We are in the midst of the holiday shopping season. For many retail businesses, this is a make or break time of the year. According to the National Retail Federation, the holiday season can represent as much as 30% of annual sales for some businesses and accounts for 20% of total sales for the retail industry as a whole.
Because of this, retail businesses need to take the time to plan and prepare for the holidays throughout the entire year if they want to be successful. It’s not rocket science, but it will take some time to put everything in place. To help your business get in the holiday spirit, we’ve highlighted seven characteristics of businesses poised to dominate the holiday shopping season.
As previously mentioned, the holiday shopping season is something that businesses need to be preparing for year round. You can’t throw a strategy together at the last minute. Another thing to take into account is that people start shopping earlier and earlier every year. Nearly 50% of consumers said they did a majority of their shopping on or before Cyber Monday and 25% said they have done at least some holiday shopping before Halloween. If you’re waiting until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to launch holiday campaigns, you are missing out on a huge chunk of business.
Make your site festive
Don’t stick with the status quo. Update your website with holiday imagery and with banners and promotions highlighting any holiday-related deals. Josh Steimle, author and entrepreneur, offers the following tips to spruce up your website for the holidays in a post on Forbes:
- Find out what worked and what didn’t in previous years and optimize accordingly.
- Ensure your site has a responsive mobile design to account for increased mobile shoppers.
- Build PPC campaigns in advance so you can hit the ground running.
- Focus on optimizing your site for conversions.
- Create content to support your holiday campaigns.
Hire the right people
Unlike other industries, retailers need to take into account increased traffic to both their website and physical locations and staff up accordingly. These new employees will be the face of your company during a critical time. Because of this, you should take the time to find the right people and give them enough training to ensure you are putting your best foot forward.
Optimize for local and organic search
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into hiring the right people and creating a killer website if customers aren’t able to find you. That’s why businesses should focus on optimizing their site for both organic and local search.
SEO isn’t a seasonal activity. It’s something you should focus on year-round so you can reap the benefits when traffic increases. To maximize your business’ online potential you should focus on incorporating keywords into your content, earning valuable links back to your site, making sure your name, address, and phone number are consistent on all of your business listings and web pages, and ensuring your site is fast and mobile ready. These are just a few simple things you can do to be optimized. For more detailed information on optimization, check out ranking factors for organic and local search on Moz.com.
One thing you can do to boost SEO at this time of year is to create holiday-specific content like gift guides that highlight your products and promotions. These can then be promoted via social media and hopefully earn you links back to your site. Just make sure that your gift guide is hosted on your website and not a microsite or you won’t be able to take advantage of the SEO your site already has.
Helpful staff – both online and off
It is also important to have a well-trained customer service staff to handle complaints during the holiday shopping season. We now live in something called a ROBO economy. Many people now conduct research online about products or services but prefer to make purchases in-person.
To help push these customers through the buyer’s journey, we suggest implementing live chat software on your site and staffing it with knowledgeable customer service professionals. Doing so will help answer any questions or concerns a customer might have while also helping to improve conversion rates.
Communicate early and often
Another critical piece of any marketing campaign during the holiday shopping season is emailing your customers about holiday deals and promotions early and often. Check out this post by Email on Acid to learn tips and tricks for organizing a killer holiday email campaign.
It’s also important to communicate to your customers via social media channels. You can create special holiday-themed videos, build a campaign around a hashtag, or hold a contest that encourages user-generated content.
Killer online reputation
When consumers are conducting research about your business online they are most likely interacting with your online reviews. What your customers say about your business online has a huge impact on whether or not consumers will do business with you. Positive reviews will build trust and consumer confidence, while also influencing purchase decisions. In fact, a survey by Dimensional Research found that 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
Just like optimizing for search, a business’ online reputation isn’t something that can be ramped up quickly. You need to build it up over time. The best way to accomplish this is by seeking feedback from all of your customers and providing them with a frictionless process to leave a review on the sites that matter most to your business. A good online review management platform can do just that. It will ensure consumers have enough information about your business to make an informed purchase decision.
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.