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Ecommerce Holiday Promotion Tips (from Miva Merchant Blog)

Prepare Early

Tapping into the holiday season is a great way to maximize revenue over the busiest shopping time of the year.  From Halloween through New Years is a great time to capitalize on consumer spending by catering to customers seasonal shopping sprees.  The best online stores start planning as early as June for products & promotions to add for the holidays.  Last minute rushing to offer a product or put together a promotion often leads to leaving revenue on the table.  Start checking with distributors and manufacturers early on seasonal products for the year.  It is common for holiday products to change each year and offering what is hot this year is better than advertising last year’s old news.  You also want to secure inventory for promotional products so that you are not left with a bunch of unfilled orders from an overwhelming response to a hot product.  No one wants to see a gift on backorder so avoid order cancellations with proper product stock.

Check Trends

Past trends are a great indicator for what is likely a hot seasonal product.  For example, pumpkin decorating kits are only going to produce large sales in October.  There are many market research tools and industry reports that provide this valuable information for free.  However Google Trends is a great free tool that you can use to check trends based on product keywords.  Some judgment will need to take place to determine if something was hot for just one year or is continually hot each holiday season.  Check for more than one year back when looking at sales & traffic history for a specific set of products.

Poll Customers

Past customers are a gold mine for feedback, return sales and promotion ideas.  Try sending a survey either by e-mail or regular mail to customers who purchased in the last year.  If you opt to go with a direct mail piece be sure to include a postage paid envelope so customers can return the survey at no cost.  You should also come up with a reward for completing the survey so customers have an incentive to take time out of their day to help you.  Popular survey rewards include a special discount, free gifts, free or discount shipping and discounts on orders such as 10% off your next order.  Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask customers what type of reward they value most.

Custom Themes

Custom images and website themes that go with the upcoming holiday are a great way to change up the look & feel to show customers you are in the holiday spirit.  This will also get regular visitors to look at your site a little more closely since the page will look different than it has the rest of the year.  Incorporating products utilized in the particular holiday on the horizon is a great way to capture interest for a product category.

Special Promotions

You will almost always have a better sales outcome if you couple a promotion with an event such as a holiday.  People love promotional events especially holiday 3 day sales, early bird sales and one day first come first serve promotions.  Also if a promotion was highly successful in the past adapt it for the holiday season or even reuse a promotion from the last holiday if it had an outstanding outcome.  You can get the word out on your special promotion with e-mail, press releases, online advertising and a blog or news announcement.  You may even want to setup special promotions for different customer groups or personas.  The most common example is a special for new customers and a special for return customers.  If you sell to consumers and businesses you may want to target a bulk order discount towards business customers while offering a product combo for consumers.

Bring It All Together

Once you’ve done your market research by checking historical trends, polling previous customers, surveying site visitors, decided on a time limited theme and put together a killer promotion you are ready to go.  Next double check everything by having some one unfamiliar with the promotion review the material.  There should be an immediate “This is great” type response for a well targeted holiday product promotion.  Now you can sit back and count the extra revenue from your ecommerce store while everyone else is shopping.