We’ve never had a year like this before, and online retailers should expect the festive season to feel the same. Everything is a bit up in the air. Christmas digital marketing this year requires extra attention plus a little more planning than usual. To maximise the expected eCommerce boon, you’ll want to ensure things are working, encourage people to stay on your site and adapt to the new pandemic reality.
There’s a lot to do, but every step will support business now and the months that follow. So, while the 2020 festive season will be unlike any other we’ve had before, there are a few Christmas marketing tips for eCommerce shops to prioritise. Let’s start with two of those and then move on to a few specific considerations for your current audience.
Christmas marketing tips to keep in mind this festive season
1. Errors cost sales
Website errors always cost you sales, but the potential impact of each one skyrockets during the festive season. Christmas shoppers always flood eCommerce sites, but when a page is broken or a coupon doesn’t work, they abandon those sites just as quick.
The first priority of any online retailer is to ensure their site works and that they tackle links and actions that lead to 404 errors. Here are some other things most shops should check:
- Update landing pages in your marketing and ad campaigns as well as overlays and popups on your site
- Check that your shopping carts accept all payment forms listed
- Test every coupon and discount program you offer
- Sign up for your own newsletter to make sure that the email sequence is correct
- Verify that customers get proper tracking and shipping information after a purchase
- Generate sales within your order system to ensure warehouse software is creating orders and properly tracking inventory
- Mail a sample package to check that you’re using enough packaging material to protect it in transit
Every mistake during the purchase and fulfilment process can lead to a loss in revenue. The former can prevent a sale from happening while the latter can increase customers’ chances of asking for a refund.
2. Search keeps people on your site
Audiences have grown during 2020, but so have options. Your store needs to keep people on it longer and generate higher levels of engagement. A quick way to achieve both is to offer and improve on-site search capabilities.
When it comes to Christmas marketing tips here, the first step is to initiate an on-site search tool. There are a variety of options and one of the more popular ones is Google’s Programmable Search Engine. It’s simple and swift to get up and running.
After the search is live, take time to ensure it points to the correct products. Review site keywords and product descriptions to match your leading terms with your sales leaders. Treat this like standard SEO work and you’ll be making changes that positively benefit your business in Google and other search engines.
So, start by reviewing text and fixing mistakes such as spelling problems. Then, enable suggestion features on the search engine so it makes recommendations when a user misspells a word. If your tool allows you to set featured results, program these to be your best-selling items in each category. Add high-quality images and alt text to those images to help search understand your pages. Don’t keyword stuff, but still try to add two to three keywords to each product page at least three times.
3. You need to relearn your market
The coronavirus pandemic has caused many customers to cut back or adjust their spending. Broadly, this has led to customers scaling back and shifting existing spending to big brands, when they’re affordable. Look for opportunities to highlight major brands that you carry or promote more traditional ‘basics’ that can help people with their other spending changes. Make sure to create Christmas eye-catching graphics that highlight these basics. This can be accomplished easily with Christmas mockups.
Do your homework and refresh your target profiles and personas. This investment is paramount.
Does your audience traditionally like to go out and party most weekends? It’s likely their spending has led to more snacks and alcohol purchases at home. Foodies are still baking bread, though the trend has died off among many less-inclined cooks. People who can’t get their haircut at a favourite salon are doing it at home, and that includes bleaching, colour and more.
You’ve probably done your work to understand the market last year and early during the pandemic. Unfortunately, that data might not provide relevant insights. People are following trends and looking for ways to replace activities and spending. As we potentially return to more lockdowns and increasing fear about the next wave, people will hunker down and shift how they spend again.
4. Delays are expected and information demanded
Your customers have likely started their holiday shopping already. There is concern over repeating the delays supply chains experienced earlier in 2020. Knowing that delays are possible does mean customers are going to be more forgiving if you experience an issue, but only as long as you communicate it proactively.
Your mission is to create email messaging around potential delays and have it ready for distribution when anything occurs. Late production, delayed order processing, facility shutdowns, or even carrier volume crunch can impact your ability to get orders out on time.
As soon as a disruption occurs, provide customers a note. Help them set expectations and include whatever details you have. For businesses that are new to online selling thanks to the pandemic this is especially important, as you don’t have a prior track record to lean on.
The more you communicate, the better. Customers want to know what’s happening with their order and will appreciate updates, even if they’re just saying that everything is going as expected. Regular communication also gives you a chance to introduce additional sales opportunities, notify people of discounts, and encourage shopping throughout the entire festive season.
A note on forgiveness
What’s likely to occur, though we won’t know it until January, is that customers will also expect you to be forgiving. Returns, exchanges and refunds could spike in 2021.
If you want to support these customers and potentially convert them to long-term, repeat buyers, be gracious with their needs. Adding leeway now, when uncertainty is high and budgets are at risk, can make it more likely these customers will return to you when their life gets back closer to ‘normal’.
5. Speed up things that are going right
Customers are facing many challenges this year, but you can capitalise on what’s working right in your business. When you see something beneficial, double down on it for your holiday sales and marketing. Target what holiday shoppers ask for because your competitors might be struggling with that issue while your earlier efforts protect you.
One of the best Christmas marketing tips is to speed things up when possible. In the eCommerce space, speed makes a significant difference, especially for your shipping. Adding expedited shipping capabilities as well as free shipping can boost your promotions and the money people spend with you. There are multiple ways to control two-day shipping costs, for instance, so most companies can generally find a system that works for them and their clients.
If you’re especially concerned about offering faster shipping or trying to upgrade to improve order processing time, be protective of your revenue. Offer these benefits when they also help you. One of the most common tools is to restrict free or faster shipping to orders of a certain value or making people pay more for the fastest options. If you use free shipping as your promotion, keep it clear and simple. Someone should be able to tell if their order meets your criteria at a balance.
Review your market to find the best shipping tools and options for both controlling costs and satisfying customers. If you’re shipping to the U.S., there are other considerations as well. Look for partners such as third-party logistics companies (3PLs) that can ensure you meet your customers. Their warehouses provide ways for you meet eCommerce shipping demands and get the best carrier speeds and pricing.
Check your work
The time to finalise your plans and start putting things into action is here. That can lead eCommerce stores to rush promotions, add new site pages, and send emails in hopes of gaining sales. The faster you go, the bigger the chance of a mistake or concern. So, give yourself a minute and check what you’ve created.
Run through your site, product pages, promotions and checkout process to ensure nothing is broken and the right elements are displayed to visitors. Test order management and fulfilment tools to ensure your warehouse is in great shape. Review ad campaigns so that you’ve got the right messages for the right dates for different events during the festive season.
It can be a pain sometimes. However, getting things right in the planning stages with these Christmas marketing tips limits the headaches and frustrations for you and your customers when it comes to getting the perfect gift or splurging on ourselves come Boxing Day.
About the author
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfilment warehouse that was born out of eCommerce. He has years of experience in eCommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.