How to Get Your Website Ready for the Holiday Sale Season
The air is changing, and so are the store window displays. That can only signal one thing: Holiday season is almost upon us! That also means major sales, from Black Friday to New Years blowouts, are not far behind. If you are a proud business website owner, you might not have a physical window to decorate in fake snow. However, there are still plenty of simple steps you should take to spruce up your online presence and keep customers a-smiling and a-shopping. Below, you can find our five steps to get your website ready for the holiday sale season, from top to bottom.
Step one: Plan your business strategy
Are you sitting down? Because we have a mind-blowing statistic to share with you. Last year, the holiday season brought eCommerce retailers $106.14 billion dollars in sales. This year, that number is expected to rise to 123.73 billion. That’s a whole lot of money. And the upward swing of online shopping’s prevalence during the holidays means this is a market you definitely want to be tapping into. Yet how do you chart out the best route for successfully navigating your business through these exciting waters?
The very first thing to do is to spend some quality time with your business plan and sales numbers from the previous year. Assess your inventory: What can you count on to perform well and instantly be snatched up by your clientele? What are you hoping to ‘get off the shelf’ before the next year to make way for new offerings? Once you’ve identified those items or services, the next step is to think about your strategy for launching a sales campaign. Looking at your financial reports, how much of a discount or customer perks can you afford to offer? With major retailers like Amazon offering free shipping in honor of the holidays and 80% of US consumers indicating that this incentive plays a role in their decision to buy, this kind of promotional offer is becoming expected during November and December. Therefore, remember to factor this extra cost into your calculations of how large of a discount you can offer on your products and services.
Once you’ve charted out what is within your means to offer, and which items you want to heavily push through prime placement on your website and your accompanying advertising efforts, then you’re all set to begin putting your plan into action.
Step two: Update your offerings
There are a few important places on your web page that are worth checking twice to make sure your selected items or classes are ready for the big day (or really, days).
Fill out your product and service descriptions: Start by reviewing your product descriptions or service pages. Make sure they are filled out with every detail a curious customer’s mind might want to know. You can use your words, professional product photography, and even lively videos to paint a picture of what’s in store. Especially because one of the most fun parts of holiday shopping is visualizing just how happy the recipient will be with their newly-opened present. You can use your gallery to play into this imagery and convert browsers into buyers. Capture what it looks like to hold, wear, experience, drink hot cocoa with (you get the idea…) your product or service. Accompanying your bookings descriptions with compelling pictures is similarly effective. While a customer is picking out that pasta-making course for Mom, the steaming linguine might look so appealing they’ll just have to turn it into a Mom-and-me activity.
Update product and service details for your sale: For an online business, this entails applying a sale or discount to your items so browsers can notice the difference in price, and then adding ‘Sale’ product ribbons to mark their corresponding images. Of course, your products and services will continue showing up as usual on your site pages. But to give them that extra push they deserve for their holiday debut, make sure they also appear in a new collection of products or services that you can name something fit for the occasion, like ‘On Sale’ or ‘Holiday Specials.’ Then simply add that collection right onto your homepage. That way, it’s clear to visitors where they should be looking the instant they arrive on your site. Finally, don’t let all of this hard work go to waste. Double check that your payment methods are set up and working.
These days, not all presents can be neatly wrapped in a box, though. We’re now seeing many people opting to gift their loved ones an experience, like a portrait photoshoot or a spa day (or shark cage diving, if that’s your thing). So if what your business offers is more along the lines of classes and workshops, you will also want to ensure that the service pages on your bookings website are completely decked out with full-length descriptions and the most recent dates. If you’re offering a special holiday package, like a discounted set of sessions that can be easily gifted to your clients’ loved ones (hint, hint), then make that known through your on-page details. Shoppers love feeling like they’ve come across the best deal around, plus aligning your promotion with what holiday gift givers are already looking for will win you major points in customer appreciation – and sales.
Research holiday-related keywords: Now that your site is all updated with the best Internet steals, you’ll want to make sure people can actually find it when they’re ready to start pushing their shopping cart down the Internet aisles. Search engine optimization (SEO) will be the key to making that happen. SEO refers to specific actions you can take to get your website to appear more prominently (that is, at a higher spot) on search engine results pages. One of those critical steps is figuring out what the most likely keywords a web user would input into the query box when looking for a business like yours. Then, make sure those exact words and phrases show up in the right spots in your website’s content. That’s SEO-speak for a perfect match.
Maybe you’ve already made it on the search engine good list by checking off these DIY SEO tips for boosting your website. Yet the holiday season introduces a whole new lexicon of keywords. Now, shoppers might be specifically tailoring their searches to include the specific name of the sale (Cyber Monday, for example) or simply a phrase that narrows down the field and gets at their specific intent (like ‘best holiday deals’). Do some exploring to see how other sites are listing their sales, and use these tools suggested in this guide to finding the right keywords. Once you have some clear winners, you can weave them into your website content, SEO title tags, and image alt text for an SEO lift. If that all sounded confusing (I’m supposed to put what, where?), there’s no cause for alarm. Wix SEO Wiz will walk through your website with you, pointing out what specific elements you should adjust on each page to go for the (SEO) gold.
Publish holiday-themed blog content: One stellar place to place some of those sparkling keywords is in your blog posts. If you don’t have one already, ‘tis the season to start a blog. You’ll be doing a huge favor to your SEO, as publishing new posts shows Google that your site is the place to go for unique, fresh, and valuable content. The search engine always wants to point its users in the right direction, so it will take your frequent publishing and relevant material (as demonstrated by working keywords into your blog’s SEO settings and body text) as signs that your site is a good suggestion.
The best part is that you don’t even have to be an award-winning author to kick off your blogging career. Readers are coming to you because you offer an expertise or knowledge set they don’t have, so be generous. Write posts that share new ways your product can be used, or relevant lifestyle tips to your classes, or a little bit of the story that led you to invent your new gadget. Specifically for the holidays, consider creating a gift guide to suggest various items from your collections to your shoppers. Or making recommendations about which of your classes could be most appropriate for the different types of people in a buyer’s life (meditation for the workaholic, cardio blast for the go-getter, kickboxing for the tough cookie, etc.). It’s a simple way to anticipate the questions that might be in a web visitor’s mind, and to encourage them to get in the gift-giving mindset while on your site.
If words aren’t your thing, you can spring for a visual-based blog instead by uploading videos and images to create a showcase. The holiday theme lends itself again to rockstar content, as people are on the prowl for exactly that right gift and want to understand what you’re selling as much as possible. Therefore, this is your chance to show off your product and how it can be used! If you sell handcrafted stationery, get imaginative by filming five different scenarios your cards can be used, ranging from the hilarious to the sweetly romantic. Or perhaps you run a kickboxing gym? Do a mini tutorial of the three most basic moves to entice viewers to buy a package to learn more.
Show your trustworthiness: You’ve done it! Your website is thoroughly updated, and you’ve built a strong trail to help shoppers make their way to your site. Now, how do you now convert a casual browser into a paying customer? This transformation will depend on how much you are able to anticipate your potential customers’ questions and place answers in easily accessible locations on your page. Include sizing charts and your return policy in your product descriptions, and update your ‘Contact Us’ and website footer with your extended holiday hours if applicable. Include the lowdown on shipping early on – if you’re offering free shipping, or are offering express delivery, let your visitors know right away on your home page. Don’t trust that they will have the patience to make it to checkout to find out for themselves. You can also create an FAQ page where all of these technicalities can be nicely formatted all in one place.
The finishing touch to winning your shoppers’ trust is adding in customer reviews. With 85% of consumers trusting reviews they read online as much as a tip they get from someone they actually know, making sure the voices of loyal fans are featured prominently on your page is a must. You can explore the right app for your business, whether it’s the Customer Reviews app or integrating already existing reviews from sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook directly onto your website. Having glowing testimonials right on your page doesn’t just make you look really good. They also are one more way to keep visitors on your page, instead of getting distracted while searching for reviews elsewhere and potentially never returning. Womp womp. Thankfully, avoiding that fate takes little more than adding your app of choice and then reaching out to some of your longtime clients to ask for a few minutes of their time to complete a review.
Optimize for the mobile experience: The numbers are in, and they’re pretty clear. Nearly 40% of total eCommerce sales in 2018 were made on mobile devices – a number which is expected to rise to 45% in 2019. With many shoppers making use of their phones and tablets for their shopping expedition, it’s important that your website display is compatible with this popular viewing mode. Fortunately, Wix makes this easy for you by automatically creating a mobile-friendly version of your desktop site. You can browse through these best practices for mobile websites to make sure yours is up to speed, taking note of details like readability on smaller screens, foregrounding contact information, and selecting a sleek navigation menu that doesn’t leave users hunting and pecking at the right button.
Step three: Dress your website up for the holidays
Get festive with your design: There are lots of ways to sprinkle your website with some good cheer to fit in with the visual aesthetics of each holiday. Toss a handful of some snowflake vector art (or other seasonally-themed designs) across your homepage. These high resolution illustrations, created by a team of super talented designers, will instantly embellish your website with a chic finish. You can also browse through the many free ‘Holidays & Occasions’ images available in the Wix Editor’s Media Manager to frame your featured sale collection on your homepage, or to bring a gift guide blog post to life.
A final fun detail you can add is a Holiday Badge from the Wix App market. These whimsical decals can be used to wish your web visitors a season’s greeting or announce your sale. For an extra web savvy touch, link the badge straight to your selection of sale items. That’s the online equivalent of setting up a crowd-drawing storefront display.
Introduce a Lightbox: If you don’t have this feature already, there’s no time like the present to debut it on your site. We know from its name it sounds a bit like a futuristic contraption. Yet a Lightbox is actually an interactive, pop-up message that you can use to aid the particular call-to-action you have in mind for your potential buyers. You can either schedule one to appear seconds after a visitor first lands on your homepage, requesting the person to subscribe to a mailing list. Or, considering the holidays, a Lightbox can be an opportune way to make sure all Internet traffic passing your way is aware of your current sale. There are many templates designed specifically for this purpose waiting to be discovered by you in the Wix Editor. Simply click ‘Add,’ hover your mouse over ‘Lightbox,’ and then drag and drop your favorite design right onto your page. To go the extra mile, you can even customize the colors and background image to keep the holidays theme going strong, and visually connect the sale to the time of the year for your customers.
Step four: Get the word out about your holiday sales campaign
Spread the word on social: Your website is stocked with sales and decked out in the season’s most festive design. Besides optimizing for Google searches, what are other ways you can drive eager shoppers to your pages? Social media, of course! Launching a star campaign involves unifying your efforts across all parts of your online presence, so customers can easily stream from your social media to your website, and vice versa. That’s how you build community engagement and increase sales. A first step is making sure the link to your website is absolutely everywhere. Stick it in your social media bio boxes and regularly post updates on those channels that include content from the site (like your blog posts). A follower should never have to search to find that link between your social presence and where they can actually start crossing purchases off of their shopping list.
The next step is getting active on all of your social channels to pump up the crowds in advance of the big sale, and point them straight to your website so they know where to charge ahead with their shopping carts when the time comes. You can conduct fun campaigns to get your followers hyped, like designing a holiday-themed version of your logo for your social profile pictures, holding a competition with an enticing giveaway like a new product or a special discount code, and lots of other creative marketing ideas for the holiday season.
Another way to nicely tie together the whole package of your online presence is incorporating your Instagram Feed onto your website. By linking the products displayed in each image to their corresponding page on your site, your visitors can ‘shop’ this Feed like they would a catalogue. You can also put this Feed to use by encouraging participants in any user-generated content campaigns you run to head over to your website to see yet another place where their big break is being featured. This little action has a big impact. It simultaneously drives more traffic to your page, plus it builds a visual testimonial page of sorts that greets potential shoppers with a wall full of smiling satisfied customers. You can’t get much better publicity and credibility boosts than that.
Finally, add a Social Bar straight onto your website, so shoppers easily check out your social channels to learn more about your brand as they make their purchasing decision. Put it in your website footer, so it’s always easy to find. You can also share your blog posts on social media, and encourage your followers to do the same to broaden your reach. Looking for more ways to take your promotional efforts to the max? Get inspired by these out-of-the-box guerrilla marketing examples.
Spread the holiday cheer with email marketing: Another tactic for developing a loyal fan base and gearing them for the sale season is email marketing. Through Wix email marketing, you can distribute beautifully designed newsletters to your mailing list. Pack them full with previews of sale items, links to your gift guide blog post or class promo video, and even offer exclusive discount codes to reward your dedicated subscribers. This tool places a lot of creative control in your hands. Consult with your business plan and decide what kinds of perks are within your means to offer.
Make yourself available for your website traffic: The day when your sale goes live is fast approaching. Your followers have marked their calendars. You’ve placed the proper sign posts across your social media and in your SEO settings to direct web traffic right to your virtual aisles. Before you put your feet up on the desk and lean back to watch the sales come in, there’s one final critical feature your site needs. Adding a live chat solution to your website is pretty much expected by consumers in today’s day and age. This handy tool will help you engage with customers who are looking to quickly answers particular questions before making a purchase (and thus preventing the likelihood they will abandon their shopping cart when they can’t find an immediate answer).
Make this solution work for you by setting automations to save yourself some time on the days of your sales. For example, use automations to notify you via email every time a visitor takes an action on your site, like logging in, making a purchase, or submitting a contact form. Or, you can also select messages to be automatically sent to visitors via Wix Chat in response to particular actions they might take on your page. That can include greeting them the moment they enter, and dropping them a thank you line after they’ve made a purchase. This customization will help you be on your top notch customer service game when it’s go time for the sale.
Step five: Peer review
You made it! Your website is looking stunning and is ready to be rolled out to the world. If you’ve been following along closely with this list, we’re guessing your eyes have been seeing a lot of your website lately. So give yourself a bit of a break, and send the link over to trusted friends, family, and business partners for an additional review. Having an outsider’s perspective will be useful for catching spelling mistakes that slipped right under your nose, or for pointing out areas that could be more intuitive to the average user. Ask your review committee to test out functions like payment, clicking on your Holiday Badges and Lightbox buttons to make sure the links are working properly, and adding items to their cart. If there’s any hiccup on your page, you will definitely want to hear it from your proud parent and not from a frustrated customer. If you're still looking for some inspiration take a look at these decked out examples of eCommerce websites. Happy holidays!
The holidays are coming! Is your business ready? Take the first step by creating a website to launch all of your seasonal sales campaigns.
By Joanna Kramer