3 Ways to Use Summer Planning to Capture More Holiday Business

Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen | July 24, 2016

The holiday season may be far from your mind in the dog days of summer, but it’s the best time to prepare for holiday business. Here are three steps to help ensure you’re poised to capture end-of-year customers.

1. Get your site mobile-ready for upcoming holiday business

Though just 18% of holiday sales in 2015 were completed on a mobile device, shoppers used smartphones and tablets in nearly 60% of their holiday shopping activity, according to comScore data. In fact, because Black Friday 2015 was a particularly high volume day for mobile device search activity, small businesses may have new opportunities to compete for holiday business without having to open their doors at dawn.

Though Google’s search engine rank algorithms have included whether sites are “mobile-friendly” as a factor in search engine rank priority since 2015, you’ll need to do more for mobile site visitors than accommodate a smaller screen size to close the sale. Use summer to dig into current website analytics like which devices your site visitors are most likely to use, what sites direct them to yours, which pages capture their attention the longest and most often, and which cause them to leave your site.

With this knowledge, you can make strategic decisions about the best ways to describe holiday products in copy, use ALT tags to describe product images, and highlight merchandise on your site for the mobile user. For example, a holiday category on your home page supported by mobile-friendly drop down menus that group items by purpose (like co-worker gifts), and popular holiday price points can optimize mobile navigation.

2. Submit your site to the necessary search engines

Nielsen’s 2015 shopper data indicates that nearly 40% of consumers consistently use a smartphone to research items online, compare prices, and search for nearby businesses. Improve the odds that your business appears in holiday shopper’s search results by submitting your site for inclusion to relevant search engines this summer.

  • Confirm that your site is being crawled and indexed by the major search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo). If you’re already included in them, analyze site analytics for crawl errors, the need to update sitemaps, and broken links to resolve.
  • According to ebizmba.com’s June 2016 data, the price comparison sites with the highest traffic include Google Shopping, Coupons.com, Bizrate.com, Shopathome.com, and Slick Deals. Submit your most popular products and price them as loss leaders to drive online holiday traffic.
  • Make your physical presence known by submitting location and hours of operation to Google My Business and Yelp. Your established presence on such sites can be useful when promoting holiday shopping hours and be an inexpensive means to experiment with holiday offers once the season is underway. Encourage visitors to leave a review about your business to build your profile.

3. Build a reservoir of reviews

Search Engine Land cites research that nearly 90% of consumer purchases are influenced by reviews, which contribute to a perceived sense of consumer trust with a business. Reviews can be particularly powerful for small businesses owners who lack resources to invest in building brand awareness through paid marketing efforts. In fact, the time you invest into building your reviews this summer can prove pivotal to your holiday business success.

  • In addition to acknowledging reviews that customers leave on sites like Google Places and Yelp, tools like WP Product Review plug inand Rating-Widget plug in can improve the impact and reach of reviews consumers leave on your website.
  • Monitor social media channels for customer reviews, and write back to each reviewer to acknowledge to their opinion. Share those that are especially meaningful with your business’s social media network.
  • Reach out to past customers with a special savings offer and invite them to share their experience with others. (Include the direct link to the review site to make their review experience seamless.)

Tools like Feedback Genius automate communications to ensure every customer receives a follow-up satisfaction email and an invitation to leave a product or service review soon after they receive their order. You might also consider ways to turn holiday browsers’ activity into purchases with a “real-time” social proof app like Notify. It publishes real-time order activity that’s taking place on your site to convince other site visitors that you’re a popular and credible business.

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