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5 ways brands can prepare for the holiday season .

The author

Ginny Gervyte

CRO Analyst

In the period surrounding Christmas, there’s a great opportunity for online retailers to take advantage of the surge of consumers making their way online to buy presents and find bargains post-Christmas in the sales.

In 2015 in the UK, online retail accounted for a quarter of all Christmas spending, £5.67bn of this on mobile devices.

This demonstrates the scale of the opportunity available to attract new customers and it’s a key time for brands to retain those customers once the season is over.

Below, we look at five ways brands can prepare to take advantage of the holiday season.

1. Optimise your landing page

Your pages should be optimised for conversion all year round, but during Christmas and January, you have the opportunity to convert those customers looking to make a quick sale, so your CRO approach to your winter holiday sales landing page might need to be a little different.

If you prepare your page well in advance, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct A/B testing on which elements of your page convert better. Some things to consider specifically for your holiday sales landing page could be:

  • Emphasising urgency: The holiday season is a limited period of time, so emphasise the importance of acting quickly so as not to miss out. People struggle to control their impulse to buy when they are being urged, therefore you could utilise this by having a countdown timer on your site, or something as simple as a product stock reminder, e.g. “Just one product left”.
  • Make deals prominent: During the Christmas trading period and particularly in January, shoppers are led by deals and bargains, so make them prominent and front and centre of your page. A study conducted by consumer psychologists in London Metropolitan University proved there is a connection between bargain and excitement. Give customers a reason to buy now instead of coming back at another time by including the normal retailing price alongside the sale price.
  • Optimise for mobile: It’s estimated that there’ll be more holiday shoppers on mobile than ever before this year, so don’t create your page for desktop first and mobile second, make sure that when users come to your page using their mobile, the copy is short and to the point, deals are clear and call-to-actions are bold, and ensure that users can make their purchase easily on mobile.

2. Personalise offers to your audience

You should fully understand your customers’ online shopping behaviour and what drives them to buy online, and be able to use this data to feed back into your marketing campaigns.

During the Christmas period, you have the opportunity to send your customers deals for products they’ll be interested in and really maximise the efficiency of your campaigns.

Don’t send the same email with the same offers to all of your customers – if it’s not relevant to them, they won’t engage with it.

You can also get clever with personalising for new customers, too. You can personalise your landing page offer to match with the PPC advert that a user has clicked through to your website. Furthermore, you should consider user journey which should match the same personalisation rules you applied to your PPC landing page.

By making offers relevant and personalised to your users, you’re much more likely to encourage them to buy – for example, Boxing Day is just one day and people want to grab a quick bargain, don’t make them search around on your site for what they’re looking for when they’ve already typed it in on a search engine. If they can’t see what they want in the first few moments of coming to your site, they’ll go elsewhere.

3. Create targeted email campaigns

For the post-Christmas sales period especially, start a few weeks early and email out your deals and offers to customers and prospective customers before the big day so that they know to come straight to you on the day.

These emails could include tips and tricks on how to avoid missing out on the best offers, these could be related to creating an account and having the correct delivery address details to ensure stress-free shopping on the day.

You could also create specific deals for your customers, rewarding their loyalty and perhaps even giving them first access to products you know they’ll be interested in.

Cross-selling and up-selling would be a great idea too if user is purchasing something that could be potentially used with other items that you have in stock.

4. Optimise for customer retention

One of the most important parts of preparing for the season is optimising for customer retention. You can expect high levels of traffic to your site for the next two months, and as we’ve identified previously, much of this will be new users. By taking the extra step to personalise the post-purchasing experience, you’ll have a higher chance of retaining those new customers.

Sending customers, a ‘thank you’ email after purchasing is the first small step, but think about a strategy moving forwards, you could be sending them timely emails related to the product they bought, showing them what others had bought as well as that product perhaps.

What’s more, you could even surprise them with a small sample or something a little extra in their order when it goes out, making their experience with you as memorable as possible. This simple gesture of reciprocity might turn this new customer into a very loyal one.

5. Prepare for all scenarios

Hopefully, you should be expecting high levels of traffic during December and January, and one of the most important things to consider is that your website and your team is ready for it.

Make sure that you have extra resource working to process orders and customer queries, and ensure that your site is equipped to handle large amounts of traffic. Should something cause your website to crash, make sure that you have a plan in place for communication to customers and how you’re going to get it back up again.

Essentially, make sure that your company is prepared for all situations; it’s an opportunity to create loyal customers and reward existing ones, so be prepared to take advantage of that.