Autumn is upon us all in the Northern Hemisphere, and with the pumpkin spice and cooler weather, everyone in e-commerce is looking ahead toward the coming months.
Or at least, they should be.
After all, before you know it, the holiday shopping season will be upon us! Last year, consumers spent US$22.5 billion online from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday. And that’s just in the United States alone!
So, how are you going to make sure that you get your piece of that pie? Let’s review some strategies that you should implement right now to be ready for holiday shopping later this year.
Black Friday Strategies
First, let’s talk about Black Friday.
The term “Black Friday” wasn’t always a good thing. The first time it was used was in the late 1800s, to describe a crash in the stock market. (Yikes.) It wasn't used again until 1966 when a Philadelphia businessman noted that police referred to the day after Thanksgiving as "Black Friday" because of the shopping mayhem and traffic jams. That term caught the press's fancy, and it started being used across the country.
Except--nobody wants something negative associated with the busiest shopping day of the year, let alone business owners. So, in expert marketing fashion, they came up with a new reason to call it “Black Friday”: because that’s the day that most companies who had been in the red turn a profit, or, “go into the black.” Ta-dah! And that's how people understand Black Friday today.
How can you make sure that you get the sales that’ll get your company further into the black? Here are three great tips to make sure you’re getting the attention you deserve.
1. Engage Your Customer Base
Everyone knows that word of mouth can make or break a business. You want to inspire your customers to spread their love of your product and your business. Social media is one of the quickest and least expensive methods of engaging your customers and turning them into raving fans.
Offer contests and discounts to people who like and share your content. By engaging your customers to interact with your social media, you’re not just reaching them; you’re reaching everyone else on their feeds. Remember the four big shopping social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Creating a fun and lively contest is a great way to get people talking about you and your shop. Sites like Gleam (which we’ve worked with before for our Sparetoolz gift card giveaway) can help streamline the process.
2. Personalize Your Ad Campaign
One of the best things you can do is to make your customers feel special. Personalization lends that extra touch to an email campaign that can truly separate your store from all the others. The level of personalization that you’ll be able to achieve is subject to the data you’ve collected on your customers, but at the very least, you can insert a personalized subject line or greeting.
Of course, you can—and should, at this time of year—take it to the next level if you can.
Do your customers buy a product that accessorizes well with something else? Craft an email campaign that highlights the suggested accessories. Only 39% of online retailers are conducting such marketing campaigns, so there’s plenty of room for you to stand out by doing so.
Do you know if they have pets, or were recently married? Tailor your communications to meet their unique needs for this time in their lives.
It can be a bit confusing to know how to make a mass email seem personal, but with the right touches and using the data that you have from your customers, the result is well worth the effort.
3. It’s Not Just About Your Product
One key mistake that some eCommerce sellers make is putting all of their effort into only their product. The brutal truth is that no matter what you sell, someone else is likely selling something remarkably similar. So how do you stand out from the crowd?
The quickest (and easiest to execute) answer is content. Create original and engaging content that shows people how to use your widgets and gadgets. Holiday content is a great way to attract consumers, and videos and how-to guides are sure to be a hit when done well. Make sure they’re executed to stay on brand and accurate to your image.
Do you sell vases, candles, or table decor? Show how to make one the centerpiece of a stunning dining room table. Is your shop built around selling original jewelry? Highlight tips on accessorizing for holiday parties. As with all of your marketing and communication efforts, make sure to remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be helpful and interesting to the customer. 20% can be outright promotional.
When it comes to shopping, you want your customers to think of you as the go-to expert when they think of your product, or something like it. Once they trust and like you as an authority, they’re going to trust your recommendations and shop with you.
Three Tips to Make the Most of the Rest of the Season
Capturing Black Friday sales is an essential part of the holiday retail strategy, but it’s not the only part. You should also be ready for the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here are three more quick tips on making sure you make the most of that important time frame.
1. Remember Micro-Moments
Smartphones have incredible penetration in the consumer base. If you don’t position your store and brand where you can take advantage of that, you’re leaving money on the counter. Whether it’s making sure your store has a mobile-friendly storefront, or that your content pages are AMP-ready, capturing your customer’s micro-moments is essential to doing retail business in today’s world.
Remember that 40% of shoppers will abandon a retail shopping cart if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load or respond on their phone--and 29% will just find what they need elsewhere if they think your mobile site is too clunky or complicated.
2. Don’t Neglect the Desktop
With all the focus on the mobile experience lately, it can be easy to forget about the desktop user, but they still account for a huge swath of consumers. Make sure that your site is ready for the increased flux of holiday traffic. Whether it's upgrading your bandwidth to handle the additional traffic or getting the new software rolled out now (or delaying it until after the holiday), remember that a one-second delay in your site's response can result in about a 3% decrease in revenue.
3. Monitor Security
Shoppers aren’t the only ones out there prowling for good deals during the shopping holidays. Thieves and hackers are always looking for someone or some business that they can hijack to turn a quick buck. Make sure that you’re aware of the latest scams and threats.
Additionally, make sure that your security certificates and payment processing software are up to date. Keep a daily backup of important databases and files in case of ransomware attacks; not just on the cloud, but also on a physical hard drive you can access quickly.
You might think that just because you run a small business that you aren't a target, but unfortunately, you are. In some cases, small businesses may be even more tempting, as thieves may assume you don’t have the same time or resources as the “big guys” to implement proper security measures. In the event of a security breach, it's not just your immediate finances that suffer. Your customers are also at risk, and their confidence in you will plummet as well.
We at Tako know that you’re not just a business owner; you’re also a parent, a brother, a sister, a son, or a daughter. Your life during the holiday season gets just as hectic as everyone else’s, if not more so.
Let us help you by sharing the load; we can assist you in creating exciting marketing campaigns and bringing your dreams to fruition.
If you’re looking for a second opinion on your Black Friday and holiday strategies, drop us a line here.