Prep Your Site and Marketing Plan Now for the Holiday Shopping Season!
It’s now more than a week into October, which means we’re well on our way to the smell of pumpkin pie drifting in from the kitchen, hanging stockings and singing carols (for those who celebrate these holidays).
But it also means that if you haven’t started planning for ‘tis the season and holiday specials, you’re already trailing behind many other businesses. Consider the fact that spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, Kathy Grannis, told CNBC that 40% of consumers plan to start shopping before Halloween. So you need to get on the ball now. Today.
Start Getting the Word Out Now
Don’t wait until a week before Black Friday to announce your amazing special sale. Now’s the time to start getting the word out and build some excitement around the upcoming event. Get interest and curiosity going. Even if your special or your complete plan isn’t all in place yet.
How? Well, you could:
· Start tweeting hints about what’s to come
· Create images that partially show a deal and post to Pinterest or Instagram
· Post sneak peeks or behind the scenes on your blog
· Offer first peeks to anyone who subscribes to your newsletter
Plan, Plan, Plan
For most people, planning isn’t fun. But if you’re going to stay organized and get the most out of this holiday season, it’s something you’re just going to have to buckle down and do.
First things first… which holidays are are you going to focus on? You probably don’t want to try to do all of them, especially if you’re just now getting started. If you want to focus on the biggest ones, you’ll probably want to do Black Friday, Cyber Money and Christmas.
Then you need to figure out what’s going to need done and when.
Decide exactly what your specials will be and the dates that you’ll run them for each holiday. Also decide when and where you’re going to advertise these specials and get everything written down in your calendar.
Make a deadline for having graphics, banners and promos done and ready to go. Add to your calendar the dates you’ll be posting to social media or emailing your list.
Keep in mind that you want emails and social media posts to start going up well ahead of when the specials will take effect.
Jot down when your site needs to be updated to reflect the specials. This is also a good time to test and simplify your checkout page. Ensure it’s easy to use and of course, make sure it’s secure!
Plan for Plans Going Wrong
Rarely in life does everything go perfectly as planned. So know what you’re going to do if something goes wrong and do your best to plan accordingly. If something breaks on your site, is your developer ready to be on call or do you need another backup plan?
Are you sure your site is ready for a surge in traffic? Will your site slow to a crawl because it isn’t optimized? Is your hosting plan sufficient for the expected increase in traffic and bandwidth?
Do everything you can now to make sure your site will perform under pressure. Nearly half of all consumers won’t stick around if your site takes more than 2-3 seconds to load. Even a single second delay can lead to nearly 10% decrease in conversions.
Use something like Google’s tool for testing your site’s performance and to get suggestions on optimization. If you’re using WordPress, you might want to go through this guide. If you want to dive deeper and test everything on a server level, here are some open source tools you might want to try (you’ll need to have a cloud or dedicated server for this).
Think Beyond the Black Friday, Cyber Monday Rush
When Black Friday and Cyber Monday are done and over with, you don’t want customers to forget about you. Only a small percent will be done with their holiday shopping at that point, so remember to give them a reason to come back even when the sales excitement has dwindled away.
Offer a discount on a future purchase exclusively for those that purchase during the sales. Or offer something for those who subscribe to your newsletter.
If you haven’t done anything at all yet for holiday promotions, you might be a little behind. But it’s not too late. Get planning today and make sure your site is ready well before the swarm of customers flock to your sales (hopefully).
Is there something in particular you need more help with? Proper planning, creating promotional images, using social media, testing your site? If so, leave a comment below and maybe we’ll create a helpful guide just for that topic.