Exactly how big will the holiday season be this year? Apparently, very big. Total sales during the 2015 holiday season reached $626.1 billion — this year, sales for the shopping season is expected to grow by approximately 3 percent compared to last year.
According to research from RJMetrics, that analyzed data involving over 31 million customers and $25 billion worth of transactions – including small companies with less than $1 million in annual revenue as well as companies featured in the Internet Retailer 500 – the months of November and December generally drive 30 percent more e-commerce revenue than non-holiday months, while the days from Black Friday through Christmas often result in up to 100 percent more revenue compared to other days of the year.
If you already have a strategy for boosting ecommerce sales during this holiday season, you can still make a few tweaks here and there for maximum impact. If you don’t have a strategy yet, it’s not too late to have one. Here are some research-backed tips to help you boost ecommerce sales during this holiday season.
Take Measures to Combat Holiday “Shopping Procrastination”
Holiday shopping procrastination — where people put off ordering gifts, initially just for a few days… until they suddenly realize that it’s almost too late to shop — is expected to increase this year. In fact, last-minute holiday shopping was especially high last year — with orders placed on the 22nd and 23rd of December resulting in the biggest daily year-over-year gains. This trend is expected to continue this year.
Here are some tips to help you boost sales and address holiday shopping procrastination:
- Refine your marketing to address potential procrastinators: Increase communications — especially during the weeks leading up to major holidays — to get potential procrastinators to act quickly. A little nudge can make a lot of difference. Email marketing is still the biggest driver of holiday revenue, so work on your email marketing strategy. Also pay special attention to your blog as a means to highlight important offerings to readers.
- Incentivize people to act immediately: If people feel that they will get something special, or some kind of bonus, by shopping a week or two earlier, you’ll be able to get a lot of procrastinators to act.
- Implement cart abandonment software: While a good deal of shoppers simply forget to order, many more add products to their cart and don’t order until last minute. Use cart abandonment software to automate follow up with them and get them to act.
Pay Special Attention to Trusted Sources of Information — and Try to Control What You Can
Research shows that an estimated 92 percent of people will use the internet to research or purchase holiday gifts.
What sources do people pay attention to when researching holiday purchases online? Recent research by Edelman shows that search engines are the most used and most trusted media source — so it might be a good idea to revise your SEO strategy for the holiday season.
Blogs have also been rated very highly, with certain sources rating blogs as a more trusted source than social media, journalists, celebrities and politicians. An Hubspot study found that businesses that blog generally get 67 percent more leads compared to businesses that do not blog. If you do not have a blog yet, it is important to start one now. Your blog could have a massive impact on holiday revenue, though, especially when people start to research holiday gifts to buy. Here are some tips to get good results from your blog during the holiday season:
- Publish informative posts: You could write about the best holiday gifts to buy in your niche, featuring input from ordinary users and industry leaders. You can then link the products mentioned on your store.
- Do reviews and comparisons: When people start using search engines to compare products they want to buy, your blog can serve as a good sales driver if your articles are found in the search results.
- Do regular roundups of top products: You can do a roundup of the most purchased products, or the most reviewed products, of the holiday season and publish it on your blog.
Upgrade Your Mobile Strategy for the Holiday Season
It’s no secret that there are now more mobile-only internet users than desktop-only internet users, and pretty much every reliable data source reported that mobile massively influenced holiday sales in the last year. Data from Shopify reports that 33 percent of all e-commerce sales now happen on mobile devices, while data from Google reveals that 53 percent of holiday shoppers shop with a smartphone or tablet device — with $1 trillion in retail sales being influenced by shopping-related mobile searches in 2014 alone.
Mobile will play a more important role than ever in this year’s shopping season, and it is important to upgrade your mobile strategy accordingly. Here are some tips:
- Optimize and fine-tune your mobile checkout options. Not having a specialized and optimized mobile checkout option will cost you a lot of sales.
- Incentivize people to use your mobile apps — being everywhere they go, in form of an app on their mobile devices, can give you an edge and boost sales.
- Create special offers and bonuses mainly for mobile users; you want to be the first to come to mind when they consider mobile shopping, and a good way to start is by initially rewarding them for shopping with you from their mobile devices.
While there are other ways you can boost holiday ecommerce sales, three techniques will especially play a major role: pay attention to shopping procrastination, identify and control trusted sources of information and pay more attention to your mobile strategy.
John Stevens is a marketing consultant and the founder of Hosting Facts.
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