How To Prepare Your E-Commerce Store For The Holidays – Apart from making sure that deals and coupons are reaching the target audience, the nature of the promotion itself can have enormous impact too. For example, it’s smart to offer a flat sale across the whole site. It not only encourages users to discover categories they normally don’t browse, but also places an urgency on their shopping decisions.
While category-specific sales are more common throughout the year (“Autumn is here, buy a sweater!”) a universal sale presents a stronger call-to-action. When it comes to the percentage off, e-commerce stores offer sales at different values. Last year, the average online discount was 24 percent.
Whatever an online business decides to go for, it can experiment with gamification too — for example, by incorporating a spin-to-win wheel with discounts at different percentages. Getting creative is crucial — and once benefits like free shipping are thrown in, each deal becomes a true consumer magnet.
Destination and timing are also important. Deals can be valid for a limited time only, so keywords like “last hour sale,” “expires soon” or “flash sale” are likely to bring attention. Online stores also can collaborate with coupon sites and offer exclusive codes that can’t be found elsewhere to attract new consumers.
Email is the indisputable king of marketing. In 2017, 116.5 million emails were sent on Black Friday, more than any other single day of the year, according to Campaign Monitor. Brands also saw increased opens and clicks — and this is a trend that isn’t going away.
With a high return on investment, email newsletters allow online stores to leverage their loyal audience. To achieve their full email campaign potential, merchants should start sending emails three or four weeks prior to the event. It’s also a great idea to design a series of enticing emails that build on each other.
For example, an email announcing when the promotion starts, a reminder, an email that slightly increases the discount, and a last chance to shop email, ideally with a 24, 48 or 72 hour promotion expiration.
Abandoned cart emails represent another ace in the sleeve of e-commerce brands. In fact, these messages usually have the highest performance during the season.
Cart abandonment is immensely high throughout the shopping season. Last year, it increased to 81.93 percent. By deploying emails to regain customers’ attention, e-commerce stores can lower that number. In 2017, abandoned cart emails had a 34 percent open rate, 9 percent click-through rate, and 2.13 percent conversion rate, according to Omnisend.
Advertisements aren’t restricted to the domain of big brands. Even smaller online stores can leverage ads, particularly through social media or affiliate links placed on third-party websites or on aggregator platforms.
In fact, Google has released a new ad unit aimed at helping advertisers run more effective holiday campaigns. The feature — known as “promotion extensions” — gives advertisers the power to highlight specific promotions in their text ads without cutting into character counts. These promotions can be set up for different days and keywords.
Push notifications are great for diversifying shopping season marketing strategy, and can form an interesting alternative to features like SMS messaging.
Whether in-app or in browser, their power lies in their flexibility. They can be sent to specific segments or at specific times only. Brands who add masterfully crafted copies, experiment with emojis, and include a clear call to action are much more likely to succeed.
However, no matter which channel captures the consumer, all online stores must know that shopping decisions are finalized on the website. Homepage optimization is fundamental: The holidays can increase site traffic up to nearly 100 percent compared to a normal state.
Preparation for this surge is key. Slowdowns, bugs or site shutdowns, together with frustrating errors such as accidentally emptied carts, could be critical in discouraging customers to make a purchase.
Any potential issues, including overburdened APIs, servers unequipped for peak traffic, third-party components slowing loading time, or too many graphics, should be resolved.
The website also should be fully mobile-friendly; last year mobile devices accounted for 67 percent of all digital traffic.
Once the website is ready, e-commerce stores can experiment with pop-up windows and banners. It doesn’t matter whether they’re designed by an in-house graphic or through templates available online — the bottom line is making the promotion very attention-grabbing and functional.