Reach More Holiday Shoppers
Standing out during the holiday season is critical to the success of many online businesses. Savvy retailers need to be on top of their game to capture their slice of the holiday pie, which reached record-breaking sales in 2010. And, if the past two years are any indication, with ecommerce sales in the fourth quarter totaling $39 billion in 2009 and $43 billion in 2010, then this year should be a happy one for online retailers.
In fact, Forrester research group predicts that US ecommerce should reach $278.9 billion by 2015. To empower online retailers to strengthen their online presence, get found on the comparison shopping channels and attract more qualified holiday shoppers.
Holiday Guide Overview
• Top 2010 Holiday Spending Days Reviewing last year’s record-breaking year
• 2011’s Big Shopping Days Mark your calendar
• Top Holiday Strategies for Q4 2011 Month-by-Month Tactics
• Reach More Shoppers top channel & ecommerce service picks
Top 2010 Holiday Spending Days
With an increasing number of shoppers preferring the web over physical retail stores, together with high gasoline prices, the outlook is a bright one for online retailers. As the 2011 holiday season approaches, data from comScore’s Q2 2011 found that ecommerce sales in 2010 reached $43 billion; a 12% increase from 2009 and an all-time record for online retail.
Looking back at last year’s trends, below are the top holiday spending days, with Cyber Monday coming in at number one:
2011’s Big Shopping Days- Mark Your Calendar
• Halloween Oct. 31st
• Thanksgiving Nov 24th
• Black Friday Nov 25th
• Cyber Monday Nov 28th
• Peak-Week Dec 5th-12th
• Free Shipping Cut-off Dec 12th-20th
• Chanukah Dec 21st
• Christmas Dec 25th
• New Year’s Day Jan 1st
Top Holiday Strategies for 2011
• Review 2010 Holiday Sales. Now is the time to review historical sales data, gain insight from last year’s successes and avoid its mistakes. Evaluate at your overall revenue, cost and conversion rates and determine which shopping channel brought you the most quality traffic.
Also, review last holiday season’s product winners and losers and use that feedback to help decide which unprofitable product lines to exclude this year.
• Analyze, Optimize to see how you’re performing on each shopping channel, down to the SKU level, throughout the holidays.
• Prepare 2011 Holiday Promotions Now- The earlier you start planning your holiday promotions, the better, keeping in mind that you want the sales/discounts in your datafeed to mirror your website’s holiday sales promotions.
• Review Your Feeds in mid-September- Make sure to include any seasonal holiday products and/or exclude non-holiday items, to avoid higher holiday click rates. Also, review your feeds to make sure you are maximizing all your product attributes and that your products are in best category for each channel.
• Expand to More Shopping Channels- October is a good time to start increasing your visibility on additional shopping channels to gain traction for the holidays; sites like Amazon Product Ads or Nextag.
• Check your Status on All Channels- make sure your feeds are valid, error-free and live on all shopping channels and that all your accounts are fully funded throughout the holidays.
• Bid & Analyze your Top Categories- consider bidding higher for your best-selling product categories on the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) channels and routinely review your analytics to exclude unprofitable products.
• Promote Free Shipping, Promotions & Coupons- include any free shipping, holiday discounts or coupons through each channel’s shipping, promo-text or coupon fields, where applicable.
• Add Holiday Promotional Content- In late October, start getting your feeds ‘holiday-ready’ by adding holiday-related search terms to your feeds. You can gain insight by reviewing last year’s top-performing keywords and including them in your descriptions; this is most relevant for your holiday-related products and best-sellers.
• Get Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday- by late October you should start preparing your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Keep in mind that the Cyber Monday last year was retail’s top selling day, coming in at a record-breaking $1.028 billion in the U.S.; that’s a 16% increase from 2009.
• Anticipate Rate Card Increases- many pay per click channels, like Shopping.com, Shopzilla, Nextag and PriceGrabber, increase their rate-cards up to 20% during early to mid November, so leave enough room in your fourth quarter budget to maintain your most popular holidays categories.
• Launch Black Friday & Cyber Monday promotions – Finalize these promotions by mid November and have them up running the week of Black Friday. Make sure all your feeds are upto-date and test any promotional links to ensure they’re pointing to the correct Black Friday & Cyber Monday landing pages. Remember, it can take comparison shopping channels anywhere from a few minutes to 72 hours to process your feed, so plan your feed launches accordingly.
• Monitor your Feeds Regularly - keep an eye on your performance and login to your shopping channel merchant accounts often to verify that the feeds are processing correctly and your accounts are fully funded.
• Manage Merchant Ratings– many shoppers rely on shopping channel merchant reviews when deciding which store to buy from so keep your merchant ratings as high as possible by providing excellent customer service and swiftly responding to any negative customer reviews.
• Exclude non-performing items- avoid wasting your holiday marketing budget by routinely reviewing your analytics to remove products that are gaining many clicks, but little or no conversions. You can also maximize your holiday budget by removing any non-holiday related items from your feed and avoiding the elevated holiday click-rates.
Expand your Reach
Now is the ideal time to expand your marketing strategy to include popular channels including Nextag, Amazon Product Ads, Become or Pronto.com as well as marketplaces like Amazon, or Sears’ new ‘Sell on Sears,’ platform. Also, make sure you’re taking advantage of all free listing opportunities on the shopping channels, like Google Product Search, TheFind and Bing Shopping, which has been on boarding new online retailers lately.
• Amazon when selling on the Web’s largest Marketplace during the holidays, make sure you’re submitting only the most complete, fresh feed and updating your stock status often enough (daily) to keep your Seller Performance and ‘Order Defect Rate’ in good standing. Your images should meet Amazon’s requirements, which include a 500 x 500 (recommended) pixels .jpg or .gif photo of the product on a white or clear background only.
Amazon Search Terms
Also, you can enhance your visibility with up to five -strategic ‘Search Terms’- these are phrases that buyers use to search for your products. For search terms, don’t repeat title, brand, manufacturer terms, since Amazon will already pick up that data from your feed. Instead, look at the relevant data within your descriptions. You should also take advantage of Amazon’s Product Features/Bullet Points which highlight product details.
• Sears one of America’s most trusted brands and number 7 in the Internet Retailers’ Top 500
Guide (2011), offers merchants a cost-per-action online marketplace to reach millions of Sears Shoppers.
• Amazon Product Ads One of the highest converting pay-per-click sites, Amazon Product Ads takes Amazon’s shoppers directly to your site. Plus, to help you get started, they are offering a limited-time $75 in Free Clicks offer for select categories.
• Nextag A sure bet for many online retailers, Nextag is a solid choice for PPC campaigns.
• Become this up-and-coming channel is offering great promotions for the holidays, including incentives to install their ROI tracker as well as free logo and promo text values for new and existing merchants.
• Pronto If you’re looking for more value for your online marketing dollar, listing your products with Pronto’s fast-growing channel offers specialty-branded ‘micro sites’ ProntoStyle, ProntoTech.com, ProntoHome.com, ProntoKids and BabyPronto, creating a unique retail experience with easy-to-access categories, brands and sale items.
• FindGift a gift-specialty shopping channel, FindGift is a gift-giving channel that helps shoppers find unique gift ideas, making it a great place to list your gift-centric products.
Free Shopping Channels
• Google Product Search the Web’s #1 shopping channel.
• Bing Shopping Since Bing released its Shopping Program, which helps merchants reach morethan 83 million unique users for free, their team is constantly making improvements to intelligently match shoppers’ queries with the most relevant search results. This free-listingengine is consistently ranked among the top in conversion rates.
• TheFind connects shoppers with more than 500,000 merchants and claims 48 million searches a month. To succeed, TheFind strongly recommend joining their UpFront Program and submitting only optimized, updated feeds.