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Is Your E-Commerce Store Ready For Christmas: 6 things you must do now

by Tim Rimington | August 31, 2011

Many shoppers are already turning their attention to Christmas buying. Most retailers instinctively spring into action around this time as well by planning their marketing efforts for the lead up to Christmas.

Sadly, some online retailers leave their campaigning to November, and often those campaigns rarely extend beyond a token “free shipping” offer or discount scheme. But with simple planning your lead up to Christmas can be much more rewarding, and more exciting for your customers!

Review Your SEO

Recently I’ve noticed a sharp increase in SEO interest amongst clients who otherwise had no interest this same time last year. I attribute this to Google’s Panda activity (and our trumpeting!) but the good news is, online retailers know that their site’s content needs to shift to match customer search criteria - and Christmas time is no different.

Start by building Christmas-related product titles and accompanying text. Create a new document and start writing Christmas copy for your Home page and key product pages. Do the same for your page titles and page META descriptions. This is what you need for every key page and product page:

  1. Page title with the word “Christmas” sprinkled appropriately (e.g. “get ready for Christmas with our colourful range of men’s socks”). You get the idea.
  2. Page Heading 1 tags along the same lines as your page title
  3. META Description touting the page’s reason for existence (this appears in Google’s results so make it an invitation)
  4. Body text to support your Christmas theme
  5. Products: treat them slightly differently by changing the product’s URL to include your sprinkling of the word “Christmas” (if your CMS allows this) and carry out the same changes to product pages as above.

Remember that bricks and mortar retailers spend millions on attracting Christmas traffic – you also need to ramp up activity and do everything you can to attract Christmas trade.

Copy and paste your new Christmas SEO work as soon as you're comfortable doing so (but no later than November 1). Like it or not, large retailers spring into action around October so consider doing the same. It works for them...

Email Campaigning

Start creating your Christmas-styled newsletters and create suitable Christmas imagery for each newsletter (don’t skip corners with making images, do it professionally or get a pro to do it for you – there’s nothing worse than amateurish images).

  1. Map out the weeks into Christmas that you’ll send campaigns. Everyone else is doing it too so make your newsletters look flash. That means catchy subject lines and carefully worded offers and calls to action. Space campaigns out so that you’re not hounding your subscriber base to the point of annoying them. Monthly, then fortnightly as time draws closer to December. Do what you believe works best.
  2. Have good offers and draw cards for each campaign but make each distinct from the next so that if you don’t hook your fish with the first cast you’ll hopefully attract something with the next. Mix things up and keep ‘em interesting.
  3. Don’t forget to build links back to your product pages (I wish I had a dollar for every e-commerce related newsletter I get that’s missing links back to the store!).

Awaken VIP Customers and Club Members

Your club members are your best allies. Create an attractive campaign for these folks and treat them as special (they are VIP after all!).

Create a Promo Code for VIPs and build an email newsletter touting a specific product group so that you focus their attention. Whether the offer is simply free shipping or a special percentage off discount is up to you but these VIPs are also being woken up by their other favourite retailers. Make your offer unique and make it special.

Check inventory and stock up especially on items you intend to include within your campaigns

It’s advertised but it’s out of stock. Fail! Make sure you don’t leave supplier orders to the last minute. Sometimes it’s a challenge forecasting Christmas demand especially in the so-called bad retail climate being experienced by most of us. But frankly, the “bad climate” is partly to blame on poor choice – consumers will spend if the product is a “must have” (take a look inside an Apple store and tell me people aren't spending). Consider introducing something new for Christmas. Prepare your company’s “must have”.

Ramp up your social media activity

Tweet! Blog! Get the troops moving via Facebook! But be heard; by increasing your presence you’ll get noticed. Hint: Google will love this part too.

Create Christmas Banners & Imagery

As with your newsletter images, get your web designer to make up half a dozen or so beautifully styled banners to place around your web site. But beware, most web design companies are busy this time of year so get in early!

Happy Christmas trading!

UPDATE September 2, 2011: I just received my first Xmas-branded email newsletter from CD-WOW. The race has begun!

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