It hardly seems possible that we're entering yet another holiday shopping season. Year after year, advertisers start campaigning to win over early-bird shoppers earlier and earlier. Christmas decorations emerge in retail stores before some families are even planning for Halloween. So in light of preparing well in advance, here are some tips to prepare your e-commerce site for the 2013 holiday shopping season.
Use Holiday Terms in Your Campaigns
You can capitalize on early-bird shoppers by using those keywords in some of your campaigns. Do your due diligence first to analyze the potential in your particular niche, but incorporating key phrases related to the holiday shopping season could tap into the early-shopper market. Terms such as "early holiday discounts," "pre-holiday sale," "Christmas shopping," and similar terms combined with your niche keywords can be effective in the pre-season with early shoppers.
Promote Pre-Season Prices on Hot-Ticket Items
Some shoppers specifically seek out early deals on hot items. The Skylanders video game is popular among children and teens right now, for example, and parents may be looking to buy game systems and characters before the prices start creeping up in time for the busy shopping season. If you're offering a hot seller at discounted prices, let shoppers know.
Analyze Last Year's Performance
Now's the time when you should be carefully analyzing last year performance. What marketing tactics did you use, and how well did they perform? Should you allocate more of your budget to PPC or organic SEO this year? If you're using content marketing, start planning your efforts and getting the ball rolling.
Get your plans in place now. If you need to hire a copywriter to spice up your product descriptions or run a branding campaign, you have the time to do so. But if you wait until holiday shopping season is in full swing, you'll be chasing your tail.
Ramp Up Your Product Descriptions
Your product descriptions are what will sell your inventory at the end of the day. You can get visitors to your site by optimizing and using PPC – but your product descriptions are what will drive conversions. Take a close look at your product copy and revitalize it. Run some A / B tests to drill down to the most effective headlines and descriptions. You can also start planning how you'll incorporate holiday-relevant copy in your descriptions, such as "must-have 2013 Christmas item for teens," or "on the 2013 holiday hot list."
Take Advantage of Google+
Google is really pushing Google+, so you should be using it to your advantage. Make sure your physical location information is up to date, and make sure you're sharing your compelling content there. There's a definite SEO benefit to Google+, not to mention you can drive additional traffic through your connections.
Fine-Tune Your Local Business Presence
If you also have a brick-and-mortar location, make sure your local business presence is solid. Local customers will find you online this holiday season. Update your hours, contact information, physical address, and description. Make sure your description is relevant and keyword-rich, including the main products you sell. Give directions if your location is tough to find.
Now is the perfect time to start using retargeting. Because shoppers are browsing the web for ideas, they may spend some time on your site and then leave without making a purchase. After all, they have plenty of time to place orders before the holidays.
But you can make sure you stay top-of-mind in consumers' minds – and give them an incentive to buy – by using retargeting. Hit up visitors with special offers and deep discounts on items that are sure to be best-sellers, and offer some motivation by letting them know the items they looked at are in low supply at the current prices.
Be a Resource
Everyone has at least one difficult-to-buy-for person on their holiday gift-giving list, and shoppers are always looking for great gift ideas. Be a resource to your visitors by offering tips on finding the best deals, what's hot on this year wish lists for different recipients, ages, and so on, and other fun and informative information. The more valuable content you provide, the better your organic rankings and the more likely visitors are to share your content.
Pay Attention to Mobile
More people are shopping via mobile devices than ever, so it's critically important to ensure your site is mobile-optimized. This is particularly difficult with e-commerce, as the many product listings and the check-out process are often difficult to make mobile-friendly. But if you neglect the mobile audience, you're going to lose valuable conversions. Your PPC ads are going to show up for mobile users, too, but they'll bounce quickly when they realize how difficult it's going to be to complete the checkout process from a smartphone.
It's not too early to start thinking about the holiday shopping season. Retail stores already have holiday inventory on the shelves, and shoppers are going to be scouring the web for ideas and deals soon. Tap into the opportunity by heading into this year holiday season armed with your best marketing efforts.