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Charlotte Barnes, Digital Marketing Manager at Spiral Media, shares five ways businesses can maximise their ecommerce sales during seasonal periods.

Whether you’re producing a marketing campaign for Valentine’s Day, Christmas or any other seasonal sales period, chances are you’ll have already proposed, planned and initiated everything months in advance.

However, if you are prone to leaving seasonal sales planning until the very last minute, then you could be losing out.

To make sure your ecommerce business is prepared for a seasonal peak, you need to cover the following five areas at least three months in advance.

1. Optimised landing pages

The first task is something that needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis, not just ahead of a seasonal peak. It is important to make sure that your landing pages are naturally optimised for search terms that your consumers are likely to use. Here is a step-by-step checklist for you to follow:

a) Keyword research 

Firstly, make use of keyword research in order to identify appropriate terms for each category and product page. Tip: try and include a phrase that contains one, two or even three keywords.

b) On-page content optimisation

Your next step is to make sure that your chosen phrase appears in all the important page elements:

  • Internal linking – Add links throughout your website on relevant pages to direct people to specific pages you want to push. For example, you may have written an ‘outstanding’ blog post that is constantly shared via social media. This page provides you with a natural opportunity to link back to a related page you want to promote.
  • Images – Ensure your phrase is located within your image title, followed by the .jpg or .png extension. Most platforms give you the ability to add an ‘alt tag’ to an image via your media centre, do this and work your phrase into a short sentence to describe the product.
  • Content – It is important to ensure your phrase naturally works itself into your content, so make sure it’s not over-used and the copy reads naturally. Aside from SEO, make sure you give your customers all the information that they could possibly need. One of the main reasons users leave pages is because their questions aren’t being answered.
  • Page headers – Only use your phrase when inserting a H1. Then try and work the phrase into a short sentence/sub heading to use as a H2.
  • Meta description – Start by adding your search term before communicating your unique selling points (USPs) to help you stand out from the competition.
  • Meta/Page Title – Ideally, your phrase should be placed at the start of a page within a descriptive title. If possible, also try to include your brand name in the title, but keep everything within 55 characters. E.g. Pandora ruby charm from £34.99 | MyBrand.com
  • URL – Insert your targeted phrase into the page’s web address (e.g. www.domain.co.uk/my-chosen-search-term). If you amend an existing URL, make sure you add a 301 redirect.

c) On-page conversion optimisation

Ensure your call to actions (CTAs) are optimised by performing the following checks:

  • Is each CTA relevant to the page and clear in its message? E.g. your ‘Add to Basket’, ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Ask a Question’ buttons.
  • Have you included your USPs and are the user benefits displayed clearly?
  • Do you have upsells on the page? Tip: try to include small value items that complement the product on the page – products that people might buy without a second thought.

2. Organise AdWords campaigns

google adwordsAdWords is a very useful tool when it comes to monitoring seasonal traffic and, if used correctly, can help you shape future campaigns:

  • Keyword research – Specific keyword research for any seasonal peak, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, will help you to target the correct keywords and refocus your campaigns. Competition will be high so focus on your highest conversions first.
  • AdGroups – Be strict with your AdGroups and don’t be concerned if you start to have a lot. Be very specific and selective with the keywords within each group to ensure best performance.
  • Multi ads – If you have a handful of customer benefits, then create an ad for each one within your AdGroups. You can later see which one gets the best click through rate (CTR).
  • Budget – It is easy to lose focus when AdWords competition increases, especially when it comes to your budget. Ensure you set your daily limits before the seasonal rush begins and monitor them every day.
  • Revenue tracking – Using Google Analytics, make sure that your revenue tracking is set up, ensuring you can see exactly what keywords/campaigns are working.

3. Offers and discounts

There are a number of opportunities throughout the year when it is ideal to promote discounts and offers on your website, as users are already expecting to see them.

However, you should ensure that all of your offers are clearly displayed on your home page, category pages and product pages. This will help promote them to website visitors, no matter which page they land on.

If you’re active on social media, encourage your followers and users to visit your website by promoting new offers or any delivery discounts via Twitter, Facebook and other digital channels.

4. Double check category pages

Many organisations create seasonal designs for their web pages during certain campaigns, but the key thing to remember is that substance is more important than style. If your design makes it difficult for users to navigate, they are likely to leave your site.

Any design should work with your functionality, which is why it’s worth double checking that all your pages work efficiently by looking at:

  • Product categorisation – Ensure that your categories have the right set of products located within them. It is important to provide your customers with a variety of choice and clearly display the benefits of purchasing a product or service from your business.
  • Missing images – When looking through your categories, check if any products have missing images. If they do, make it a priority to upload some. Tip: add more than one image to a product page to increase conversion.
  • Out of stock items – It should be clear to a customer that a particular item is out of stock. If possible, let the customer know when you will have more to sell, or failing that, offer them a suitable alternative.
  • Broken links – A straightforward, but often overlooked, task is to check that all of your links are current, relevant and go to the correct page.
  • Faulty shopping basket – Make sure your shopping basket is simple to use, secure and able to cope with high levels of traffic. Address any usability issues immediately.

5. Prepare for a social push

Social-media-icons

Social engagement naturally increases during seasonal sales peaks so the earlier you start to engage with your customers the better.

  • Paid promotion – This option allows you to target users based on their demographic, interests, gender and age, giving you a better chance of reaching relevant customers.
  • Social incentives – Competitions, giveaways and offers are now expected from businesses during special times of the year. Your audience is also more likely to engage at these times, so use these periods to your advantage by setting up relevant incentives.
  • Natural engagement – Research suggests people use social media platforms far more during seasonal peaks, meaning there are more opportunities for natural engagement. Look at what your customers are discussing and join in conversations where appropriate. However, don’t engage if you have nothing to say because this will look unnatural and appear as spam.

If you are planning to engage via social media, you need to set up the relevant analytics beforehand to ensure you are able to accurately monitor your impact.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Twitter – A free tool called Twitter Analytics can analyse your engagement and give you a better understanding of the impressions you have made. You can also use it to see how many website clicks your tweets have generated.
  • Facebook – Facebook analytics allows you to determine the success of paid promotions and posts by measuring the amount of shares, like and clicks they receive.
  • Talk to people – Social is all about conversations, so don’t be frightened to get into them, especially on Twitter. Search for keywords and if you find someone looking for a specific item, why not talk to them and share your expertise?

Whilst Christmas is undoubtedly the largest sales peak of the year, with the longest lead-up in terms of months and a severe drop off afterwards, there are various other occasions that also deserve your attention. Don’t forget to evaluate your website leading up to days like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and New Year’s Day.

It’s vital that you make absolutely sure that your site is at its optimum level all year round.

About the Author: Charlotte Barnes is the Digital Marketing Manager at Spiral Media Ltd. Having worked in commercial, journalistic and technical writing roles, she specialises in writing large volumes of engaging copy across a wide range of topics. You can follow her on LinkedIn

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