It’s the most wonderful time of the year...
At least that’s the way it seems if you’re running a business or online store through Shopify.
It’s no secret the holiday season is often the time of year that finds shoppers most eager to express themselves through the gift of giving, with businesses traditionally showing an increase in revenue. In 2014, holiday season retail ecommerce sales accounted for 23.4% of total annual retail e-commerce revenues.
Making a list... Checking it twice...
But if you’re an online shopkeeper reading up on marketing techniques to increase your sales, you might get bogged down with a case of the bah-humbugs trying to sort through all the holiday hysteria.
The following list simplifies things with 7 easy ways sure to inspire joyous cheer in any online business owner by helping to boost sales and increase holiday revenue.
1. Decide Which Holidays Are Most Relevant For Your Business
If you’re in the business of turduckens or handcrafted wreaths, it’s probably Christmas… Dreidels? That’d be Hanukkah.
It’s important to understand your market, so you know what audience to target your ads toward and which dates correspond accordingly.
It’s wise to do a bit of research beforehand to find out what days are big for shoppers and ecommerce, as well as give you some sort of timeline so you can plan in advance and capitalize on your marketing efforts.
There are plenty of resources including research and marketing firms who offer this type of information for free online, but here is a list of important dates this holiday season to get you started:
2. Offer Free Gifts To Build Your Mailing List
When trying to build a mailing list for your online store, it is often difficult to get prospects who are not already registered customers to give you their email addresses. One way to entice potential customers is to offer something free of charge in exchange for signing up to your mailing list.
The gift may be as simple as a coupon offering a discount or special deal on inventory or, depending what business you’re in, you could get creative (say a free ebook, report, gift card, or small product). If you’re interested in knowing what promotional offers get the best response, there’s more on that in number 7.
What’s important to remember is this: once a customer is on your mailing list, they can become part of your email marketing campaign.
A recent study by Custora found that email marketing, third only behind online search (organic and paid), was a dominant marketing channel in 2014 accounting for 17.7% of online ecommerce orders, nearly 10x that of all social media combined.
Seeing as how social media campaigns seem to be the preferred tactic among small and medium-sized businesses, you might want to consider devising a more effective strategy.
3. Give Customers Special Holiday Offers In Exchange For Reviews
According to a eConsultancy online stores with product reviews can see a 4.6% increase in conversion rates and an average 18% increase in sales. You may not think it makes much difference, but reviews mean A LOT to customers.
Customers enjoy reading what other consumers think of a product before purchasing, and they’re more likely to take the word of a fellow shopper than trust the potential bias of a paid advertisement.
Research conducted in 2013 by the Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Dresden University of Technology found 85.57% of customers surveyed stated they read online reviews ‘often or very often’ before making a purchase.
And it wasn’t just the positive reviews either … Of the customers who read reviews 83.65% compare positive and negative reviews with each other. Your customers are more likely to trust online reviews if they see both good and bad reviews on your online store.
As for getting your customers to write a product review, some will already on their own accord, but others might need to be turned on to the idea.
Since the holidays are the season of giving, here are 2 great Shopify apps that you can check out enabling you to give FREE gifts to your customers:
And don’t fret too much about the possibility of your customers writing bad reviews… As we stated above negative reviews increase credibility, and the same academic report found 76.92% of customers who take time to write reviews write positive reviews.
4. Pay Attention To Non-Official Holidays
In addition to the better known, more official holidays of the season excellent for ecommerce sales, there are other, lesser known non-official holidays during the month of December in particular, which are GIGANTIC for earnings.
These non-official holidays give you another reason to reach out to your customers:
The following graph shows ecommerce revenue by day for 2014/2013:
If you’ve never heard of these ‘holidays’ before and are wondering what they are, they are basically days during the holiday season on which research has shown ecommerce sales have been the strongest in past years.
So how are these dates relevant to you as an online shop owner?
Well, they’re extremely important when planning your ad schedules/marketing campaigns, and knowing when each day falls is important if you plan on participating in the holiday shopping frenzy.
Here’s a breakdown of a few:
Green Monday (December 14th) - A term coined by eBay in 2007 to refer to their best sales day in December. As you can see from the graph, it remains a popular day for shoppers and online sales to this day.
- Run sales promotions on your site with a holiday themed overlay. Strongly consider offering free shipping because as the big holidays approach, shipping will be a strong deciding factor.
Super Saturday (December 19th) - Is the last Saturday before Christmas. An important day for all those procrastinators and last minute shoppers.
- Target these shoppers with ‘last chance’ sales to create urgency. This is a great way to close out the holiday season with sales and clear out inventory.
Free Shipping Day (December 21st) - Becoming more and more popular, and might be relevant to boosting your sales, especially if your online store sells items with high shipping costs. Free Shipping Day began in 2008 as an effort to extend the online shopping season past its peak on Cyber Monday.
- If you wish to register your online ecommerce store for Free Shipping Day, please visit the Free Shipping Day merchant registration websites: freeshippingday.ca and freeshippingday.com
5. Create a Calendar For Promotional Email Campaigns
We’ve already mentioned how email marketing campaigns are often more effective than that of social media campaigns, but how exactly does one create a successful calendar for promotional email campaigns for this holiday season?
First, know the dates. We have already gone over a great number of them earlier in the post. Second, literally write the dates down on an actual calendar to help keep you organized and accountable. Third, plan in advance.
Try to make your marketing efforts consistent when deciding which days to have promotions. Get creative when planning special offers, coupons, emails, and designing customized banners. You want to be very specific (maybe offer your customers something like a ‘12 Days of Christmas’ email campaign), and base your efforts around these dates to increase revenue.
Additionally, when creating your promotional calendar be sure to take full advantage of Shopify’s Analytical Tools built into your online ecommerce platform which include Google Analytics, Product Reports, Export Reports, as well as Traffic/Referral reports.
As far as what types of promotions get the best results, we go over that in more detail in number 7, but first, another email marketing strategy you might not have considered…
6. Design eCatalogues For Mobile Shoppers
Do you remember being a kid when the Christmas catalogues would arrive in the mail by late September and you’d browse through them eagerly for gift ideas and not even realize you wanted something until seeing it right there on the page?
Well, although it might seem catalogues are falling by the wayside and going the same route as phone books, newspapers and the dodo bird, imagine recapturing the essence of enthusiasm people used to have for catalogue shopping…
It’s like browsing a department store through a virtual window at your own leisure from the comfort of your own home, office, or wherever you may be.
With a rise in popularity of mobile ecommerce, smartphones and tablets, eCatalogues are not only a valid way of showcasing your products, it makes little sense NOT to re-purpose successful marketing techniques of yesteryear represented in the shiny new gift wrap of nostalgia.
If you’re a do-it-yourself business owner with a knack for design and are familiar with programs like InDesign and Photoshop, you might prefer to create your own catalogue. But if not, have no worries, you can always hire a freelancer from Upwork or a certified Shopify Expert to create one for you. Just remember, things will go a lot quicker for you if you already have all your product descriptions and photographs ready to go.
Once you have your eCatalogue, you may choose to distribute it as you please. Throw a link up to it on your website or distribute it to your mailing list in the form of a PDF, and watch your sales increase.
Looking for a more seamless experience? Try the Automatic Catalogue Builder App.
7. Inventory Clearance (Mega-Discounts, Deals and One-Day Sales)
Which brings us to our last section: what types of promotional offers will get the best response from customers and increase your holiday revenue?
The following graph shows what type of information in email or online marketing campaigns influences shoppers to make purchases during the holiday season:
It’s up to you what type of marketing campaign you choose to launch and on which days (by this point in time you probably already have an abundance of your own ideas), but one still seems to be more successful than others: Inventory Clearance Sales.
If it’s getting close to the big day as well as year-end for your business, why not clear out all of last year’s inventory and make as much money as possible?
You can have your clearance sale as close as you’d like to the holiday of your choosing. Again, just don’t forget to take into consideration things like postage and shipping deadlines.
And it’s simple as that... Follow these 7 Easy steps and they’ll have you singing ‘Joy To The World’ and hopefully make all your holiday wishes come true.
About The Author
James Corr is an ecommerce growth consultant and the founder of Only Growth. As a certified Shopify Expert, he specializes in acquiring more traffic, sales, and lifelong customers for your ecommerce brand. But James’ special passion is conversion rate optimization - which is exactly why he put together a checklist on 16 Checkout Conversion Blunders to Avoid (If You Want Max Revenue) - you can grab it for free on the Only Growth website.