Love it or hate it, it’s beginning to look something like Christmas…
Though the distant sound of Jingle Bells in September might be enough to send shivers down your spine, if you’re a digital business owner, now’s the time to act ahead of the seasonal rush.
But how do you ensure your website ends up on Santa’s nice list this year?
Today, we’re exploring exactly that, delving deeper into why and how your digital developers, marketers and designers should already be getting into the Christmas spirit.
As digital retailers enter the festive season, web performance should be made a top priority. After all, with an expected traffic surge on the horizon in the coming weeks, even minor technical flaws can amount to missed sales opportunities.
Be sure to think beyond the surface level, too. Ensuring performance is vital in dealing with an influx in demand, so be sure you’ve considered everything from servers and storage to monitoring and manpower.
With consumer online spending across the festive period increasing by a whopping 53% last year, enhancing your site capabilities and cybersecurity isn’t a choice - it’s a necessity.
Scale with cloud-based infrastructure
While large spikes in site traffic are great for business, they can place undue stress on your website - especially over particularly active periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the last delivery window before the big day.
Increased pressure on site servers can slow loading times and transaction processes - hindering the user experience in ways that could spell disaster for your conversion rate.
The best way to avoid this is by increasing your server capacity, which can be achieved by scaling up additional infrastructure through the cloud.
Not only is this approach cheaper and easier to implement than with physical servers, but it also reduces the need for server maintenance and lowers the risk of physical failures, too. With most cloud servers requiring you to pay only for what you use, scaling with cloud-based infrastructure can be a flexible and cost-effective way to achieve extra peace of mind this holiday season.
Champion uptime monitoring
We don’t need to tell you that, with high volumes of traffic and conversion-primed consumers, every second of uptime matters across the Christmas period.
Uptime monitoring enables you to check the availability and response time of your website and publicly accessible infrastructure. This means spotting onsite issues with the potential to obstruct sales before your customers do, ensuring your user experience is optimised for conversion at every turn.
Today’s consumer has limited patience and high expectations when it comes to technology and their online experience. This makes downtime nothing short of unacceptable - and even more so during peak sales periods.
Avoid this cardinal sin with effective availability monitoring, maximising uptime by consistently checking in on speed and availability from multiple locations.
Stress test, stress test and stress test again
To ensure you have a thorough understanding of your site’s limitations, stability, capacity and resilience, we recommend stress testing your infrastructure well before peak periods.
Stress testing enables you to simulate the real-world impact of peak periods on your website. By measuring speed and response time under various loads, stress testing can flag any potential vulnerabilities on your site, enabling you to make the necessary tweaks before they become user experience (UX) issues.
Marketing and the Christmas period go together like turkey and stuffing. With so many consumers in the market for goods, a strong digital marketing campaign is key to helping your brand stand out from the crowd.
Create a targeted multi-channel Christmas marketing campaign well ahead of schedule - this means, if you haven’t already, now’s the time to get to work.
The UK’s ecommerce spend accounted for over 30% of all total retail sales in 2020. Whilst this data was no doubt bolstered by the effect of the pandemic, most forecasters predict numbers will still stabilise at a far higher rate than pre-pandemic.
In short? With ecommerce only continuing to boom, it’s vital that your digital business is seen in the right place at the right time this Christmas.
Power up your PPC
PPC ad spend grew 31% in the UK over 2020’s Christmas period, with digital businesses doubling their spending when compared with the same period in 2019.
So, be sure you’re prepped and ready with a targeted PPC campaign to ensure cost-effective engagement and a worthwhile ROI.
Start by tailoring your ad copy and keywords. While this isn’t a trick exclusive to the festive period, take a page out of Wham’s book and learn from last Christmas. Which keywords were your audience using last year? What copy drove the strongest click-through and conversion rates?
Be sure to remain conscious of your PPC budget, too. Usual consumer browsing and buying habits get thrown out of the window amidst the panic and stress of Christmas, so don’t be surprised if your budget is drained more quickly than usual. Exhibit A: bid prices can rise by up to 140% in this period.
With this in mind, always keep one eye on performance data to ensure strong ad performance during peak sales periods, like Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, for example.
Master your email marketing
Customers’ inboxes will be bombarded with promotional emails in the weeks and months leading up to Christmas - how will you make sure yours gets that coveted click?
One of the best ways of guaranteeing click-through is to target your email at a refined user audience. This way, you’re able to tailor your content and call-to-action to better resonate with your chosen audience. Focus on segmentation, A/B testing emails in the run-up to the madness to ensure you have a replicable formula for success by crunch time.
Another way of standing out in customers’ inboxes is to spruce up your subject lines. While the effectiveness of emojis in email subject lines often depends on your business and audience, over Christmas, you have a little more leeway. So, don’t be afraid to indulge in the use of Christmas-related emojis as a way of catching your customer’s eye.
You can invest as much time and resource in PPC and email marketing activity as you like - the fact remains that 48% of online shoppers still start their purchase journeys on search engines.
This makes SEO more important than ever during the countdown to Christmas.
Start with your existing rankings. Analyse which pages are ranking at traffic-driving positions, and evaluate their content and on-page user experience - are they the best they can be?
Minor onsite updates take little time to perform but could help you climb a couple of positions in SERPs for relevant keywords. Though this might not sound like much, it could actually make a big difference to the volume of digital footfall you receive.
Of course, you’ll need to think about a Christmas SEO strategy, too. Delve into some good ol’ keyword research here to find relevant, seasonal keywords you’d like to target. For a comprehensive and robust SEO plan, curate a list of relevant keywords of varying popularity to increase the likelihood of diverse ranking gains.
Be sure to vary your keyword type, too. For best results, collect search terms along each stage of your sales funnel, from informational terms (‘best eco-friendly Christmas gifts for daughter’) to transactional ones (‘buy Christmas chocolates’).
Think about how you can best align your content with the intent of each search term, too - optimising semi-relevant pages for Christmas terms a few weeks before December isn’t going to cut it.
One popular approach for ecommerce websites is to create a new Christmas category page that can be optimised for Christmas-related transactional search terms. Pair this with a small-scale link building strategy targeting the page in question and you can give your page the best possible chance of ranking competitively in time for the pre-Christmas rush.
Don’t forget about those longer-tail, informational keywords, either - capitalise on topical searches by implementing a Christmas-focused blog strategy to pick up relevant rankings.
Don’t attempt to align your desired keywords with an existing topic plan, though. Instead, let the keywords inspire your topics - ask yourself why the user is searching any given term, and consider what problems they’re likely facing as a result. Use your findings to inspire topics that matter to your target audience, then develop a seasonal blog strategy that nurtures them through to conversion.
With so much going on for your digital business over the festive period, you’d be forgiven for assuming digital design was an afterthought. This is far from the case.
Digital design is integral to the success of your development and digital marketing activity this Christmas.
Without it, your marketing and development efforts will be left looking like an empty stocking and an undecorated tree. And that’s not very Christmassy, is it now?
Your design team will need to be on the bauble when it comes to asset creation this season.
Start by adding some quick seasonal refreshes to existing homepage banner imagery and promotional assets. Don’t be afraid to embrace festive stereotypes here - we’re talking snowfall and Santa hats - but never sacrifice your brand image in the process.
Throwing a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale? Your customers need to know about it! Create custom banners for your site’s homepage, as well as eye-catching social assets to complement PPC campaigns.
Don’t underestimate the power of visual assets in your email campaign - emails with imagery have a 4.5% higher click-through rate than text-based emails. So, be sure to complement your email marketing with striking product imagery and design templates that demand attention.
The festive period doesn’t only bring more footfall; it brings a greater volume of conversion-ready users, too.
With customers hungry to buy, ensure your page layouts make the purchasing process as simple, logical and hassle-free as possible. Conduct a review of existing user journeys to spot any potential snags that may prevent a sale.
User heatmaps can be highly beneficial in conducting this audit impartially. Evaluate how users interact with your page - considering factors such as their scrolling and cursor movements - paying particular attention to how they engage with your button placement and checkout forms.
Use this data to make any onsite design tweaks needed to optimise the user’s purchasing journey - even small alterations can make all the difference when it comes to converting the user.
The countdown to the big day has all but begun, but fear not, we’re not expecting you to be blasting Mariah Carey just yet. All we want for Christmas is for your digital business to begin its Christmas preparations so you can reap the rewards of the festive season.
Ready to turn Q4 into a Winter Wonderland for your business? Get in touch with Land Digital today to learn how our digital developers, designers and marketers can help find custom digital solutions built around your brand.