9 Tips to A Most Jolly Holiday Selling Season

Are You Ready?

As the weather turns cooler, days shorter and leaves more colorful, it's a reminder that we're entering the early stages of the upcoming holiday season. If you haven't started laying out your holiday strategies yet, you'd better jump on the sleigh quickly, 'cause the reindeer are getting antsy to leave.

According to a study by comScore, non-travel holiday season online sales increased 25% from 2004 to 2005. The key to getting Saint Nick to fill his bags full of your products lies in a combination of a solid understanding of your customer/prospect, sound web marketing execution and a strong reliance on your web analytics to guide your decision-making.

If you do any pay-per-click marketing, you can soon expect the competition for holiday shoppers to heat up, likely requiring a higher average cost per click to attract qualified visitors.

To keep your overall cost per order/lead from also increasing here are 9 Holiday marketing tips, 1 from each of Santa's reindeer:

1. Include holiday-related keywords - Dasher reminds us to not forget to expand our keyword listing with holiday references such as "gift", "holiday", and "presents" in your ad title. Also, take this opportunity to review your negative keyword list - you don't want to be spending your precious holiday marketing budget on unqualified visitors.

2. Ensure consistency between your holiday keywords, ad title and ad creative - Dancer suggests that as you add new holiday keywords, be sure your ad title and ad descriptions are also in-synch with those keywords. Setup separate AdGroup's for this new subset of keywords so you can tailor your ads specifically to these new keywords.

In addition, look at last year's ad performance reports for clues on what creative returned the highest profit on your click charges.

3. Create landing pages that flow from your ad creative - Prancer wants us to be sure to create unique landing pages for the new holiday-theme keywords we're bidding on. And remember that these visitors may be looking to buy gifts for others and therefore less product savvy than your typical buyer.

It's important to recognize that, in general, broader search terms, like "digital cameras" suggest the visitor may be in the information gathering mode, while specific keyword phrases such as, "Canon PowerShot A620" are more likely to reflect a visitor who's further along in the buying cycle. For best conversion, tailor your landing pages based on where you believe the visitor is in the buying cycle.

4. Target your email marketing to the right audience - Vixen knows that customers who purchased your products as gifts for others will respond differently than those who bought your products for themselves. If your Ecommerce software gives you the ability to identify the gift buyers, segregate your house list and send the gift buyers emails positioning your message and products as gifts.

5. Consider the demographics of the gift giver - Comet comments that if you've only been targeting the primary demographic of your typical buyer, you may want to expand that to include the demographics of potential gift givers. Keep in mind that even though a particular paid search engine might not be profitable during the non-holiday period, your gift givers might hang out there for most of their searches. Your prior years' analytics can really help show how the search engines performed for you during the holidays.

6. Monitor the buzz - Cupid believes that it's important to discover the latest hot topics by visiting social content website's such as technorati.com, digg.com and del.icio.us. See if you can find ways to weave this information into your promotions or products.

7. Don't Stop Testing - Donner points out that even though it's holiday season, it's still a good idea to test. That doesn't mean you need to risk your entire holiday season revenues, but selective testing can give you powerful information that'll really come in handy during the holiday season in 2007.

8. Recognize the life-time value of customer - Blitzen makes the case that obtaining a new customer always costs more than selling to an existing customer and during the holiday season this may be even more so. Learn about how much money repeat customers are worth to you and factor that into how much you can profitably afford to spend on new customer acquisition. The key here is to understand that your goal is likely long term revenue generation.

Be sure to have loyalty and promotional plans in place to quickly convert these new customers to repeat buyers.

9. Take advantage of cross-sell opportunities - Finally, Rudolph wants us to remember that many times when your customer buys 1 product from you, they can be easily swayed into buying additional products at the same time. Make it easy for the customer by promoting these cross-sells at checkout time. If your web analytics has a merchandising functionality, you'll be able to see which of your products tend to sell well together.

A Quick & Easy Example

Let's see how easy it is to discover your cross-sell products by using the 1 analytics report that can greatly increase your average order value.

If you're using Conversion Analyst, after logging in to your account, select the date range for the cross-sell data you'd like to review, preferably from the last holiday season if you have that data.

Next, locate and click the "Marketing" button in the "Reports" section on the left hand side of your browser.

Now locate and click the "Cross-Sell Analysis" button.

Your report should look similar to this. You'll now see your cross sell report showing products that sold in a shopping cart or different shipping carts during the same visit.

The column labeled "Cross Sell %" shows the percentage of visitors who purchased the main product and also purchased the other product during the same visit.

So by looking at our sample report here, we see that almost 23% of our visitors who purchased the LiteOn LVW-5026 also purchased the D-Link DES-1016D at the same time. This cross-sell activity resulted in almost $9,000 in sales revenue.

Since there seems to be a fairly strong correlation between these 2 products, we'd likely want to make sure that when a customer purchases the LiteOn LVW-5026, they are also prompted to purchase the D-Link DES-1016D.

By examining this report for additional patterns of cross purchase behavior, you can determine which products you should be cross-promoting on your site, in your emails and throughout your other marketing initiatives.

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