16 Ways to Prepare Your Web Site for the Holiday Season
You can never be too prepared for the holiday season, especially after such a rough one last year. Now's the time to start preparing for a better Holiday '09. Try these 16 ideas on your site.
1. Maximize acquisition efforts. Offer contextual e-mail sign-ups on every page.
2. Encourage visitors to participate. Develop promotional programs that involve visitors and encourage them to participate in the development of product-specific promotions, providing users an opportunity to participate with your brand and create buzz and repeat visitation/purchases.
3. Integrate and coordinate. Support promotional efforts across multiple channels — offline, e-mail, social networks — to maximize sales.
4. Be first. Remember, the early bird gets the worm. Do a recap and competitive review of last year’s messaging to analyze trends. Then, schedule this year's promotional efforts accordingly to win market share.
5. Create destination events. Examples of this technique include: a Thanksgiving Day online preview; a holiday catalog with destination microsites and special benefits such as pay less or price guarantees; hot product preordering; and special discounts, such as a gift card with every purchase.
6. Reward best customers. Create exclusive Web site offers or events for loyalty members, e-mail subscribers or heavy online purchasers to reward them for their support.
7. Be helpful. Offer gift suggestions, create gift registries or holiday countdowns detailing the last day for guaranteed holiday delivery.
8. Unleash the power of the crowd. Use collaborative filtering and data to highlight popular items by category or user segments.
9. Maximize preordering opportunities. Promote new releases early, and offer preordering capabilities on your site. Target users for preordering based on their past purchases.
10. Go local. Leverage local events and store information to target and promote local shopping specials and events.
11. Leverage co-op dollars with manufacturers. Develop co-op brand promotions, such as a “Sony Day,” to reduce costs and extend promotional efforts.
12. Think inventory/price alerts. Trigger communications that encourage visitors to come back and order based on shipment arrivals and/or price drops. Include guarantees or additional benefits so visitors don't go elsewhere.
13. Upsell. Include relevant upsell offers on order confirmations with one-click ordering back to the Web site.
14. Think last minute. Suggest gift cards and e-certificates when your shipping deadline passes.
15. Spread the word with social networking. Give visitors the ability to post wish lists, products, among other things to their social networks directly from your Web site.
16. Create a visitor think tank. Ask visitors to submit holiday and promotional ideas they'd like to see from your brand. Remember, holiday 2009 is all about social shopping.
Michael Della Penna is co-founder/president of New York City-based Suite Dialog, a provider of interactive marketing consulting services that enable leading brands to create ongoing dialogs with their customers. Della Penna also writes a monthly column for our Web site called E-mail Strategies and Tactics Exposed: An Insiders Look at Exceptional E-mail, and is a co-founder and executive chairman of The Participatory Marketing Network, an industry association dedicated to helping marketers transition from push and permission marketing to participatory marketing. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.