The holiday season is coming up and you need to be ready. Your website needs to be ready. This is the time of the year when most retailers and businesses make the most money and you need to play along if you want to grab your slice of that juicy cake.
This is also the time of the year when people spend most of their shopping budget. Besides just getting ready to do some Christmas shopping, there are also Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday, Halloween (think lots and lots of candy and cool costumes), and Thanksgiving all coming up in less than two months. There isn’t much time left for you to get your website in order for the shopping spree that is coming up.
Moreover, your customers are expecting to see some good sales and get lots and lots of good deals. They are planning to spend some money, but they want to see they are getting something in return. By this we mean value.
However, your competition is also expecting to get lots of customers and sell their products or services, and there will be a lot of competition going on to see who gets the most customers. This means you will need to see how you can broadcast and advertise your products to the right customers, using the right strategies, so you don’t lose out on the potential to generate some revenue.
To help you get your fair share, we will list some useful tips and tricks on how you can prepare your site for the holiday season. So, let’s get started! What should you do?
Make sure your site is optimised for lots of traffic and is running well.
First, you want to appear as a trustworthy website and be creative with your content. Your customers need to buy lots and lots of presents for their loved ones. That is not as easy as it sounds; one needs to think about other members of their family and friends, what each of them likes and wants, etc.
You could make this whole process a bit easier for them by compiling a list or a guide to presents and put it on your homepage. That way you can easily direct them to your products or services and showcase your more relevant or newest products.
To do this, use proper keywords, headlines, and descriptions to give enough information to your customers. Also, make sure your site is visually appealing and gets their attention and leads them to the important sections (such as products or shopping cart).
You should run promotions to drive more traffic to your site. Even though it is expected there will be good deals across different stores, you still need to let your visitors know what deals you have prepared.
You should also anticipate and run the numbers, so you know how much inventory you should have (naturally, this will be an approximate number because you never know how much product you will actually sell), as you need to be ready for both flops and exceptional results (but with implementing the proper strategy, the second option is much closer to achieving).
Second, make sure your site is updated. We cannot stress this enough as it is of crucial importance. If you don’t update your site and optimise it, your performance might lag behind those of your competitors. This means higher abandonment rates and lower conversion rates, which you want to avoid at all costs. Ultimately, this means lower revenue.
If your website loads for more than three seconds, you could lose up to 70% of your customers which will pack a serious punch to your budget. That is a huge number and some of these customers could be lost for good, regardless if it’s one-time buyers, or your long-term customers.
Besides just making your website look all nice and festive, you need to get ready for the incoming traffic. Don’t make any major changes to the functionality of your site. Make some visual changes, but nothing major as you don’t want to risk your site crashing and your customers turning to your competitors. Finding a good balance is the key to the visual appeal factor that you’re going for.
Moreover, you could check with your web host that you can expand your bandwidth and scale your hosting package. Also, think about adding a lazy load to ensure your site will load properly on all devices, especially since there are large chunks of users on both desktop and tablets, and especially mobile phones.
Also, many customers will be buying online and paying via cards. That means you need to pay a lot of attention to your security. Your shoppers will want to know if they can securely put their card information into your site and place their orders.
You can show your customers that your site is secure by adding an SSL certification and making sure that your site has a green padlock next to it in the browser bar. Since they’ll be giving away their private information and insights to their possessions, even a small order that isn’t secure, simply won’t happen. Not to mention larger orders that’ll undoubtedly be off the table if the security measures aren’t implemented.
Also, make sure your online chat is up and running all the time. For that, you may need to get more online staff that will be able to respond to different queries from your customers. You also want to make sure you have enough staff for the busy hours as your customers don’t like waiting in the queue for an answer.
Do you have a mobile app?
Nowadays, make sure your site is mobile optimised. More and more shoppers buy things online so this is not something you can (or should) ignore. If you have a mobile app, make sure it is well-designed and running well.
Since mobile phones are not able to handle and load heavy and large themes, make sure that the theme you are using is mobile optimised. Also, you need to create apps for both iOS and Android phones and consider making them available in different languages, especially if you are a global business operating in different countries.
Add some festive and holiday-related content to your site or blog
Also, make your site fit the festive ambience. Your visitors are expecting your site to be a bit different at this time of year. Specifically, they expect it to be more festive. Think about updating your banner image or your background into something suited for holidays.
Luckily, for this you don’t need to pay a lot of money to hire a professional photographer. There are plenty of free stock photography sites (think Unsplash and Nappy) or you can add a coupon code as your current banner image. You can also change your fonts and colours, and add some holiday-themed images that will make everyone feel good and put them in the right festive mood.
Maybe consider adding a countdown clock to your header to let your customers know when the deals end. There are some good plugins out there that can help you set this up. Naturally, you still need to add proper calls to action and product descriptions if you want your customers to buy your products. Basically, you have lots of options to choose from, even if you are on a budget.
Besides just adding holiday pictures, you can publish some content related to festivities and holidays. This will ensure you stay on top of your search engine ranking (if you do it properly in terms of value, content, and keywords), but also that you are perceived as the go-to website for holiday shopping in the minds of your customers.
Your SEO will also impact how well you do in terms of revenue and conversion rates. Of course, don’t push this too much. You are still doing the same as the rest of the year (think about authenticity, honesty, adding and providing value) so don’t think that now is the time to cheat. On the contrary, now is the perfect time to show your visitors what you can do for them.
Create email campaigns and offer some incentives so that your visitors have a reason to join your mailing list. Think about creating pop-ups (but be careful when and how they appear as they can be quite annoying to many customers and you don’t want to lose them).
Add a retargeting pixel as well, so you can try and get their attention sometime in the future. Also, you could create a landing page. Make sure your landing pages have a strong value proposition and have a clear call to action and path to conversion.
Basically, make sure your customers know what they need to do once they are on your landing page. Like we said, you are still following the same marketing strategy as you would during the rest of the year, except now you want to be festive.
The third tip is to highlight the importance of giving to others, especially during these holiday times. For example, you could set up a holiday sale and give a certain amount to a non-profit organisation.
Give back to your community, but let your customers know. They also want to give back and feel like a part of something bigger than themselves. However, don’t use this only as an opportunity to draw in more customers. Giving back is a very important component of people’s lives and should be celebrated for the right reasons.
Don’t just pretend to be a good citizen to generate revenue. People have become very good at seeing through fake causes and will leave you for good. Do this with your heart and an actual will to help.
Lastly, make sure you post the deadlines for your deals in a visible place. Many people leave their shopping for the last minute. Make sure you tell them until when they can get their shopping done, and still receive it before the big day. Otherwise, expect to have some angry customers campaigning why the deal is no longer there and it was just a few hours ago!
Problems will still happen!
It doesn’t matter how much you try, expect some issues will arise. You can do whatever you can in your power to optimise your site. That, however, doesn’t mean all will go well. You cannot plan everything in advance, but you should be flexible enough to make changes on the go.
However, don’t stress about possible issues too much. Instead, make sure you have contingency plans in place and that you have thought about the most common issues so you can quickly fix them (such as no inventory, slow delivery, broken items, etc.) and provide a good customer experience and good customer service.
Think about delivery issues or returns. Make sure you have good and friendly staff in place that will be helpful and help fix issues, instead of creating more.
However, probably the most important part is to A/B test your changes and conversions, so you know what works. For that, you should only test one element to truly see what works and how you can increase your conversion rates. However, don’t stop A/B testing your site once the holiday season is over. Do this throughout the year for the best results.
As you see, there is quite a lot you should do to properly prepare for the shopping season that will start soon. Besides just making sure your website is running well, is optimised, and loads fast, you need to have a well-designed mobile app (if you don’t have one already) and make sure your site can load properly.
Then, when it comes to the holiday themes, you need to add some festive images and banners to put your site and the customers on your site in this particular festive mood. Creating fun content, designing a mailing list, and adding a countdown to let your visitors know when your deals end can also affect the number of sales you make.
Overall, combining all these elements together and spending some time brainstorming what needs to be done and how to ensure the problems are minimised and customer experience is good. This, in turn, means you could sell more products.
Originally published Dec 23, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023