It may seem early to start talking about Christmas with summer only just behind us but many small businesses are already getting ready and gearing up for the biggest sales opportunity of the year. You may want to start thinking now about getting your website ready for the rush.
It may seem early to start talking about Christmas with summer only just behind us but many small businesses are already getting ready and gearing up for the biggest sales opportunity of the year.
If you run your business online it’s no different. You may want to start thinking now about getting your website ready for the rush. SmallBusiness.co.uk and Mario Thomas, managing director of digital agency Chapter Eight, give advice:
There's no use thinking about Christmas in November. If you want to make a splash this year then it's time to get your website in order and ready for the festive season. People begin ordering online much earlier than they do from high street shops, if only to avoid the inevitable postal rush.
Forward planning needs to start early. Make sure your point of sale, advertising, PR and marketing all link back to your website and work to drive as much traffic as possible to areas from which people can buy.
Have a spring clean
First things first, you need to get the basics right – spelling, grammar and missing images – they all count in the battle for eyeballs. If your website looks amateur, expect amateur performance at this important time of the year.
Make sure it works
Hot on the heals of bad spelling and missing images come websites that simply don't work. If a button says 'Buy Me', make sure it actually allows that product to be bought. There's nothing worse for visitors than getting a 'page not found' error. Web users are impatient and will simply move to another company.
Up your marketing drive
Getting visitors to your website is your key goal, so a wel- structured, search engine friendly website is a must. If you decide to use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising the keywords you select should make sense and relate to what you sell.
Everybody likes a good deal – make extensive use of discounts, coupon codes, offers and other promotions all around the website. Give your customers a reason to make a purchase. Use email marketing to send out an offer and watch the traffic beat a path to your website.
With a heavily laden basket, the last thing you want is for a customer to go skipping off to a competitor's website. Make sure it's easy for them to see a way to your checkout – big clear text or obvious 'basket' buttons are the order of the day.
Get them on the way out
Think of the checkout queue at the supermarket? All those last minute products, magazines and chocolate bars on the counter as you leave. Well, the same can be achieved at your online checkout – offer products linked to those in the basket and you could sell even more to your visitors.
Make your website sticky
After you've made the sale, customers will only come back if they've had a quick and easy time of buying your wares. Make sure you make it simple for them to review their order and don't forget to send them a receipt.
Keep in touch
When customers leave your online store you need to make sure you do everything to get them back. A regular newsletter and offers and promotions based on previous purchases are great ways of getting that all-important repeat visit. And in the run up to your last posting date before Christmas, send another newsletter telling customers to buy that last minute item from you.
See also: Are you ready to trade online?