If you own an ecommerce business, you know that the weeks leading up to the holidays are a potential goldmine: In 2018, holiday shopping sales online are predicted to reach $123.4 billion. This number has been on the rise for years, and it will likely only continue to balloon as online shopping becomes the norm for consumers around the world.

The good times now stretch far beyond any single Black Friday or December weekend — from late November even into early January, daily online revenue now routinely crests $1 billion.

Of course, major chunks of these sales come from the Amazons and Targets of the world, but smaller businesses with a robust web presence — a mobile-optimized and secure website, active social media channels, timely blog content, and an array of digital marketing tools and tricks — can help capture the attention and business of holiday shoppers.

If you’ve been bogged down by the day-to-day operations of running your ecommerce business and haven’t had time to truly plan how you’re going to market yourself this holiday season, don’t worry. Here’s a list of 14 last-minute ways you can promote your business and have a successful holiday shopping season.

Holiday Marketing Tip #1: Create Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guides

You’re marketing your business at the last minute, and people are buying holiday gifts at the last minute — it’s a sales match made in heaven. Lean into the reason for the season and put together at least one, but ideally, several holiday gift guides (possible categories include “For Him,” “For Her,” “For Your Parents,” “For Your In-Laws”) that package certain types of gifts together for easy browsing.

Extra points if you can make your guides truly “last-minute”-friendly by allowing for rush delivery on these items, and offering free shipping if customers meet a minimum.

Holiday Marketing Tip #2: Offer Last-Minute Deals & Discounts

As you get down to the wire, start creating last-minute deals and discounts on certain best sellers or products you’d like to see get a bit more traction before the holidays are up. If people are doing last-minute shopping, give them last-minute deals to match, and offer expedited shipping when available to get them their spur-of-the-moment purchases as soon as possible.

Holiday Marketing Tip #3: Blast Out Limited-Time Deals on Social Media

You may not be able to discount all of your products throughout the entirety of the season — that’s a surefire way to lose money when all is said and done — but you can offer limited-time deals on best-selling products that last a few hours or so. Use your social media channels to alert customers that they can get a popular product for a discount “while supplies last” and you’ll see a boost in social media follows as people look to gain an edge on their fellow shoppers.

Holiday Marketing Tip #4: Craft Holiday Newsletters to New & Regular Customers

Hopefully, you’ve been doing some email marketing throughout the year — email newsletters have perhaps the highest ROI of any digital marketing campaign tactic — because this is the time to pull out all the stops.

Create segmented holiday emails that address different customer groups: For your regular customers, remind them of their history with you and reward them with a holiday shopping discount as a thank you for their business. For new customers, induce them to start a tradition of shopping with you during the holidays with, yes, a holiday shopping discount. The most important aspect of this method is using your email marketing platform to create emails that speak clearly and directly to targeted customer groups.

Holiday Marketing Tip #5: Run Holiday-Themed Ads on Social Media

If you haven’t done much advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the holidays are a great time to start. There are virtually no minimums for running a campaign on Facebook — you can spend as little as $1 — and there are still relative bargains to be had in Instagram’s Stories and now Facebook’s Stories. Make sure your social media ads send visitors to holiday landing pages that encourage them to buy now.

Holiday Marketing Tip #6: Post a Shipping Calendar to Give Shoppers a Deadline

Being transparent with your ability to get deliveries into the hands of customers can actually work as a holiday marketing tool. Post on your business’s website — as well as your social media channels — a shipping calendar that shows the latest someone can order a gift to get it before Christmas or other major holidays. Giving shoppers a sense of when they’ll need to place orders may encourage them to pull the trigger now, rather than “later” (which sometimes means never).

Holiday Marketing Tip #7: Decorate & Restructure Your Site for the Season

Your ecommerce business may not have a window on Main Street for shoppers to peruse as they walk through town, but your homepage and other landing pages can still be decked out for the holidays. Add some cheer to your site with a temporary holiday theme, and help guide your visitors to your holiday products by reorganizing your site’s verticals and sections to reflect how and why people buy gifts for the holidays.

Holiday Marketing Tip #8: Follow Up on Abandoned Shopping Carts

Nothing hurts a small business owner more than seeing abandoned shopping carts, ditched just before a customer pressed “Confirm” or “Purchase.”

Why did this customer jump ship before buying? Did they get scared off by shipping costs? Did they get cold feet, thinking they could maybe get a better deal elsewhere? Or maybe they just accidentally clicked out of the window and decided they’d return “at some point” to finish off the purchase (which, again, can sometimes mean never).

If you’ve captured this customer’s email, follow up with them and encourage them to finish what they started with a gentle reminder, and maybe even a reduction of shipping costs. Capturing that shopper and making them a loyal customer is worth the investment.

Holiday Marketing Tip #9: Optimize Your Best & Most Important Content

If your business has a blog, you have likely found that some pages perform better than others, or are more effective in converting traffic into sales. Your holiday-related blog content should be optimized for peak performance. Include popular holiday keywords, add videos, and use other SEO tactics to make sure your content ranks highly. Also, include internal links to other content as well as your holiday landing pages, and of course, be highly readable on mobile.

Holiday Marketing Tip #10: Get Customers Involved With User-Generated Content

One of the best and cheapest ways to build excitement about your branding and holiday products is to encourage customers to get creative with your products. Asking for user-generated content (UGC) featuring your holiday gifts builds buzz on social media, expands your holiday marketing reach with little-to-no effort on your part, and gives you additional content you can feature on your own channels or blog.

Get the ball rolling by offering a prize, discount, or gift card to the user who comes up with the best photo featuring your product (plus the right hashtag), and watch as people clamor to show off your wares.

Holiday Marketing Tip #11: Partner With Influencers, No Matter How Small

Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly popular because brands recognize how important recommendations from friends and non-celebrities are to reaching younger audiences. Engaging an influencer — or, even micro or “nano” influencers, who have just a few thousand followers and have lower asking prices — to create original content featuring your products or services (perhaps with a holiday theme) can get your business in front of new audiences.

Holiday Marketing Tip #12: Conduct Live Chats to Create Personalized Shopping Experiences

Chatbots and virtual assistants are gaining traction in the ecommerce space as a way to engage online customers around the clock, answering questions and getting the ball rolling on customer service requests. But you can also use live chat functions on your website to have conversations with customers, steering them in the direction of great deals or products that meet their specific requirements. Live chat engages shoppers directly and makes them feel as though they’re having an in-person shopping experience, but from the comfort of home.

Holiday Marketing Tip #13: Upsell & Package Holiday Bundles at Checkout

Checkout is a great time to upsell a customer or offer to include products related to their purchase at a discount. Appeal to their holiday spirit by marketing your upsell as a chance to buy a gift for another friend or family member at a low price, or for the chance to get free, expedited shipping. Make sure your upsells are targeted for the season or for what the customer has already opted to buy, rather than something completely unrelated that feels like a money grab.

Holiday Marketing Tip #14: Extend Your Deals into January

Not everyone is a stickler for getting shopping done by December 25th. Let customers know that your deals, discounts, bundles, and other holiday sales will extend into January, encouraging them to return to your site after the holiday rush. This has the added bonus of reminding customers that your site isn’t just around for November and December — you have a year-round business, and they should come back for more great stuff in the non-holiday months.

Conclusion

It’s always good to get a hard start on planning and executing your holiday marketing campaigns for the holidays — but that’s not always possible. These methods for boosting brand awareness, increasing traffic, and encouraging sales, are relatively quick and easy and give you a good baseline for holiday seasons to come.

Posted by Contributor