Although we are still a few months away from Christmas, now is the time to start preparing your website for the holiday season.  From festive designs to shipping logistics, the more you are prepared for the holidays, the better your sales will be. And with 41%* of consumers expecting to spend more online this Christmas than in 2010, there’s a real opportunity to have successful holiday sales.  So, whether you have an e-commerce, brochure, or corporate site, we’ve put together a list of changes you can make to prepare for the Christmas season.

Preparing your website for Christmas

1. Include a festive design. Never mind the fact that people expect a holiday theme on your website, it’s also a good way to show that you’re prepared for Christmas purchases.  Not only that, but changing your design is a simple and effective way to get people in the mood to shop. While you don’t want to cover your site in snowflakes, candy canes, and Santa Claus, a few tasteful touches can make a difference. Also, think about adding a countdown calendar, as it’s an easy way to imply urgency and encourage people to get shopping.
2. Get your logistics right.  No matter how perfect your website is, if your business isn’t ready for the Christmas season, you’ll have a mess on your hands.  So, check your stock levels, determine shipping deadlines, finalise your return policies, and think about offering gift receipts.  Make sure all your policies are available on your website so there is no confusion as to what terms and conditions your company follows.
3. Focus on the user experience.  Before the holidays you need to work out any problems or barriers users may experience on your website.  So, remove any unnecessary logins, make your contact details and shipping/return policies easily accessible, and check for any bugs in your system.  Consider updating payment software to the most secure version, but give enough time to test that everything will run smoothly with it.
4. Easy navigation. One of the most important points we could give is to make sure your website is easy to navigate.  This allows visitors to find what they’re looking for quickly and without problem.  Check that all your products are categorised properly and logically (by product group, colour, gender, etc), include a search function, and highlight special offers.  Also, incorporate cross-selling (“if you like this item, then try…”) and showcase your top sellers. The key is to help people find what they are looking for and introduce them to products they won’t want to miss.
5. Prep the products. Your product pages need to sell themselves, so make sure each one is up-to-date with the right information and images.  Also, you may want to consider video and zoom options to help consumers feel at ease about their online purchases. The fewer steps needed to make a purchase the better, so e-commerce sites should have an “add to cart” button on each product page while catalogue/corporate sites should have phone numbers in prominent locations.
6. SEO for the holidays. People who are browsing use different keywords than people who are buying, so tailor your website for buyers with call-to-action phrases and action verbs (“hire carpet cleaners,” “buy handmade candles,” etc).  Additionally, write your content to fit with the holidays to help improve seasonal search result ranking.  For example, if you are selling fairy lights your product description can include “For festive parties, Christmas trees, or even lighting Santa’s way, these fairy lights are a great addition to your holiday decor.” This SEO tactic will also help people visualise how your product will fit in with their holiday season, making them more likely to purchase.
7. Offer something extra. Nothing makes shoppers happier than a good deal, so consider an extra incentive to get people to buy from you.  Free holiday shipping, gift wrapping items and including holiday cards are relatively cheap ways to give your customers something special for their Christmas purchases.  For eleventh-hour buyers, consider a pick-up option that would allow them to come to your brick and mortar store to pick up their order.
8. Use online marketing. Email marketing, social media, and Pay-Per-Click are a great way to supplement your holiday website.  Spreading the word via multiple channels will ensure that a larger audience will learn about your Christmas offers. Think about fun online PR ideas, for example one of our favourites was creating a discount-a-day advent calendar for Mio Destino.  Other great options are emailable letters to Santa, online Christmas vouchers, and Christmas competitions.
9. Think ahead. Not only should you be prepared for Christmas, but you must also be ready for Boxing Day and January sales.  Have a plan of action for how your website will transition immediately after Christmas—have a design in place and know what offers will be available. With 23% of online shoppers making purchases on Boxing Day, and many more looking for great deals in January, you’ll need to be just as prepared for the after-Christmas shopping as you were for Christmas itself.
10. Add analytics. Knowing who is coming to your website, how they are interacting with it, and what is bringing them to your site will help you adjust your holiday campaign to make it as successful as possible. Not only that, but keeping track of these figures will help you continuously improve your Christmas season online marketing throughout the years.

On average, shops typically see a 30% increase in sales from November through January so it is important to make sure you and your website are optimised to bring in the most revenue possible.  These tips should have you ready for great sales this holiday season, so get started now!

Need help preparing your website for the Christmas season? Contact us today.

 

*IMRG Press Release