As the end of the year approaches, many online businesses are getting in a holiday mood and with a good reason. Christmas may be the time of the year when people are spending more time with their friends and families, but is also a period when online searches and sales are booming.
Namely, as various business bulletins reported last year, online retailers in different regions saw significant increase in sales during Christmas holidays. Coupled with the growth of mobile shopping, this trend is likely to continue over the following weeks as well. In fact, a research by Searchmetrics reveals that 61% of UK shoppers will use the Internet to search for gift ideas through either an online retail site such as Amazon and eBay, or a search engine.
Clearly, holiday promotions are probably the greatest way to drive both traffic and sales, but even non-retail websites can benefit from the trend. Just by closely looking at most popular searches via Google Trends or trending stories on social networks, online businesses can better understand how to grab their customers’ attention. For example, Yahoo! offers a list of trending holiday searches, which should be one of the primary cues for businesses that want to ensure high traffic flow during holidays.
Considering the most searched Yahoo! queries, it is obvious that people are still in the phase of looking for the right present for themselves or their beloved ones. This certainly means many promotion opportunities for online retailers, but it may also bring traffic to the websites that do not offer any of the products listed above. Below are some ideas your company can use to leverage the potential of the holiday season.
1. Optimize your deals/coupons page for search engines
Most online and offline retailers are probably already familiar with the benefits of promoting special offers. In the online world, such offers typically mean higher traffic and increased conversion rates, which may be particularly striking during holidays. As pointed out in a recent NRF survey, we are witnessing an “evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers,” as more and more people rely on instant purchase opportunities online. The case in point is Thanksgiving Weekend when more than three quarters of survey respondents said they were using online and in-store promotions to buy items.
“A strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend” says Matthew Shay, President and CEO at NRF.
Therefore, a special offer during the upcoming holidays can well benefit retailers, whereupon such offer must be heavily promoted through all online channels. This doesn’t only mean using social networks and buying ads, but also driving some organic traffic.
As is the case with all the other relevant website contents, promo pages should be optimized for search engines to drive organic visits. To make sure that both a page’s slug and a title matches a popular search, Google Trends or Google Keyword Planner may be useful tools that give insight into exact number of queries. With some media promotion and, hopefully, enough shares among users themselves, such a page is quite likely to both boost traffic and increase sales.
2. Create blog entries with search-friendly titles
Even though search traffic generally decreases during holidays as people spend less time working on a computer, some searches do remain high. These are typically the ones that revolve around trending topics, as is currently the case with Christmas and New Year’s. Much like most other global events, Christmas season may be the right time for online businesses to maximize the efficiency of their marketing campaigns or promote specific types of content.
Therefore, a great idea for businesses is to come up with at least one holiday-related article that would offer industry tips or advice for the season. To get an insight into what the online audience may want to read, one can use Google Trends to identify the most popular search queries for a particular period of time (December in this case). Below is an example of search queries related to the “Christmas gifts” entry:
The idea behind this is to help you create a blog post that offers some relevant insights, and thus drives more traffic. Based on people’s behavior and your business’s specific area of interest, you can explore different keywords to determine the ones that would make an attractive blog post title.
Considering the example above, a post titled “Top X Christmas Gift Ideas” or “How to Find a Perfect Christmas Gift” is likely to see more traffic these days than most generic articles you can publish any other time of the year.Â Of course, coming up with a search-friendly post title should not be the end of your efforts. You still need to come up with a useful article, which you can achieve only if you have your audience’s needs in mind. The key here is personalization, meaning that you need to have the exact visitor profile in mind when assembling your list.
Another advantage of having a post or a page that matches a popular search is that it can be recycled from year to year. This way, creating a trending post may benefit your future strategies as well, especially if they achieve high rankings, which would translate into higher traffic.
3. Join trending topics on social networks
Social networks are still powerful tools for promoting specific types of content and driving targeted website traffic. During a holiday season, most people are likely to discuss some shared ideas, which gives businesses an excellent opportunity to join or start a discussion.
With a blog entry that discusses a trending story or a holiday offer, a company page can directly answer some of their fans’ and prospects’ questions. This is particularly important for businesses that offer holiday deals for either products or subscriptions because, as revealed in a research by Searchmetrics, 23% of survey respondents are turning to Facebook friends, company pages and ads to find a perfect holiday gift.
“One of the benefits of looking for product ideas on social networks is that you get to see feedback and preferences from other consumers, as well as participate in online discussions about products with a range of people, including your own friends and followers,” says Marcus Tober, CTO at Searchmetrics.
Additionally, in the realm of social media, another useful resource for businesses to find out what attracts consumers’ attention is looking at the trending topics. With Twitter’s regular display of the most popular hashtags, and Facebook’s Trending Topics introduced earlier this year, companies can more easily follow the most talked-about news, posts and ides. Again, a blog post that reflects such interests can bring higher engagements on a page, as well as some traffic boost.
4. Use email marketing to promote your holiday content
Email marketing is yet another online marketing field that seems to be flourishing during the holiday season. From simple “season’s greetings” cards to promotional coupons, email users are likely to encounter plenty of targeted emails in their inboxes these days. A key benefit for businesses here is that it can encourage existing users to return to a company website and potentially complete further actions. Consumers, on the other hand, receive relevant offers or content that may best respond to their current needs.
Therefore, any type of content created specifically for those who already know about your business may be quite efficient in terms of driving clicks to your website. Whether you are notifying users about a current promotion/deal or a new post on your blog, the subject line of the email still plays a major role in encouraging clicks. Earlier this year, Vertical Response published a summary infographic of the findings from their research that examined 10,000 email campaigns and identified the subject lines that generate highest open rates.
All the top performing lines contained obvious keywords such as “gift,” “special,” and specific holiday names such as “Christmas” and “Black Friday.” Therefore, to get an inspiration for a Christmas or New Year’s email campaign, businesses should come up with something transparent and inviting such as:
X New Products to Celebrate Christmas
The Holiday Sale you Can’t Afford to Miss
Unwrap your Christmas savings
Of course, all the accompanying textual and graphic elements should reflect the idea behind the subject line. Therefore, if you’re offering a special Christmas deal, it might be useful to design the email so as to inspire the holiday mood. Also, another crucial strategy is to optimize it for mobile users in terms of both template and sending time.
5. Add holiday-themed graphics and videos to your website and social media profiles
To increase the efficiency of a Christmas campaign, a business should show it shares the holiday enthusiasm with their consumers. After all, we are all people and most of us cherish this child-like happiness during a holiday season. Creating atmosphere that enables visitors to identify themselves with the people in your company can be achieved through multiple Christmas-inspired graphics or elements specifically designed to reflect the holiday spirit.
Amazon’s 10 Christmas Merchandizing Tips also emphasizes the importance of adding some festive cheer to retail websites, suggesting that “Using text and graphics to convey the seasonal mood can help online retailers tap into the festive cheer. Online retailers can also highlight Christmas promotions, build gift guides and update site navigation with Christmas-specific categories to thread the festive theme throughout the site.”
On a Special Offer page, such elements also create a sense of urgency to encourage people to act immediately. Furthermore, by using and sharing some inspiring graphics on social media profiles a company demonstrates that it is ready to participate in the story, which can only increase engagements. Along with the posts revolving around the trending topics, business pages can indeed have multiple benefits from their holiday strategy.
When it comes to visual content, another interesting idea is to create special videos that capture the holiday atmosphere in your company. As already proven, videos can substantially increase conversions, especially on product pages as long as they tell a meaningful and interesting story.
6. Optimize all the strategies for mobile visitors
With as much as 3.5 times more shopping searches coming from smartphones than from any other device, it is obvious why all online marketing strategies need to be optimized for mobile users. In one of our previous posts, we examined shoppers’ mobile behavior in detail and most of what we previously said should apply for the holiday-themed content as well.
In the context of the holiday season, this is of crucial importance as most of your visitors are likely to find your special offer on the go. In fact, according to the IBM’s Christmas Readiness Report, mobile shoppers seem to be particularly active during holidays. For example, mobile sales on Black Friday reached 34.9%, while on a Christmas day last year this digit was astonishing 46.7%. The overall traffic coming from mobile devices was 58.9 percent, which is certainly a digit that further justifies the importance of mobile optimization.
Based on these reports, it is clear that mobile-oriented strategy cannot only bring higher traffic, but also increased conversions. One of the great ideas for attracting this segment of your visitors is to tailor localized and highly targeted content that helps people on the go find the best offer or deal. Suffice to say, all the textual and graphic content you create for the season should be designed for a proper display in mobile browsers.
Looking at the data from previous years, it is easy to see why this holiday season may well be the time for your company’s next online campaign. With some perfectly optimized content elements and holiday-themed images, a company can tell a compelling story online users would want to participate in. More importantly, such a story may stimulate more traffic and conversions that should be the first step to acquiring lots of new users and loyal visitors.