4 Tips to Improve Online Sales Based on the 2008 Holiday Season
It’s April and spring is here — finally. While there’s sunnier weather outside, online it’s a much different story. Retailers are still feeling the shocks of an underperforming holiday season, and the economy has improved little. But while the last holiday shopping season didn't bode well for most, it did provide important information about consumer behavior in a down economy, and it’s behavior you can’t afford to ignore.
Here are some best practices you need to pay attention to now to be successful throughout 2009:
1. Plan early and follow through. Have campaigns and discounts in place much earlier than what you’re used to. Mother’s Day, Fourth of July and even Labor Day — you should be preparing your campaigns for these holidays right now. And don’t let up. Retailers that prepare their campaigns early then follow them completely through will be the most successful in 2009.
2. Compel your customers to buy now. Over the past several months, consumers have become incredibly budget-conscious. This means they may take days or weeks to make purchase decisions, surfing around to find the best deals possible. Don’t risk losing business to your competitors. Offer special incentives to compel consumers to buy now, such as free shipping all year. And don’t forget: Customer service is also an important factor that can compel consumers to make purchases with one retailer over another. Take a cue from Zappos and make customer service a top priority.
3. Get connected and stay connected. Search has changed, and it’s important to realize that optimizing your Web site alone is no longer enough for online success. Today there’s opportunity in every click, connection and conversation, which means you need to optimize your complete online presence. Maintain a two-way dialog with your customers through social media. Stay top-of-mind through e-mail, natural and paid search, social media and online banner ads.
4. Integrate, integrate, integrate. You can’t put enough importance on this. Integration is key to building and maintaining your brand. Greater awareness of a Web site created by a paid ad can lead to more natural search engine traffic. In similar fashion, people are more likely to click on paid promotional ads of marketers they recognize, such as those they’ve encountered through social media. So it goes with natural search, direct mail, online banner ads, collateral, video, podcasts, etc. Integration can and will help strengthen your brand and increase ROI.