Introduction to Christmas Sales
As we say goodbye to a long and especially hot summer this year, we must prepare ourselves for the onslaught of the Christmas season. As has been the case for the last 2 years, we really don’t know what to expect. Has it ever been this difficult to predict what is around the corner, more war, Covid, or the worst recession since the 1920’s?
What we can expect is an uplift in sales that always happens mid-September. What we don’t know or can control is the external forces at play that impact just how big or small this growth will be. We can however always mitigate for the circumstances within our control. With proper planning, we can anticipate events, open up new channels or just try to improve on what went before.
Three Keys to Online Marketing Success
There are three specific areas we need to concentrate on to succeed in our online marketing. We will use these to guide our 7 steps. The Three parts to all online marketing are:
- Acquistion – Encouraging people to visit your website.
- Conversion – Ensuring the visitor turns into a customer.
- Retention – Once they have become a customer, how can we build a deeper relationship and ensure a long-term relationship?
What have you got planned for this year? Are you looking at some new tools, apps or plug-ins. How are you going to optimise your website to increase the conversion rate or have you got some Christmas specific ideas to work with. Don;t forget the lead up is full of opportunities to run promotions:
- Black Friday
- Cyber Monday
- Back to school
- School Holidays
- Half Term
Step 1: Christmas Stock - Start Early
We may even be too late with this in mid August as I write. You should have been thinking about your stock levels a few months ago and begun conversations with your suppliers in June. There are some key products which are likely to run out early depending on your type of store of course. These include Advent Calendars, Cards, and Christmas-specific Food or decorations. What is the in toy this Christmas going to be, what films are coming out, can you get hold of theme merchandise in time?
It is worth attending a few fairs earlier in the year to find out what is new and meet new suppliers who may offer you a better deal. If you are the UK, you can check out events like the Spring Fair, Food Ex, The Autumn Fair, and more specific events to your products.
Getting hold of stock in time is essential to avoid any worries when you are running out of time. Once you have the stock, you need to get it online asap. This will help from an SEO perspective, because Google will know you have it when people search.
Step 2 - Prep Your Website for Christmas
Take a look at some of the biggest stores in the UK and see how they deal with Christmas. John Lewis for instance, has nothing showing on the homepage or in the menus, but it is there. They have a specific Christmas page ready to go. Click here to see it:
You can do the same and we would recommend you create a specific landing page for Christmas that will capture Google searches of the early shopper as well as giving Google the nod you are getting ready. You should also be thinking about how to add Christmas to your store menus and banners. Get them created early and think about what the customer will be looking for. Are your products filterable like the John Lewis ones.
Start creating the right Christmas Categories for success, helping users find the products they want quickly by using the menu, search bar or filters. Setting up tagging as soon as you know your product range might be the best time you spend this year. Shopify provide useful guides to help you do this, if you need help you can always talk to us.
Step 3: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Christmas
How are customers going to find your website, how do they know what you are selling? Why should they choose you in search results (will you even be there)? In this section we will talk about the SEO you can do to help visitors find you.
Needless to say to do this,you should first be sure that your website is fast, secure and easy to use, if you don;t have these SEO foundations in place then you may want to think bigger picture.
Think about your products and how many other companies have the same thing. How can you present them in a better way to visitors, do you have unique descriptions for each one? What are you images like? We will cover that in step 4.
Do your products and pages have bespoke meta titles and descriptions? One of the keys to success with SEO is to ensure that when your pages or products appear in search results, your viewer clicks on the search result and ends up on your website. Each result is a combination of a meta title and a meta description, if you don’t do anything about this, Google will pick the nearest thing, and sometimes that is an address or phone number and some code.
Below is an example of a set of search results for the term “Heavy Duty Waterproof Dog Beds”
Check out the 4 different text versions for the same result.
- The top one dogsdogsdogs.co.uk (ours) is personable and unique, a sentence as opposed to a list of facts. The title (purple bit) is factual and has the sales pitch FREE delivery front and centre.
- Dfordog – has a more list like approach of the benefits but no USP like free delivery.
- Petplanet is all about the sale and not about the product. Free delivery, Cheap Prices and it is the #1 pet shop.
- Petsdirect – A list of different beds with colour variations. Not exactly appealing.
Being a little biased, I would suggest the top one is best and Google thinks so. The others all have automatically generated content as opposed to curated metadata by the marketing department.
Step 4 - Product Photography for Christmas
A lot of companies will download a file from the manufacturer and copy paste the content or do it in an automated fashion. This means that everyone’s descriptions are the same. As a small business, you have the advantage of being able to be unique and if you have the time you could spend a bit of time personalising your product descriptions. In the first instance do some research on the product and see how much info you can find out. Ensuring the size guide is correct and easy to access is essential. You could also find out if there are any extra bits of content around like videos. Better yet, do a product description video yourself. Tell people why you think the product is great and what makes it special. The more information you give customers the more they will trust you and the more likely they are to buy from you.
Image is everything when it comes to online shopping so make sure you have the highest quality images reduced to the smallest possible size. This will ensure customers see the product in all its glory without slowing down your website or being pixelated.
If you are handy with a camera or know a friendly photographer, then get some shots done for yourself. A good lifestyle shot that goes with your brand will have a big impact as opposed to stock photography everyone is using. With our dog beds, we get shots taken professionally in lifestyle situations like the one shown. It helps bring the brand and the product to life.
There are a lot of guides available to help you choose the best style of Christmas photography.
Step 5 - Christmas Google Ads - Optimise
If you use Google ads then you will know you can throw a lot of money away without realising it until it is too late. What you can also do is to spend the money wisely knowing your return on investment is £xxx. If you don’t know what your CPA (cost per acquisition) is then you should spend the next few weeks finding out.
You can do this by optimising your campaigns and trying out new things. This might be new text in your search ads or changing photos and videos in your performance max campaigns. If you have a little budget then engage a copyrighter to look at your meta data and search ads text. They can then come up with a variety of options which you can text against one another until you find the best.
Our first stop would be to get in touch with Tom Hadley at Sufu Marketing. Not only is he a really nice bloke but he came up with this idea in the first place.
Experiement with budgets and see what the returns are. You would be amazed at the reporting available across Google and your first stop should be google ads. Find out what your conversion rate is, and what is your click-through rate. If they are not good then you need to opitmise and review. Hopefully after a few weeks you will know what your return on investment will be. You can then plan an advertising budget for the next 4/5 months, knowing that you will get £xx back. If you know your margins then you will arleady know what you could make if things go to plan.
Step 6 - Social Media for Christmas
Social media often seems like a doddle when you start your business, how wrong you were. It is a constant time consumer if done right and there is never enough time. We would suggest start your planning now for Chistmas and ensure you have a constant stream of posts ready to go. Guess what, you don;t have to remember to do it every day, you can create and schedule in advance.
Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer you could create all of your social media for Christmas right now and post it when you think best. Imagine how smooth life would be if all your black Friday promotions were going out automatically.
Get Creative with Canva
If you can;t afford a designer for every post then you could try something complicated like Photoshop or better yet the love of our lives, Canva. Canva is a brilliant tool to help you create engaging content for your Christmas Social media Campaigns. You can choose from thousands of ready-made templates or build your own. You no longer have to worry about the best size for a post on Facebook compared to one on Linkedin, Canva looks after this all for you. Check out the Christmas Template list on Canva below…
Step 7 - Meet, Greet and Keep your Customers
Now that you have all guns firing on your Christmas Marketing and Sales project for 2022, you need to think about the final piece of the puzzle. Having spent time and money getting hold of new customers, how can you build on the relationship and keep them coming back for more and not just for Christmas.
Never forget that a lot of the value in your business is the data you hold on customers, their buying habits and lifetime value are essential to being able to sell your business one day in the future so you can sip martinis on the beach. You should be looking at ways to get them to subscribe to your newsletter as well as join any rewards program you have set up. Is it worth a free gift to really stun them when they open their order, it’s Christmas, so why not?
Collecting their email address is one thing, you should try and get their first name to be able to personalise newsletter which will increase the open rate. Select the system you are going to use to contact them in the future and nurture them over the coming years. This might be inbuilt into your platform like Shopify mail but we would recommend another avenue like Klaviyo or Hubspot.
You can start afresh and upload old data into a new system if you like. Then you can decide what you want your messaging to be. Do you want them to enter into a workflow that send sout emails every so often without you lifting a finger. It sounds impersonal but it isn’t and it isn’t too complicated either. For example when someone signs up to your newsleteer, they should receive a thank you email, followed by an email asking them to follow you on social media, then an email about the company and what makes it work. You can then send emails depending on their actions, did they click a link to look at a new product? If so then send them more info on that product.
You can see from the image above that workflows make sense when viewed like this. The system makes it easy by providing you with common examples which are never far from what you offer.
Abandoned Basket and more...
Do you have an abandoned basket system in place? If not, Klaviyo can help or just turn on the automated one within Shopify. You could scrape up another 10% of orders that you missed. Imagine the effect this might have on your end-of-year results.
You should also consider building up a rewards system for loyal customers. There are automated plug ins out there that can help. Give your new customers a reason to shop again and again. Reward them for telling their friends about you. This is a useful list for reward apps for Shopify.
Thank you for Reading...
Everything we talk about in this blog is a result of the experience we have gained running our own online shops. Our online Pet Shop enables us to try out all of these ideas and apps and choose the best ones. If you would like to find out more please get in touch with the team and we will sit down with you and find out what works for you.
Good luck this year, it is going to be a strange one…