Preparing Your Site for the Holiday Season


sug_0006_gifAfter the major disappointment that was last December, retailers will be spending more time and energy this year in preparing their Web sites for the holiday season.

You might be thinking though, how can I compete with major retailers whose sites are all shiny and sleek? Trust us, even the shiniest, sleekest sites have their problems. And their oversights could be your gain.

So what exactly should you do to prepare your site for the holiday season.

In an article on MultichannelMerchant.com, James Gardner details a few important steps you should take now to help stay ahead of the curve a month from now.

1. Don’t Forget the Basics

A common mistake that most retailers make, says Gardner – and we agree – is that too many times they concentrate their energy on a particular promotion or holiday campaign. But what about the rest of the site? What happens when all those people who are impressed by the company’s Christmas creativity can’t access others parts of the site because of poor functionality? Well, they answer, all too often, is that leave. They don’t want to be bother with a slow site that isn’t working correctly.

So, before you go spending all your resources on your holiday push, go through your site – meticulously – to make sure that everything is in working order. Make sure there are no unnecessary obstacles that stand in the way of consumer and checkout. Make sure that they have no reason to leave your site because of broken links and videos or images that don’t load. You owe it to yourself and your customers.

2. Make Your Site a Holiday Destination

It’s not just the discounts that will drive sales. Smart marketing can help.

Gardner suggests taking the holiday shopping experience to the next level by capturing customers’ attention with something unusual and unexpected.

Like branded games or quizzes, for instance, that add a bit of fun to the shopping experience. Perhaps an interactive feature – like answering questions about the gift recipient – will add an interesting element for customers who are shopping for the hard-to-buy-for on their lists. Whatever it is, offer visitors something unique that gets them in the spirit and keeps them coming back for more.

3. Think Outside of the Site

Engage in social media to help build brand buzz by using video, customer recommendations, deal tweets, and whatever other novel ideas you can think of to get the word out about what you’re offering this holiday season.

Gardner says, “There is nothing more compelling to a customer than hearing a recommendation from another customer, which is why tools like Twitter, Facebook and other social communities can be so powerful in generating brand buzz. During the holiday season, these tools can serve as an invaluable advocate in quickly spreading your brand message and driving traffic to your site.”

It’s true. We post about how valuable social media marketing is during the off-season, so it stands to reason that it’s even more powerful during holiday time when the Web is jammed with increased traffic.

For more tips on how to fine-tune your site for the holidays, check out Gardner’s entire article here.

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