If you’re reading this article to prepare for Cyber Monday, you’ve already missed the boat.
To get the most visibility during a major event like a holiday, you need to have content ready 45 days in advance. It’s called the 45-Day Rule, and even if you publish everything right now, you’re already within 45 days of Christmas itself, much less Cyber Monday.
But not to worry — we’re here to make sure you don’t make the same mistake for next year. And while Cyber Monday gets most of the attention, there are plenty of holidays throughout the year that generate eCommerce sales. You may have missed this one, but you’ll be ready for the next with this checklist.
1. Create a Content Calendar
There’s a good chance you already have a company blog. Companies with a blog receive 97 percent more links to their websites and are 13 times more likely to gain a positive ROI. The benefits are obvious, and that’s how blogging became such a prominent part of today’s content marketing strategies.
Maintaining a blog is a full-time commitment, however. To be successful, it can’t be half-baked — it needs to be run like a well-oiled media machine. The foundation of this is a content calendar, which is a road map to what articles are publishing when.
With a content calendar, you can plan and coordinate all website, social media, video, and offline content and sync it to current events. Many major print publications plan content up to a year in advance, so while you may have missed this year’s Cyber Monday, now’s the perfect time to start planning for next year’s.
2. Create a Doorbuster Sale
In brick-and-mortar retail, doorbuster sales are what drive Black Friday revenue. These sensational deals have been driving consumers to cut Thanksgiving dinners short to wake up early the next morning since the 1980s, when a department store in Philadelphia ran a special on calico for a penny a yard.
Now retailers and manufacturers across the country compete throughout the month of November to stir up enough media buzz to generate lines. Coveted new releases and killer deals rule the roost, and, as mentioned above, the real behind-the-scenes work happens months in advance.
The hottest Christmas toy in 2016 is Hatchimals, which is essentially an updated Furby by Spin Master, the company behind Air Hogs, Tamagotchi, and Build-a-Bear Workshop. It may seem like it appeared out of nowhere, but Spin Master has a ton of experience in the space, and this was a carefully planned release.
A carefully implemented doorbuster sale can create a rush for your product or your site if you’re able to fulfill orders other retailers can’t. Of course, this isn’t easy to predict — even Spin Master is having trouble fulfilling holiday demand.
3. Optimize Your Website
By the time the holiday traffic hits, you’re going to need a website that works perfectly. Every page should be optimized to make it simple and easy for customers to follow through the sales funnel. The last thing you need is to find out during a traffic spike that you’re getting a low conversion rate due to poor layout.
According to conversion expert Jeremy Smith, A/B testing is the cornerstone of any conversion rate optimization plan. By gathering data to quantify hunches, you’ll know for sure what color checkout button or links people prefer to click on in real-world scenarios.
Optimizing a website is a constant process, and even major sites like Facebook, Google, and Amazon are constantly testing and tweaking things to optimize revenue. If you’re looking for the right time to get started, the answer is yesterday.
4. Widen Your Sales Funnel
I’ve touched on the subject a few times already, but backlinks from media outlets deserve their own section in this discussion. No matter how much traffic you pull or how well-known your brand is, you need the help of the media to build a buzz for your company.
Sony is one of the largest consumer electronics brands on the planet, and before the company released PSVR, it spent several years demoing the product to gaming journalists at E3. Released in October, PSVR is expected to have sales over one million by the end of the year.
Reaching out to bloggers and social media influencers is a good start, but to really drive holiday media buzz, you need to attend the trade shows for your industry. CES, Outdoor Retailer, and Super Mobility Week are just a few of the hundreds of trade shows held around the world every year, attracting media attention from niche and mainstream publications.
Attending these events is your chance to build personal relationships with journalists and give them hands-on experience with your products to turn them into brand advocates and get those valuable backlinks.
5. Use Social Media
One of the best places to promote holiday sales is on social media, where trending hashtags help you participate in niche discussions with large groups of people. Major search engines like Google and Bing even take social media buzz into consideration for SEO ranking.
Major brands like Oreo, Samsung, and McDonalds have scored huge social media wins during major events. Smaller brands often use social media to disrupt these larger brands and create their own following as well — look at Dollar Shave Club’s virality.
Speaking of DSC, don’t forget YouTube is a social network too, because video marketing is important too. In fact, here’s a 30-second YouTube video explaining the importance of video marketing heading into 2017.
While you may be too late for the huge returns Cyber Monday brings this year, you’re on track for next year’s holidays if you start preparing now.
By creating a content calendar in advance, you can prepare for up to a year in advance and organize your blog’s content. Optimizing your website and obtaining backlinks throughout the year during slow times pays off huge dividends when the holiday rush hits.
Working with media and other influencers builds a buzz for your brand, and offering holiday sales motivates customers to stop by in droves to buy from you.
If you keep all this in mind while crafting and optimizing your website, you’ll have a successful holiday season no matter which holiday it is.
Need more ideas for WooCommerce sales success? Check out our WooCommerce Guide.