Well you did it. You survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday! You may feel a huge sense of relief that your site withheld all of the traffic, but it is not time to slow down yet! December is upon us and what does that mean? Holiday shopping! Regardless of what holiday one is shopping for, December has always been the one month of the year where all businesses see the largest sales increases. In eCommerce holiday sales alone, the sales projections are estimated to be approximately $98 billion in 2016. Wouldn’t you want a slice of that pie? I know I do. So how do you go about ensuring a slice? Well here are 7 important elements you should consider looking into if you want your website to be holiday ready!
1. Resolve, or Find, Any Recurring Issues Throughout your Site
These can include anything from cart abandonment issues, security issues, customer service issues, etc. There are different ways you can go about fixing or even finding all of the above, such as;
Be clear about shipping costs as well as total costs right at the beginning so that your customers aren’t surprised at checkout
Offer multiple delivery choices so that users can use their preferred method of payment
In some instances, it may not be best to insist on a customer creating an account to purchase as this may cause them to be a little weary and take their business elsewhere
Update your site’s security software
Test the checkout process multiple times to ensure that the process is simple and there are no issues influencing the user’s ability to purchase
Ensure that your search function is working properly so that customers can find what they are looking for without hassle
Have your company’s contact information, as well as specific department information (if applicable), so that customers can contact you quickly regarding an issue or question – this will help to increase customer satisfaction and eliminate chances of customer service issues arising
2. Maximize your Mobile Optimization
In today’s shopping world, it is a necessity to have a mobile friendly site where users are able to maneuver through and purchase any products using their mobile devices and have just as smooth of an experience as they would if they were on their desktop. In fact, mobile purchases alone made up 28% of all eCommerce sales last holiday season, and that number is expected to increase in 2016! Ways that you can ensure that your site is mobile friendly are;
Test to see if it is responsive across all devices – i.e., all items and categories are visible and easy to find regardless of screen size
If it is responsive, be sure to test whether or not the homepages and category pages aren’t too cluttered so that the consumer can easily navigate throughout the site and not be overwhelmed. One way to de-clutter your site could be to add more white space and margins to make it a bit more pleasing to the eye
Have the text be large enough for users to read on a smaller screen
3. Page Load Speed – Test!!!
I will be the first person to admit that patience is not a virtue that I possess, and that is true for so many consumers! In fact, researchers say that if the page does not load within 3 seconds, 57% of users will abandon the site. That number may seem a bit exaggerated to you, but when you think about it, page load speed is a huge factor that increases overall bounce rates. We live in a society where people are always moving so fast while simultaneously running out of time. Though it may seem outrageous, you have to adjust your site to meet these impatient consumers’ needs. So be sure to test the page load speed of your site as well as all of its category pages and across all devices. You never know, it could make a whole 57% difference in your conversation rates!
4. Plan your Decor and Merchandising
Getting ready for the holidays can be as simple as getting into the holiday spirit. Just like during Halloween, it is nice to show your customers that you are a fun-loving brand by adjusting to the holiday season. You can connect with your customers through simple means such as adding holiday icons to your e-mail messages, having seasonal colours, music, or imagery throughout your site, or even take it one step further and have holiday-themed merchandise! This of course is only applicable for some businesses as it may not be feasible for certain companies to implement, but having a Christmas-themed Box-Of-The-Month, for example, is one of the ways where you can show that you are in the Christmas spirit with your subscribers. You may also want to take this opportunity to stock up on those products that are your company’s bread and butter. For instance, if you own a clothing and accessories line and boots happen to be your top-seller, particularly around this season, you should ensure that you have more inventory than usual to account for the holiday shopping.
5. Plan your Promotions
There’s no telling that the holiday season brings about immense opportunity for sales; this doesn’t mean, however, that no promotions or marketing tactics need to be employed. If anything, this is when your planning of promotions and marketing is crucial. Think about it, if all of your competitors decide to implement various holiday promotions and you choose not to, customers may draw a blind eye to them and overlook your website. So lay out a detailed marketing plan for this holiday season that includes all aspects; such as, your strategies, what deals and discounts you will provide for which clients, your mediums through which you will reach your target market or how many different platforms you want to use, your budget, etc. The more you plan, the more prepared you will be. When deciding where to position your efforts, you of course want to reach out to as many individuals as possible; with that said, however, it is important to remember that the previous buyers have a high probability of becoming repeat buyers and in doing so requires you to spend $0 in acquisition costs. So be sure to include past clients in all marketing efforts, and maybe even make an entire promotion strictly for them and tell them about it!
6. Invest in your Advertising
Now that you have put all of this time and energy to plan out your promotions, it is time to tell people about them! Online advertising can be extremely expensive, especially if you are in a competitive market and want to stand out. If you do want to grab the largest slice of pie possible this holiday season, however, it may be worth spending more now, and reaping the benefits later on. Studies show that consumers who use search engines are more likely to convert throughout the holiday season compared to those who do not. Whether this means focusing your efforts on social media marketing, e-mail marketing, or pay-per-click promotions, it is key that you do invest some time in at least one, if not all, so that those individuals searching for you can actually find you amongst the many other businesses that are advertising to them.
7. Prepare for the Post-Holiday Rush
I know, you probably think I am crazy because I am already thinking about what happens after the holiday season is over. When you think about it, however, the days between Christmas and New Year’s, for example, can be just as profitable as those leading up to it. One of the easiest and convenient gifts that some people receive are either gift cards or money in general. So what does that mean? More opportunity for you! So focus your efforts on speaking to the holiday shoppers, but make sure to also include those who are wanting to spend their holiday gifts! A not so positive element to consider when preparing for the post-holiday season is returns. No matter who the person is or what the product is, sometimes people just aren’t 100% satisfied, but that doesn’t mean that the sale has to be completely over! You can create a strategy to deal with these returns in a streamlined way, such as encouraging customers to not purchase something that may be more suited to them and their needs, offering a gift card or store credit, etc. We are not saying to be pushy and refuse to accept a refund, but by having a strategical foundation in place and being prepared, you could offset the amount of returns and even turn them into additional sales!
So there you have it! There are 7 elements to consider when preparing for the holiday season! The holidays may be stressful for some, but take this time to enjoy it and take as much out of it as you can. After all, who wouldn’t want to go into 2017 with some leverage that they gained just from getting into the holiday spirit?
What can be named one of the most talked about, dramatic, and polarizing US Presidential Elections, 2016 has also been one of the most informative in multiple ways. Though we as Canadians could not exercise our right to vote in this election, it has been a hot topic of conversation throughout the whole country, and even around the world. Regardless of whose side you were on and which result you wanted, no one can deny that both parties followed a strict campaign throughout the election. Something that not a lot of people realize, however, is the campaigns in which presidential candidates such as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton present follow the same processes that we as companies use in our own marketing tactics, especially in the digital space.
Businesses are not the only ones that have had to adapt to the technological shift that we have experienced, but candidates have too. Just like you market a product or service in the attempts to get the most conversions, candidates must also do this, only their conversions aren’t a click or a sale, they are a vote. So how exactly did both Hillary and Donald optimize on Digital Marketing tactics to run such successful campaigns? Let’s dive in.
Let’s start with the most obvious; social media. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you will be influenced by social media in some way. Whether it be seeing a hashtag on an ad, seeing someone snapchatting on the sidewalk, or even scrolling through Facebook yourself; it is everywhere. The US Presidential Candidates used this societal obsession to their advantage. Through dedicating posts to certain elements of their platform, or sharing pictures of them interacting with citizens, they communicated with voters on a more intimate level and marketed themselves through a medium that we are all using on an everyday basis. For instance, below you can see how Hillary is using Twitter to learn about voters’ opinions on a topic that was very dear to her overall platform in the campaign. Not only is she reaching out to her followers, but she is also trying to engage them by having them comment back and take the initiative to join in on the conversation.
Here is another image depicting the social media following of each candidate. Now this of course is not the only determining factor of a successful campaign strategy, but one can notice that the candidate that does have the largest social media following is now named the President of the United States.
Though social media is extremely important today, it is not the only digital marketing tactic that these candidates used in their campaigns. The various tactics that went into each political campaign that we also use as businesses are as follows; segmentation, split testing, engagement optimization.
When marketing a product or service, segmentation is crucial. Segmentation allows you to understand how to go about speaking to your consumers or potential clients to push them further along the sales cycle. Whether that means turn cold traffic into a lead, turn a lead into a buyer, or turn a buyer into a repeat buyer, it is essential to understand that each conversation must be personalized to where that customer is in the sales cycle. For instance, you wouldn’t present a buyer with the same offer that you would present to a cold traffic potential consumer. This is exactly how the candidates also went about conversing with multiple people around the world. The largest, and most obvious, segmentation between voters would be whether they are Republican or Democrat. That is simple. When Hillary, for instance, goes to a Press Conference where many individuals were Democrats, she would not have the same speech prepared if they were Republican. It isn’t just as simple as this, however. There are multiple people, with multiple values and points of view, within each party. For example, one voter may favour Hillary because of her women’s rights activism, whereas another may favour Hillary because of her emphasis on student debt. Each individual voter has their own reason to be in favour of a certain party, and each of them must be addressed differently. This of course is difficult as an electoral candidate since many opportunities to address voters are in public atmospheres where these individuals unite. This is where, as mentioned above, social media can play a big role in speaking to each individual need, or pain point in business terms. By taking the time to personalize each conversation, you are allowing each consumer, or voter, to feel as if their business, or their vote, matters.
Just like in business, it is hard to get your marketing and advertising strategy perfect on the first try. Reaching out digitally is a great, yet inexpensive, way to speak to voters, or consumers, and get their feedback on your messaging or product base. The rule of thumb in all businesses is that you must give the customer something of value, and something that they desire. What better way is there to ensure that you are delivering on that promise besides asking them for their opinion? Just like in business, presidential candidates took the time to present various ads to their voters and analyze the results and reactions. Once an ad is released, the candidates could realize whether it was effective based off audience response and made the required adjustments. Through presenting your ads digitally, it allows you to receive this feedback quickly and perfect the messaging quickly as well. Split testing is a tool that helped both Trump and Clinton speak to their voters how they wanted to be spoken to, whether that be through an ad, a press conference, or even an email. If they can do it, you can too!
Once your audience is segmented, and your messaging is perfected, it is now time to engage each consumer. You can talk to people all you want, but if they are not responding then you are in a one-sided relationship that will not help you reach your conversion goals. Just like a business, both Trump and Clinton realized that they can not just prepare a speech and talk at America, but talk with them. It of course is a difficult task to talk to every individual in America based on geographical and time limitations. Through the digital world, however, these boundaries cease to exist. Through examples such as the Tweet shown above, Trump and Clinton could engage voters digitally and this helped to optimize on conversions (votes). Donald Trump’s engagement on Twitter was so robust, that scientists studied his style to see why he was so interesting to voters and why they were so engaged. Just like these candidates took the time to have voters engage with them, you can also engage your consumers. Through the tools listed previously you will be able to amp up the conversation with each potential buyer and help to move them along the sales cycle and get you closer to reaching your goals!
As the quote, “candidates are people too,” does say, it is in fact true. Only we will change it to, “candidates are marketers too.” Whether you are marketing a product, a service, or yourself, every detail must be considered and all the tactics used to your advantage. After all, the main goal is to get people to like and engage with you or your brand, and that is exactly what the presidential candidates focus on when campaigning. Who knew we could learn so much from the most powerful people in the world?
In today’s marketing world, all of the competition within the market has now been transferred into the online realm. What does that mean for you and your business? You need to have a compelling and competitive online presence if you want to stand out! When companies think about their online marketing, they immediately think about digital initiatives such as social media advertising, email marketing and remarketing, etc. Though those items are definitely important if you would like to succeed in the digital space, there is a crucial component that tends to get overlooked way too often. That is; your website. Having all of the above elements are great, but if you do not have a strong website to bring customers back to then you may lose them before you even start a relationship! One of the most important aspects of building and designing a website is the planning process. It may seem tedious, and some may find approaching their website with a “laissez-faire” mindset is the best way to go, it is, however, extremely important that you consider each of the following before building out your site to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
Although this seems very straight forward, most overthink it or miss the mark all together. Start by asking yourself, what would you like to use your website for? Or in other words, what is the main objective for your site? Is it to gain subscribers? Generate more leads? Close more customers? Inform people on a topic? Persuade an individual to take a desired action? Whatever your goal is, your website has to speak to that goal so that your results translate. For example, if you have a brick and mortar store and are looking to expand into the eCommerce world, you will need to design a website that would be both attractive and easy to navigate through for the end user browsing through your products or what it is that you are offering. Not only will focusing on your goal allow your site to evoke your goal and overall message, it will also help you to remain focused on your project. This will end up saving you time and money by not having to go back and make these fundamental changes to your website in the future; which, as a result, allows you to utilize these resources in other aspects of your business model.
Once you have decided what the goal of your website is, it is now time to figure out the elements and components one must prioritize in order to achieve this goal. In a perfect world, one would be able to plan, prepare, design, build, and launch their website with no time restrictions. The unfortunate reality that most companies face, however, is having a hard deadline that they have to meet and launch their site by. This is when it is important to write down a list of priorities that you feel are absolutely crucial for your site to have in order to achieve your overall goal. After all, you or a developer can always go back into your site later on and make whatever quick fixes and changes required, but if you spend hours of your time trying to think of the perfect sentence to explain that one product, for example, you will never meet your deadline. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
When designing your website, you have to think about the feel you want to evoke. What message do you want to send to your users? What emotion do you want to elicit? Do you want to be more playful or modern? While asking yourself all of these questions you also want to keep your brand in mind. You want to evoke a feel that corresponds to your brand and its overall messaging. If your customers get one message from your advertising, your products, or other run-ins with your brand, but your site does not tell the same story, then there ends up being a misinterpretation of how you are presented and who you want to be in your customer’s eye. This may seem a bit dramatic, but feel really is important. For instance, when you go onto a website that uses very warm, vibrant colours, you assume that the company behind that site has a brand message and vision that corresponds to that feel. Whereas if you go onto a site that uses very dark, shadowy colours, you may feel the opposite. When thinking about your overall feel, the colour theory is extremely important. Some companies will stick to their brand colours and have it set in stone, while others may want to experiment a bit. To learn more about colour theory and how to apply it, click here.
Believe it or not, when designing your site, it is acceptable to use other sites for inspiration. Perhaps you like the layout of a competitor’s site, maybe you like the colour scheme of a site completely unrelated to your target market but still translates appropriately, or maybe you like how another site incorporated video into their banner. You should take the time to browse through multiple sites to identify what it is you like and what you don’t like with your end goal in mind. Now this probably goes without saying, but this doesn’t mean that you can completely plagiarize the layout, design, content, etc., of another website, but using bits and ideas of multiple sites is admissible and even warranted.
In school you probably remember teachers constantly advising you to write out a rough draft of your paper before the final draft, well this is no different. By creating a blueprint of your website you will be able to see your vision come together and be able to make whatever adjustments you feel are necessary. If you blindly create your website, then you will start running into problems that you never accounted for and make it next to impossible to meet the already tight deadline. During this phase you want to map out everything; overall layout, number of sections and categories, page numbers within those sections, content within those sections, features, images, etc. Basically, anything that you want to include in your site needs to be mapped out on this blueprint because you never know if you might need to add or remove an item.
Once you have blueprinted your website, you will understand everything that is needed to really bring the website to life. This is referring to the gathering of your assets. These include anything from images, videos, text (content), etc. You then need to ask yourself, am I going to produce these assets myself or am I going to outsource them? For instance, are you going to take the product images or are you going to hire someone to take the images for you? By gathering all of your assets at the initial phase of your website design you will be able to answer all of these questions and set aside the required amount of time to do so. Once the assets are gathered, it is as simple as inputting them into your site or having a developer do it for you
This is one of the most important components to consider when designing your website. Now that you have realized all of the above, it is time to figure out just how much time you need to achieve it. As mentioned previously, not everyone has the flexibility to pick a date where they are not pressed for time, so it is important to understand just how much time you have so that you can organize how much time will be devoted to each component in order to produce the website envisioned. Though it may sound tedious and maybe even a waste of your time, it will really help to show what you need and how you need to prioritize your time in order to reach your goal.
What do you think of when you hear the word “Halloween?”
For some, they may think of being able to dress up like their favourite
while eating all of the candy in the world! For others, it is a time to masquerade as someone other than themselves, share a few laughs, and maybe get scared a time or two.
Regardless, it is a time that many people celebrate and love to experience, so there is no reason why your brand should not join in on the fun.
Just like everyone else this Halloween, it is time to “dress up” your site.
This doesn’t mean put piles of money into re-designing your site, but adding some of these little features will help to increase customer engagement and, according to CNN, increase sales.
How can celebrating Halloween through my eCommerce store help increase sales?
We all know the importance of prepping your site for larger holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. However, many businesses fail to see the ample opportunity that comes about during minor holidays, such as Halloween.
Let’s talk numbers, shall we:
In 2015, Halloween consumer spending totaled an amazing $6.9 billion!
Total projected spending on Halloween candy in 2015; $2.1 billion!
The average consumer spent ~$75.00 on candy, costumes, and decorations alone!
Halloween is ranked 3rd in acquiring the biggest sales (after Christmas and Easter)
70% of Canadians and Americans plan celebrate Halloween this year, be ready!
Some of you may be a little hesitant based on your product base and what you sell as it may have nothing to do with Halloween, but guess what – it really doesn’t matter!
Regardless of what you sell, you can get into the spooky spirit
It’s as easy as incorporating some of the Halloween basics;
Witches on Brooms
Spiders and Webs
Eery Sound Effects
…and that’s just to name a few!
Go the extra mile – get creative!
Adding a temporary twist to your logo is an easy way to boost social engagement and helps to increase buzz around your brand as consumers will begin to resonate more with you
Not all companies may have the means to implement a contest, but they are a great way to generate more activity through social media. No matter the prize, contests are always accepted positively as consumers love to be a part of something and this can be a great way to showcase their creativity. Some contest examples could be;
The list goes on… the main takeaway is to get people to add your brand into their everyday conversation, and you can do so by implementing a Halloween themed contest.
Other spooky strategies;
Blog about Halloween related content. For ideas on blog topics, click here
Customize email templates and subject lines to get into the spirit
If appropriate, create custom Halloween product bundles or packages!
Incorporate Halloween themed colours, banners, language, images, etc.
The possibilities of how you can incorporate Halloween into your eCommerce site are endless.
The important thing to keep in mind is that you do make some sort of an effort to show your market the playful side of your brand. It may seem silly, and in some markets slightly immature, but rest assured it will help to engage consumers. Whether or not you see an increase in sales right away, making slight adjustments to resemble the time of year will aid in bringing in new traffic to prepare for the largest sales holiday of the year, Christmas.
You do not want to be tricked by missing out on a great opportunity, so treat your eCommerce site to a spooky makeover and be Halloween ready!
Brought to you by:
eCommerce companies across the web have been fixated on understanding the strategies, techniques and tactics needed to drive costumers to their website. By creating a great website, and targeting the right customers is just the beginning when ensuring a high-ranking placement in the search results page. Help improve your website SEO by following these 14 steps implemented to help increase your search rankings.