The holiday season is one of the most important time periods for e-commerce merchants. Data from RJ Metrics shows that during that time merchants acquire between 29% and 59% more customers when compared with other months.
During this critical period, merchants can expect to generate a substantial percentage of their annual revenue. The exact revenue percentage differs by industry, of course, but merchants can expect to bag on average ~20% of their annual revenue during this period.
As we find ourselves in the midst of the December, are you worried that you could be doing more to get your store ready for the Holidays? The good news is that there are four simple tactics which you still have time to implement to ensure that you take full advantage of this critical period.
In this post, we'll dive into those four tactics, and include the actionable advice that you need to succeed well into 2017.
Get In The Holiday Spirit
During the holiday season, most people decorate their houses to make them look and feel more festive. When it comes to advertising and, really design in general, during the holiday season, it’s a good idea to do the same for your visuals - bring them into the festive mood as well.
Take a look at the two examples above. One is clearly themed towards the holidays while the other one just looks… plain. Notice also how the one on the right never actually mentions holidays or Christmas while still clearly giving the “right” vibe with colors, composition and copy. Brilliant.
Another aspect specifically related to Facebook ads during the holiday season is that a lot more people will see them. Here’s what the company itself has to say about it:
“On Facebook, there are more posts, shares and comments during the holidays than any other time of the year, and more people using mobile devices to find gifts before shopping. It's the best time to reach your audience and grow your business.”
Having great ads that convert well is only half the story though, these ads need to point to pages that carry the same look & feel forward to maximize revenue potential.
A great way to do just that is to get your ads to link to your holiday gift guide. These are a great way to focus your customer's attention on a few carefully selected items that they’ll actually be likely to be interested in and eventually buy, instead of just windows shopping and browsing around your store:
Data for what to include in the guide can come from looking at previous year's sales, top selling items, slow moving items (to clear stock), new products etc. No right or wrong way to go about it really.
Having dedicated pages for holiday gift guides is also good from an SEO standpoint. They are quick to build and can provide a lot of added benefit even late in the season. Companies like Backcountry and others have had one for years. Google “Backcountry Gift Guide” and it shows right up as the first result.
For maximum SEO benefit, make sure the guide is located at MyStore.com/holidays or similar rather than use a subdomain like holidays.MyStore.com.
When the holidays are over, make sure to remove that page/collection from your site. If you don’t, you could end up in a situation whereby your old guide shows up on search results together with the new one. Not quite as ideal:
Whether you like it or not, customers comparison shop and use different deal aggregators to find the best possible price. Be it Google Shopping, FatWallet, dedicated forums or a variety of other sites.
Deal aggregators can be used in many different ways. For example, you can use them to get rid of merchandise that is slow moving and just taking up space in your warehouse by steeply discounting it and working with deal aggregators to sell them.
Just because your current customer base is not interested in a particular product (even with a steep discount) doesn’t mean that no one wants to buy it. In this situation, giving aggregators a try is a great idea. Add to that that these aggregators are particularly popular around the holidays and you just might have found yourself a killer tactic.
Refurb.io, a Canadian refurbished computers and accessories company, took a different approach when they used SlickDeals to sell $100,000 worth of laptops in a 24 hour period.
Essentially they used it to get their brand known by making sure that they had the absolute best price on their chosen product and worked directly with SlickDeals to make sure that they had the best possible shot at success.
Aggregators are versatile, they can be used in different ways, but like with any other tactic, this will not just magically work and bring results. You have to put in the work first, especially to see results fast.
To get you started, here’s a small selection of deal aggregators to consider:
- Coupon Follow
- Bargain Finders
- Open Sky
If you look at the most successful companies in the e-commerce space, you'll notice that not only are they successful at maximizing sales during the holidays, but they have managed to crack the code on how to get customers to come back for more well after the holidays are over.
One great way to get your holiday shoppers to come back well into the new year is to use subscriptions. In e-commerce, subscriptions simply means that in addition to offering one-time purchases, you also add an option to “Subscribe” and receive the same product at predetermined intervals:
The first key part here is to simply have an option to subscribe, the second one is to have delivery frequency options for the customer so that (s)he can choose the right option for them.
From the customer's perspective, they only need to make a single purchasing decision while you as the business owner reap the benefits for months to come. We've covered the rising subscription trend in detail in another post as well.
Looking at data provided by Compass on the value of subscription vs non-subscription customers shows signs of encouragement:
They looked at Customer Lifetime Value (CLV = the amount of money you’ll be making per customer over their entire history of buying from you) increases/decreases with products in different price brackets.
This data shows that offering subscription options for almost any price bracket is likely to make you more money in the long term than sticking with single purchase only model.
Does this mean that you should stop everything and start working on offering subscriptions in your store? No, definitely not. It simply shows that having a subscription offer can have a positive financial impact over the longer term. You’ll have to test this out with your own products and your own customers.
When it comes to readiness of setting up and accepting subscription based payment schemes, most big payment gateways such as Stripe, Braintree and others offer recurring billing. In addition, it's worth taking a look at apps such as ReCharge, Zuora, and Recurly too.
Under normal circumstances, only 32% of customers who have bought from you once go ahead and order a second time over the course of the first year.
Thankfully all is not lost. The same data from RJ Metrics shows that once you get that second sale, things start to look up again; the probability of a repeat purchase occurs the more a given customer continues to buy. In fact, at just three purchases, repurchasing rates jump to over 50% and keep climbing as customers continue to return.
So your job is pretty simple really - get first time buyers to come back for more.
A great way to encourage that is to use a loyalty program that rewards and encourages customers who frequently make purchases.
The classic way of doing that is to use a points for purchases model that rewards customers points based on the amount of money they have spent with you. Those points can then later be used to get discounts, coupons, free products, access to special sales events and more.
In addition to points for purchases, you can also gamify other aspects of your business by awarding points for signing-up for a newsletter, referring friends, social media sharing, for liking,for following and more.
However you want to structure your program and rewards, the main idea stays the same - encourage customers to come back by giving them incentives to do so.