2015 Ecommerce Holiday Planning

2015 Ecommerce Holiday Planning

It’s summer again – time for barbecues, fireworks and dragging your kids plus a bevy of toys and towels to the local pool. But, for savvy ecommerce and retail marketers, summer means more than just stocking up on sunscreen, it also means it’s time to start planning for the upcoming holiday season.

To help you get more pool time in this summer, we put together a comprehensive guide for your Ecommerce SEO & Social Media Strategies for the holiday season.

Before you dig in, let me cut to the chase with the inevitable gated content offer – we put together a killer creative campaign to help you take your holidays to the next level in a super affordable package. Additionally, we also developed a guide for how to run sponsored Facebook posts during the holidays season.

Ok – enough said.

A Few Holiday Stats Worth Mentioning…

Holidays are kind of a big deal…

  • 92% of holiday of shoppers will go online to either research or purchase gifts this season. (source)

And

  • Holiday spending has continually risen over the past 6 years, topping out at 53 billion dollars in 2014. (source)

holiday retail spending

http://www.statista.com/

Your 2015 Ecommerce Holiday Planning Guide & Timeline

Ok, let’s get right to it…if you want get a larger chunk of the multi-billion dollar pie this year, here’s a timeline detailing how to do just that:

July & August – Tune Up Season

 

It might not be quite time to deck the halls just yet, but it’s critical to ensure that your site is ready for the increased holiday traffic well ahead of drafting your first promotional piece of content.

SEO Tune Up

Take the time now to really focus on ensure your key pages and website are in good shape before you start kicking your campaigns into high gear. Here are the types of things you should be paying attention to for this phase:

  • Keyword Strategy Review
    • Ensure the keywords you are optimizing for fit your branding and sales goals
  • Content Optimization Calendar
    • Focus on top category and product pages that have the potential to drive seasonal traffic
  • Technical Checkup
    • Search Console is a great place to check
  • Mobile Review

Search Console Crawl Errors

Tracking Tune Up

Nothing is more frustrating than getting into the swing of the holiday season and finding a small issue with your tracking that will end up throwing off your entire measurement system. Take the time now to make sure your tracking program is operating properly. Since Google Analytics is the go-to tracking platform, that is what I used to prep your action plan.

  • Verify Filters and Views
    • You should be filtering out the traffic from your office IP address as well as any vendors or companies that regularly work for you (e.g. your marketing agency
    • You should always have one unfiltered view
  • Ensure you’ve got Macro Goals setup (if pertinent)
    • e.g. You have an email signup or contact form on the site
  • Ensure Search Console is synced with your Google Analytics account
    • This takes 30 seconds….
  • Pay attention to cross domain tracking (especially if your blog or shopping cart are on a subdomain)
  • Make sure Ecommerce Tracking is setup
    • This may take some developer assistance if you don’t have it set up
  • Set up internal site search
    • This is under the Admin panel in Google Analytics and gives you quick intelligence on what people search on your site
  • Set up content group for key groups of content (e.g. the blog)
    • This comes in handy when you want to get more in-depth metrics on how your blog posts are performing overall

 

Content Grouping in Google Analytics

Content Marketing Tune Up

Once you are in full swing of the holidays, your content marketing is going to be your major x-factor. It’s critical to make sure your blog and social media are ready to help take your brand to the next level when the holiday searching frenzy is upon us.

 Blog – Is Your Blog …  

  • Located in a subdirectory if possible, under one consistent folder, e.g. /blog/?
  • Being tracking properly in a tool like Google Analytics?
  • Incorporating social sharing icons?
  • Allowing you to modify title tags and meta descriptions?
  • Easy to navigate back and forth to from the main website?

Social Media – Are You(r) … 

  • Reviews set up?
  • Profile and link information accurate on each profile?
  • Profiles linked to and from the website?
  • Following the 90/10 rule (90% of your content is engaging and only 10% is promotional)?

 

September – Planning Month

 

Did you know that most brands launch their first holiday campaign before Halloween? If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to carve out September to start creating your campaign concepts and to ensure your digital strategies are aligning with all of your marketing channels.

This should include:

Promotions

Plan for and document promotions calendar (e.g. Cyber Monday, free shipping, last minute deals, etc.). This includes:

  • Develop your blog / editorial calendar to announce these deals.
  • Create an amplification strategy, including:
    • Plan to outreach to key influencers to promote your deals
    • Prep email blasts
    • Develop your social media calendar (which should ideally augment your regularly planned for calendar without breaking the 90 /10 rule)
    • Develop small engagement campaigns (e.g. trivia question or a photo caption contest)

Website Content

Develop a content development and optimization schedule for holiday –themed website content (e.g. gift packages). This includes:

  • Creating your content expansion plan, mapped with a keyword strategy
    • Include where in the sitemap these pages will live
  • Develop a content calendar and publishing schedule
    • Ensure each new page is properly optimized, including title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, etc.
    • Develop a blog content strategy to support these new pages (e.g. gift ideas for dads)\

 

At Least One Creative Campaign

This is the x-factor in your holiday strategy. Having holiday-related content, blog posts and promotional strategies will absolutely ensure you stay in-line with the pack of ecommerce brands chomping at the bit for holiday sales. But, if you want to break out from the pack, consider building a creative campaign designed to engage, excite and expand your audience.

This should include:

  • Decide the main anchor element (e.g. Facebook contest)
  • Identify potential influencers who may promote your campaign
  • Develop creative to use in social promotions and that influencers can leverage
  • Set a budget for content amplification and sponsored posts
  • Identify additional channels you will amplify your content through, such as:
    • Blogs
    • Press Releases
    • Article / White papers
    • Social Media Marketing
    • Adwords
    • Retargeting

Don’t have the time or energy to figure this out? Don’t worry – we’ve done it for you and developed an EPIC campaign that is extremely affordable for ecommerce businesses.

download holiday planning

November & December – #LetsDoThis

 

20 to 40 percent of yearly sales for small and mid-sized retailers take place within the last two months of the year (National Retail Federation). In other words, planning time is over, it’s time to execute!  

However, here are some important dates to keep in mind:

November 1 – Halloween is over, time for Christmas!

49% of marketers will have created and launched a holiday campaign before Halloween (stat). Your website pages with holiday-focused content should be live, the holiday season is now officially open!

Nov 16 – Is your blog running? Well then you’d better go catch it…

Your first holiday-related blog post should be live by now – with Thanksgiving right around the corner you need to be laying the foundation for your desired holiday rankings.

November 26 – 29 – Wait, is this a holiday of some kind?!? 

Thanksgiving rolling through to Cyber Monday has become almost a straight week of deals and online shopping frenzies. You do not want to miss this rather large boat – in 2012 over 129 million consumers shopped on Cyber Monday alone (stat).

December 1 – Your Anchor Campaign should be launched

If you are planning on doing something cool for the holidays to engage your customers, the hour is upon you!

December 18 – Free Shipping Day

A newer trend emerging, you can participate if you can offer free shipping this date and commit to delivery by Christmas Eve. If you can meet this criteria, this should for sure be incorporated in your social calendar.

Dec 26 – Launch your Post-Holiday promotions

Don’t start counting your money just yet…be sure to connect with the inevitable wave of customers who are looking to get a deal because the holiday season is over and are taking advantage of retailers offering great deals to clear merchandise and make a last valiant effort to make Q4 numbers.

 Extra Wrinkle: Ecommerce Website Launch for the Holidays

We’ve seen enough of this now to realize that re-launching a website and user experience is a favorite go-to technique for Digital Marketers to prep for the holiday season.

So here’s my plea to you…if you can’t get the website launched before October 1, don’t re-launch your website until after the holidays…PLEASE.

If you are re-launching before October or just want to ignore my plea, then you want to make sure a few things are in order, including:

  • SEO and user-friendly navigation structure.
  • 301 Redirects
    • Google won’t like it if you miss these.
  • Content Optimization
    • If you are re-writing content, you’ll want to make sure your keyword and optimization strategy is still in-tact.

If you are in the midst of a re-launch and need some extra information or support, than check out our website launch support service.

Ok…Let’s Land This

Holiday retail season can be a stressful yet amazing time for marketers to watch their programs drive real results to impact the bottom line. We work with quite a few ecommerce brands, and we know how challenging it can be to develop, manage and adjust these types of programs to maximize your marketing dollar spend. So…we’re here for you. If you have any questions or need any help crafting your holiday strategy, just leave us a comment or shoot us an email.

Otherwise, I wish you the best of luck dominating the holidays this year!

Also, if you want pricing information on an awesome holiday campaign or would like to download our free guide on how to run sponsored posts this holiday season, simply click on the download button below.

download holiday planning

Natalie Henley

About Natalie Henley

Natalie Henley is the President of Volume Nine, regularly developing strategy to improve our client’s results. Natalie started her marketing career in Communications and Market Research at Edelman PR working on campaigns for Fortune 50 companies. She got into SEO over 6 years ago and hasn't looked back. With experience in SEO, Google Analytics, Adwords, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing & Email Marketing, Natalie also does a lot of speaking and training for Volume Nine.