The Countdown to Holiday Season 2010 is On – Is Your Store Ready? (Part 2 of 2)

Online retailers are ramping up their businesses to take full advantage of the most important shopping season of the year. This is make or break time for many retailers and if you’re not well prepared, you could miss out on the year’s best sales and profit opportunity.

Get your store ready for this year’s holiday season by planning and implementing an effective email marketing strategy, engaging in social media, targeting alternate sales channels, implementing a cart abandonment solution, and creating mobile presence.

Email marketing for 2010 Holidays

According to Responsys, online retailers sent an average of 14.3 emails to subscribers during the months of November and December in 2009. The analyst firm Forrester reports that 20% of consumers indicated they will be more inclined to open emails offering discounts on products and services than last year due to the economy.

Your customer email list is one of your most important tools. Emailing your customers before the official start of the holiday shopping season is the best way to stay relevant to your customers and improve your email open rates and loyalty during the actual holiday season when customers will be bombarded with offers from all over.

So what should you be doing now to capture customer attention during the upcoming holiday shopping season?

Review past holiday campaigns. Look back at last year’s analytics to review which days during the holiday months produced the most sales and email your customers special holiday promotions on those days.

Develop an email delivery schedule. Set up your email delivery schedule with a unique message and promotional plan. And stick to the schedule.

Create highly targeted email campaigns. Remember that many merchants employ email marketing heavily for the holiday season so your email campaigns must be highly targeted, with every aspect of each campaign fully optimized. Develop rush email templates and create a sense of urgency within the subject line or within the body of the email:

  • Only one week left till Christmas
  • Today is the last day for Guaranteed Christmas Delivery
  • Friday, December 17th is National FREE Shipping Day

Plan post-holiday programs now. The new customers you acquire during the holiday season may turn out to be very engaged and a well-planned post-holiday program can help you take advantage of that engagement. Rewarding your paying holiday customers with a discount, sending out promotions giving customers a reason to purchase what they wanted but didn’t get, and sending out promotions to people who created wish lists are some of the best ways to strengthen customers’ connection with your brand after the holidays.

Social media planning and execution

During the holiday season, when you can win or lose customers almost instantly, social media engagement can serve as an important touch point between you and your customers. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the popular social media networks that you can use to engage with your customers online. According to statistics, the average Facebook user has 130 friends and 50% of them return to Facebook.com daily. Facebook can provide you with a lot of free advertising for your website and product lines at such a vital time of the year.

Engaging with your customers online and participating in the online conversations in various social media channels can help you increase your brand awareness, elevate marketing message, and ultimately customer loyalty and sales conversions.

Facebook will play a major role in holiday shopping so make sure your Facebook page includes your sales promotions. GoECart merchants can benefit from built-in Facebook integration which allows shoppers to “like” and “share” your products with their family, friends, and associates on Facebook. Also, offer exclusive coupons to your Facebook fans and friends.

Twitter is another powerful social media channel that you can use in your holiday Internet marketing strategy. Begin promoting your Twitter page now so when the holiday season arrives you can tweet sales, special promotions, and hot new products. Offer exclusive coupons to your Twitter followers.

How to deal with Shopping Cart Abandonment during the Holidays

Consumers are more budget conscious than ever. They may take several days or weeks to make a purchase. A study done in 2009 by McAfee, the online security provider, showed that of the 163 million shopping transactions they tracked, 65 percent of those shoppers waited a day or more to complete a purchase.

What should you do now to encourage prompt purchases and prevent lost sales and shopping cart abandonment?

Put an Automated Shopping Cart Abandonment Solution in Place. If you do not have a shopping cart abandonment solution in place, it is extremely important that you implement one. You could be losing half of your potential sales to abandoned carts; but an automated remarketing campaign can recover many of those lost sales, directly impacting your sales and holiday profits.

Offer Special Incentives to Buy Now. Send a personalized follow up email to shoppers who abandoned their carts before completing their purchase. Express urgency for the holiday season and consider offering them a coupon. Relieve their concerns about site security, privacy, and price protection to get the order now. If you have the capacity in your call center, call those customers who abandoned their carts and assist them with placing their orders.

Transform Service-Based Messages into Revenue Opportunities with Rich Transactional Emails. This holiday season, do not let the one-time buyers simply come and go. Instead of sending generic text based order confirmation and shipping notification emails, include links to related products and special incentives to order more gifts. Or, reward your customers with a special discount for themselves. These promotional offers should be secondary to the transactional message content and should be included as a soft-sell, not as an attempt to force another sale.

‘Tis the Season to Target Alternate Sales Channels

Customers are more likely to buy if they see messages coming through various marketing channels. The more channels you can use, the greater the penetration of your products and services into your customer base. Use these alternate channels to get the maximum payback during this holiday season.

  • Online Marketplaces: Update and expand your marketing channels to include eBay, Amazon.com, Buy.com, Overstock, and Sears.com marketplaces. By selling your products on these marketplaces you can extend your reach to millions of customers that are already registered in these marketplaces.
  • Coupon sites: Online coupons are a powerful tool in reaching consumers with greater precision and lower costs. Consumers of all income segments are increasingly making coupons part of their shopping routine. According to ComScore, 31.6 million people visited a coupon or promotional site as of December 2009, a 46 percent increase in just two years. The trend is most likely to continue this year.
  • Affiliate programs: Most affiliate marketers look for new products and offers to promote throughout the holiday season, use this opportunity to increase the number of affiliate partners you already have. After the holiday season, you can then reach out to these affiliates that you have built a relationship with over the holiday season and offer them new messaging and content to continue promoting your product lines.

Don’t ignore the mobile channel – its here and happening!

As cell phones get smarter, people are using them less to make calls and more to text, shop, read news, play games, engage with social networks, and perform routine tasks. A recent study by Coda Research agency has revealed that mobile eCommerce in the US will hit $2.42 billion in 2010. It is more important than ever to have a mobile presence for the 2010 holiday season.

You should seriously consider investing in an m-commerce solution if you do not have one in place already. Notably, two-thirds of mobile consumers say they prefer the mobile web over mobile apps for shopping. Understanding the ways in which consumers want to interact with your brand through mobile phones is a new and important task you need to do as you prepare for the 2010 holiday season.

The key to successful mobile commerce is knowing how to interact with consumers through the mobile channel and then creating an excellent user experience. Keep the product assortment limited to your popular products. Focus on ease of navigation, quick checkout, and fast loading pages on your mobile site.

By taking the time to prepare for the holiday season with an effective e-mail marketing strategy, social media engagement, alternate sales channels, cart abandonment solutions and mobile presence, you will have a jump start on your competitors and your sales will be much higher than if you wait till the last minute.

Is your ecommerce solution provider ready for this holiday season?

GoECart can help you succeed by implementing tailored ecommerce solutions to boost sales during the holidays and all year round. GoECart understands how important it is to convert your website visitors into paying customers. GoECart Ecommerce Solutions allow you to easily create and publish effective custom landing pages that motivate customers to buy from you.

It is crucial to have social media integrated into your marketing strategy this holiday season. At GoECart we have built-in integration with Facebook, Twitter, ShareThis and more to help you easily facilitate social media engagement with your audience.

If you want to take control of transactional emails, GoECart offers a built-in solution that allows you to monitor transactional emails as they are delivered and easily change content on-the-fly for an optimized performance. With no need for any third party integration and easily configurable built-in abandonment solution, this feature is guaranteed to produce high return for merchants.

Visit GoECart today and join hundreds of companies that rely on GoECart to Sell More™ products and services this holiday shopping season and all year round.

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