How To Drive More Sales During The Holiday Season

Naziba Ali

Content Editor

How To Drive More Sales During The Holiday Season

The opportunity to increase your holiday sales comes once-a-year. As such, you wouldn’t want to skip a beat in your efforts. Read on to find 10 tactful strategies that will tempt customers to flock to your online store.

Lavish feasts on Thanksgiving, gift exchange on Christmas and a getaway on New Years Eve - this pretty much sums up the holiday season, right? But as an E-commerce business owner, you can certainly see beyond the festivities.

The events share a common ground: people tend to overindulge during the holidays. To put it in numbers, holiday E-commerce sales are estimated to hit $207 billion this year.

While customers are on a shopping spree, you are left with precisely two options: go big or go home. Depending on your holiday marketing plans, this may or may not be the case.

Simply put, the holiday season is here to keep you on your toes.

But as of now,  grab a cup of steaming coffee,  get a cozy spot and read on as we reveal 11 tried-and-true tactics for winning big during the holidays!

  1. Customize your website for the festive season
  2. Offer exclusive holiday deals
  3. Offer free shipping
  4. Holiday Customer Service Strategies
  5. Leverage social media channels
  6. Influencer Marketing
  7. Email Marketing
  8. Run Cart Abandonment campaigns
  9. Post Holiday-Themed Content
  10. Create gift guide
  11. Optimize checkout

Why Should You Give The Holiday Season Extra Thought?

More than 60% of buyers plan to increase online purchases, where they can easily pay with a credit card and schedule at-home delivery. Research thus indicates that online shopping will continue to thrive even in the post-pandemic world. 

However, the same can not be guaranteed for your store unless you “step up” your game. In a saturated market like E-commerce, doing the bare minimum won’t get you very far, let alone successful. 

You must stand out from the crowd.  And one clever way to do so could be planning your holiday season right, when holiday spending is at an all-time high.

Now, let’s look at how exactly the holiday season can turbocharge your sales: 

  • People splurge during the holidays

Holiday cheer, more often than not, distracts shoppers from keeping track of their spending. 

While in-store shopping has regained some of its lost footing, Internet adoption is well on its way to solidifying itself as a holiday ritual.

Source: Deloitte

In 2020, American shoppers spent an astounding $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest online shopping day in US history. This was followed by Black Friday sales ($9 billion), and Thanksgiving sales ($5.1 billion).

And, of course, you want to have a piece of the pie, correct?

The gift-giving tradition of Christmas is just the icing on cake for E-commerce owners. When people come across a gift that seems absolutely perfect for a loved one, it is tough to turn it down. Consequently, consumers often find themselves blowing past their budget.

  • Opportunity to gain repeat customers

The aftermath of a holiday season may be quite grim, since seasonal shoppers may choose not to return.

And you most certainly do not want that to happen. On that note, let’s look at the perks of retaining seasonal shoppers.

Repeat consumers spend 3x more than one-time buyers. Hence, failure to convert seasonal shoppers into repeat customers is equivalent to a substantial loss of revenue.

Besides, repeat customers are easier to sell to. Add data.

Also, repeat customers are your brand’s biggest advocates. 92% of consumers will trust recommendations from friends and family rather than other forms of advertising.

So, to make the most of repeat purchases, here is what you can do - don’t break off connections with your potential customers as soon as the holiday shopping madness is over. Instead, try to strike the right chord with them; create marketing campaigns that will keep the conversation as well as sales pouring.

What Makes A Profitable Holiday Campaign?

1. Evaluate prior holiday campaigns

Last year, you presumably launched a holiday campaign. What conclusions can you draw from the data? Which marketing strategies paid off and which didn’t? Identity the lessons learnt from last year's marketing campaign to help you better your efforts this year. 

Let’s say you ran the following campaigns on Christmas last year: 

  • Bundled products at deep discount rates
  • Free gifts with premium purchases
  • An email marketing campaign offering 15% off throughout December

Maybe it was the bundled products campaign that outperformed the rest. So, this year, give top priority to that campaign while still leaving room for innovative ideas. 

Finally, pay attention to customer data. Identify your best selling products - was it the Christmas tree or the Christmas sweater? Which items were frequently abandoned by the shoppers? 

Understanding the purchase behaviors of your target consumer can assist you in crafting holiday messaging that resonates.

2. Tailored marketing strategies

Rather than mass marketing, design holiday campaigns that are tailored to your buyer personas and target audience. For example, freebies and flash sales may entice Gen Zers, whereas combos may appeal to Millennials.

But you need data to justify these conclusions. Research shows that businesses that adopt data-driven marketing generate five to eight times the ROI. 

It is also advised that you categorize your clients based on their lifetime value. You don't want to lose your bottom lines by offering hefty discounts to one-time shoppers who might never return. 

Rather, offer your loyal customers deep discounts or even a unique loyalty program.  

3. Choose the right marketing channels

As an E-commerce business owner, you already know the value of having a strong social media presence. During the peak shopping season, it becomes even more crucial. 

But you can’t expect consumers to look for holiday offers and deals on LinkedIn, right? 

So, in order to be a part of your consumers' holiday plans, you must post on channels where they don't mind browsing for hours. In 2021, around 28% of buyers intended to use social media to search for or purchase products during the holidays. 

Apart from social media, search engines account for around 70% of website traffic.  Therefore, optimize your organic presence for increased visibility.

When To Start Your Holiday Marketing Planning?

It's no big deal for E-commerce giants to wait till the end of November.  With a million dollar marketing budget, they can easily flood the market with advertising, both physical and digital. 

However, small businesses often have cash crunch.  So what should be your course of action for the holiday season? 

The answer is simple - you have to predict your customers’ needs months in advance and plan your holiday marketing campaigns  accordingly. 

Prior to the popularity of online shopping, Black Friday was regarded as the  kickoff to the holiday season. But at present, nearly 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. 

So, procrastinating on your planning will only lead to lost sales.

Source: Statista

To get off on the right foot, you may incorporate the following into your planning stage:

  • Conduct a survey on your customers:  Before the holiday frenzy begins, you may consider conducting a study in the fall.  If a customer has had a positive experience with you, they are more likely to complete the survey and provide feedback

You can email the survey to your customers or post it to your Facebook Group and ask what they want to buy and how they want to be reached. 

Use the inputs to prevent stock-out of their desired items and to optimize the marketing content you will be sending out. 

  • Prepare a schedule: Holiday marketing is not an ad hoc, one-off activity that will result in a dramatic increase in sales. So, while it’s still summer, it’s best to plan the type of products and promotions you’ll offer

Next, create a promotion plan; choose who your promotion will target and how you will reach them. Is it by email, social media, paid advertising or will you adopt a hybrid strategy? Once that’s determined,  launch your campaigns around one month prior to the holiday season. 

11 Hacks For Selling More During The Holidays

1. Customize your website for the festive season:

During the holidays, shoppers turn to the internet for fantastic products and great bargains. But, they certainly don't want to be directed to your usual, everyday homepage. 

This could be a buzzkill for the customers, dampening their celebratory spirits. 

So, to begin with, make sure your landing pages are geared around the holidays. Apply festive colors and graphics so that people immediately notice. This will increase consumer engagement and motivate them to continue down the sales funnel.

However, securing a holiday sale isn’t easy. There is still work to be done. 

  • Prepare for increased traffic: If a spike in web traffic causes your site to load slowly, visitors won't take a minute to head over to your rival. Bluntly put, pages that take an average of five seconds to load have a 38 percent bounce rate.

So, before launching your E-commerce holiday sales, do a speed test of your website and take necessary steps to improve its performance. In addition, optimize your photos and keep a tab on how video content may be affecting the site's speed. 

  • Personalize your holiday greetings: When shoppers land on your page, they should feel wrapped with festive cheer

Create personalized greetings on the live chat widget to attract website visitors' attention, encouraging them to look through the seasonal bargains. 

  • Mobile-friendly responsive design: During the holiday season, smartphones accounted for over $35 billion in sales. This indicates that the majority of shoppers prefer to browse products and place orders while on the go

As such, your website must be compatible with not only desktops, but also smartphones and tablets.

61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that was difficult to navigate.  And you certainly don’t want your customers to be part of that group. So, make sure to deploy mobile-friendly elements like a large site search bar and a "sticky" header. 

  • Festive CTAs: During the holiday season, it is even more critical to simplify your clients' buying experience. And what better way to accomplish that than by utilizing holiday-themed call-to-actions!

If you include specific CTAs on the homepage of your store, shoppers may quickly locate the category they're looking for without having to scroll through the navigation.

So, make it a point to optimize your CTAs for maximum sales over the holiday season by employing the proper copy and color. Adding mobile CTAs will further help you improve the onsite user experience.

2. Offer exclusive holiday deals:

Needless to say, every online shopper is on the lookout for the best deals during the holidays. 

But as a business owner, you have to cut your coat according to your cloth. While some E-commerce stores can afford steep discounts, you may lose money if you do so. 

So, before executing holiday campaigns, you need to have a well-thought-out strategy.

  • Determine which goods will be discounted and 
  • Determine the kind of incentives that will be offered (BOGO, free gifts etc.)
  • Create targeted promotional messages
  • Calculate the costs of conducting the campaign 

Now, let's look at a few terrific holiday sales ideas:

  • Holiday combos: By offering discounted bundles, you may enhance your sales to a great extent. Upselling and cross-selling via product bundles accounts for 10%–30% of ecommerce revenue

To ensure maximum engagement, give the combo a name and use a hashtag to draw users across social media channels

  • Flash sales: Nothing stimulates buyers' impulsive purchase behavior more than flash sales. Research shows that flash sales increase transaction rates by 35%

However, a mere discount of 10-15% for a brief time isn’t enough to tempt buyers.  A well-executed flash sale includes the following:

-Deep discounts

-Popular products

-Shorter flash sale window

Spill the news of your flash sale across social media and emails even before the sale starts. Make the deal irresistible. According to Shopify, successful flash sale comes down to the same formula regardless of industry, target market, or marketing channels: 

Excellent merchandise + Substantial discount

  • Free gift: No matter how large the discounts and offers are, buyers are more enticed by free giveaways. And we all know why - people like freebies

So, when companies start giving out complimentary gifts, they get noticed right away. And before you know it, everyone is talking about it, which results in more web traffic. 

Almost 90% of free gift recipients say they are more likely to buy from an online storefront after receiving a free gift.

3. Offer free shipping:

Free shipping isn’t a retailer’s first choice. But here’s the thing: around the holidays, the benefits outweigh the costs - it can give your store a competitive edge. 

Free shipping (94%) has been identified as the most important perk during holiday shopping. On top of that, 61% of online customers say they are more likely to buy additional items if free shipping is offered. 

That being said, don’t limit your free shipping to outbound orders only. First-time shoppers will show greater willingness to engage with your brand if you have a free return shipping policy in place. 

4. Holiday Customer Service Strategies

You can improve your customers' average order value (AOV) by using simple header banners like free shipping on orders above $75 or a free gift if additional items of certain value are added to the cart.

While these tactics remain somewhat effective, they can be missed due to their lack of personalization. Therefore, what you should do is: Initiate spontaneous customer conversations with the help of automated customer support

  • When shoppers are considering product A, inform them that many people also purchase product B
  • Notify consumers who are about to leave the site or cart that they are only $10 away from being eligible for additional perks.
  • Inform customers who have $40 worth of items in their shopping basket that they are only $10 away from qualifying for free delivery

5. Leverage social media channels

58% of customers think social media will influence their holiday shopping preferences with Facebook (67%) and Instagram (57%) being the most influential platforms.

Source: McKinsey and Company

The best way to engage your customers is to conduct some amusing contests and giveaways. Combine those with captivating visuals, social media posters, Instagram stories and videos. 

Even better, launch a hashtag campaign for your brand! If you can recall, the  #RedCupArt campaign of Starbucks was a smashing success, with a photo being shared every 14 seconds on Instagram. 

6. Influencer marketing

For the holidays, influencer marketing can be a worthwhile investment. 76 percent of shoppers trust the content provided by “regular people” rather than brands.

And this is no longer exclusive to Facebook and Instagram. With new trends like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt (which has 5 billion+ views) on TikTok, it has already become a key component of holiday influencer campaigns. 

By providing influencers with a coupon code to share with their followers, you can connect your influencer campaigns to your holiday promotions. However, if you're already offering a 15% discount, create a slightly different influencer promo code, like 15% off plus a bonus gift.

Pro Tip: Reach out to the influencers in October/early November. This will provide you with additional time to negotiate.

7. Email marketing

If you're running holiday discounts, or special deals, don't wait until the last minute to send promotional emails. Research shows that around 38 percent of buyers learn about holiday-related bargains and promotions through email newsletters. 

Here’s how you can curate an effective holiday email campaign: 

  • Subject line: To drive holiday sales, your subject lines must be optimized for open rates. 

First and foremost, specify what the email is about, whether it's a promotion, a flash sale or something else. Use “power words” that people can relate to such as hot deals, buy-one-get-one etc

You may use eye-catching fonts and even emojis to make your subject line aesthetically appealing. Here’s a fun fact: emojis increase open rates by an incredible 45%!

  • Personalized emails: Personalized emails result in a sixfold increase in transaction rates

Segment your consumers based on demographics and previous purchasing behavior, among other factors. Next, send them tailored emails. Women who have previously purchased long coats, for example, may be offered a discount on the same during the holiday season.

8. Run Cart Abandonment Campaigns:

When customized for the holidays, abandoned cart emails present an excellent opportunity. 

The email's tone should serve as a reminder to the shopper that they have left some items in their basket. There should be a prompt CTA that will lead the shopper to complete the purchase. Use phrases like “Complete your purchase now before your Christmas cart expires” to create an urgency. 

Here’s how you can recover your abandoned carts through campaigns:

  • Remind users to complete their purchase at certain intervals
  • Additionally, you can remind them via the push notifications
  • Use a countdown timer
  • Use terms that cause FOMO, such as Out of Stock and Countdown Timers.
  • Retarget them with advertising to win them back

9. Post Holiday-Themed Content:

During the festive season, people search online for inspirations related to outfit, decor etc. As a result, your holiday-themed blogs can garner considerable attention. 

ProTip: Make sure the topic and tone of your blogs isn’t salesy. Put your customers first! Provide them with the content they seek. Instead of picking their brains with "Why you should buy a Christmas tree from our company," publish material such as "5 Exceptional Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas."

Similarly, adding a few holiday-related keywords will have little effect on your SEO ranking.

“ Most of our clients generate seven-figure revenues each day during the BFCM sale, only with SEO. That's why SEO must be an important part of your Holiday sale strategy.  To get success with SEO, you should create separate pages for holiday sale campaigns like; product/brand + Black Friday, Product + Cyber Monday

topic (category) etc.”- Harpreet Munjal, Founder of LoudGrowth

  • Don’t take the trouble of discarding seasonal pages and making new ones each year. Keep the same page, edit it, and reuse it with an evergreen URL.

For the long term results, use an evergreen permalink for your pages; don't add date/year to those. For instance, use *.com/zzz-black-friday/ instead of *.com/zzz-black-friday-2021/. Then you can use the same page in the future too and it will be easier to rank on Google in upcoming years.”- Harpreet Munjal

  • Update your holiday sale pages with optimized title tags, meta descriptions, and on-page copy to increase page relevancy
  • Improve user navigation by including contextual links on your holiday sale sites or gift guides
  • Outreach to media publications and websites to get listed in their round-up posts for more sales and backlinks

10. Create gift guides:

When it comes to selecting the right gift for a loved one, people frequently feel stressed. Resultantly, “Gift giving anxiety” has become a trendy term these days. 

But, you can definitely step in to soothe your customers' distress!

Creating gift guides will not only benefit your existing customers, but also draw in new ones. In addition, it will improve your search engine ranking even further.

Here’s how you can maximize your holiday sales with gift guides:

  • Always remember your target audience 
  • Avoid cramming thousands of things onto a single page and labeling it a gift guide. Rather, organize gift guides around product categories, personality types, price etc. 
  • Make a list of the most typical questions shoppers ask when looking for gift ideas
  • Include a list of your own items with all the relevant information
  • Use a persuasive tone to demonstrate why the item would make an excellent gift
  • Use carousels on social media to highlight products or services that would make excellent gifts

11. Optimize Checkout:

No matter how appealing your website is, if the checkout procedure is not optimized, your efforts will go in vain. 

Almost one out of every five shoppers abandons a cart owing to a lengthy/difficult checkout process. So, how can you streamline your checkout?

  • Guest checkout option: During the holidays, the majority of the shoppers are likely to be new to your store. Hence, forcing registration will only interrupt the purchase process, causing many customers to abandon their carts

Once your customers have entered their address and payment information, direct them to the checkout page. If need be, include the option to sign up at the end of checkout.

  • Mobile-friendly checkout: A checkout that is not mobile-optimized increases the possibility of typos and errors, which produces an unpleasant experience for the consumer

For example- labels positioned to the left might occasionally be missed, if the shopper is using a mobile device. You can improve the experience by using labels at the top. 

In addition, instead of having customers type their complete address, employ type-ahead address verification, which will narrow the user's address. 

The Ball Is In Your Court Now 

With a little luck and effort, having a successful holiday season is doable, so long as your strategies are sound. Start preparing early and keep your customers at the forefront of every choice you make. 

Keep in mind that the holiday season is more than just revenue generation; it's also about cultivating relationships with customers who will return in the off-season to make purchases. So, while you’re at it, strive to create long-term value for your customers. 

Over to you now and Happy Holidays!

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