How To Make This E-Commerce Holiday Season Your Best Yet

Jessica is the Founder & CEO of Valux Digital, a nationally recognized full-service marketing and PR firm. 

Fall is only just starting, but for anyone running an e-commerce business relying on holiday season sales, it is time to get 2021’s marketing campaign underway. Some of the big players in retail have already started. Anyone shopping in-store will probably have noticed the first few holiday decorations being put up. Online, some leading e-commerce retailers are already publishing their holiday deals. Cutting through the noise will take a well-planned strategy.

E-commerce has never been more competitive. However, the market is also bigger than ever before. While e-commerce has been growing steadily for years, it has grown exponentially since the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year. Green Street retail analyst Vince Tibone told the New York Times that Covid “pulled forward five years of fallout into an 18-month period” for the retail industry. Leading retailers including Walmart, Target and Amazon reported staggering growth in their e-commerce business last year.

While some may have thought this expansion of online shopping and related services is temporary, a number of experts believe the shift to e-commerce is permanent. Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon said the company believes the shift in how customers shop is largely here to stay.

All things considered, this is good news for any e-commerce business: Growing markets and more customers mean businesses will flourish. However, as more retailers are moving online, marketing campaigns need to work harder to stand out.

Align Your Organic And Paid Strategies

Creating a successful holiday marketing campaign starts with clearly defined goals. Increased sales are not always the obvious answer. Raising brand awareness or boosting website traffic is just as valid and maybe better suited to your organization.

Organic and paid-for search engine marketing work hand in hand. Search engine optimization grows organic traffic, but it can take time to see results. Adding terms that are pertinent to holiday shopping can help a business’s rankings but may not be fast enough for anyone starting now.

E-commerce marketing campaigns are strongest when each individual aspect of the campaign aligns. Aligning content marketing activity with SEO makes both elements work harder. Relevant seasonal blog posts or thought leadership pieces support the search engine rankings for specific products.

Adding pay-per-click to your digital marketing activity supports SEO rankings and puts products in front of customers. Like any other marketing activity, it needs to be well-planned to reap the greatest benefit from limited marketing budgets.

Invest In Social Media Marketing

Social media has become one of the cornerstones of our society, and social media marketing has grown into a hugely powerful tool for e-commerce businesses. Many consumers spend their leisure time on networks like Facebook and Instagram, making them generally more relaxed and open to marketing messages.

Advertisers can place their products right in front of those people who may be more likely to buy. It is a very different approach compared to scattering advertisements indiscriminately in front of magazine readers, for example. Social media advertising is one of the most targeted marketing tools available to e-commerce businesses right now. Because of the nature of social media networks, it has become possible to target individuals in an extremely cost-effective way.

Before investing in social media advertising, it is important to know where your product’s target market socializes. Facebook and Instagram have distinctly different audiences. Many brands benefit from advertising on both, and YouTube may also be part of the marketing mix. However, as the audiences differ, messages and products need to differ, too.

One of the most powerful aspects of social media marketing activity is influencer marketing. After all, social media networks are built on connections between people who share information. Working with influencers to develop third-party endorsements can help grow sales in the short term. However, influencer marketing truly unleashes its power over long periods. The longer an influencer supports a brand (and vice versa), the more the credibility of the relationship grows.

Optimize Your Checkout Process

The e-commerce sales process itself is at least as important as nurturing a prospective customer. Paying attention to each detail of the process can pay dividends quickly. One of the most crucial parts of the online sales process is the checkout, not only because this is when the proverbial deal is sealed.

Successful e-commerce checkouts are smooth, quick and offer added value. During the holiday season, offering gift wrapping for an additional fee and an option to deliver with a blank invoice are extremely popular. Especially when they are advertised upfront, these little touches often make the difference between sale and scroll.

During the checkout, avoid asking for information your business does not need. Consumers are wary of giving away too much data, and drawing out the checkout process can cause you to lose sales. Think about the online shopping experience your company offers: Is it an experience customers can enjoy from start to finish?

Don’t Forget About Email Marketing

Social media and influencer marketing have taken the limelight recently, but email marketing remains one of the most effective e-commerce marketing tools. It has almost become a classic by now. Email marketing remains popular because it is simple, accessible for businesses of any size and measurable.

As Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rest of the 2021 holiday season approach fast, e-commerce businesses must be ready. E-commerce as a market has grown, but this marketplace is also becoming more crowded. A well-planned, targeted digital marketing strategy combining different elements will be what defines the e-commerce winners of 2021 and beyond.

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