Boost your store sales on holidays: full guide

Holiday season is a real challenge for merchants. While people choose presents for their dearest and nearest, search for the hottest deals sipping their day-off coffee, spend time anywhere but work, retailers sweat day and night.

Eventually, improving online holiday sales consist of two parts. First of all, a lot of people are not ready to do shopping on holidays, because they’re resting from work and everyday routine. And that may influence your sales a lot – for example, this happens in summer.

Secondly, the online retail world is going crazy with deals, coupons and discounts. And let’s be honest: if you do nothing, you’ll lose so many clients you can’t even imagine. At these insane times virtually everybody offers bargains, and JUST nice prices, JUST a cute layout and SOMEWHAT okay navigation JUST won’t work.

That is why we created this guide with holiday sales ideas: by following it, you can prepare your Magento store for the holiday season and make it a success.

SEO

CHECK YOUR LAST YEAR HOLIDAY KEYWORDS

If your store’s not too young, you might want to check the keywords that generated visitors last year. Retail holiday sales must be supported by SEO!

Top Tip on holiday SEO
Before adding last year keywords to your list, make sure you’ve checked their search volume and looked through the SERPs for them. Ranking for ’empty’ keywords is not your option.

 

Tools to use

Google Webmaster Tools

Increase holiday sales by digging into last year keywords

  1. Go to Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Go to Search Traffic – Search Queries.
  3. Select the time period you want to get your keywords for and download the chart in Google Docs or CSV. You can view up to 90 days of historical data. Reason to save keywords regularly!
  4. Now you can look through the list of keywords!

UTILIZE GOOGLE TRENDS

Use Google Trends to find more keywords and see their popularity through time. This makes your holiday sales more diverse and adds to your keyword strategy.

Top Tip on holiday SEO
If you sell worldwide, check the local variations of your keywords. Did you know that Australian Christmas takes place at the height of summer? Also don’t forget about yearly trends.

 

Tools to use

Google Trends

Holiday SEO: utilize Google Trends

KEYWORDS RESEARCH

SEO without keyword research? Not this season. As always, try to use long tail keywords, as they are easier to rank for and bring most of the traffic.

Top Tip on holiday SEO
Find a healthy balance between your holiday/seasonal keywords and your long-term keywords. Your seasonal campaign shouldn’t crush your yearlong SEO efforts.

 

Tools to use

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Holiday SEO: keyword research

Google Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete can be a killer source of keywords, because:

  • it shows you some of the popular keywords;
  • it provides you with long tail suggestions on entered keywords.

Holiday SEO: keyword research with Google autocomplete

Google Related Searches

Go to Google, enter your keyword and scroll down to see the related searches list.

Holiday SEO: Google related searches

Competitors research

Google your top keywords, go to your competitors’ pages and carefully analyze the texts, paying special attention to title and description tags, as well as h1-h6 titles. If some last year seasonal pages are available, make sure you’re on it.

Holiday SEO: competitor research
WORK ON INTERNAL LINKING

Support your holiday SEO efforts with internal linking.

Top Tip on holiday SEO
It doesn’t mean that you need to ruin your existent internal linking structure. Just add several links to the holiday sales pages so they can pass PR.

 

Tools to use

Internal Link Analyzer

The tool lets you analyze the links of a given page. You can also export the results.

Holiday SEO: internal linking

CREATE AND OPTIMIZE IN ADVANCE

Create landing pages, product bundles, new categories in advance. This way your pages will rank for sure, and plus you can leverage your performance before holidays strike.

Top Tip on holiday SEO
Make a plan! It’s high time to add Christmas keywords to your pages mid October-November. As they get reindexed by search engines, make sure the pages won’t lose rankings due to the changes. If you’re going to offer free shipping for a specific day, add this information to the meta tags closer to the date, but check if the page is added to your XML sitemap and is posted to social networks for faster indexation.

 

Tools to use

Amasty Landing Pages

Magento Landind Pages for holiday SEO

This Magento extension is perfect for holiday sales boost, and here’s why:

  • you can create separate landing pages for your seasonal campaigns.
  • you choose which products to show on the given landing page: for example, show On Sale items, all red clothes for Christmas or all the costumes accessories for Halloween.
  • the extension allows to create a special SEO friendly URL and meta tags so you can optimize your pages with your holiday keywords.

Using Magento Landing Page for holiday SEO

 Amasty Meta Tag Templates

Meta Tag Templates for holiday SEO
Meta Tag Templates allows you to change your meta tags in bulk. For example, if you want to add ‘free shipping’ to all your titles and descriptions, you can do this with the help of the meta title rule.
What is more, you can easily return everything back after the holiday season, which saves you a lot of time and effort.

Meta tags templates - current products

Ads

REVIEW YOUR ADS

It’s a good idea to review the ads you’re spending money on. Switch the banners and PPC off if the clicks or clients are the most expensive in your environment and use the money for the more profitable sources. Thus you will get more clicks and more sales.

RAISE AVERAGE CHECK

Try to make your average order more expensive. This can be reached by several methods:

1. Intense upselling;

2. Stocking stuffers in product suggestions;

3. Buy one get one free, buy one get second with discount, and other cart rules and discounts.

Tools to use

Promo banners

Promo banners for holiday sales

Here’s what you can do to use Promo Banners Magento extension for boosting your holiday sales:

  • Activate impulse purchases at your store
  • Display banners on cart, category and product pages
  • Show deals relevant to the products which people view
  • Clearly inform customers about deals
  • Encourage your customers to purchase more

Magento easy banner product page

Special Promotions

Magento Special Promotions for holiday sales

Use these features to raise your average check:

  • Deals with cheapest and most expensive items
  • Discount items to a fixed price and by percent
  • Deals with quantity steps, of ‘Buy X Get Y’ type
  • Create popular specials with free products
  • Ability to skip items with special price

Magento special promotions

USE NEW KEYWORDS FOR PPC

Have you come up with the list of your keywords? Consider adding them to your PPC campaign according to your budget.

UTILIZE IMMEDIATE REMARKETING
And as many stores do the same – stand out of the crowd to be noticed using Facebook or Google AdWords. See how wording may cheer up your potential customer:

Immediate retagreting

Marketing

LIVE CHAT

This option is especially handy for last time shoppers. Usually they are in a hurry, and immediate help and advice may boost your sales. Use any tool that suits your needs and budget.

EXTEND HOURS/HIRE PEOPLE

If your marketing efforts are successful, you’ll have more orders, so be ready to process them in time and without delays. It’s a good idea to extend working hours or hire additional people, and the expenses will most likely be covered by the profit from thankful customers. Remember that bigger traffic and more sales do not only bring you money right now, they influence your reputation, and you want your customers to come back some day, so don’t scare them away with delayed shipping and too long feedback.

GAMIFICATION

To know more on how you can use gamification for your Magento store during the holiday season, please check this post: The complete guide to eCommerce gamification

LOYALTY PROGRAM

If you haven’t implemented a loyalty program before, it’s high time to do that before the holiday season. As people tend to buy more in particular periods, they will be more than happy to receive more points for their orders!

Tools to use

Amasty Loyalty Program

Magento loyalty program

Conduct business with customers individually in order to better understand their needs. Offer different levels of discount program to customers with various purchase history situations. Add comprehensive number of loyalty program options to foresee and satisfy any client case and also to give customers objectives to reach.

shopping cart price rules for Magento loyalty program

FULL SUBSTITUTE FOR OUT OF STOCK ITEMS

Even with the best efforts of your managers and suppliers your popular products may be out of stock. What if a customer wanted this particular item? In that case, he’ll leave your store and find it elsewhere. To prevent that, make sure you suggest full substitutes for out of stock items, and your related products are convincing enough for your customer to stay. It is a nice increasing sales idea not only for holidays.

Tools to use

Amasty Fast Product Relator

Fast Product Relator for Magento

  • Use cross sells, upsells and related items to increase profit
  • Assign cross sells, upsells, related products fast
  • Backward and crosslinks between interrelated products
  • Use 2-way and multi-way linking algorithms
  • Save a lot of time on linking products

Magento upselling products

CREATE HOLIDAY CATEGORIES/BUNDLES IN ADVANCE

Active Internet shoppers start to search for Christmas and New Year items in advance, starting from mid October. That’s why you need to show your holiday categories and bundles well before the season. What is more, the earlier you add these categories to your store, the more time you will have to track performance of the products and to make adjustments to your holiday sales strategy.

GIFT CARDS

If you don’t offer gift cards, that’s an option you need to consider in the first place. According to ProfitPoint:

  • Gift Cards topped the wish lists of consumers polled by the National Retail Federation
  • 33% of Retailers believe Gift Cards are more effective than cash
  • 70% of Gift Card recipients spend 1.5 to 1.9 times the value of the card.

GIFT WRAPPING/PERSONAL CARDS

You can offer gift wrapping as an option during holiday season. There’s a nice example of offering free gift wrapping from l’Occitane:

Gift wrapping for holiday sales

And personalized cards are a sweet addition to the gifts! You can sign them before printing or manually. See how Marks & Spencer is doing it:

Personalized cards for holiday sales
Tools to use

Amasty Gift Wrap

Gift Wrap

  • Gift wrap service on shopping cart and checkout pages
  • Ability to show the catalog of wrapping on pop-up window
  • Items can be wrapped together or separately
  • Full support of order emails and PDF docs

Magento Gift Wrap

STOCKING STUFFERS

Create categories for various holiday items and collections. Stocking stuffers are a must have on Christmas and New Year! See how Marks and Spencer created a whole tab for that purpose:

Stocking stuffers for holiday season

CONSIDER FREE SHIPPING

Even if you normally don’t offer free shipping, consider adding this option during the sale or holiday season. The main reason you may want to ship for free is that a lot of retail shops offer this option to permanently boost sales. To know more about the important role of free shipping in customer decision making feel free to read this article.

TIME WISE POPUPS

Did you know you can use popus not only to convert your visitors, but to CONVERT your visitors?

Top Tip on wise popups
First of all, go to Google Analytics or any tool you’re using to track your performance. Then look for average session duration for your website (or separate pages of needed). Say, your average session duration is 45 secs. Set your popup to appear on 35-40 second and give a promo code for registration or for the first purchase. Thus, you’ll be converting potential abandoners into customers.

 

Tools to use

Google Analytics

Choose the pages you need and the time period and see what is your average session duration to identify the perfect time for a popup to pop up=)

Google Analytics average session duration

BLOG CONTENT

It’s good to feature your sales and deals on your blog. Make sure you do this in advance. Also, don’t forget to write on seasonal and popular items or introduce gift bundles or gift ideas. You can also check my retail blog ideas post if you need inspiration or good examples of how big brands are doing it.

LINE UP WITH SUPPLIERS

It’s good to chat with your suppliers in advance to make sure you won’t run out of the most popular items too fast. I’m not talking about ‘out of stock’ label, I’m talking about one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have while shopping online. You order an item, and after 2 or 3 days the shop informs you that it is out of stock. Not good, not good at all! A customer needs to choose a new item or to search for a more reliable shop – and you don’t want this to happen.

PAST YEAR POPULAR ITEMS

Good if you have order records from last year, because in that case you can see which items were the most popular and put your marketing efforts to sell more of them this year.

STOP A/B TESTING

Maybe you’ve heard that you shouldn’t test during traffic spikes – and this is true, as your test results will be applicable to the ‘holiday’ traffic only. There’s a temptation to test during holidays as you’ll get results faster – but there are better reasons to stop all tests for a certain period of time.
Just imagine you’re testing a new checkout page, and one of your variants is a complete fail. In that case you’ll lose more sales than ever!
What is more, your customer thinks differently on holidays. He’s running to utilize your time limited coupons, he’s searching for best deals and discounts, and most probably it’s the time when he pays absolutely no attention to the color of the button or the peculiarities of the wording on email subscription form.
Perhaps, the only things you can test are holiday based entities; in other words, you can test if free shipping works better for last minute shoppers, or anything of the kind.

Email

SALE IN A SALE

This method works well for so-called gift holidays, or holidays, when people usually give presents to each other. Make a usual sale and collect emails from those who bought something. Then create a new closed sale and announce it only to the list mentioned above. You won’t bother the whole list with too many deals, but people that have bought anything from you are more likely to buy more (and especially is you offer something that can be a gift).
Tools to use

Amasty Customer Group Catalog

Magento Customer Group Catalog

With Customer Group Catalog you can easily restrict display of products and categories for different customer groups, specify restriction actions, like redirect to 404 page, some CMS page, replace Add to cart button with Magento Call for price message etc.

Magento Customer Group Catalog product restriction

CREATE URGENCY IN ADVANCE

When you get ready for a sale, remember you’re not the one who’s doing the same thing. Just imagine how many letters your customer gets on holidays! It’s a special skill to have your sale email stand out of the crowd. To do that, send a notice about upcoming sale in advance and mention discounts you are going to offer. Make sure you create some urgency telling about limited time, limited items or whatever limited comes to your mind.

Tools to use

Amasty Email to customers

Magento Email to customers

This Magento email extension has foreseen all variants of contact points with clients. It enables you to send messages to customers from customer grid, customer view, order grid and order view pages.

Amasty Abandoned cart email

Abandoned cart email

With this extension you can create urgency during holiday season and hurry your customers up to buy items from abandoned carts. For example, generate coupons with big discounts but available only for 24 hours or so.

N DAYS SALE REGISTRATION

Send out an offer to register for an N day sale (you choose the length of the offer – say, 7 or 12 days are good for Christmas and New Year, and 3-5 days are nice for smaller holidays), informing you customers that you will send them special offers every day, once a day. Spamming the whole list for 12 days in a row is not a good idea, but those who sign up for your series of offers are already interested in getting deals every day.

EXTEND YOUR SALE ONCE MORE

Even if you notify your customers of the sale in advance, there will always be people writing to you and asking if the sale’s still on and how they can catch up for the deal. This happens because of various reasons: some people just don’t check their promotions tab in Gmail very often, some leave promotional emails to read later, some use tools like Unroll.me to receive all the letters once a day. The percentage of the people being late for the sale depends on your audience (or, more exactly, are they ready to spend money right away, how often do they check their email, etc), but still you can get them involved.

When your sale’s almost over, send a new letter with a catchy headline informing your mailing list that you are extending the sale for more 24 or 48 hours. This trick often works, and I know cases when the second stage has brought even more orders than the first one.

Got any questions on implementing these holiday sales marketing methods for your Magento store? Ask in comments!