How to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for a Successful Holiday Season

Did you know that the months of November and December are responsible for 30% more eCommerce revenue than non-holiday months?

The holiday shopping season is by far the most profitable time of the year for online retailers, and Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up fast. Now is the perfect time to optimize your eCommerce site to not only improve the shopping experience but make sure that holiday shoppers keep coming back to you all year round.

In this post, we’ll show you how to optimize your eCommerce site for the holiday season with our super easy tips.

Improve Site Search

Shoppers who use your site’s search function are 4-6X more likely to convert than shoppers who don’t. The catch is that 20-30% of searches end in a dreaded “No Results Found” page unless shoppers are using exactly the same language that the site does.

An improved search experience on your eCommerce site will increase your conversion rates. One study saw conversion rates increase from 2.77% to 4.63% when the search function was used.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Searchers also contributed 13.8% of the revenues. 🤩

It’s important to make sure that your search functionality is operating at its peak all year, but definitely heading into the holiday eCommerce shopping season. Fortunately, improving your site’s search functionality is a simple, 2-step process.

Step 1. Find High Volume “No Results Found” Searches

First, we need to find out if we have any “No Results Found” searches. MonsterInsights has an awesome article that shows how to set up site search tracking using Google Analytics on your WordPress site step-by-step.

Once you’ve completed that tutorial, you’ll be able to see your no-results searches in Google Analytics like this:

If you’re seeing searches that are happening in high volumes, you know that those are keywords, phrases, and terms that need to be addressed by making changes to your search programming.

Step 2. Optimize Search Results Pages

You’re not going to be able to capture every possible misspelling or incorrectly used word in your search programming, but that doesn’t mean that your search results pages have to suffer. Even a “no results found” page can be useful to the searcher.

Take this example from John Lewis:

No results, but they offer up a suggestion to try a more generic term and provide an option to browse in popular categories.

Gumtree lets users set a search alert that will notify them when the content they wanted comes available. This could be great to pair with an inline form!

REI takes another route and presents searchers with items related to the search:

There are many ways to go about it. You can find what works best for your audience through split testing.

Be Active on Social Media

Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective online marketing strategies in large part because it presents a unique opportunity to build brand awareness and increase visibility without directly having to pay for it.

The holiday eCommerce shopping season gives you the chance to post holiday themed images, contests, gift guides, and anything else you want to use to drive sales and engage customers.

Here are 3 great ways to get the most out of your social media reach:

1. Don’t Forget to Decorate

Many brick-and-mortar retail shops go to great lengths to decorate their storefronts for the holiday shopping season.

Just because your storefront is online, doesn’t mean that you can’t dress it up in the holiday spirit.

Since you likely use a few different social media accounts, that’s like having several different store locations. You can use this virtual real estate as an extension of your website to either show the same holiday images that you’re using there or put a bit more work into and use different images that are related, to create a cohesive theme tying your online presence together.

If you don’t have a large team or aren’t artistically inclined, it may seem a little overwhelming to update the background and profile images on your social media accounts on top of everything else you need to do to get ready for the holidays.

Don’t worry. There are many free and paid visual content creation tools available that can help you create beautiful and brilliant images that your holiday shoppers will love.

2. Share Festive Content

The holidays are a stressful time for a lot of people, so remember to take the time to engage with your followers as people and not just consumers.

Engaging with followers in this way gives them the chance to see the personable side of your brand and goes a long way toward building customer loyalty that turns into advocacy.

For your part, you can learn quite a lot about your customers when you actively engage with them outside of sales transactions and listen to what they have to say about themselves and their own lives.

Polls

One of the ways you can engage follows on social media is by adding polls. Here’s an example of an Instagram Stories poll:

holiday ecommerce instagram polls

This is directly related to sales, but you could make these polls about anything:

  • Which holiday, if any, are you celebrating?
  • Do you have all of your shopping done?
  • Are you heading “home” for the holidays? (Ask them to share where in the comments for additional engagement!)

Recipes

Holiday themed recipes are great to share on social media during the holidays and Instagram was practically built for them.

Check out these Oreo cookie stuffed strawberry Santa hats:

3. Use Holiday Hashtags

There’s a lot that goes into the entire holiday shopping season that can be turned into a hashtag:

  • The holidays themselves (#ChristmasCountdown, #HappyHolidays, #TisTheSeason, etc.)
  • Shopping (#BlackFriday, #CyberMonday, #WishList)
  • Food (#Homemade, #HolidayMenu, #HolidayEats)
  • Travel (#Vacation, #HolidayTravel, #Brunch, #Shopping)

If you’re sharing specific products, be sure to hashtag those too!

holiday ecommerce hashtags

Engage in Email Marketing

Your social media is definitely going to be on fire during the holiday shopping season, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore email marketing.

Did you know that email marketing campaigns are responsible for two-thirds of all online sales? Not only that, but email marketing is responsible for 20% of all holiday sales! 🤯

If you’re new to email marketing, check out our beginner’s guide to email marketing to get started on the right path. You can get started building an email list right away.

For those of you who have an established email list, check out our step-by-step guide to running a successful email marketing campaign.

And, definitely check out these awesome holiday email marketing tips for 2018!

Update Category and Product Pages

We’ve already talked about optimizing your search and keywords so that your site is optimized for holiday eCommerce shoppers to find what they’re looking for. What we’re talking about here is a bit more creative.

Just like adding holiday themed images to your social media accounts, adding a bit of holiday cheer to your website promotes the positivity of the season to your visitors.

These don’t have to be huge changes. Simple header image swaps or color changes are all it takes to make a site holiday ready.

Promote Special Offers

Everyone loves a special offer. We’ve all seen the news coverage of people camping out at Best Buy overnight to be the first into the store on Black Friday to get a $5 television or something, right?

Source: Tampa Bay Times

You can create that same excitement for your eCommerce site with your own special offers. Here are 3 easy ways to do it:

1. Secret Santa Sales

Create special sales only for your email list (or members of your Facebook group, followers, whichever exclusive group you want).

Being part of an exclusive group makes people feel special and will likely lead to better conversions than a typical promotion.

2. Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Everybody will be on the lookout for deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, so plan accordingly.

Also, take a look at this sleek, standout Black Friday look from Komono 😍:

Be thoughtful about your marketing imagery. It’s not necessarily the loudest and brighest that draws the most attention.

3. Use Special Offers to Give Back

Sometimes a special offer means offering something special to those who aren’t your customers. That’s what REI and iHeartDogs decided to do with their holiday campaigns.

REI

REI’s 2015 #OptOutside campaign turned Black Friday on its head, giving REI employees the day off of work instead and telling loyal customers to go outside.

Since then, the campaign has gotten bigger, with the National Parks Foundation, Outdoor Research, and others joining in the movement.

iHeartDogs

In 2017, iHeartDogs launched a Black Friday promotion offering shoppers 0% via a Facebook campaign.

Their results from the campaign were astonishing:

  • Quadrupled sales between Black Friday and Giving Tuesday
  • Doubled their campaign goal expectations
  • Reached 500,000 people through Facebook alone

Why was a campaign offering a 0% discount so successful?

In place of offering discounts to customers, the company promised to double donations from purchases made that weekend with a goal of donating 100,000 meals to dogs in need. With the response from the campaign, they ended up donating 200,000 meals and generating a ton of brand loyalty.

DO IT NOW: Create a “Black Friday Pre-Sale Event” Optin

The last things we’re going to cover is how to create an optin let visitors sign up for a pre-sale event. This will not only grow your email list but give you a little pre-Black Friday sales boost.

To start, go sign up for OptinMonster, then log in to your account.

Step 1. Create a New Campaign

From your OptinMonster dashboard, press the green Create Campaign button.

create_campaign

Now we need to select our campaign type. Let’s go with Popup. This campaign type converts well and grabs attention.

select_campaign_type

Next up, we have to choose our template. When you hover over the campaign you’ll see 2 buttons, one to preview the campaign and the other to use the campaign. This makes it really easy to choose the campaign you want.

Select the Simple template for this tutorial.

Now, give your campaign a name that you’ll be able to remember it by later. You can also add the website where you plan to use the campaign.

name_campaign

Press the blue Start Building button to create your campaign. You’ll be taken into the campaign builder where you’ll see the default Simple campaign.

Step 2. Edit the Campaign

We can edit our headline and body text by clicking directly on those text items in the live preview. The editing tools will appear on the left side of the builder.

There’s also a beautiful green Save button in the top right corner of the builder. Use it always. 😁

We’re going to edit our text like this:

  • Headline
    • Change text to read “Black Friday Pre-Sale Event”
    • Change text size to 48px
  • Body
    • Change text to read “Sign up to gain access to our EXCLUSIVE Black Friday pre-sale with discounts up to 50% off select items storewide!”

Be sure to save your campaign.

Here’s what our changes look like:

You can always update your campaign colors to match your site or existing marketing campaign themes.

Now that we have our optin view set, we need to make a small change to our success view that will display to confirm the subscriber’s signup.

To make that change, just go to the Success view tab and edit the body text to let them know that they’ll be receiving more information.

Once our views are set we can move on to our Display Rules.

Step 3. Set Display Rules

Display rules control who sees your campaign and when. By default, everyone can see your campaign after 5 seconds on your site.

display_rules_editing

What if a visitor has already opted in? We don’t want them to keep seeing the campaign again and again, right? That would be pretty annoying.

To keep that from happening, let’s add a new And rule by click on the +AND at the bottom of the builder:

We’re going to set our condition to Visitor has not opted in to and select our campaign from the dropdown.

Now our optin will show only to users who haven’t already opted in to this campaign.

Step 4. Add an Email Integration

You’re have to add an email integration to use OptinMonster to build your email list. Fortunately, OptinMonster integrates with all major email marketing services.

Let’s walk through a Mailchimp integration together so you can see how it works.

In the builder, go to  Integrations » Add New Integration » Email Provider and select Mailchimp from the drop-down. You’ll need to enter your Mailchimp API key and click Connect to Mailchimp.

Then, select the Email Provider List you’ll use to collect email addresses.

email_provider_list

As always, don’t forget to save.

Not using Mailchimp? Check out these instructions for other OptinMonster integrations.

Step 4. Publish Your Campaign

Now it’s time to publish your campaign. Click Publish in the top menu and change the Status toggle from Paused to Live.

Save your campaign.

Scroll down the Publish page a little bit to see OptinMonster’s publishing options. If you need more information, take a look at the documentation for embedding OptinMonster on your site.

Now you have a campaign ready to launch on your site that will drum up interest leading into the holiday shopping season.

That’s a wrap! 🎁 You should feel a bit more prepared for the holiday eCommerce season with these tips in your toolbox.

And, if you’re looking for more ideas to stand out this holiday season, be sure to check out our post on how to use conversational commerce, or maybe kick up your social media another notch with user-generated content.

If you liked our optin campaign tutorial, there are so many more cool things we can show you! If you haven’t already, join OptinMonster today.

Jacinda Santora
Jacinda Santora is a writer specializing in ecommerce and growth marketing. She prides herself on her ability to make complicated things easier. When she isn't writing you can find her daydreaming about campervans, drinking coffee, and listening to podcasts.

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