Whether you like to plan ahead or are rushing around at the last minute like the rest of us, boosting holiday sales is essential for ecommerce sellers of all kinds.
Total retail sales worldwide are expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels this holiday season, surpassing $25 trillion USD.
E-commerce will build on its massive growth of 25.7% of total sales in 2020 with another projected gain of 16.8% this season.
How can you carve out a bigger piece of that $4.9 trillion pie?
In this column, you’ll find nine of my favorite tips for boosting ecommerce sales during the holidays. These are proven tactics I use brands I invest in with my own money, as well as client companies.
See what you can take away from these top marketing tips to boost your own ecommerce site’s holiday sales this year.
1. Share Your Last Day To Ship
There are multiple ways to do this.
You can place a sitewide banner across your header and have a text link that says, “Click here to see the last day to ship,” and show a grid with each holiday’s dates, for example.
The goal is to let your potential customer know that if they shop with you and purchase today the product will arrive in time.
You could try doing a deal of the day with a top item for the specific holiday they are looking at. This adds an incentive to shop now as opposed to waiting until the actual last day to ship.
Bonus tip: If you offer free shipping, make the message on eligible products say, “This item is available for free shipping and will arrive in time for XY holiday or by XY date.” You can even do this sitewide while there is time. Try: “Last day for free shipping and guaranteed arrival is XY date,” or “Shop now for free shipping & guaranteed arrival for XY holiday.”
2. Add Upsells And A Discount To Your Mini Cart
A mini cart is a slide on ecommerce websites that shows you what is in your shopping cart vs. just having the product added to your basket with no visuals or interactivity.
One of my favorite tips is to offer a bigger discount to increase the average order value (AOV) in the mini cart.
If we know the average shopper in November spends $75 per order, I recommend clients look through their database and map the products that are purchased together.
Once one of these items is added to the cart, we offer an additional discount, free product, or nice perk if the person adds another or the complementary product to their cart to bring the order value over the $75 mark.
Try offering a free holiday card or gift bag if they add the product. You’ll get your branding on the bag and the increased AOV for a double win.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you’re still profitable by recommending products with larger margins. If it is a subscription or something with great lifetime value (LTV), you might choose to take the loss. Customer acquisition is harder during the holidays and you’ll make the money back on the next purchase.
3. Make Last Day Shipping Copy More Relevant
Instead of just saying “last day to ship” and sharing the date, say “This arrives by Hannukah, Christmas, Solstice, etc…” depending on the product.
If you know the product is for Christmas because it is a toy and Hannukah has passed, then use Christmas.
The same goes if it is a Hannukah sweater or something related to this holiday. By being relevant you add extra assurance the person is in the right place to shop.
4. Don’t Forget Diwali And Other Holidays
There are numerous other religions celebrating holidays around this time of year, but their holidays do not get as much recognition.
Diwali, for example, is a gift-giving holiday for the over 1% of Americans who are Indian (4 million).
Creating promotions for this audience opens your store up to more than 4 million people shopping for or receiving gifts. By acknowledging their faith and holidays, you show respect and can win new customers and loyalty.
5. Inform Affiliates Of Upcoming Sales Well In Advance
If you have value-adding affiliates in your program (partners who do more than just show up in Google for your brand with coupons or intercept your own traffic with a browser extension), provide them the details of your holiday deals at least 3 weeks in advance.
In doing so, you have a better chance at getting featured in their roundups for Black Friday deals, in newsletters to their subscribers, and on their social media accounts.
6. Create An Opt-In VIP List
If your average customer shops twice a year on your site, pull a database of people that purchased 4 times or more during the year.
Now create a private login or tag their account in your database so only they can access custom offers at checkout. Note: their email and billing address must match the account in your database in order to claim the deal.
Now, email these VIPs and ask them to opt-in to a private area or email list where you’ll release all Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, and custom specials for them alone.
In the email, make sure you let them know it is because they’re one of your preferred customers and they’ll continue to get these custom deals year round as a way to say thank you.
You can also let them know that the deal is not available to anyone else. Some may try to get their friends to shop, but because the email address and billing address won’t match, the deals won’t apply and your VIPs will know it is an exclusive offer.
7. Tap Into Age, Celebrations, And Special Occasions
One commonly overlooked tactic in holiday marketing is to celebrate peoples’ life events. If you’re like me and your birthday is also on a major holiday, you’re used to people forgetting about you and paying attention to the holiday instead.
Be the brand that remembers forgotten life events and you’ll stand out.
Bonus Tip: If you know the person celebrated their 16th birthday because they were shopping for their own sweet 16, or they told you in a survey, send them an email 3 or 4 weeks before. Mention their 17th bday coming up and then dynamically insert products relevant to what they have purchased in the past.
Or, throw in a special gift for them in honor of their birthday. The same goes for anniversaries, pet birthdays, friendaversaries, etc.
8. Enable Customers to Personalize & Customize Products
Another compelling tactic is to be more inclusive. For example, you can stop selling couples’ products as a set.
Instead of ordering a groom and a bride as a set in the wedding space, let the customer select how many grooms and how many brides. Then let them select skin tones.
The same goes with holiday gifts for couples. By doing this, you make your product lines inclusive for LGBTQ, bi-racial and other types of customers in a noninvasive way. It’s just good business.
9. Treat Your Employees & Customer Service Team Like Gold
This is incredibly important. Your customer service team is going to be equally as stressed as you by the holiday rush, if not more.
But unlike you, your support team is constantly being bombarded by customers who are in a hurry, anxious about the holidays, and sometimes even abusive.
Bring your support team donuts, coffee, and fun surprises. You can even go as far as hiring a comedian to do shows during lunch breaks, or hosting contests for the most positive customer experiences. Give gift cards and cash as prizes and let customer feedback on the chat windows or surveys determine who gets them.
As a business leader, you can and should learn as many peoples’ names as possible, especially in customer support. Thank them individually for an awesome job during the middle and at the end of the season.
Host a customer service team celebration once the last day to ship is over to celebrate your support team keeping your customers happy.
Your customer support team is the face of your company – not your influencers or spokespeople.
Customer support interacts directly with the people who fill your cash registers and your checkout process. When they are happy and love their job, they exceed customer expectations generating more sales, goodwill for the brand, and valuable online reviews.
These are some of the sales-bolstering tactics that work for my clients, and I hope they help you out, too!
Featured image: Shutterstock/yuda chen