Though you may have just broken out the sweaters and started sipping Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the winter holidays will be here before you know it! For instance, as of this morning, there are 91 days until Christmas. For many small business owners, the holiday season is the most critical time of the year: you’re counting on the sales you make now to cushion you through the leaner, less active times of the year. You don’t want your website to let you down now!
Make sure your website, as well as your overall digital marketing plan, is working for you. Go through this five step process to ensure that your site is ready, willing, and most of all, able to capture customer attention and drive sales throughout the holiday season:
Step One: Check Your Website Out
When was the last time you really looked at your website objectively, the way a customer would? Test it to make sure that everything is working. Click on links, try out the forms. This is especially important if you have an ecommerce site and are planning on making a big push for online sales around the holidays. Any area on your site that slows your customers down or makes it difficult for them to shop will send them to a competitor’s website. If you’re not sure how to spot check your website, you can use this tutorial to help you.
Step Two: Speed Test Your Website
Google engineers have discovered that the average person will wait no more than 400 milliseconds – roughly the time it takes you to blink your eye – for a website to load. If your site is slower than that, the impatient customer has moved on – and they won’t be back. There are several factors that cause websites to load slowly, including factors with the server your site lives on, and design elements that get hung up and don’t work well as browsers upgrade. You want to know that your website is working, loading quickly for all of your customers. Here’s how to speed test your website. If your site isn’t up to speed, give us a call. We can help you give it a boost.
Step Three: Plan Your Eblasts
The time to create your holiday eblasts is now! Identify the special holiday offers and price incentives you’ll be sharing with your customers during the holidays. Think through the copy and graphics you want to accompany these offers. By starting now, you’re giving yourself plenty of time to create compelling, relevant messages your customers will find irresistible. Timing is important: use your head start to research the effectiveness of eblasts you sent last year. Use the insights you gather to fine tune the timing of this year’s eblasts.
Step Four: Start Your Social Strategy
Social media can play a vital role in marketing your small business throughout the holidays. Think about ways you can use social media to build the sense of excitement and wonder surrounding your store. Create a seasonal cover image for your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ covers, and make sure they’re posted on the appropriate dates. Don’t forget about the power of video – a six second Vine video showing boxes full of great new merchandise being opened can get your customer curious. Now’s also the time to start thinking about what type of content you’ll be sharing on your social media sites throughout the holidays. Restaurants, gourmet retailers, and even home goods stores should think in terms of tradition and recipes; if you sell apparel or accessories, start cranking out those tips on how to look great during the holidays!
Step Five: Plan Your Holiday PPC Campaigns
Poor Pay Per Click – so often, it gets forgotten or left as an afterthought in the marketing mix. It’s like the last little kid at the community party, who waits and waits for Santa to give him a present – only to wind up with some little toy and a mini-candy cane after all the good stuff’s been given out. Don’t treat your Pay Per Click like that! Give this powerful marketing tool the attention it deserves. Take the time now to create a holiday specific PPC campaign, with thoughtful ads and a reasonable budget. Plan when you’ll take these ads live.
5 Simple Steps That Can Make Your Holiday Season Better
Each one of the steps detailed above – testing your website, checking the speed, planning your eblasts, starting your social strategy, and planning your holiday PPC campaigns – is a small and relatively simple task. If you invest a few hours into completing these steps now, you’ll have a truly enjoyable holiday season – one in which your website helps you sell more and turn your customers into fans for life!