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How to Sell More During the 2013 Holiday Shopping Season

It’s that time of year again, and no my friend,is n’t too early to begin your holiday preparations. As a matter of fact, it is the perfect time to begin gearing up for the holiday shopping season this 2013, even with a government shutdown throwing shadows on everyone’s profits.

It doesn’t matter if you’re pretty new to this whole eCommerce thing or if you’re an old hand. Take our word for it; it’s time to get moving if you want to maximize your profits this year. Take a look at our checklist to see if you’re on the right track. You can consider yourself a virtual eCommerce guru extraordinaire by the time you’ve accomplished everything on this we’ve got laid out for you.

Don’t Repeat History
Here’s the crux of the situation. Most eCommerce businesses, even those who are managed and created by talented, wonderful, fabulous minds, often make the same mistakes repeatedly. We don’t want you to fall into that trap, so refer to this handy-dandy guide for help. Overcome the fallout from the government shutdown, make a high profit this holiday season, and rest assured that you’re going to be on Santa’s nice list.

Quit Making Excuses: It’s Not Too Soon!
Gone are the days when there was actually one holiday advertised at the time. If you want to keep up with your competitors, realize that they already started getting their holiday ducks in a row this past July. Yep, we’re talking about six months of preparation. You need to begin gathering data right now, test it, and get ready to make your big play in November.

Your eCommerce Holiday Checklist

Get It Together
First things first, ladies and gentlemen; you must first get your junk in order.

  • Bring the very best new hires on.
  • Analyze your top-selling products, as well as your ‘sitting on the shelf’ goods.
  • Once you’ve determined what your best-selling products are, advertise them front and center.
  • Take a serious look at your calendar. Plan carefully around each of the festive days of the season.

SEO Concerns
Search engine optimization is integral to your holiday success.

  • Make sure that your eCommerce site is up to date with both Panda and Penguin.
  • It’s tough, but all content in your store must be original. Otherwise, it’s SEO suicide.

Architecture and Design
Optimize and shape up your site architecture and design so that it can handle the huge influx of customers that the holidays will, hopefully, bring.

  •  Get into the spirit with a customized holiday navigational theme.
  • Create a specialized landing page that highlights gift ideas.
  • Have all of your graphics prepared ahead of time, ranging from your Facebook cover photo to your logo to your auto-responders.
  • Customize your Meta tags for the holidays.
  • If you have more than a 50% cart abandonment issue, you need to invest in a checkout and cart study.
  • Your server is about to be seriously stressed. Act now and optimize page load time as well as performance.
  • International sellers should localize their stores.
  • Do what it takes to get your BBB, VeriSign, TRUSTe, PayPal and McAffee logos.

Conversion Concerns
Obviously, you want to convert customers to your business. Now is the time to address conversion concerns.

  • Provide ways for your consumers to give you feedback. Listen to it. Qualaroo.com, Olark.com, and SurveyMonkey.com are excellent tools for this.
  • Use your top competitors’ ideas as inspiration for ways that you can convert customers.
  • Spend the money, and put testers to work. Sites like Usertesting.com can help make this task more manageable.
  • You need to investigate the scrolls and clicks of your visitors. Places like Clicktale.com and Crazyegg.com can help with this.
  • Offer various guarantees to your consumers. See which ones work best, then offer an even bigger guarantee based off of that information.
  • Utilize bullets. They make reading and scanning product descriptions much more convenient, which keeps customers looking.
  • Don’t forget your testimonials!

Email Marketing
Don’t overlook the value add of email marketing. This is one of the best ways to get the word out about your products.

  •  You need an amazing subscriber list for email marketing. If you haven’t already done so, begin building it now.
  • Take the time to purge your subscriber’s list of folks who aren’t engaging.
  • Work up some amazing holiday limited time offers so that your consumers will feel the need to make impulse buys.
  • Develop a master holiday email communication guide. This will help you to keep on track with your email promotions.

Target – Again
Don’t forget to re-target.

  • Those who abandon their carts just might come back and complete their purchase if you remind them of it. Use AdRoll.com for aid in this.

Work Social Media

  •  Don’t forget to connect with your consumers via social media throughout the holidays. Places like TweetDeck.com can make automation a piece of cake.
  • Open graphs allow you to have control over how your store pages look via social media.

Everybody Loves a Deal – Use Coupons

  • Begin getting your coupon promotions in order now. Many retailers will begin these promotions as early as September.

Organize Shipping and Returns

  • Make sure your shipping strategy is honed to perfection. It plays a wide-reaching role in conversions.
  • Put your customers’ minds at ease with a reliable and quality return policy.

The Importance of Support
In every business, customer support goes a long way to keeping consumers in your ball field and out of your competitor’s.

  •  Convenience is everything in eCommerce, so provide numerous ways to place orders. Also, make these diverse methods highly visible.
  • Provide several different types of customer support channels, and make sure they are easily found on your site, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Double and triple check all of your auto-responders, from email to phones, to make sure they are working appropriately before the holiday rush.
  • Go ahead, bite the bullet and hire enough support staff to man all of the phone and email inquiries that are going to be moving through your holiday business rush.
  • If at all possible, offer live chat to your consumers. Olark.com can help make this simpler.

Offer Quality Holiday Content

  • Create quality, customized holiday content for key phrases like “Gift ideas for husbands.”

Comparisons, Comparisons
You need to know what your competitors are up to so that you can compete.

  • There are many comparison shopping engines available, but only a few that are free. Either way, you need to utilize these CSE tools. Test them for a couple of months to see which work best for your company.
  • Look at your products, and find the ones with the highest conversion rates. These rates will likely go up during the holidays. Increase the bid on these products.
  • Make sure you’ve got your feeds ready for the season by using holiday keywords.
  •  Use Amazon.com either by selling through their marketplace or by comparison shopping ads.

Work AdWords
Google AdWords need to be put to your use.

  •  Check out last year’s best keywords, and make sure and use them this 2013 season.
  •  Add coupons and discounts to these keywords, because everyone is looking for a deal.
  •  Ad Site links needs to be set up right away if they aren’t already.
  • If your Google AdWords and Google Merchant accounts are linked you should use extensions and listing ads.
  •  Don’t overlook Google AdWords’s Dynamic Keyword Insertion option.
  •  Get started now with building up your re-marketing list through AdWords.
  •  Make your AdWord copy urge people to buy immediately as opposed to later.
  •  Customer reviews help in selling a product. Start building those up on your most popular products immediately.
  •  Get in with Google Trusted Store.

Newer Commerce: Tablets and Phones

  •  Go through the trouble to test your site with the most used tablets and smartphones.

Gratitude Works Well

  •  A little gratitude is much appreciated. Send out holiday cards, Happy New Year being a safe bet, to those who made purchases at your store.

Get a Piece of that Humongous eCommerce Pie.

Obviously, you see that there’s a good deal of money to be made in the eCommerce world (or you wouldn’t be in this kind of business). Here are some solid statistics to back up that theory. It is thought that by the year 2016, there will be approximately 175 million online shoppers in America. Furthermore, these guys will be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 361.9 billion dollars, all in eCommerce venues. Last year, 1.47 billion dollars were shelled out on Cyber Monday, which is the Black Friday of eCommerce.

Take these statistics to heart, because you can get yourself a nice big slice of that American billion dollar pie and feast on it by following our checklist.