against your order data to decide if your customers are early birds or last-minute hunters. Make use of whatever analytics tools you have to best determine this sales profile.

Get Your Search Marketing in Order
In addition to your standard SEO protocol, consider adding holiday-inspired keywords to your Meta Data, Adwords Campaigns, and in your product descriptions. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what seasonal terms buyers are using to search for your product mix, then incorporate them where appropriate.

Prepare Your Website for High Traffic Increase
Nothing kills your marketing and sales more than a site that has crashed. After all, you’ve done so much work to drive traffic. Make sure your customer is able to reach their intended destination. Prevent problems by testing your site’s ability to handle a heavy load.

Keep it Secure 
This tip goes without saying. Prominently display security badges indicating that your site maintains current internet security standards. This is necessary today so that consumers will feel confident while shopping on your eCommerce store. Many online shoppers, myself included, will abandon any shopping cart if they don’t feel that the site is secure.

There are many up-sell widgets or custom applications available that can help to increase the size of an order. Most of which are placed on the item page.
If your customer is online shopping for a winter hat, show a pair of gloves and scarf to go with it. If you aren’t cross-selling or up-selling related products to what your customer has already placed in their cart, you’re probably doing yourself a disservice.

Clear You’re Clutter
Eliminate anything on your page that does not contribute to a sale. People wish to do one thing when they get to your website. They want to find the item they are looking for! Do NOT make this hard for them. If you are looking at increasing sales on a particular product line, let them SEE it!

Make use of any marketing tools that exist on your site, such as graphical banners to promote your sales item of choice, right at the top of your Home page. When clicked on it takes your web shopper right to the section or item pages that contain your featured products.

You should have a “Featured Item” section on your home page located right under your promotional banner (if you have one, and you should). Take advantage of this area to populate items that are being sought after by your website visitors along with the items you know you have a good profit margin on that you can pass those savings on to your customers.

Try to eliminate anything that will have your customers clicking aimlessly. Keep in mind, the holidays can be a stressful period for some. Making their shopping experience simple will keep your visitors happy and keep them coming back to your store in the future.