There is always so much going on during the holiday season that it can be hard to know where to focus your energy. But when it comes to Website marketing, these are five areas you should not neglect.
Search engine optimization
Sites with relevant content and credible links will continue to rule the search engine rankings and drive traffic. But as content on the Internet continues to increase, consumers are demanding more relevant and personalized search results and landing pages.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing. They are already starting to look at recency of content, geo-location, past behavior and social media content.
You should be testing more keywords, content and links that are targeted to niche audiences. Make sure you work on content for holiday categories and products now so that you reap the benefits during the holiday season.
Paid search investment has been drastically cut back in the past two years. With that said, consumers will still use search engines as a primary means of finding products and services this holiday season.
Search advertising prices will remain reasonable, as larger companies are reducing their paid search spend and moving more of their resources to lower cost SEO tactics in hopes of attracting visitors more cost-effectively. Don’t shy away from driving qualified traffic during the holiday season—this is the time of year to increase your investment.
The low cost isn’t the only reason to focus on e-mail. Most consumers still think of e-mail as their primary form of communication for special offers and promotions. You should be collecting e-mail addresses from the majority of your house file, as well as from as many of your Website visitors as possible.
You have to provide valuable and relevant content in your e-mails, however. Tests have shown that variety will improve interest and responsiveness over time.
Don’t simply rely on the best e-mail format and offer you have tested. Test different types of offers now so that you understand which drive the best results.
Now is the time to build out trigger e-mails. They take time to think through and set up, but once you have designed them, they can run themselves.
Think about new customers and sending a welcome e-mail telling them more about your brand. What are ideal cross-sell opportunities? For instance, can you send a trigger e-mail with an accent table feature to everyone who has purchased a sofa, chair or bed?
Abandoned cart e-mails should be included in all trigger e-mail programs. Personalization will also drive improved open rates and conversion. This is easy to execute through your e-mail provider.
Social network marketing
Everyone is talking about it, but should it be a part of your marketing program? It is still early days in social media.
To test your social marketing potential, send an e-mail survey to your current customers and see how many of them consider social media a primary form of communication. Your current customers are more likely to respond to this type of media than prospects.
Start testing a Facebook fan page or Twitter page, but expect profitable promotions to be few and far between in 2010.
Plan for Cyber Monday
This is a big day for Web promotions. Do you know what your offers will be? How will you promote them? Keep in mind that Cyber Monday isn’t the busiest online shopping day of the season, so make sure you also have a plan for Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 as well.
How can you work free shipping into your overall promotional strategy? Do you need to include a minimum order level?
What about free upgrade service late in the season to encourage purchasing direct rather than going to a retail store? Is your system capable of handling flat shipping at $5.95 for any order?
The shipping charge is one of the largest barriers to online shopping from a consumer’s point of view. Even if prices are lower than retail stores, the shipping charge adds a psychological roadblock, so how you address it can make a big difference in response and conversions.
Michelle Farabaugh is a partner with Lenser, a multichannel direct marketing firm.