Online Marketing – Seasonal eCommerce

Businesses with an online marketing strategy that considers the holidays are better prepared to capitalize on seasonal eCommerce shopping. Whether it’s back to school, Black Friday or the Christmas season, consumers know that it’s time to reach for the credit cards. Web traffic data and analytics provide us with the evidence every year. Key seasonal events are traditionally accompanied by a dramatic spike in both search and spending activity – culminating in increased sales for businesses that are ready for the influx. Here’s how eCommerce marketers can make the most of the purchasing interest driven by seasonal events.

Mind The Habits

Understanding your customer’s buying habits is essential in successfully leveraging the sales power of a seasonal event. Knowing how those habits change in relation to a particular event is also a must – sales cycles and purchasing funnels expand and ebb significantly depending on the holiday or event in question. For example, Halloween and Valentine’s Day shoppers are more likely to make last-minute purchases than back-to-school shoppers, who tend to buy school supplies a few weeks ahead of time.

By understanding these sales windows and buying preferences, savvy marketers can begin planning a marketing campaign with enough lead time to be effective – and segment approaches to appeal to the customers who’ll be most interested.

Tailored Content and SEO

Once you’ve identified your key seasonal dates and the customers you want to reach, this data can be used to update your specific tactics accordingly. A PPC campaign with a seasonal focus is a simple, efficient way to direct users to your site. Make the most of click-through traffic by directing these users not to your standard home page, but to a specially tailored landing page with a seasonal focus. This page can be a simple  product page for a B2C company or even a detailed micro site for a B2B firm.

Given that much ad-driven click-through traffic will be new customers, aim to collect new customer details through campaigns such as giveaways, gift-themed newsletters or special discounts – doing so will allow you to undertake remarketing campaigns as a specific holiday or event grows nearer. Gearing blog posts or articles toward seasonally relevant topics also works well. For example, a tech site might prepare content relating to recommended purchases to take advantage of, or develop a shopping list of computer peripherals and accessories that would make affordable holiday season gift ideas. Similarly, update your store content categories or listings to reflect seasonal relevance – and don’t forget to rewrite your product listing information accordingly.

Formulate Strategy

Sales funnels used to be relatively streamlined and linear, allowing marketers to focus their efforts on pushing customers down a particular buying pathway. But in a multi-device world, there are a myriad of ways in which a customer might go from beginning their research about a product to making an eventual purchase.  Even with scores of analytics data at your fingertips, the very real limitations of time and resources mean that it’s difficult to anticipate a customer’s exact buying funnel. Address this uncertainty by ensuring your business website is strategized from the ground up, so that users are gently guided along an optimal user flow once on your website and regardless of landing page.

Ensure that your online store is as easy to use from a mobile device as from a desktop computer – responsive design is a requirement. Leverage social media channels to get the word out about your products and services, create a targeted email campaign to kick off well ahead of the event, and take advantage of in-app purchasing functionality, such as Twitter’s “in-tweet” purchases. In doing the above, however, it’s essential to take a cross-channel marketing approach.

Taking a cross-channel marketing approach means implementing a cohesive online marketing plan that also capitalizes on the nuances and strengths of each identified marketing channel.

Plan Ahead

Your sales uptick doesn’t need to end when a major calendar event does. Stretch out your seasonal event with a re-targeting program that will encourage shoppers to return to your store, or refocus your sights on the next event – because there’s always a next event. Strategies to entice customers back can be as simple as including a limited-time discount offer as part of your product offering. Or you can leverage a customer’s personal and purchasing data to offer individualized deals. A customer who has purchased jewelry as a Christmas gift may be a great candidate for a Valentine’s Day offer on a complementary item. And someone who has bought a new cell phone or electronic gadget, might be interested in the numerous accessories related to those purchases.

Planning ahead is at the heart of any successful online marketing strategy. And with a slew of major seasonal events quickly coming up on the annual calendar, it’s time to begin – or even finalize – your seasonal eCommerce marketing approach.

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