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Considering that the average consumer spends $400 during Black Friday and even more on Christmas, it’s a good idea to prepare your store for the holidays if you sell things online. After all, more consumers prefer online shopping after the 2020 pandemic. Although this time of year presents an opportunity for small business owners, it also comes with challenges.

The first is that potential customers are savvy and price sensitive. The second is that holiday shoppers have a wide array of options available at all times.

As a result, consumers are less willing to tolerate service problems. In 2021, website visitors spent an average of fifteen seconds on any website. That means one thing — if you don’t prepare early, you may miss a lot of revenue.

We’ll show you nine must-follow holiday marketing tips to help your online business dominate the upcoming holiday shopping season. That way, you can avail yourself of what the holidays offer.

Why Preparing Your Store for the Holiday Shopping Season Matters

According to McKinsey, 75% of consumers switched brands in 2020. That means consumers re-evaluated their lifestyle choices due to the pandemic.

Because of the change, the 2020 marketing playbook may not enhance the current customer experience or help you boost sales.

As customers evolve, so will their consumption patterns. That’s why, to position your small business for success, you must pay attention to ongoing trends and adapt to them.

Preparing your e-commerce store for the upcoming holidays will provide customers with tools and experiences to fit their current demands. 

If you don’t know what you should be looking out for this time around, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Keep reading to find nine holiday marketing tips to help prepare your store for the upcoming holiday season.

Prepare Your E-commerce Store for the Holidays

  1. Validate Demand for Your Product Inventory
  2. Optimize Your Website Design for New Customers
  3. Make Sure Your Website Is Secure
  4. Check All the “Small” Details
  5. Devise a Creative Marketing Strategy for the Holiday Shopping Season
  6. Seek Out Information About Your Customers
  7. Spread Holiday Cheer
  8. Share Good Tidings
  9. Be Good for Goodness Sake

These are great tips to add to your holiday planning guide. Let’s go over each one of them to see what they offer.

1. Validate Demand for Your Product Inventory

Ensuring your customers need the products in your inventory is crucial to guarantee holiday sales. To this end, the first holiday marketing tip is demand validation.

Demand validation is the process of using data to establish that customers need specific products or services. Or, more specifically, the products you’re selling.

That way, you can determine the probability of customers finding you online based on your selling products. After all, if they can’t find you online, they can’t purchase from you.

Ask yourself the following questions to have an accurate idea of your position in the market:

  • What is the current value of my industry?
  • How much of that value do I currently capture?
  • Who are the leading brands in my niche?
  • How much value do they capture?
  • What problem do my products solve that others don’t?

These questions will help you assess your brand position compared to alternatives. Once you do, you can make realistic sales projections.

Next, you must figure out the “hot” products in your inventory. Having this information is critical because you can:

  • Make these products central to your holiday marketing plan
  • Tailor your holiday promotions strategy to these products
  • Craft your upsell strategy and special offers around them

Overall, validating demand for your products is essential to success. In 2019, businesses spent over $73 billion doing market research and validating their products. Meaning it’s one of those processes that can make or break your store.

2. Optimize Your Website Design for New Customers

75% of customers judge a business’s credibility based on website design. When paired with the 15-second rule, you have a small window of opportunity to evoke trust from website visitors.

But how can you achieve that? With clean, responsive website design.

If you’re like most e-commerce owners, your website will be one of the most critical digital sales channels. That is because it combines your entire product range with seamless payment processing. Therefore, everything on your website needs to work correctly.

Here are a few design tips that may help you get more sales during the holiday season:

  • Update your product descriptions to reflect the holiday theme (Black Friday, Halloween, or Christmas, for example).
  • Ensure your website is mobile-responsive. More users and shoppers will be using mobile devices to shop in 2021.
  • Make your best-selling products stand out from others.
  • Minimize the clicks between when a visitor discovers a product on your landing page and the checkout process.
  • Adjust your website copy also to reflect the holiday theme and potential discounts.
  • Draw attention to products and avoid clutter. The more visible everything is, the more sales you’ll likely get.

3. Make Sure Your Website Is Secure

In 2020, businesses lost over $400 million to ransomware attacks.

If you’re a small business owner, a single attack can be fatal. That is because it erodes customer trust and affects retention.

Here’s the good news — you can act proactively to prevent loss.

The first step is to ensure that you’re working with the right hosting partner. Beyond that, the following steps can help you get to grips with your website security:

  • Going over a basic security site checklist
  • Using website security software such as Sitelock
  • Keeping up-to-date information on Firewalls and other security-related topics

With a secure website, you’ll be able to prevent SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and other sophisticated phishing techniques. 

4. Check All the “Small” Details

According to Forbes, companies lose millions of dollars due to human error annually.

Your exposure to human error is fairly high as a small business owner. That is because most small retailers don’t have access to automation.

Therefore, you must keep track of your website’s performance to reduce the probability of monetary loss across the holiday season.

Here’s a checklist with questions you should have answers to:

  • When does my hosting service run out?
  • How much traffic can my website handle?
  • Is my website fast?
  • Is there any dead text/unnecessary clutter copy?
  • Are old marketing materials still live?
  • Are all my plugins fully paid for and ready to go?

If you need help, you should contact your hosting partner. They will have detailed information and actionable suggestions to help you prevent loss.

Once you finish going over the checklist above, you may continue with the following holiday marketing tip to ensure that your message is engaging and impactful.

Having a creative marketing strategy is a crucial step in our holiday marketing guide
Source: Pexels

5. Devise a Creative Marketing Strategy for the Holiday Shopping Season

Skai reported businesses spent more on digital marketing efforts in 2020. That means you need to get creative.

Why? Your offers may get lost in the noise without an innovative holiday marketing campaign. You must advertise your products in a way that conveys their utility and how they stand out from others.

However, ensure you don’t overspend on advertising to avoid losing revenue. To that end, you can use the results of the demand validation you performed earlier.

Here are a few holiday marketing guidelines for you:

  • Use an email list to prime your current customers with a “secret Black Friday/ Cyber Monday offer.”
  • Prepare hilarious automated email marketing messages for new buyers.
  • Create a holiday gift guide.
  • Recap your company’s successes during the year.
  • Send a digital greeting card to your customers.
  • Share personal stories, traditions, or recipes from your staff.
  • Sponsor a holiday photo or essay content that features your customers.
  • Run an early bird pre-Black Friday sale.
  • Use content marketing to help your audience solve problems.
  • Offer an unexpected discount code at checkout.
  • Use giveaways to create a buzz.
  • Share your shipping process on social media outlets like Instagram.
  • Use micro-influencers in a targeted way.

Kantar stated that creative advertisements performed best in 2020.

If you’re creative about your messaging, you can reach your customers in a way the competition cannot match. Also, you can educate, entertain and challenge your target audience to explore your worldview.

If you’re wondering how to get your creative juices flowing, collecting market insights will help. To do so, start with information gathering. Then, if you see something funny, consider adding a twist to it to match your brand while crediting the source.

6. Seek Out Information About Your Customers

Customer analytics is valued at over $3.7 billion for a simple reason — customers matter.

To address your customer’s problems, you need to understand them deeply. To this end, an excellent holiday marketing tip is to seek out information about them.

Digital channels like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are a treasure trove of information.

Other helpful tools include Amazon Bestsellers, Quora, and eBay. For target audience research, Twitter search is a goldmine.

Once you type in relevant keywords and hashtags, you can see how people use your product in natural conversations.

7. Spread Holiday Cheer

Your customers give to you all year long. Thank them for their support with a special promotion, such as:

  • A sneak preview
  • Free shipping
  • A secret sale
  • A free gift with a purchase
  • Free gift wrapping
  • “12 Days of Christmas” countdown sale
  • Extended return policy

And don’t forget to offer digital gift certificates. They’re convenient for last-minute shoppers and can increase your sales in the New Year. That’s because recipients often spend more than the value of the gift certificate when they cash it in.

8. Share Good Tidings

Email marketing and social media networks are great ways to target and connect with consumers through timely updates and compelling calls to action. Here are some ideas you can implement in December:

Develop holiday themes for your email templates and update your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profile pictures with a festive look.

Channel all holiday offers or promotions through your social media accounts. You can even offer deals or events exclusively to your social media fans to help generate leads.

Share regular back-in-stock notifications on social media to let customers know when popular items are available.

9. Be Good for Goodness Sake

Take a moment during the holiday season to give back to your community. Even if there isn’t room for a large donation in your budget, there are multiple ways to say thank you — and boost customer respect for your business. Consider these low-cost, heartfelt ideas:

  • Volunteer your services, equipment, or space for a charitable event.
  • Provide a prize for a charity auction.
  • Host a food drive or service project at your office.
  • Sponsor or raise money for a scholarship.
  • Give your employees time off so they can volunteer at a nonprofit.

Final Thoughts

With Black Friday and other holidays around the corner, many e-commerce businesses are preparing. However, you must ensure that your online store is ready to thrive.

Validating demand will help you understand what your customers want. Once you have this information, prepare your website. Remember, a crucial part of your holiday success is ensuring that your website is secure.

Your design, copy, and marketing efforts won’t matter if your website fails. Therefore, your e-commerce store must be backed by reliable hosting and customer support.

Try out Bluehost’s WooCommerce hosting to access secure web hosting, responsive customer service, and an extensive suite of tools to help you get the best out of your holiday sales.

  • Tiffani Anderson

    Tiffani is a Content and SEO Manager for the Bluehost brand. With over 10 years experience across all facets of content and brand marketing, she strives to combine concepts from brand marketing with engaging content through the lens of SEO.

    University of North Texas
    Previous Experience
    Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media
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