Prepare your business for Christmas… in July

If you’re anything like me, you’re still finding bits of tinsel underneath the couch. And although the sound of jingling bells may still be ringing in your ears, I’m afraid to say – it’s time to start thinking about Christmas again.

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Last November, I started a Facebook Christmas community page, which gained traction quickly, but by the time things started to pick up and I started to see some decent income coming in through affiliate links, Christmas was over and so was the page (although many of my diehard fans would quite happily have had me carry on all year round!). I promised myself I would not leave it so late this year and miss out on easy cash — and neither should you.

The fact of the matter is, Christmas = shopping. There’s Christmas cheer and good will for all mankind and all that, but every savvy business person knows that there is a huge amount of money up for grabs around the festive season, too — and it’s a ferocious fight to grab it.

And considering the Christmas season starts in September according to most major chain stores, you’ve literally got two months to get your butts into action. Yep, that’s right – eight weeks.

Here are some tips for ensuring your e-commerce business is ready for the rush.

Leverage your experience

As business owners or marketers, you probably have several Christmases at your company under your belt, and as such have a good idea of trends you see each year. You know which of your products are popular during the festive season (products suitable as gifts, for example, are likely to sell well), and can use this historical knowledge to your advantage when planning out your Christmas strategy.

What sold well for you in previous years? What stock did you wish you had more of? What opportunities did you miss out on last time round? What did your competitors do that you wish you had done? Gather thoughts and insights from other employees to put together a detailed report on your usual Christmas strategy – and aim twice as high this time round.

Get optimised

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is no longer a ‘buzz word’ – it is in many ways one of the most important aspects of any e-commerce business. You could spend tens of thousands on paid search, or you could invest in good SEO and rank naturally. FYI: 53 per cent of people click on the first organic link on Google, compared to 15 per cent who click on a paid ad. (Compete, 2013)

With the amount of searches for ‘gift ideas’ (see screenshot) and other related terms being significantly higher during the run-up to Christmas, you want to make sure that you are have a chance of grabbing a piece of the pie.

SEO doesn’t just happen over night — not even a Christmas miracle will get Google to thrust you into the number one ranking. So use that experience and knowledge mentioned earlier to get a start on optimising your website for Christmas now for products that sell well – and stay ahead of your competition who are more likely to leave it until the last minute.

Get a plan in place

If you have a digital marketing strategy in place – or even if you don’t – now is the time to start thinking about how you are going to position yourself during the Christmas period. There are hundreds of businesses fighting for the same customers, and you need to do something special to get those sales.

Whether it’s an amped-up Google Adwords campaign, a Christmas promotion on Facebook or even special early-bird offers for people who want to get their Christmas shopping out of the way early, now is the time to start planning.

There is enough going on around the silly season – especially with increased sales – that getting on top of things now can be a God-send when October comes around.

Prepare your social media content, promotions, eDMs and everything else you have planned now so that it’s ready to roll out on time. It also gives you time to tweak it as it gets closer to launch. There’s a lot of potential profit on the table – so don’t neglect this planning stage.

Update your website

One of the biggest problems e-commerce businesses face is that they simply can’t convert the traffic that they are getting. They wonder why all the time and money they’re putting into advertising and marketing isn’t paying off.

It’s relatively easy to get people to visit your site if you have good SEO and marketing in place, but converting those visits into sales is a whole different kettle of fish.

If you’ve been umming and aahing about your conversion rate for some time, don’t put it off any longer. Make the changes to your site now — do some A/B testing over the next couple of months, get that conversion rate heading upwards — and expect a decent return on investment by the time Christmas comes round. It’s a no-brainer.

Have you started preparing your business for Christmas yet?

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