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Written by Jane Serra on Nov 8

Here’s how your e-commerce brand can ensure that this holiday season is your best and (most profitable) yet — while surviving the end-of-year rush.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to leverage the busy season
  • Ways to make holiday e-commerce email campaigns work for you
  • Tips for beefing up your PPC ads
  • Ideas for optimizing your product pages

As the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season picks up and Q4 quickly comes to a close, you want to end the year not with a jingle, but with a bang.

According to Deloitte’s 2019 retail holiday survey, shoppers are expected to spend nearly $1,500 per household during this holiday season. On top of that, those surveyed expect to spend 59% of their holiday budget shopping online.

Even if the weather outside is frightful, a boost in holiday e-commerce sales is always (you guessed it) delightful. So, how can you make the most of the seasonal madness? We’re glad you asked: start with these e-commerce holiday tips that’ll help you turn sales season into growing traffic and a better bottom line.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest days of the year for most online retailers. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Create a personalized shopping experience

Page journey tracking (or what Google calls flow visualization) can identify a customer’s cursor at every stage of the shopping process through checkout. Not only can this help you identify strengths and weaknesses on your site, but you can use these details to reveal different information and products to different customers based on their browsing history and content interaction. 

Add a call to action (CTA), reduce page length, or insert an exit-intent popup to help engage the customer more effectively. You can also re-engage repeat customers through remarketing ads that include similar products or special offers like a discount or free shipping.

2. Leverage peak promotions

If it seems like every other company is blowing up ad space and social feeds with holiday catchphrases and Santa Claus memes, that’s probably because they are. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest days of the year for most online retailers, with the month of December not far behind. 

Google Trends suggests people begin to holiday shop in September and are in full purchasing mode by mid-October. This means it’s wise to form a strategy early so it can be ready to roll before the big buying push — not afterward. To make promotions as effective as possible, figure out when peak purchasing times are and design campaigns to be released ahead of time.

3. Prioritize customer service

As the number of shoppers and purchases increase, so do the questions. 

Here are just a few FAQs to be prepared for:

  • How many days does it take to ship a product out?
  • Are there any additional promos or deals going on?
  • Will it be here by the holidays?
  • How can I find or track my purchase?

Adding an FAQ page to your website makes it easy for shoppers to find the info they’re looking for, and it gives your team members a link they can send to those with the same questions.

However simple you make accessing this page, some shoppers will likely still reach out in an email or through social media messages. In some cases, shoppers will even want to talk to an actual human being and will make a phone call. To handle the increase in these types of customer questions during the holidays, have multiple communication options available to customers. 

Pro tip: While you can hire a seasonal elf or two to handle the phones, a chatbot might also be necessary for those nocturnal shoppers who need help with purchases in the middle of the night.

4. Create holiday e-commerce email campaigns

Email is one of the most effective marketing methods you can leverage when it comes to holiday e-commerce strategies. Cyber Monday drove $7.9 billion dollars in e-commerce sales in 2018, according to Big Commerce. Furthermore, Shopify reports that approximately 24% of those sales were through email.

Holiday email marketing lets you meet your customers and potential buyers where they already are — but to stand out in an overflowing inbox, you’ve got to get creative. 

When crafting your emails, we recommend you:

  • Keep the message short and include eye-catching, themed visuals
  • Create a “holiday countdown” email that tells recipients how much time they have left to place an order for overnight delivery, free shipping, etc.
  • Always include a clear CTA that leads back to your site
  • Add a limited-time offer (LTO) — customers are more likely to take action when they know the deal won’t be around for long
  • Segment your email lists so you can send the most relevant products to each group
  • Optimize for mobile, as the percentage of people purchasing straight from their phone continues to rise

Is your company participating in any philanthropic initiatives during the holidays? Whether it’s donating to a nonprofit organization or volunteering, highlight this in your email. Consumers tend to favor brands that give back over those that don’t. 

Pro tip: Plan to launch your holiday campaign before Black Friday. Data shows that Thanksgiving Day is actually the fastest-growing day of cyber week for e-commerce sales.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Customers value sustainability more and more — and it can affect a purchase decision. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Focus on video ads

Video ads on sites like YouTube and platforms like Instagram’s IGTV can produce better results than a text advertisement in some instances.

The current generation of shoppers mostly prefers video ads, and this type of ad tends to be a better way to engage consumers. Live-action features like Instagram Live also make it easy for e-commerce brands to get traction through promotional videos.

6. Use ad extensions and sitelinks

Because pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns encourage targeted traffic, they’re on the top of most e-commerce brands’ wish lists. When your company ad comes up, give customers the option to click on sales products, special holiday gifts, bonus offers, and similar promotions. 

Using ad extensions and sitelinks gives you the chance to add more context to the ads you publish. When a brand is searched for on Google, sitelinks can appear below the ad’s main URL. Similarly, Google Ads can include ad extensions that provide more info about whatever your ad is about through copy.

These sitelinks and extensions reduce the amount of work shoppers have to do, which can encourage them to click the link. You can also use review ad extensions to mention price reductions, special holiday shipping information, and more.

7. Target the eco-consumer

Customers value sustainability more and more — and it can affect a purchase decision. Get creative by highlighting any eco-conscious efforts you have at your company (hopefully you have a few). It may be the tipping point that gets someone to choose your product over a competitor’s. 

Consider (and following through with) the following to comfort shoppers concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases:

  • Reduced packing material
  • Re-usable boxes
  • Recycled (or recyclable) packing materials
  • Eco-friendly package transportation
  • Packing a multiple-item-order in as few packages as possible

8. Create a holiday gift guide (or related content)

Who doesn’t love a gift guide? Adding a fun branded gift guide into your email newsletter can be a highly effective way to grab the attention of shoppers and help boost sales. It’s safe to guess that subscribers are already familiar with and fans of your brand, so these guides connect with consumers through convenience as well. 

It saves shoppers from having to scroll through page after page or list after list of older or less relevant products and showcases the new merchandise or services alongside (ideally) special promos and ways to save.

If you only have one or a few products or a gift guide just doesn’t mesh with your brand, you can also consider creating holiday-specific content, such as a gated guide or e-book that provides value to the consumer and incorporates your product.

9. Focus on review sections

When 91% of customers who browse internet products read reviews, you know they’re incredibly valuable. Online shoppers tend to pass over or red-flag products with no reviews or too many negative ones. 

You can beef up your credibility by adding review sections, making them more prominent on your product pages, or asking previous satisfied customers to provide reviews via automated emails.

10. Ensure your site is speedy

Oh, what fun it is to shop on a site with an average load time of under two seconds! (…Not.)

Radware found that after three seconds, 57% of site visitors left a page they were unable to interact with. Simply having a fast load time can double traffic — no sleigh required.

Site speed can also influence repeat business, as 79% of shoppers who had a poor impression of website performance are unlikely to purchase from or revisit that site, according to Kissmetrics.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Deck your site with holiday cheer and watch the sales grow. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

The holidays should be a time of cheer — not a time to run yourself and your team ragged trying to keep up. Hopefully, these tips can put you at ease and show you how your e-commerce digital marketing holiday campaign can be your most successful yet. 

Now that you’re excited (or at least a little less Grinch-like) about the holidays, it’s time to deck your site with holiday cheer and watch the sales grow.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

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