December is a huge month for Australian eCommerce stores — the biggest in fact. These days, more people are shopping online for Christmas gifts to avoid the crowds and difficult parking. If you own an eCommerce store, the holidays are a prime opportunity to attract customers and grow your sales. Read on for our seven top eCommerce marketing tips for epic Christmas sales.
7 tips to help you sell more this Christmas
Selling on the internet is both exciting and intimidating — lots of opportunity, SO much noise from the competition! Use these ideas to set your business apart this holiday season.
Help them find your store.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly.
Capture “looking for ideas” customers with a blog.
Step up (or start) your social game.
Create a Christmas email plan.
Offer free shipping.
Customise your image file names and Alt tags.
Let’s explore why Aussies love online shopping so much before we detail our 7 tips.
Why do Australians shop online?
Firstly, it’s about time. Online shopping lets busy people buy exactly what they want when they have time to shop. Mostly that means sitting on the couch in the evening when bricks-and-mortar stores are usually closed. In fact, 29 percent of online purchases happen between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. This is a great insight to apply to any flash sales you’re planning.
Plus, it’s about geographical access. Customers don’t have to drive across town in traffic (or into the nearest city if they live in rural areas) to buy what they need. They can tap away on their phone or computer and have it delivered straight to their doors.
Then there’s value. Customers can compare prices online and get the best deal without leaving their chairs. But the best value doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest price; it might mean a higher-priced item with free shipping and gift-wrapping, or an extra gift included.
Now for our eCommerce marketing tips
Sure, selling online means you have lots of competition — the internet is global after all. But there are surefire ways to get more attention. Here are just seven of them.
1. Help them find your store
First on our list of eCommerce marketing tips is to build a website if you don’t already have one. Since an online search is where most purchases start — even those ultimately bought locally — your customers need to be able to find you online. A website puts you on the digital map.
You should also list your business on Google My Business to capture local customers. This means that when someone types in “+ [location]” — for example, wooden toy trains Melbourne — your online store is more likely to show in the local results. Other options include Yelp and Google Shopping listings for your most popular products.
Many people procrastinate until they’ve missed the shipping cutoff dates for pre-Christmas delivery.
At that point, they’re forced to buy locally at the last minute, and that means doing focused online research. They don’t have time to browse hundreds of shops, so they’ll search online, call your store to check stock before they visit, or use your click-and-collect service.
2. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
45 percent of Australians buy online from their mobile or tablet at least once a month.
And in December’s pre-Christmas shopping rush, we can expect customers to shop on their mobiles even more than usual. They’re sorting out Christmas gifts on the train en route to work or while waiting for an appointment. Make use of your customers’ spare time by making your website easy to use on mobile devices.
Not sure how easy is is for your customers to browse and check out on their mobiles? Use Google’s tool to check. Then ask a friend or your mum to go through the checkout process and see if they get stuck somewhere, then make improvements to that step.
3. Capture “looking for ideas” customers with a blog
When people are at the “looking for ideas” stage of Christmas gift shopping, they’re doing broad searches like “Christmas present for 5-year-old-boy” or “Gardening gifts.” No matter what your online store sells, you can use a blog to show gift ideas for specific audiences.
This eCommerce marketing tip is completely free: simply create appealing collections of items and list them together with an introduction about who (or which interests) they’re for. Think about which categories are appropriate for your products and the keywords people would type in to search for those types of gifts. These blog posts can also be shared across your business social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter.
Related: Learn how to blog in 5 simple steps
4. Step up (or start) your social game
Social media is a great way to find customers when they’re in a relaxed scrolling mode. Depending on who your target customers are and where they’re hanging out, you might want to create a social media presence on:
You can show product photos, lifestyle photos of people using your products — even short videos introducing special products and offers.
Pro Tip: Canva is a free photo editing service that lets you combine product photos with text and backgrounds. You can decorate your website just as you would decorate a physical store. Make Christmas-themed website banners, social media graphics, and text over images. There are hundreds of free templates and themed backgrounds you can use to add a little Christmas spirit to your eCommerce marketing. Stick to one style and font though, so your brand develops a specific look and feel.
5. Create a Christmas email plan
Dollar for dollar, promotional email beats just about every other marketing tool for return on investment.
For the holidays, create a list of offers that you can send out to your customer list and promote on your website. Choose a distinct start and end day/time for each offer and run the offers throughout December. Remember to consider your pre-Christmas delivery cutoff times. A few ideas below.
First week of December
This is a good time to start offering gift bundles for:
- Fitness enthusiasts
- Mums or dads
Choose themes that suit your product ranges. If you’re a service-based business, include “Book by X date and receive a bonus.”
Second week of December
If feasible, offer free shipping with no minimum order (if you can afford it) or with a minimum spend that you’re comfortable with. Learn how here.
Third week of December
Try offering discounts on popular gift ranges, such as “20 percent off all toys.”
Last few days before Christmas
It’s probably too late for shipping by then, so you could promote click-and-collect offers or your digital gift cards.
Boxing Day sales and post-Christmas offers
Send these offers out on Christmas day in the evening. Gift cards and cash are popular Christmas gifts for young people, and that money is burning a hole in their pockets by Boxing Day. You can boost your Christmas sales by including special Boxing Day offers in your eCommerce marketing plan. Significant discount offers like 25 to 40 percent off RRP are the most popular sales for Boxing Day/January sales.
Think about email timing. When can you entice customers to click through to your online store with a catchy sales offer? Sending emails at 8:15 a.m. or 5 p.m. can catch people’s attention during their public transport commute, and sending emails between 7 and 10 p.m. captures those who have just put their feet up. Look at your sales history to see when your customers are usually buying from your online store, then schedule emails and social posts during those popular times.
Likewise, Facebook and Instagram insights provide suggested times to post, according to your specific audience (if you have business social pages, that is).
Pro tips: Plan ahead for your eCommerce marketing. We hope that December is going to be crazy busy for you, so it’s best to set up all the email content and artwork in advance. Your email software can send the emails automatically on the right day and time. It’s also a good idea to coordinate your email and social media offers to promote the same deals across all your platforms.
6. Offer free shipping
Shipping costs are a psychological barrier to purchase. So one very effective eCommerce marketing tip is to offer free shipping over a certain purchase amount. Another option is to increase the base price of the item and include free shipping.
Which would you prefer as a customer?
- $74.95 plus $10 shipping.
- $84.95 with free shipping.
- $74.95 item with free shipping over $100.
You can test your customers’ preferences by sending out two different emails to see which method makes more sales. Email marketing experts often call this an A/B Test. Most eCommerce marketing tools like GoDaddy Email Marketing, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor allow you to track clicks from emails and follow those customers through to purchase.
Your standard email (version A) would include normal prices and shipping rates, and your test email (version B) should include a free shipping offer or free shipping over a certain spend. Send each email to a random half of your subscribers, being careful to split the list so customers don’t receive both.
If you find that you make more sales from the “Free Shipping” email, or customers’ total spend is significantly higher from a “Free shipping over $100” offer, then you’ll know which to use in the future to generate more profitable sales.
If an A/B test seems too technical, you can take a punt on the power of free shipping and offer it anyway, then see how this year’s Christmas online sales compare with last year’s.
7. Customise your image file names and Alt tags
To give your products a boost in the search engine rankings, give each product photo a unique and detailed file name that includes suitable keywords for that page of your website and words describing the image itself. Image names help people find a specific item when they know exactly what they’re looking for.
This is an easy eCommerce marketing tip that can produce great results — and all it takes is time.
Below is a sample search for “wooden toy trains Melbourne.” When we click on the Images tab, we can see that all the relevant product photos show up.
But let’s say a customer knows exactly which product they want. Most likely their child is pestering them for one last item in a set, or a toy they’ve seen on TV. In this case, they’re searching for exact-match words for a product.
Pro tip: Use hyphens between words, and include a lot of detail. An image name like “Product 5957637838.jpg” is useless to Google. You see, Google’s bot can’t see images, it can only read words, so it needs some text to understand what the image shows.
Instead, “Thomas-and-Friends-Percy-wooden-toy-train-motorised-12cm.jpg” is very descriptive and tells Google what’s in the photo. In turn, that helps Google to know when to show a searcher that image. This is good for image-based SEO.
Now customise your Alt tags
An Alt Tag is an “alternate” name for your image. This helps Google to read what the image is about. It also helps people who are using text-only emails and websites and those who use screen-reader software. Image file names and Alt tags look like this in the HTML code:
<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description”>
For brand or lifestyle images, you can use the Alt tag to describe what is happening in the picture. For example, “Young girl playing with a Percy train from the Thomas and Friends wooden toy train set.” It’s another bonus point for your SEO and helpful for human readers too. To learn where to put the Alt tags on your website, read this.
So for our product example above, we could give it a nice descriptive name, similar to the file name. The combination of image file name and Alt tag might look something like this:
<img src=“Thomas-and-Friends-Percy-wooden-toy-train-motorised-12cm.jpg” alt=”Thomas and Friends wooden train set Percy 12cm long motorised toy train; great fun for kids aged 3 to 12”>
Put some effort into your image file names and it can help customers find your product when it is exactly what they were looking for. In the busy pre-Christmas period, they’ll appreciate that, and you’ll win the sale.
If all this talk of keywords sounds beyond you, reach out to the search engine optimisation (SEO) pros at GoDaddy. They’ll do it all for you … so you can get on with business.
Start planning now
There’s a secret to capturing your share of Christmas sales: promote your products online. Whether you have a bricks-and-mortar store only, an online store or both, these seven eCommerce marketing tips will help put your goods or services in front of the shoppers who are looking for them. All you have to do is close the sale.