Every year an increasing number of consumers are opting to do their Christmas shopping from their mobiles, tablets and laptops. Online spending this December is set to top £13bn for the first time, according to research by Sage Pay¹, so it’s important not to overlook the preparations needed for the forthcoming surge of Christmas shoppers.
We’ve picked out five ways you can get your online business ready for the festive season, so you can stay ahead of the competition and maximise sales during one of the busiest times of year.
1. Make a list before you get started
When it comes to Christmas preparation, getting organised as soon as possible is the key; you may or may not be surprised that some people start their shopping as early as August!
The best way to get organised is to start by writing a list of all the things you need to do in the build-up to Christmas and the New Year to get you through this busy time and maximise your online visibility. This will help you put a festive strategy into place. Your list should consider things like: reviewing your website analytics, particularly from the previous year; sending out a festive newsletter to your customers; deals and offers; online advertising; giving your website a Christmas makeover; creating a plan for your social media content and scheduling posts.
2. Add tags and track the results
Maximising your search engine optimisation (SEO) impact is a vital part of standing out above the competition. If you get the title tags and keywords right for your website, then your business has more chance of showing up on your target customers’ radar when they are searching for those perfect gifts and services. Ask yourself ‘What will my customers be searching for?’ and ‘What keywords are my competitors using to rank highly on web searches?’
Seasons like Christmas also offer a great opportunity for you to track the effectiveness of your SEO activity using tools like Google Analytics. If possible, take a look at your analytics from last Christmas to identify the pages on your website that received the most clicks and the ones that may need reviewing for improvements. Your website analytics will open up a world of information not just about the performance of your campaign but also about the visitors to your site: how they found you, how long they visited for; if they are a returning customer; and where they are geographically.
3. Decorate your website
Your website is your online shop window so give it a refresh with relevant festive content. Eye-catching seasonal deals and imagery on the homepage will help to inspire your customers and let them know they have come to the right place for Christmas offers. However, it’s important not to overload your homepage with graphics that could slow down your website’s performance. A visually cluttered website could also put customers off, so keep it simple and only feature the most relevant or bestselling products and services on your homepage.
If you can, update your website with fresh seasonal blog content. Highlight any offers and include some of those festive keywords. Using the right keywords in a blog post can also help towards your SEO ranking and drive more potential customers to your site.
4. Shopping joy
Some shoppers like to have everything (quite literally) wrapped up before December, whilst others will leave it to the last minute. Everyone’s buying habits are different, and although it’s often difficult to please everyone, it is possible to identify your customers’ common seasonal habits with a bit of research. Ask questions like: ‘When are my customers online?’ ‘Is it in the evening, or at weekends?’ ‘Do they leave their shopping to the last minute?’ Understanding these factors will help you to identify the best way to communicate to your market and make their online experience as smooth as possible.
You should also consider how many of your target audience shop from their smartphones. Research from last year shows that 88% of smartphone owners used their mobiles for their Christmas shop². As mobile technology gets smarter this number will continue to rise so if your website isn’tmobile responsive yet you may want to consider adding this to your to-do list.
5. It’s about the giving
Christmas offers businesses a big opportunity to maximise profits, but it’s also a great time to think about how you can engage more with your online community and give them something back. In turn, this can lead to increased brand loyalty and will have your customers choosing your products and services time and time again.
Take the time to outreach to potential customers on social media by searching trends and topics relevant to your business. For example, if you come across someone asking for ‘Christmas gift ideas’ on Twitter, try to engage them in a conversation. You may be able to inspire them with some ideas or direct them to your latest blog (try not to come across as too sales-orientated).
You could also consider running an online competition. If you use social media channels, such as Twitter or Facebook, think about using them to give away a hamper or something festive. This will help to raise the profile of your online brand and encourage people to visit your website.
The weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year will be some of the busiest of the year. It’s crucial you’re prepared to use this period not just to maximise profits, but to gain valuable insights for your online brand and understand your customers better so you can offer them the best service possible.
Remember, a customer is for life not just for Christmas!
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(1) Source: http://po.st/SagePayResearch
(2) Source: http://po.st/mobileshoppingresearch