Whether you’re selling billing software or dog sweaters, you can be sure to expect one thing this holiday season: a big increase in site traffic. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. After all, online shopping is now more popular than ever before. Why would the holidays be an exception to this growing phenomenon?
But it may be an even bigger force than you’re prepared to deal with. According to research by ComScore, in 2015 desktop online holiday sales reached $56.4 billion. And this doesn’t include mobile sales, which is an ever expanding force for online vendors.
What does this mean for your business? Well, if you’re not prepared for the bump in site traffic, your conversion rate will hit rock bottom. In this post, we’ll discuss ways to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the new hits your site is bound to get. From optimizing your platforms to hiring seasonal workers, use the following tips to take advantage of the holiday online shopping and earn big.
Optimize Your Mobile Presence
There are 2 billion mobile users as compared to 1.6 billion PC users, and in 2014, mobile was responsible for over 20% of holiday sales.
If you haven’t already, make sure that your mobile presence is strong. Take the following steps to prepare your mobile site and boost holiday sales:
Use a clean and simple design—It’s easy to overwhelm a phone screen, so reduce the clutter and pare down your site to the essentials. Avoid pop-ups and choose simple fonts.
Reduce steps to point of purchase—In addition to a simple design, purchasing should be incredibly simple through your mobile site. Reduce the number of clicks needed to make a purchase.
Consider typing needs—Many smartphone owners are using their thumbs, and others just have big, clumsy fingers. Design buttons and images that are easy to click, and reduce text-entry fields when possible.
Offer customer support on mobile—According to eWeek, 63% of U.S. adults try to reach customer service via mobile multiple times per week. Make live chat or email support easy to access on your mobile site.
Create Segment-Based Holiday Campaigns
Let’s face it: visitors are coming to your site to size up what holiday deals you’re offering—and a good Cyber Monday or Christmas sale is expected.
But don’t take this attention for granted. There is a difference between a good holiday sale, and an effective holiday campaign. If you want to stand out from the crowd and deliver an exceptional offer that leads to increased sales, be sure to touch on the one thing all of your customers want: the need to feel special.
Don’t believe us? The research backs it up: 80% of shoppers want promotions that are tailored to their needs (Precima).
So to create effective, customized holiday campaigns, first ask yourself the following three questions:
- Who is my audience? The first step is to identify your different segments. There are many ways to define your segments depending on your needs, but take into consideration that this is for your holiday campaigns (not for long-term metrics like retention). For this reason, you may choose to base your segments off of past purchasing decisions. For example, one segment may be based off of mailing list subscribers you gained after a big accessory sale.
- What will I offer them? Design compelling offers for your different customer segments. In the example above, you might advertise an exclusive wristwatch sale to your accessory-loving segment.
- What channels can I best reach them through? How will you inform potential buyers about your campaign? Did one segment opt-in to receive emails? Or was there a Twitter promotion a lot of customers took advantage of? Consider reaching out to segments based off of the means you attracted them in the first place.
Your holiday campaigns can help you take advantage of specific customer data, as well as learn more about your more mysterious customers. When designing your holiday campaigns, consider your use of the following:
Cross-selling—Are you taking into consideration other purchases that could complement or interest this segment? Remember, it’s the holiday season so people are looking to make multiple purchases.
Social media campaigns—Create a general holiday campaign for newcomers to your site, as well as for social media followers. Update social media bios with relevant discount codes, and stay updated on the holiday season’s hashtag trends to create bonus giveaways or discounts.
Offer samples and free trials—Increase free samples and trial account offers exclusively for the holidays. This is especially useful for subscription-based models.
Update Platform Design
Though it’s easy to overlook, it’s important to update your website design so that it showcases holiday campaigns and deals. Tweaking the colors on your banner simply won’t do the trick. Instead, take the time to really catch visitors’ attention with compelling graphics. Be sure to:
Include appropriate information and designs on opt-in forms.
Update social media banners for consistency.
Display relevant holiday sales and information across platforms.
Make newsletter graphics consistent with platform.
Visibly display special holiday releases and products on front page.
Increase Customer Support
While you may not normally need to offer 24/7 customer service, it may be worth it this holiday season. Use metrics to study your most popular support channel, and run a cost-benefit analysis if possible to see if it would be worth it to go 24/7 this holiday season. If your current support team can’t handle the additional workload, consider taking on seasonal hires (If you’re unclear on the term, seasonal workers are those who work exclusively from Black Friday through the New Year).
Hiring and managing seasonal employees can be stressful, so use the following tips if you choose to take on the temporary hires:
Ask part-timers first—Are there any part-timers willing to increase their hours this holiday season? Often providing additional financial incentives (like commission) can help motivate them, which may be cheaper in the long run than hiring and training seasonal workers.
Advertise through the right channels—There are a number of people who are looking for seasonal work, and even have experience with it (meaning that they may be good at learning things quickly—your ideal hire!). Advertise for your holiday hires on seasonal job sites and through temp agencies. Start with sites like: SnagAJob.com, SeasonalJobs.com, and GrooveJob.com.
Don’t skimp when it comes to onboarding—When you make a significant amount of seasonal hires, it’s critical that you dedicate an appropriate amount of resources to onboarding. No matter how good your new hires are, it’s unlikely that any of them are mind readers. And bad customer service is costly—anywhere from 25% to 30% of a company’s gross expenses. It can be much more costly, ultimately, than training them correctly the first time around. (Remember, don’t completely focus onboarding on operations—good product training is important too!)
Extend job offers to exceptional seasonal workers—If you can anticipate staffing needs for the upcoming year, it may be in your best interest to extend full-time or part-time offers to your best seasonal workers. This saves you resources when it comes to training future hires. Plus, you’ve already tested these workers and know their strengths and weaknesses, which will give management peace of mind.
Offer Special Shipping and Delivery Options
Still wondering how to increase holiday sales? It’s easy to overlook, but offering good shipping options is one of the most obvious ways to get a visitor to click the shopping cart icon. During the holiday season, customers are going to be scrutinizing not only your deals and products, but how they’re going to get their purchases to their loved ones. Eager holiday shoppers are looking for:
Guaranteed shipping before or on specific holidays
Free and/or discount shipping options
Gift wrapping options
Gift receipts or receipt omissions
Card and note-sending options
While you can expect an increase in traffic over the holidays, it’s important to prepare so that this traffic translates to sales instead of missed opportunities. What do you do to prepare your business for the increase of holiday sales online?
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