It’s the most wonderful time of the year... for eCommerce businesses. The Christmas season is nearly upon us and it’s a great opportunity to boost your online conversions during this hectic holiday period. After all, who wants to go out and battle through the crowds Christmas shopping in store? Online shopping is on the up, particularly during busy periods like this where many shoppers find it quicker and easier to make their purchases from the comfort of their own home. What’s more 2018 has seen a wave of new trends when it comes to online shopping, including a rise in mobile shopping and a shift towards consumer spending in mobile shopping apps, as well as the continued downfall of the traditional high street shop.

Online shopping is constantly evolving, and with more customers doing their Christmas shopping online, it has never been more important to make sure you’re fully prepared for this peak shopping period. To get started, here are some things to consider to help maximise sales over the holiday season.

Embrace pre-Christmas shoppers

With 77% of consumers getting their Christmas shopping sorted between October and December, it’s important to remember to target your audience before the sales commence. Make sure your platforms and pre-Christmas sales campaigns are optimised, effective and different from your post-Christmas campaigns. This will not only encourage shoppers to visit your site before the Christmas sales, but also to revisit your site during Christmas sales.

Start early

Traditionally, the Christmas sales started on Boxing Day, but in a bid to be the first to market, major retailers including Karen Millen, Schuh and Dune London have started their sales earlier than usual in recent years. There’s been an increased emphasis on who crosses the line first when it comes to launching Christmas sales, and if your business is the first to begin promoting holiday campaigns you can expect to get more visitors to your website and higher conversions. But it’s important to think about what’s right for your business, and whilst starting your sales early could give you the edge over the competition, always make sure your margins can handle the sales you promote.

Tis’ the season

As with all merchandising seasons, Christmas often runs the spectrum of full-price to discounting to clearance. It’s vital for online retailers to experiment and anticipate what their sites, apps and in-store digital will look like throughout the season, signposting and merchandising not unlike a physical store window would to reflect changes.

Keep your website in check

Out of stock products being visible, non-sale items mixed with sale items, poor website navigation and slow loading speeds. These are just some of the things that will hamper your chances of converting online sales. Making sure your website is in tip-top condition before your campaigns begin is important, so be sure to properly test the experience before you launch any updates and ensure the best consumer experience possible.

Grow your reach with social proof  

Social media is crucial these days in ensuring reach to the widest possible audience with your campaigns. Plan clear and concise messages and highlight key information about upcoming sales, including teasers about when sales are planned and details of discounts customers can expect to see. Incentivise users to share your updates to broaden your reach by running festive competitions in return for likes and shares.

Although most of your social following might consist of prior customers, there are many prospective customers who use social media to check reviews, feedback and even purchase products directly. Ensure you have a regular stream of content appealing to both your current customer base and potential new clients that find you via social media. And design your pages, banners, profile pictures and posts to reflect the holiday season.

Plan your email campaigns

Use seasonal email campaigns to engage with your subscribers. On average 19.36% of emails from retail businesses are opened, followed by a click-through rate of 2.24%. To encourage a high click-through rate your email campaigns need to be compelling, well-planned and feature seasonal designs and messaging. Emails letting customers know the last shipping dates in time for home delivery before Christmas, and personalised email campaigns to promote your Christmas sale provide a helpful service to shoppers during this busy time of year.

Build greater awareness

Social media, email campaigns and your website can all help drive awareness of your products and offers. But it’s important that you reach as many people as possible, from your existing customer base to potential new customers. To reach a varied audience you need to ensure you communicate across all your platforms including your offline platforms. Building brand awareness can be fruitful for growing your customer base and the service you offer in connection with this will be key in building customer loyalty.

Use PPC and Social Media Advertising to build brand awareness. Set up Google Shopping campaigns so shoppers searching for your products will see them right at the top of Google’s search results. Google’s algorithm reads from left to right so make sure you have all the key product information on the left to help your products rank higher. Experiment with the range of features Google Shopping offers including price displays, product reviews, and promotions. Build your audience reach by using custom affinity audiences to target shoppers who are looking at competitors and Google audience data to find shoppers who are ‘in-market’ for your products.

Making a list and checking it twice...

So you’ve done all your planning, your campaigns are in full swing and you’ve managed to draw your audience to your website. Now you need to think about how to get them through ‘the door’ to actually purchase on your website. On average, 73.1% of customers will abandon their cart on a desktop device, and this figure increases with tablet and mobile devices, so it’s important to make it as easy as possible for your customers to convert. Failing that, give visitors a reason to purchase at a later date and make it effortless to do so. There are a number of ways you can help combat your cart abandonment rate, such as:

  • Capture visitor email addresses when they signal to exit

If a customer is about to leave your website, they could be going to look at a competitor’s site to compare prices. This can lead to your potential buyer abandoning their cart altogether. Overlays provide an opportunity to engage with consumers and encourage them to make a purchase there and then by offering free shipping for example or incentivising customers to provide their email address so you can re-engage with them and nurture them back to buy.

  • Run a cart recovery campaign

As mentioned above, 73.1% of customers abandon their shopping carts. That’s a huge amount of lost sales, and there can be a multitude of reasons why a customer might abandon their purchase, so it’s important to give customers the opportunity to return and purchase at a later date. Cart recovery works by sending a series of timed emails reminding visitors of their abandoned basket and linking them back to their products so they can easily checkout. On average, clients recover 20% of abandoned baskets using cart recovery, leading to increased revenues of up to 16%.

So what are you waiting for?

We hope all of the tips above help you on your journey to achieving better results for Christmas 2018 sales. If you need any more advice on boosting your conversions this Christmas and beyond, please get in touch and one of our conversion experts will be happy to help.

From all of us at Cloud IQ have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!