Christmas and your online business - 15 tips for festive success

Christmas is hugely important for retailers – and this year it will represent a make or break period for many.

High Street shops traditionally get into the Christmas spirit with festive window displays and promotions – but online retailers often lag behind.

If you are to make the most of the Christmas period, your website needs a festive overhaul. Here are some top tips.

1. Consider SEO

SEO is vitally important all year round – but you need to give your search terms a tweak if you are to make the most of the Christmas period. Think about what your potential customers are likely to be searching for over the festive season, and adjust your copy accordingly. You might also consider setting up separate landing pages for specific products.

2. Boost your PPC

You can drive more visitors to your site by increasing your spend on PPC. Boost your bids on relevant keywords to improve your visibility.

3. …and think about your keywords

As with SEO, you should also consider which keywords you are bidding on. If your customers are likely to be searching for different things during this period, your PPC activities need to change too.

4. Use linkbait

A few good linkbait articles can help to drive traffic and increase brand awareness. Think about some fun, engaging Christmas-themed topics, and consider placing them with relevant sites.

5. Reassure

Security is important to online consumers. Make sure that your site is properly protected, and that your security certificates are up to date.

6. Be flexible with delivery

Try to offer as wide a range of delivery options as possible. Remember that some consumers will leave their shopping until the very last minute and, as a result, you should be prepared to offer speedy delivery close to Christmas, as well as cheaper options further in advance. Make sure you remember your responsibilities under the Distance Selling Regulations.

7. Be flexible with payment

Don’t presume that everyone has a credit card. Try to offer as many payment options as possible – while understanding the potential cost to your business of methods like Paypal.

8. Be flexible with returns

You can attract customers away from your competitors with a simple, generous returns policy. There are potentially significant gains to be made by online firms that can make it as easy as possible for customers to return unwanted gifts.

9. Think about layout

Just as you would put impulse items near the till, think about ways that you can cross-sell and up-sell on your website. Amazon does this particularly well, with recommendations based on previous customers’ purchases.

10. Check for broken links

It is vital that your website works properly. Customers are in a rush, and they already have a huge amount of choice. If there are broken links on your site, you will not get another chance to make that sale. Go through your website to make sure it is properly functional.

11. Anticipate a spike in traffic

Your hosting arrangements also need attention. Remember that you may (hopefully!) see a spike in traffic during the festive period. Your hosting needs to be able to cope with this. Due to its distributive nature, cloud hosting can be a good option if you are concerned about major spikes.

12. Get social

Social media can help you make the most of the festive season. Boost your social activity in the run-up to Christmas, particularly on consumer-facing platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

13. Link online and offline

As always, your online and offline messaging should remain consistent. Consider ways that you can link your online marketing with ‘real-life’ events. For example, if you have bricks and mortar premises, why not invite your Twitter followers over for mince pies and mulled wine?

14. Run promotions

Christmas is a great opportunity for promotions. You might, for example, choose to run a ‘twelve days of Christmas’ series, in which you offer a different discount or deal on each day.

15. Have fun!

Finally, remember that Christmas is a time for fun, and for festive cheer – and your interactions with customers should reflect this. No one wants to be miserable at Christmas, so consider ways that you can make customers’ shopping experiences as enjoyable, and as simple, as possible.